8   +   5   =  

Darkly comic second episode of Channel 4’s hit show.

Bringing the present day back into focus with series 2’s second episode, Utopia shows us where our formerly tight-knit gang, and their enemies, has got to these days.

Viewers are treated to the most shocking character re-introduction with hitman/Carvel’s son Arby, who is going by the name Pietri, playing the doting boyfriend and surrogate father to a woman and her daughter, and now carrying around plumbing tools instead of murder weapons. When he is visited by his former partner in crime, Lee the yellow-suited creep, he is soon brought back, unwillingly, into Milner’s world of assassinations.
UTOPIA IIIan (Nathan Stewart-Jarret) is so bored at his IT office job he contemplates stapling his own tongue. Clearly his time on the run evading violent killers and struggling against evil super-spies has warped his sense of fun. Instead of working, he spends most of his 9 to 5 searching an online CCTV database for matching records of the disappeared Becky. Outside of work, he is looking after youngster Grant, who is still wanted by the police and having to lie low.

The suffering Department of Health worker Dugdale is now heading the private company in charge of producing and distributing the ‘Russian flu vaccine’ to the demanding public. Even though he’s changed his job, it doesn’t mean he’s changed his tune. Still disgusted by the actions of the Network – the shadowy organisation headed by Milner – he nevertheless has been forced to work with them and convince the UK population to willingly take the Janus virus on the appointed V-day.

After being shot and captured at the end of series 1, Jessica Hyde (Carvel) is imprisoned in an isolated, yet somewhat futuristic-looking building. Like Hannibal Lector, she’s in a highly secure cage, with her tormentors desperate to get inside her head. Tortured and scarred, there are moments when you believe she will finally cave in and give the information to Milner and her associates. But Jessica does outsmart her captors, using an eclectic mix of resources – a rope made out of bible pages, a wet rag and a Taser – to turn the tables.
UTOPIA IIWhen we see Becky (Alexandra Roach) again, she is still running away from her problems, seconds from jumping off a building to prevent a far more painful death from the terminal Deal’s Syndrome. Convinced not to jump by her medicine dealer, she is then pulled into a farcical plot to kidnap a (not-so) notable scientist who has recently published a critically acclaimed book on the disease. This leads them to discovering a mysterious man hidden in the author’s basement, speaking in an obscure language, doodling equations and answering to the name ‘Anton’. . . there is something suspiciously Carvel-like about this strange figure though.

All these characters’ stories come together in the final scenes as they converge on an abandoned building to face off armed soldiers. They survive and escape thanks to the brave yet deadly actions of Arby who massacres the soldiers. As the episode ends, the gang are off on the run again, this time with Arby along as their protector. Jessica is still imprisoned but has shown she isn’t easily broken, plus she’s managed to sneak a metal coil out of her interrogator’s pen – will it be used to unlock her cage, or to poke someone’s eye out? Who knows. This unpredictable conspiracy show keeps getting better and better.

★★★★

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