Paul Brian McCoy: Last week ended with all the pieces in place for a cracking back half. Ian, Becky, and Grant were on the run with Donaldson and Carvel, Pietre was making a deal with Lee to save his adopted family, Wilson was being recruited by Milner, and Jessica had lost her freaking mind and showed up at Michael’s house with a knife. It was also the last episode that director Marc Munden would oversee. Would a change in director’s change the feel of the show? What did you think, Kelvin? Kelvin Green: I think the difference was clear in terms of visuals — it wasn’t as striking as previous episodes — but the narrative held together well enough. Paul: I have to agree. There were no missteps, for sure, but the sense of visual daring wasn’t quite there. Except for when it was echoing stylistic elements already established by Munden. Kelvin: Yes, it was ticking over nicely but wasn’t as, as you say, daring. Is Munden done with directing the series now, or will he be back for the finale? Paul: He’s done directing, but is on-board as a supervisor of visuals or something along those lines. I’ve not seen anything that the new director, Sam Donovan, has directed before, but as with last season, it’s a solid continuation of Munden’s first half. And it does seem a bit more on target than last season’s back-half directors. Less mucking about with shots of trees and insects to set scenes. More getting down to business. Kelvin: Given that there was such a noticeable change in the visuals — for the worse, albeit only just — it’s odd that they would do the same again. But as you say, it was a bit better this time. Paul: And was this the first time we had an opening scene before the credits? They didn’t run until after the titles and “previously on” bit. Kelvin: I think so. And I feel that I should apologise — apologize, perhaps — for that opening scene. Sorry America. Paul: I thought it worked well. Kelvin: Whenever that kind of thing is done I think of Robocop 2 and how the title never appears in the film. You wait and wait and it never comes. Which is a bit of a tangent, sorry. Anyway, yes, it worked well although the “American” accents were terrible. Paul: I thought they were okay. It was a nice touch having Johnny Cash doing “Big River” while the scene played. Not entirely thematically on point, but “I’m gonna sit right here until I die” is a nice lyric to have associated with the launch of an apocalyptic plan. Kelvin: That was a nice touch. Paul: Once I realized what was happening I was a little surprised that the sleeper agent hadn’t killed his family first, but the scene played much better with him coming home and “cleaning house” so to speak. Especially once the familiar Utopia theme began to creep in. Kelvin: Yes, one thing Utopia has going for it is that it always avoids the conventional and predictable, even if it is in small ways like jumbling up the expected order of events. It made the whole sequence more tense. Paul: It did. This week saw the return of one of my favorite lines of dialogue, when Jessica (Fiona O’Shaughnessy) surprised Michael (Paul Higgins) and he shouts, “Fucking fuck!” Kelvin: There was a lot of fucking, as it were, this episode. It seemed to be every other word at times. I don’t remember that being the case before. Paul: With Becky (Alexandra Roach), sure, but not the other characters. Although they are under a bit more pressure this series, I think. The Network left them alone a lot in the first series. Relatively speaking. What’s your take on Jessica’s new personality? Kelvin: I’m not sure about it. I didn’t watch the first series again in preparation for series two so to me Jessica has gone from almost catatonic to all loved up over Ian and it does seem a bit of a lurch. It may seem more reasonable viewed in the context of the first series. Paul: I think we’re getting another mirroring of emotional development between Jessica and Pietre (Neil Maskell) as each of them are trying on human emotions and taking them for a spin. Although I must admit, when Jessica dramatically told Michael she needed someone to trust and then ran upstairs to her room, I got a flash of Amber from Spaced and laughed out loud. It was the slamming of the door after the footsteps up the stairs that got me. Kelvin: Ha! What a crossover that would be. Yes, I think you’re right. Both are looking to start families in their own way. Paul: I’m still having an easier time sympathizing with Pietre than with Jessica though. Kelvin: Me too. Paul: Don’t know what that says about us. Kelvin: Ha! Perhaps it’s a male thing. I’d like to know whether a female viewer would warm more to Jessica. That said it’s probably that Neil Maskell is a bit more cuddly than Fiona O’Shaughnessy. Paul: I don’t know. I think it may be more about how they project their individual senses of loss. Pietre just seems like a happy child when things are good, and he seems just so monumentally sad when he has to say goodbye to his family. Jessica always seems to be playing a role, except for that giddy moment when Ian arrived. I think that was genuine happiness we saw there. Balanced by scenes of disturbing madness. Kelvin: Yes, although they are similar, Pietre is more of a damaged child but Jessica has that alien insect thing going on. It’s well done. It’s clear that they are siblings but they do have their own personalities. Paul: And now they both know that Daddy’s not dead. Kelvin: Yes! Anton (Ian McDiarmid) isn’t Carvel! No, wait he is Carvel! Paul: The concentration camp tattoo threw me for a bit, as it wasn’t hinted at in the prequel episode. Kelvin: Yes, me too. I thought that here was Utopia throwing us off the scent again. I want to go back to watch the prequel again to see if there are any hints to Carvel’s past. Paul: I don’t remember any, but it throws an interesting twist in his tweak of Janus. If he chose a race to sterilize, which race did he choose? Kelvin: Yes indeed. Paul: I don’t know about you, but Dr. Girlfriend and I both really, really liked the translator, Marius, and wanted him to stick around for a while. Kelvin: Romanian Twatface! I loved that sequence. It was a nice contrast to the doom and insanity elsewhere. Paul: His reactions to everything were just perfect. Kelvin: “That’s Romany, not Romanian!” “Oh, it’s Romanian Romany” As, you say, perfect. Paul: “You’re still racist.” I just checked him on IMDB. His name is Emil Hostina. Kelvin: Well done anyway for an excellent turn as an uptight translator, Emil Hostina. It’s a shame that we won’t see any more of you. Paul: Bravo. I’m sad to see you go so soon. Kelvin: And what a way to go. Once again everything is unpredictable as Pietre turns on his new friends and kidnaps Carvel. I have no idea at all where this is going, and I love it. Paul: Seriously! And what happened to Becky? When Pietre started firing, he hit the doorframe, Ian (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) and Becky jumped through the doorway, she shouted “Ian!” and then he leapt over the counter to hide by himself. Did she get hit? Kelvin: We don’t know! Paul: AAAAAAHHHH! Kelvin: I can’t tell if that’s deliberate ambiguity or a bit of a misstep. Paul: I think it’s deliberate. Kelvin: That sequence didn’t work as well as it could have, so I’m not convinced. Paul: The blocking was a bit confusing. But it all happened so quickly! Kelvin: Pietre’s been established as quite an effective assassin and Ian — who’s been established as not being effective at anything much — avoids him by hiding behind a counter. It was a bit limp. Paul: That first shot toward them may have been the first time Pietre’s missed a target. And to be fair, Ian didn’t avoid him for more than a few seconds. Kelvin: Then when he finds Ian, Pietre has all the time in the world to shoot him but waits until Grant (Oliver Woollford) has ambled over to get in the way. It seemed a bit clumsy. Paul: It was awkward, but it was a nice flip-flop of loyalties for Grant after having pulled the gun on Ian earlier to leap in front of the gun for him later. And Pietre is an ambler. He’s like Jason or Michael Myers, just strolling casually up to you and then murdering you without a second thought. Kelvin: Yes, but he also makes a healthy breakfast! Paul: He does now. Thanks Jessica! Kelvin: To be honest, the wonky action-sequence-that-wasn’t is the only thing that didn’t work for me in the episode so I can let it pass. Paul: The only thing that didn’t work for me was Wilson (Adeel Akhtar) suddenly becoming an expert marksman. Kelvin: Oh yes, that too. Paul: If there was ever a scene that could have used some botched shooting and forced kill shots, it was that one. It was a bit too clean. But I guess that shoots down not one, but two of our predictions! Looks like Milner (Geraldine James) isn’t softening and Wilson isn’t switching sides. Kelvin: Yes, I thought right up until the moment he took the final shot that Wilson was going to let Ian’s brother go. Apparently not. Paul: Me too. Nice job on Milner making the executions “necessary.” Kelvin: He is a really good shot for someone who’s never used a gun and has no depth perception. Paul: I guess he doesn’t have to close one eye to aim. Kelvin: Ha! Wilson’s continued wrestling with his conscience has been a nice subplot in this series and I’m keen to see where it goes; even though he seems to have crossed a line I think there are more surprises to come. Paul: Apparently in a show where you can murder school children and still garner sympathy from viewers, anything is possible. Kelvin: Amazing, isn’t it? Wilson started out as the comic relief geek of the group and I don’t think his story is done yet. Paul: Same here. We did get one prediction right, at least; The Network do have Michael’s family held hostage. So at least there’s that. He didn’t actually go over to the dark side, he’s just under pressure to help the dark side. Frankly, I’m surprised The Network didn’t take this approach sooner. Kelvin: Yes indeed, although I really should have watched the first series again as I couldn’t figure out who the little girl was. Paul: Ha! Kelvin: Badly done, Kelvin Green, badly done. I loved that whole sequence with Michael and Jessica as housemates. My favourite bit, I think, was seeing that montage of Michael squirming and pacing as Jessica slept, unsure of what to do, only for it to be revealed that she’d been asleep for two days! She’s asleep for two days and he’s still too frightened to do anything! Brilliant! Paul: I hadn’t realized that! That IS hilarious. Kelvin: Typical Michael though. Inaction is his defining character trait. Paul: Perfect. I can’t wait to see what happens with Michael and Jessica now that Milner is their prisoner. Kelvin: Yes, I like how the groups have all split up a bit. Michael, Milner and Jessica are one group, looking for Carvel. Wilson is looking for his friends. Pietre has taken Carvel and Grant and is looking for Jessica. Ian is hiding behind a counter. Paul: There’s a lot of shuffling the pieces around, but it works. Kelvin: It does. It shakes things up as we enter the final stretch. Paul: So is there anything we missed talking about? Kelvin: I liked Jessica’s weird hugs, and Ian and Becky’s odd fight: “Your insults are getting increasingly cryptic” Paul: I thought the disturbing “I’m going to save the world” speech by the brainwashed fellow at the food court was well done. Especially Milner’s happy smile when it was over, like she’d watched a pet do a fancy trick. And Wilson’s hanging onto that spoon is still a bit strange. Kelvin: Yes, I wonder what that’s about? I half suspect that Wilson is working some sort of Xanatos Gambit. Paul: Interesting. Kelvin: He’s making all the right noises for Milner and she’s giving him everything. But things aren’t quite right and the spoon may be a symbol of that. Paul: There’s definitely something up there. I did like that both Becky and Ian got a chance to shine this week, with Becky figuring out how to communicate with Carvel and Ian going undercover to retrieve the video from the TV station. Kelvin: Yes, it was good to see Ian do something other than whine and Becky is always good, sweary value. Paul: It was also a nice moment when Pietre said “yes” to teaching Grant to shoot, but “no” to teaching him how to kill. It may be splitting hairs, but… Kelvin: No, that was a nice moment that showed a bit of growth in Pietre. And what was it he said about killing? “For me it’s like unscrewing a bottle to get the water.” Paul: Yes. Kelvin: He is aware that’s not right and doesn’t want that for Grant. Paul: I can’t imagine what’s going to come of the boys’ road trip. Three generations of All Fucked Up on the run. Kelvin: Ha! Yes! The strangest family reunion of them all. It won’t end well for someone. Or everyone. Paul: So how do you score this one? Kelvin: The two shooting scenes were a bit wonky and the visuals weren’t as stunning as before but it remains a fascinating programme so I’m wavering between 4 and 4.5 stars for this one. Paul: I didn’t really have many complaints except for Wilson’s miraculous marksmanship, but for some reason it didn’t all come together for me in the end. I can’t really explain it, I was left wanting more, definitely, but I wasn’t exactly on the edge of my seat, ready for next week, like I have been. I’m going 4 stars and chocking that up to something weird in my psyche this week. Kelvin: I think 4 is fair. I’ll go with that too. Paul: Okay then. Any last words? Or parting thoughts rather. Last words sounds like I’m gonna whack you once we’re done! Kelvin: Just like Pietre. I think that once again it’s telling that this was a weak episode of Utopia but we’re still happy to give it 4 stars. It shows how good the programme is. Paul: Exactly. A weak episode is still miles above just about everything else on television. Kelvin: Well done Utopia, but we want more from you next time! Paul: We are harsh taskmasters! But at least we aren’t appalling. Kelvin: We do have that on our side. Utopia 2.04Kelvin GreenPaul Brian McCoy4.0Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related 5 Responses George August 11, 2014 I still thought this was an excellent episode. I think the change in direction worked okay, because it was also accompanied by a change in pace, and a change in content. Jessica’s Ian infatuation was foreshadowed in the kiss last series (at gunpoint, outside the house), her looking at the couple kissing in the alley and “practicing”. And I think Jessica’s story is that she’s been slowly turning into a “child-human” from being emotionally numbed. Asking questions about Dugdale’s cooking, becoming more of a person generally. And so on. Yeah, not sure about the Arby-on-the-hunt scene, it wasn’t shot nearly as elegantly as, say, episode two’s sequence with the gang. But the “new Arby” is less ruthless perhaps than before, for the people who had become “friends” with him. Anyway, next episode clarifies much of this. It’s a shame our interpreter character doesn’t last long, he would have been good to have for a couple of episodes. Twat-face. Log in to Reply Paul Brian McCoy August 11, 2014 Marius immediately jumped to the top of my list of characters I wanted more from. I was extremely disappointed that he didn’t get to stick around longer. Although, I guess we still get to see more of him. Just not exactly the way I was hoping. Log in to Reply George August 12, 2014 Eat my f… chip! Anyway, our new Burger King character more than fills the gap re: new and interesting. Loved his stares-directly-at-you to camera: very effective. Paul Brian McCoy August 12, 2014 He is so good at playing creepy people. George August 12, 2014 Anyone with a black polo-neck instantly has the jump on everyone else in the sinister stakes. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.