Friday, September 25, 2020

REVIEW: 'Utopia' - Jessica Hyde Forces Her Fans on the Run for the Information They Have Discovered in 'Just a Fanboy'

Amazon's Utopia - Episode 1.02 "Just a Fanboy"

A huge discovery by our young fans is interrupted when they are thrust into the dangerous world of Jessica Hyde. Meanwhile, two doctors with very different career trajectories are both pulled into the path of a deadly flu.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Amazon's Utopia.

"Just a Fanboy" was written by Gillian Flynn and directed by Toby Haynes

While he is being tortured for information, Wilson is ridiculed for being unimaginative as a doomsday prepper. That's the point the show has been trying to illustrate in these opening episodes. He's the typical guy one pictures when talking about those who believe in crazy conspiracies. It's no longer just that one depiction though. In fact, that may be a stereotype that no longer fits. Wilson believes he is living off the grid. He thinks he knows how to survive in the face of torture. And yet, his skills are quickly put to the test. His ability to dislocate his thumb is beneficial eventually. He still loses an eye though. Plus, Jessica is the one who kills his torturer and rescues the rest of his friends. It comes at the expense of his entire family though. The show has such a callous and flippant approach to death. It's completely indifferent to it and dealing with any potential consequences. It truly is a formulaic version of this story. It comments on how unimaginative it is suppose to be. And yet, it falls into the same traps and plotting that the audience has come to expect. Death is almost fetishized in a gruesome way. It's apparent to highlight the stakes of the storytelling. It is always frequent to showcase just how costly all of this will be for the underdogs simply trying to save the world. It has become personal for them as well. The episode closes with Jessica killing Samantha. That death is solely meant to shock the audience. It reveals that truly anything can happen at any point in time. Any of these characters could be disposable in the long run. That's all that this moment implies. It's not really about Samantha specifically either. She did present herself as someone who understood this conspiracy on a much deeper level. She had to always voice her opinion in order to be recognized for such brilliance though. She also embodied the mindset that if something is on the news then it is already too late to do anything about it. She only truly believed in proactive measures. It's important to stop the threat before it grows out of hand. The puzzle has to be solved within the pages of Utopia before the threat starts playing out in the real world. When she listens to the news about 50 children dying from a new stand of the flu, she dismisses it completely. She doesn't see it as apocalyptic enough. That's terrifying considering what the real 2020 has become in America. The spread of a virus happens very rapidly and can quickly amass a staggering death count. That is serious. Preventive measures can be taken to slow down the spread and even eliminate the virus. That is a worthy goal. But Jessica kills Samantha mostly because she threatens her dominance in this group. She has to exert that now so that everyone knows she is the one calling the shots. She is in charge of the narrative. These people are with her so long as they are beneficial to her. She only saves them because they know how to reach out to Grant, who is still just wandering around on his own. Elsewhere, John Cusack is introduced as the head of a pharmaceutical company that may have created this new deadly virus. He is outraged over the accusation that he is testing his new synthetically grown meat on low income children. He has a big reaction because his family is made up of several adopted kids. However, he parents through them needing to recognize some specific action every single day about the value they bring to the world. That could create serious psychological repercussions later on if they don't feel like their actions matter. He believes in himself as changing the world on a much faster time table than science previously dictated. His breakthroughs are questioned as a result. They should be. They could be carrying this dangerous threat. But it's also jumbled storytelling that implies grave stakes without ever getting the audience to invest in what happens. Most of these characters are simply along for the ride not really ever being given the agency to make a difference whatsoever. That gives so much influence to the powerful. The show doesn't quite know what to do with that allegory just yet that condemns those who claim to know what's best for all humanity. But the characters are stuck in their current fates because that's what little control they do have. That's depressing and demoralizing in a way that's actually maddening. The show is too simple in many aspects while embracing several qualities hoping to shock and surprise the audience. That creates storytelling with no depth or purpose. Plus, the central conspiracy of how Jessica's life connects to Utopia and can seemingly foretell all these disasters is murky at best and irrelevant at worst.