WHY I LOVE UTOPIA SEASON 2 EPISODE 1
Utopia Season 2 is almost over, but I still can’t get over how amazing the first episode was. It added so many extra dimensions to important characters we previously knew so little about.
We know so little about Carvel in Season 1, besides the fact that he created Janus with Mr Rabbit only to leave The Network, eventually driven insane. In this flashback episode we’re able to see the journey Carvel takes. He is a passionate yet apathetic man, until he meets Milner. Their common cause brings them closer together, and we see the relationship between Mr Rabbit and Carvel was not just scientific work as we previously thought, but a love between two minds. I was captured from the first second by Tom Burke’s performance, and the changes that he takes the audience through are so beautiful. He creates a character who we feel contempt towards for experimenting on his own son, yet we empathise with him and see his vulnerability when Jessica is born. His love for this child goes against everything he believes in and encompasses him. We see the great contrast between his relationship with his two children and it is heartbreaking when he leaves Pietre behind. We now see the complexities in Carvel, a character racked with guilt, the noose in his room evidence of his difficulty to live with what he has done.
Milner becomes such a complex character with the addition of her backstory, and Rose Leslie portrays this perfectly. We know almost nothing about her, and even with this flashback she is just as enigmatic. Was meeting Carvel and happening to have the same views really coincidental? What is she referring to when she says she’s been in a genocide? How long has she been running The Network? Despite these we still see her slowly become the Mr Rabbit of legend. However, Milner is not evil, she is just more pragmatic than Carvel, willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goal. At times it isn’t easy for her, especially as we watch her drown her own husband. Her love for Carvel, and her feelings of jealousy causes him only to drift away from her further, as she has his wife die in childbirth. Then when dealing with politicians she is truly Mr Rabbit, ruthless, manipulating, devious, and cunning. Her actions make her words in present day episodes more enigmatic, “Do you think I wanted to be Mr Rabbit?”
These two aren’t villains in this world, they’re idealistic young people, believing they alone can save the world. Their project brings them together and breaks them apart. Milner puts Carvel on a pedestal, calling him a God, and this warps him, causing him to make the change to Janus. Carvel makes Milner believe so strongly in what they can do and she becomes the calculating woman we see in the present. They needed each other, but changed each other immeasurably.
This show and its characters are so beautifully constructed, this episode really shows Dennis Kelly’s ingenuity as a writer