13 questions left unanswered by the Utopia finale

Feature Louisa Mellor 20 Feb 2013 - 07:00

Channel 4’s six-part thriller Utopia aired its finale last night. Here are some of the questions it left us with…

Warning: this feature contains spoilers for Utopia.

Resolving a conspiracy thriller to the satisfaction of your audience while leaving enough plot in play for a second series is an unenviable task. If the recommission doesn’t arrive, people will be left wanting. Comments sections can fill up with splutter and rage. Facebook posts can descend into under-punctuated babble. To channel our collective curiosity about the world of Dennis Kelly’s Utopia then, we’ve gathered up these remaining questions about series one to see what answers the hive-mind can provide. In the words of Milner, “We have so much to do”…

1. Are Arby and Wilson really dead? 

Quiffed henchman Lee was the first of the Network’s soldiers to fall, which he did after being shot by a recently blinded Wilson in episode one. It wasn’t until episode three that Arby confirmed his death when speaking to Letts: “Lee was killed the other day. Next to you he’s the person I know most. Why doesn’t that hurt me?”. Despite the wishful thinking of Utopia's viewers, Dennis Kelly more or less confirmed that the character was a goner on Twitter, telling a fan "I almost lost my bottle and left him alive, but it's no good holding on to things." But what about Arby?

We last saw Neil Maskell's Arby in his childhood bedroom at the facility once he'd handed Jessica Hyde the manuscript. After retrieving it from the air vent decorated with faces “to keep the devil out”, Arby was left in the burning building and never seen again. Did he perish in the fire he started? Did he manage to escape? Or did sibling Jessica go back for him? (After all, she had time to source that impressive-looking OB van before returning to the mansion, so could well have fitted in a detour to rescue her big brother. He is the only family she has left, remember.)

Finally, we come to Wilson Wilson, who succumbed to a second stab wound just days after his self-administered knifing. Along with Neil Maskell, Adeel Akhtar gave one of Utopia’s best performances, so if series two is a possibility, then doing away with him so callously seems a waste. We like to think they both made it.

2. Is Milner the Devil? 

This still from last night's finale certainly suggests so, though we’d assume it’s more of a metaphor for her diabolical scheming than a clue she’s the honest-to-God devil. Imaginative though Utopia is, it remains in the realm of speculative fiction rather than out-and-out fantasy.

The Utopia Experiments graphic novel, as Becky reminds us in episode one, is about a scientist who makes a pact with the devil (or a 'Deel', if we're playing word games). That scientist? Philip Carvel, father to Jessica and Arby. That devil? Network head Milner.

3. Is Milner Jessica and Arby’s mother? 

A trickier one, this. Utopia is full of one-parent families; Wilson and his dad, Becky and hers, Grant and his mum, Alice and hers… We’ve known from episode two that Philip Carvel was Jessica’s father, and from episode five that she shared that dubious privilege with Arby, but there’s been no hint of a mother for either. He may have been a brilliant geneticist, but Carvel would have needed a womb to house his two experiments. Did Milner provide that service?

4. Was that really Milner’s son dying of Deels in episode five? 

We’re probably safe to assume it wasn’t, seeing as telling the truth hasn’t exactly been Ms Rabbit’s strong-point. The way she told it, Mr Milner (if he existed) worked at Corvadt (plausible) and contracted Deels (also plausible considering that experimenting on family members is de rigueur round Corvadt way), which he passed on to their son. The whole thing was most likely a ruse to play on Becky’s fears about her Deels triggering, and we can assume that Milner’s power is wide-reaching enough to be able to procure any number of wheezing children to aid her subterfuge.

5. Who was the skinhead scouser in the church? 

He came in to the church in episode three swearing and pointing a gun (very much the Utopia way), before meeting a swift exit at the hands of Milner’s standard-issue firearm. Our best guess is that he was another Network stooge, one used as cannon fodder by Milner so she could gain the trust of the group.

6. Has Grant been proven innocent? 

He may be disguised as him out of My Chemical Romance, but not too long ago, Grant’s face was all over the papers and TV as the suspect in a school shooting. The finale saw him running around a train station, hours after committing a bonafide murder, with little regard for being recognised. Does that mean he’s been cleared, or is he still the UK’s most notorious eleven-year-old?

7. What was the chemical diagram formed when all the pages of the manuscript come together? 

Alice putting together the manuscript jigsaw was a great visual moment, but what did it really add to the unravelling mystery? A chemical diagram of sorts was uncovered, but if the secret to Janus was hidden inside Jessica all along, then what was the diagram's significance? Additionally, if the manuscript was just, as Milner says “drawings done by a mad man”, then why was The Assistant persevering with squeezing those five-digit numbers out of Grant? Had Milner kept Jessica’s true importance hidden from her decoy too?

8. Can Becky get Thoraxin from anywhere else? 

Apologies if we’ve missed this, but did Donaldson develop the Deels medication himself? If not, is there another potential source of it that Becky could mine to stave off her symptoms?

9. Who was Krystoff/Christoph and did he work alone? 

We know that Jessica’s guardian met a grisly fate thanks to Arby and pal, but did he act alone when he rescued Jessica from Carvel’s lab? Milner may not be on the side of the angels, but is there a group cognisant of, and working against The Network? Was Krystoff/Christoph one of them?

10. Is it better to stem the flood of human life by mass sterilisation and thus ensure a future for mankind than continue to over-consume and over-populate the Earth in the knowledge that it won’t end well? 

Umm. Pass.

Just for good measure, here are a few questions we’ve arrived at our own answers to:

11. Could it all actually happen? 

By which we mean: is it possible to introduce a hereditary change to the human genome using a combination of an amino acid and a protein that, when ingested, together act as a genetic trigger to prevent chromosomal division in the cells that control fertility?

Den of Geek posed that very question to a biochemist, and here’s what she told us: “I don’t really know, but you wouldn't give a combination of amino acid and protein because proteins are made of amino acids so that doesn't really make sense, and also if you ingested the protein you would just digest it and excrete it - it wouldn't alter your DNA. If you injected a protein into the blood you might stand more chance of affecting some cells but the change couldn't be passed to offspring. You would be better off introducing new DNA with a plasmid but even then I don't know if it would be possible.” In short, her considered opinion was that, “It mostly sounds like bollocks”. Phew.

12. Does a laptop battery compartment contain shiv-making material? 

I had a look in three, and came up with a 100% failure rate. None of the laptop battery compartments I checked contained a handy bit of snap-able plastic that could form a make-shift weapon. Maybe it’s a Network thing.

13. What happens if you email LDS101@corvadtltd.com and say you’ve got the manuscript? 

Nothing, sadly. You get a Mail Delivery Subsystem notification which, as far as we can work out, contains no secret code or Janus-related message. It seems the clever-clever social media wizardry that’s been going on in the background to Utopia (ring the number advertised in the police appeal for Grant’s whereabouts and you’ll see what we mean) didn’t extend to setting up a fake email account for The Assistant, despite the camera lingering on the address bar tantalisingly.

Similarly, anyone who checked Google Maps to see if Dugdale’s claim that 164 Cantwell Way, Stevenage was indeed the site of a warehouse that could house enough vaccine to spay the UK will, like us, have been disappointed. Honestly, it’s almost as if someone was just making this stuff up.

Read our review of the Utopia finale, here.

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Great write up. I enjoyed that, i hope we do get a second series as im not yet quenched

As frustrating and sometimes annoying as Utopia has been to watch, I still can't help but feel it's one of the most intriguing dramas on UK TV for a long while. Every week I looked forward to the next episode and last night's finale still left me wanting more. I'm very much hoping for a second series.

Loved the show... however...

Having worked in Liverpool for many years I found it difficult to get round the fact it was masquerading as London as each time they turned a corner I'd think "That's just round the corner from my old office..."

All the offices, foyers and corridors of the Minister and Corvadt were actually meeting rooms, corridors, receptions and foyers in the Royal Liver Building, where I worked for nine years (plus some in the Cunard Building next door where I attended many meetings).

I know what you mean, I know Liverpool quite well and kept spotting the locations. At one point, they were running through some gardens near Moorfields to go through a door which took them to the BlueCoat - made me laugh.

I think I liked it though, rather than found it annoying.

does that include that freaky ministerial office that looked like the inside of a satanic church, with all the wood carvings on the wall?

small point, but I don't think what Grant did should be classified as a murder, since he was acting to save probably his own life, but definitely his mothers.

Also, the reason the LDS email address doesn't work is because Letts was killed by the minister. At which point his email address was shut down.

Don't know where that was filmed. Reminded me of John Milton's office in Devil's Advocate though.

Something amusing just occured to me... I love the suggestion that Jessica and Arby are siblings for this reason...

Arby's real name, Pietra, is an Italian variation of Peter. Couple that with the fact that, as DoG suggest, they may very well be the offspring of Milner, or as they refer to her, Ms. Rabbit... what have you got?

Jessica Rabbit & Peter Rabbit.

These questions are crap, The collage made from the manuscripts images displays the fictional formula they were searching for, Milner is Jessica's fathers lover after a brief visit to Brazil for some gender re-alignment surgery in 1966 this was made possible, In a laptop the battery compartment on certain types has a Heat shield made from a alloy composite which can be bent into a Shiv type inside some lithium packs for laptops there exists a flat metal plate which could be bent to suit this purpose of murder, Government with corrupt shadow organisations can and do things unknown to the public "CUBAN SCHOOLS RECEIEVED POISENED MILK THAT WAS MEANT TO KILL CASTRO AND HIS 2IC",

Becky could simply Kill people and take their THORAX AND EAT IT, Who was Krystoff/Christoph he was a agent that worked with Jessica's father and Milner,

Who was the skinhead scouser in the church? :: This was a neo Nazi that had taken too much stolen out of date medication,

Was that really Milner’s son dying of Deels in episode five? no this was an autistic individual that is used in recording every detail from emotion heart rate etc. etc. Used often to detect liars and hiding remembers ever detail when needed by handlers,
Are Arby and Wilson really dead? This depends on your religious views which the show is really not about.
Are Arby and Wilson really dead?

It might have been bollocks, but it was good bollocks.

I love how everyone seems to share this opinion. There was something really wrong about Utopia and yet, really awesome too.


very, very, very good series. The art direction and extreme content was handled well, and was not gratuitious. Themes were also well embedded- for instance, autonomy and agency in how controlled their lives become, and Becky's decision to free the others by leaving them.

And also childhood was a central theme: note that every episode had something terrible happen to a child- the school shooting, Grant's murder, the girl's murder, the family in the second episode, the boy in the cold opening of the first, and of course Pietrie and Jessica, the two forsaken children at the heart of the program.

Ultimately, I think at a thematic level, the whole conspiracy is really just an excuse to ask: do we have the right to decide someone's future, and can we ever return from our actions? The answers apply just as much to the children of the series as they do to the over-arching storyline. Thought-provoking and deeply ingrained themes, always a good thing! Well made, controversial, challenging and gripping- Channel 4's really fulfilling its remit here, bravo.

Disappointing article, to be honest. Utopia was brilliant, but most of the questions here are speculations that were barely pointed at in the show - if they were pointed at all. One could be awnsered with the phrase: "suspend disbelief". This should, in fairness, be called 4 questions left unawnsered.

...and there is a child called Alice. Know any fictional Alices who hang around with Rabbits? Maybe through the looking glass?

That was in Scarisbrick Hall in Lancashire. Real place, you can have a wedding there :-)

"2. Is Milner the Devil?" GREAT STILL! I think it was one of the best recent programs on either side of the Atlantic. Here's the Channel 4 going ahead with a second series!

It was like a succinct, coherent Lost. Artistically, it is unique. Beginning in the late '90's, there have been two strands of television: programs that adhere to a traditional television model and programs that evoke the movies. Utopia is something different. It is an attempt to get everything visually and creatively out of the medium and they have succeeded wildly.

It's not traditional TV it's not cinematic TV, it's... it's.. I don't know what it is, but it is brilliant.

My question is why did Becky run off? Was her fit even real? Hope there's a series two...and they don't try and remake Utopia in the states where I am.

I am quite satisfied that my determination that Jessica Hyde was too similar a name to 'Jekyll and Hyde' to mean that she was just one-dimensional/only had one face paid off.

just think of how those of us who live in South Wales feel when watching Doctor Who! It can take you out of the story every now and then when it's overly familiar.

lol top marks!

I think Wlison will survive and be a part of the network next series, facing off against his old friends.

If there is a 'counter-network' my guess is that they will be introduced by rescuing Jessica from Milner but not before they get her blood/DNA/whatever (assuming that Janus is as easily hidden as that inside her).

Next series I hope it gets weirder and weirder and that there is some point to referencing wonderland etc. Perhaps the madness of Carvel has something to it. When you think about it the Network and it's aims are the essence of crazy people thinking they are acting totally sane, whilst the main characters are the sane ones who are acting like crazy people (conspiracies, murder, arson, etc.).

I really want series 2 to really up the ante in terms of where it's prepared to go, no matter how dumb it may seem as they do seem to be able to make it look really cool no matter how daft it might be.

I'm confused why Becky lied about the train. Did I miss something?

Wow. Well done. Have a biscuit.

Are you 11? I do hope so.

Oh dear. If you think you are funny, you are wrong.

I agree. Wilson HAS to return as a villain.

Surely they didn't give him one eye and an eye-patch for nothing.

Surely the real question regarding Utopia which everyone has so far failed to ask is...what was going on with James Fox's funny little bit of facial fluff?

Seriously though, I really enoyed this series and sincerely hope we get a second hit of it.

Oh man I wish amazing programs like Utopia and Black Mirror would telecast live here in the states.Yanks here think Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy's laughably bad cult cereal (incorrect grammar pun intended) killer series "The Following" is the best show on television "OMG in like,foreveerrr".They really do.
I could watch more of the pending future shock dystopia of Utopia.Maybe a 3 series max run @ 6 episodes each.Basically...I need more "Raisen Boy" dammit!

Don't you know a goatee automatically makes you evil as proven in the Star Trek episode Mirror Mirror?

ringing a phone number is NOT social media!

I hope Arby and Wilson are still alive, & they switch sides. Arby becoming good Wilson evil.

??????? - Kids, don't do drugs!

Perhaps the biggest question is: What was the point of making a mutation that causes sterility genetically transmissible? It's not like carriers are going to be producing offspring.

The Following's only appeal is how laughably formulaic and predictable it is. And also Kevin Bacon. I'll watch the guy in anything. The forced literary references are incredibly laughable, too!
You're right about Utopia and Black Mirror! Here's to Channel 4 pushing the limits and expectations of TV drama further than anyone else will dare. Brilliant stuff!

Given Alice reading abilities, I wouldn't be surprise if Alice is one of Corvadt subjects

A bit of a stretch, but Milner is quite close to milliner. Hope she makes something nice out of all these rabbits

She wanted to distract Grant so she could run away, she didnt want to have them watch her get sick and die

This is probably the best bot of drama I have seen on telly for ages - totally brilliant
Couple of comments - viability of plot? As a biochemist myself, I agree with the premise that proteins/amino acids would not be an issue - but have any of you heard of prions? Particles that build up and can cause physiological changes in the brain - "mad cow disease ? TSE / BSE ? And as for the ridiculous idea that people could be putting things into our ever so rigorous food chain without anyone in government knowing about it ..... well, just look at some recent news :) Inspired writing it seem.

the battery compartment weapon - assuming the laptop is 2008 alu unibody macbook (the same I'm using right now) - it has the same lever to access battery compartment (one of the last MBs with replaceable batteries) and the cover itself is detachable (in fact, it's not attached to the back of the laptop)... although i did not try it, as the cover is a piece of pretty stiff long aluminum plate, which i suppose could be bent to the shape grant used... thus, i'd call it plausible.

I was just thinking the same thing having finally watched the series, Milner - Milliner - Mad Hatter?

just got to point out. the skinhead who was shot in the church is a mancunian not a scouser! why do southerners always get them mixed up they're nothing alike

Everyone keeps saying there was something wrong here or there, other than the science behind the sterilization (Which unlike Doctor Who more or less passed off unnoticed since Time Travel science is more well known in pop culture than Biological science) I thought it was bloody brilliant. No plot holes in the conspiracy as of yet so far too!

Imagine living in a place like Vancouver where they filmed xfiles for 5 years, mascarading as places up and down the US

"If your parents didn't have kids, chances are you won't either".

I just have one question,

Why in the fifth episode when they get lost about Milner
( she followed them through the cellphone), Ian told Wilson « She saved us, got Grant off the hook ».

Did she really do something for the Grant culpability murder in the previous
episodes ? Did I miss something ?

Also why in the
finale Becky called Grant « Paul », maybe it doesn’t matter…

I noticed the second point also. Glad to know I wasn't the only one.

I thought I'd just missed it in the original episode, glad I hadn't!

1 in 20 people do not become sterile. The ones that do produce offspring then pass the mutation on to those children. If someone had 20 children then statistically only 1 of those children would be able to have children.

"Janus effects 90-95% of the population, leaving only 1 in 20 fertile."
"We predict the population will plateau at 500 million in just under 100 years
"By then normal breeding rates should resume..."

I would be interested in calculating the population "growth" based on those conditions.

When the biochemist said that "It mostly sounds like bollocks," she might just as well have been commenting on the plot of Utopia, or on the fulsome and undeserved praise it has received from the pillocks who like it.

Reading this one year old comment after watching the second episode of the second season kinda blew my mind.

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