3   +   9   =  

Cartoonish, bloody fun in Utopia’s third episode.

This episode continues Utopia‘s winning streak with more madness, twists and dark, dark humour.

Arby is still on the run with the gang, looking for reasons why soldiers were after them last episode. It’s all connected to the cryptic phrase ‘Jimmy Deeshel is Fatman’. After taking this phrase to a hacker acquaintance of Arby’s – a teen boy super computer whizz character that only seems to exist on TV ­– the group are told of a super-secret government plot involving the atomic bomb at Nagasaki aka Fatman. This conspiracy just keeps getting larger and more terrifying. Just as we think Arby is actually one of the good guys here, it looks like he has been (maybe deliberately) leaving a trail of raisins for the Network to follow. This show is such a perfect blend of crazy adventure, fairy-tale whimsy and modern scientific conspiracy that a man leaving breadcrumbs while on a manhunt seems to appropriately capture the show’s essence.

Arby’s former partner-in-crime Lee is searching for them, alongside an unwilling Wilson who is frightened to find himself partnered with the yellow-suited psychopath who scooped out his eye with a spoon last series. As Lee is keen to remind Wilson though, ‘an eye for an eye’ isn’t quite the case with Wilson having shot Lee, damaging his lung and leaving his left arm paralysed.
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Lee has a violent menacing quality to him that is hidden behind a softly-spoken, amiable demeanour – when Ian’s work pal catches Lee disassembling Ian’s office computer and fails to fall for the reasonable explanations as to why, Lee simply and calmly slices the poor man’s neck with a pocket-knife. This unflustered yet blood-spurtingly messy murder is then framed on Ian.

When Lee catches up to Arby at the house of the hacker, the teen is dead, along with the boy’s parents. Arby tells him to stay away, he has new identities for himself, Tess and Amanda (the mother/daughter pair he had been living with in the last episode). Arby wants the pair to remain safe and protected from the horrors of the Network’s world, even if it means betraying his new potential friends and anyone else he crosses paths with.

Jessica’s storyline is the most eventful and entertaining, as she finds herself being whisked off for vivisection so the doctors can discover what changes had been made to Janus. Jessica’s escape from the Milner’s clutches is almost slapstick, as she stabs the surgeon about to operate on her brain with a syringe. As they gravitate toward the exit, aka waste disposal chute, she is hunched on his shoulders steering him with the needle stuck firmly in his neck. Her eventual Shawshank-like escape through the human waste, blood and guts is horrible, but damn funny to see.
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The most intriguing plot this week was Dugdale’s. Surprisingly. His interaction with a scientist working on the flu vaccine is disarming, because Bridget, the sweet-natured, pleasantly ordinary and ethically minded worker actually notices the weirdness of the vaccine being worked on. In their scenes there is the sense of danger looming as Dugdale knows the more Bridget digs, the more she becomes a target. Distressingly though, is that Dugdale is the one who plants the bullseye on her, by informing the Network of her discovery and allowing thugs to visit her house. He isn’t showing loyalty to Milner’s scheme, just fear for his own life now. The final moment of the episode is reserved for him, as a knock on his door reveals Jessica Hyde, sporting a Harley Quinn-esque childlike appearance and craziness behind the eyes.

It looks like last week’s prediction was correct, and the mysterious elderly Anton is Philip Carvel. Becky and Ian realise this when they catch him doodling exactly like the illustrations from the famous Utopia comic. Ian’s reaction however, is to run straight to Milner with this information, calling her to spread the word that Carvel is alive. Milner may have lost Jessica, but now she’s going to get something even better.

Another fantastic episode from this unique series. How can a show so colourful be so sinister? More of the same next time please.

★★★★