Utopia is shocking, grisly and harsh but it is also visually lovely. Whilst watching Marc Munden’s dark series you can’t help but notice the amazing care taken with each scene. Munden places his actors against a backdrop that is as startling as the content of the story. The bright yellow, the show’s particular colour, creeps in every now and then. But the bold greens and blues make stunning viewing. Even the grass is greener and every single colour pops.
The opening scene of episode three was truly awful. Many may wonder why we need more of this extreme violence and why Grant had to be framed for such a crime. However, Arby’s rampage through the school did make Grant the most famous boy in England thus making it easier for them to locate him. The shot at the start with Arby sitting in the children’s toilet was almost arty. Neil Maskell’s Arby with his almost dumb expression is pathetic and almost childish at times. The revelation that he is a sort of Frankenstein experiment who was ‘made’ by Philip Carvell explains his complete lack of feelings. He was part of a “consignment from Bulgaria”, parentless and turned into a desensitised killing machine possibly through the use of conditioning and drugs. Although it appears the monster may be questioning his vocation. His hesitation at the school to kill one of the children was slightly out of character and later when confronted with Jessica Hyde he puts away his gun and leaves.
Speaking of which, Ms Hyde is not far behind Arby on the desensitised scale. Her reaction to the school killings was matter-of-fact – “It’s a handful of kids – so what?” Later as she tries to convince Grant to come with her I couldn’t help wondering why exactly she wanted the manuscript and what would become of Grant once he was no longer useful. She continued in her dogged pursuit of the manuscript – this time encouraging Grant to drink alcohol and then questioning him about its whereabouts. However, her mothering of him once he was drunk and later her attempt to save both Alice and Grant did show a more softer side.
But the big question is – Why did Arby simply walk away from Jessica Hyde? He spent the first episode asking everyone he met where she was and once he found her he didn’t seem that interested anymore. So how are they connected? Is Jessica really Philip Carvell’s daughter? Or is she an experiment like Arby? Are they both his ‘children’?
Meanwhile the nervous Dugdale was off to a Scottish island determined to get a body part from one of the infected corpses. Of course flashing his identity card was a slight mistake. As he handed over the severed finger to his boss it was obvious he had another stashed somewhere and if I could figure that out then surely the Network can… The future doesn’t look too bright for him, I don’t think.
Of course we were introduced to Agent Milner from MI5 this week. How she fits into all this is a mystery for now. As is Becky’s phone call from last week. She seemed almost as insistant to get the manuscript as Jessica did.
Utopia has a strangeness and a weirdness that intrigues and although pretty heavy on the violence the twisted story pulls the viewer in making it addictive telly. Amongst the fairy tales, vampire stories and predictable series this shines as an example of truly original viewing. This week marked the halfway point of this series and I, for one, hope there’ll be a series 2. After all, besides Donny Darko where else would you find such a scary rabbit?