If recent weeks have taught us anything, Humanity’s big fear isn’t terrorism or nuclear war. It’s getting sick.
Ebola is the latest spectre. Before that it was SARS, Swine Flu, Avian Flu. We’re terrified of our demise being delivered by a sneeze. We fear sickness, because we fear a lack of control. We like to think we could club a terrorist to death with a piece of hand-luggage, or outrun a flood, because we can see those things. But sickness is invisible.
You can’t out-think or out-manoeuvre whatever’s causing you to cough up unnaturally-hued fluids as you lie in a hospital bed. It’s why Doctor Who never battles the norovirus.
Given that Utopia has so far posited Humanity as the disease and The Network as the cure, the finale is a war in a Petri dish; a small scale conflict for control of the rest of the world. It shouldn’t be surprising that it feels so small, so personal, especially after a series that has been all about personal issues, but it does and that’s a bit disappointing.
The real story to keep you hooked amid the body culling is Becky coming to terms with her illness. Feeling powerless against her Deel’s, she plans to commit suicide. It’s her only control over the uncontrollable. But halt! It turns out she doesn’t have Deels and Thoraxin doesn’t exit. She’s been dosing on opiates this whole time. In a series that has delighted in bloody shocks, it’s nice to have one that is dramatic for being character based.
And it is a doozy; really the one thing to keep you hooked as everyone else runs after the free radical Terrence (Steve Robertson) and tries to prevent him infecting the world.
Isn’t Steve Robertson good? He’s one of those actors who’s in a little of everything and not enough of anything. You know it’s going to be a treat when he pops up, often bearing an accent that isn’t his and imbuing whoever he’s playing with an air of slowly defrosting fervence. Just as he does here.
Against his Tarantino-esque one-man mission, everyone’s efforts to stop him – successful as they are – feel plotted, lacking urgency.
Underwhelming though it may feel, the world is saved, Becky’s saved. But as always in dystopia, victory is fleeting.
As Ian, Becky, Jessica, and Anton are led away at gunpoint by (presumably) The Network, Wilson, who’s floated atop this series rather than been a part of it, becomes the new Mr Rabbit proper. A prolonged and bloody baptism begins with the tagging of Dugdale and the killing of Lee (who’s got to be dead this time!) and ends with a rebirth of flesh and screaming.
So JANUS will still be released. Which means every exertion, every gunshot, every chip in the forehead this series has been for nothing. Still, it has made Tuesdays entertaining.
This may not have been as satisfying a finale as Series 1, but we’re not sick of Utopia yet.
Aired at 10pm on Tuesday 12 August 2014 on Channel 4.
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