Utopia recap: Episode 4, ‘not slow not bad’

Utopia - Courtesy of Elizabeth Morris / Amazon Studios
Utopia - Courtesy of Elizabeth Morris / Amazon Studios /

In Utopia episode 4, Jessica and the gang find a clue that leads them to a mysterious new ally. Thomas plots a unique way to handle Michael.

After Jessica and Ian return from burying Artemis’s body in Utopia episode 4, the group introduces her to Grant. Somewhat foolishly, Jessica is overeager when it comes to getting her hands on the comic and wastes no time in attacking Grant, resulting in him scampering out the bathroom window, dropping pages of Utopia all over the lawn.

Jessica and Grant reach an understanding once she calms down. They have some similarities, both of them kids hunted by the powers that be.

“I’m the kid who’s been running forever trying to find the answers, and you’re the kid who found them.”

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Inside, the group finally gets their hands on Utopia. They divvy up the pages amongst themselves to study and analyze them for clues, specifically, the location to Home which Artemis told Jessica was hidden in these pages.

Ian notices a clock on one of the pages matching the numbers tattooed beneath Artemis’s fingernails. It’s a Chicago phone number that connects them to Agent Katherine Millner (Sonja Sohn).

She gives Jessica a destination and instructs her to leave immediately, the way Artemis taught her — which means burn the place down. Before leaving, they move Sam’s body outdoors so her father can find out what happened to her. Plus, they think it would be a good thing if the Harvest sees they’re not afraid to kill one of their own.

Utopia episode 4 recap: Meeting Agent Millner.

The group splits up just before arriving at this destination. Becky and Ian go ahead to see if this Millner is trustworthy, while Wilson, Grant and Jessica stay behind on the side of the road with Utopia — doesn’t seem all that safe to me, but sure.

Becky and Ian arrive at the location, which turns out to be an abandoned Toys R’ Us. Homeland Security Agent Katherine Millner, played by the excellent Sonja Sohn, is just as cool and mysterious as you’d want a mysterious ally to be.

Millner tells them some interesting information about Mr. Rabbit and the creation of Harvest. She says after 9/11 happened, a group of scientists started making deadly viruses so they could become the leader of biological warfare. Perhaps they never intended to use the viruses, but precision biological warfare with total deniability is a lucrative field. They can target people by race, ethnicity, gender or even religion.

Within that group was a subgroup of rogue scientists who took Homeland Security’s resources and went global, becoming what we know as the Harvest. At the head was Mr. Rabbit, who would create deadly viruses and sell them to other countries. He had a deal to provide China with a vicious strain of the pig flu, SARS, but at the last minute, China reneged on the deal. Mr. Rabbit took the virus and brought it to China himself. More than 800 people died.

Chinese forces later captured Mr. Rabbit and carved the Chinese symbol for the rabbit into his torso and then released his identity to every government agent who had dealings with him previously. They wanted to create a game to see who would kill him first and in the most painful way. But instead of going underground, Mr. Rabbit killed everyone who might know who he is,  63 people on five different continents. Only then did he go underground.

That’s the man who wants the group dead. He could be anyone, and given the state of the world, Millner points out, he’s clearly not done creating death.

“Homeland security doesn’t tend to make people feel better,” she snidely remarks after her spiel.

Since Becky and Ian don’t have anything Millner wants, she has nothing to offer them but a burner phone. She wants Jessica because Mr. Rabbit does and Jessica knows something that makes her very dangerous to him. Millner likes that about him. The agent tells Becky and Ian to let Jessica know she can be a friend to her.

More. Utopia recap: Episode 3, ‘Tuesday’s Child’. light

Once the group is reunited, Jessica doesn’t seem enthused about Millner. She says they’re going to Chicago. With the new information revealed, the group starts theorizing why Mr. Rabbit might be so intent on tracking down Jessica. They ask her what she remembers from Home. She says she lived in her own house with no adults. She regularly received big presents but wasn’t allowed near them. Every Tuesday, a man would bring her cookies.

Becky points out that in Dystopia, Mr. Rabbit would feed Jessica cookies. Perhaps that’s why he wants her dead because she’s the only person still alive who might know who he is. Wilson thinks that’s what might be revealed in Utopia — Mr. Rabbit’s real identity.

Wilson skims through Sam’s Dystopia/Utopia notebook gushing about how smart she really was and how he wished Grant could have met her. Then he notices strange animal figures she sketched in the back and wonders if Sam got the idea from the page of Utopia she saw at the initial bid. But nothing like that animal is in Utopia…unless they don’t have all of it. Everyone looks at Grant.

Back at Alice’s, she finds a few pages of Utopia tucked beneath her bed with a note from Gran treading, “keep these safe, I’ll be back.”

Utopia episode 4
Utopia episode 4 – Courtesy of Amazon Studios / Prime Video /

Utopia episode 4 recap: Harvest’s devastating plot.

Thomas tells his father that Michael has arrived in St. Louis, the hot zone. Kevin is concerned because, to him,  Michael is the “most dangerous man on the planet.” Thomas assumed he would be malleable and easy to manage. Now he’ll need to come up with a new way to handle the virologist.

At Christie Labs, we’re privy to a sinister and horrifying meeting between Thomas, Arby, Cara (Fiona Dourif) and several other executives. At this point, I think we can safely assume this is Harvest. Thomas lays out their primary goals, find Grant and Utopia, find Jessica Hyde and handle Michael, the spineless scientist that has grown a backbone and could ruin their entire operation.

Remember that blood sample Michael received? It turns out, it was sent by Harvest with the goal that Michael would confirm it was his flu killing children across the country and give Christie Labs the say-so to manufacture a vaccine. We still don’t know what their end goal is, but the vaccine plays a pivotal role.

The most chilling part of the meeting, however, is Thomas’s plan to find Grant. He wants to get all eyes in the country searching for that kid and he thinks the best way to do that is to orchestrate a horrific spree killing of families and young children in a public park, with Grant labeled as the killer. Cara is the only person in the room who objects to this plan.

Murdering innocent families crosses a line for her, although she’s fine with the flu killing kids — since that was an understood sacrifice (whatever that means). Thomas doesn’t hesitate to call her emotional, but none of the men in the room see anything wrong with his plan.

Later, she questions why Kevin is keeping her behind on the “sidelines” while he takes Thomas with him to St. Louis. Kevin sees it more as Cara is manning the fort in his absence. He says Thoams isn’t ready for the big leagues, might not ever be, and asks for her input to make her feel valuable. He’s a good manipulator, Dr. Kevin.

Kevin meets with Arby later and asks him if he’s selected the right kid for the job. They don’t specify,  but I’m assuming for the whole spree killer plot. Arby says yes, he chose Adam. Kevin is pleased with his choice, he thinks Adam will be happy to help. They discuss their plan in cryptic details with Kevin verifying that Arby will do “it” humanely and ensuring Arby even knows what “humane” means.

“Not slow and not bad.”

The foreboding moments leading to the execution of Harvest’s plan at the end of Utopia episode 4 are just as horrific and chilling as one might expect and easily the darkest moment of the show so far. Arby dresses Adam in clothes very similar to the security camera footage they have of Grant, and, if you’ll recall from episode one, Arby and Rod preemptively took Grant’s fingerprints. Using specially-crafted gloves containing the prints, Arby gives them to Adam so he can hold the gun and leave his marks all over the victim’s home. Then Arby follows in after him and kills the entire family, which happens to be Cara’s, as if this couldn’t get any worse.

In the final seconds, Arby notices the kid from earlier, the one Kevin gave the box of raisins. He’s curious as to what Arby is doing in his home but doesn’t say or do anything about it. Arby shows a rare moment of humanity as he looks at the child, who might remind him of a younger version of himself, and pulls the trigger, scattering chocolate-covered raisins across the floor. Then he pulls out his inhaler, takes a few puffs and screams.

Utopia episode 4 recap: The hotspot.

Speaking of Michael, he’s struggling to get any valuable intel in town during Utopia episode 4 because everything is shut down and quarantined. It’s not until he’s enjoying his pancake breakfast a local diner that he overhears a group of protestors and realize they might be a veritable well of information. As for the protestors, they’re only too happy to welcome a doctor into their ranks, hoping he might be able to save their kids and provide them with more information on the virus.

In St. Louis, Michael is trying to understand how the flu could show up in numerous classrooms across the city simultaneously. Food-based? No. Water-based? Nada. Fomite? Unclear, the protests outside his car grow more rampant and he joins the fray, shouting his credentials in a bid to get access to the medical zone. He meets a man named Dale Warwick (Tim Hopper), a fellow doctor, and tells him that he’s an expert on this specific flu and even has a vaccine sample.

Thomas arrives on the scene and ignores Michael’s pleas, confirming Dale’s fears that they’re not going to listen to any of the professionals or experts (ugh, I know this show has generated a lot of controversy over its timeliness but wow, so many of these moments are just eerily prophetic in the worst way, it’s depressing).

Amid the protest, Dale tells Michael about his ballerina daughter Charlotte stuck in the quarantine zone. When Michael is finally granted clearance, Dale asks him to tell his daughter he loves her and that he’ll see her soon. Michael tells the soldiers that Dale is his medical partner and needs to go with him.

Michael and Dale get dressed in their hazmat suits and enter the quarantine zone. Michael gets to visit his daughter. He tells Michael is a daughter is a fighter and wonders how much he knows about this flu, really.

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Odds & Ends from Utopia episode 4

  • That entire Harvest meeting must be what anti-vaxxers think happens every day.
  • What’s the deal with raisins? Arby seems obsessed with them and Kevin regularly carries them around, offering them to kids.
  • In the scene where Arby chooses Adam from a classroom at the Christie Labs hub, she’s teaching them about tigers and their dwindling population. Of the 4,000 remaining tigers, almost all of them are in captivity. One student says they could always breed more, but another asks what would be the point if they just sit in cages all day. That’s right, she says, we have to consider the cost of bringing more life into a world with limited resources. It sounds like the Harvest doctrine of making children prove they’re worthy of a place in this crowded world starts young.

What did you think about Utopia episode 4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

All eight episodes of Utopia season 1 are now streaming on Netflix.