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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