2013, TV

Utopia (2013)

This is a hyper-stylized, science fiction-adjacent British conspiracy thriller that has feels really unique but slowly devolves into the kind of silly plotting you get in shows and movies where there are too many twists. I found the final episode of season 1 so frustrating that I will not be watching the second season.


At the beginning of this show, I didn’t know what to make of it. The colour palette is insanely overly saturated giving the whole show a sense of unreality, which suits it given what happens. The opening of the show is really wild, and that first episode just grabs you with how crazy it is. As Jenn noted, the show has some (minor) similarities with Fargo in terms of how it combines dark comedy and cartoonish violence. (The actual style of both shows is extremely different.)

I found the show quite unique in the early going and genuinely enjoyed it. The conspiracy is far-fetched, sure, but the hyper-stylization made me forgive it, for most of the first season. I did find it getting a little more far-fetched as we learn more and more about the plot, but I was mostly willing to put up with it.

Now, the actual conspiracy is second rate Bond-villain stuff that we’ve seen way too much, but it’s kept enough of a mystery for the first part of the season that you don’t have to worry about it. But this whole plot has dated rather horribly, given what happened with the vaccines for COVID but of course they couldn’t have know that at the time. Also, what happened with the vaccines undermines this conspiracy but, again, they couldn’t know that.

One of the things that started to get on my nerves was Wilson’s heel turn. Jenn had a decent explanation for it but it wasn’t one that was, as they say, “in the text.” There were some other things that ate at me but this one was the one where I was really worried about where it would go. But I was still mostly enjoying the show.

But things really go off the rails in the final episode. I can’t prove it, but it feels like they engineered the final twist once they found out they were getting another season, because we get no hint it’s coming into the final episode. (At least I got no hint.) And the final reveal makes a lot of stuff not make any sense, both from who the real villain is and where the molecular information was really located. The latter makes sense given Arby’s refrain, but that’s the only way it makes sense.

The final episode of season left enough of a bad taste in my mouth that I decided I didn’t want to watch the second season.

6/10 because of how distinct it feels in the early goings

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