Warning: contains major Utopia spoilers
With newly invented characters and a whole new world wrapped around bad guys/pragmatic planet savers The Harvest (the US version of The Network), Gillian Flynn’s Utopia makes considerable changes to the Channel 4 original. It’s faithful though, in most of the ways that matter – Jessica Hyde, the unforgettable Arby, Wilson Wilson and more are all kept intact, just transplanted from London to Chicago. There’s some very close translation of a few memorable scenes, as well as a good amount of invention. Flynn rewrites the backstory to weave in new setting ‘Home’, and new players, chief of which are John Cusack‘s Dr. Kevin Christie and Rainn Wilson’s Dr. Michael Stearns (the latter a sort-of combination of the original’s Michael Dugdale and scientist Donaldson).
Flynn’s series takes the bold step of taking us inside the shady global organisation pulling the strings of global virus outbreaks, and building an unsettling cult mythology around it with its own tagline: what have you done today to earn your place in this crowded world? Well, in our case, we’ve sorted through the many threads of the Utopia remake finale to explain anything viewers may have missed the first time around… Major spoilers ahead.
Who is Mr Rabbit?
‘Christie and I have parted ways, he just doesn’t know it yet.’
It seems that both Christie and Milner are ‘Mr Rabbit’, i.e. the head of shadowy bio-warfare/new society group The Harvest. Both have the Chinese symbol for rabbit carved into their torsos, and both worked together on the production of viruses for use as germ-warfare post 9-11. The mysterious Milner (The Wire‘s Sonja Sohn), however, told Jessica that she and Christie had parted ways, though he didn’t know it yet, pointing the way to a potential rivalry should there be a second season.
What is The Harvest?
It’s the organisation started by Christie and Milner, which is behind the introduction of man-made viruses into the population. Its ultimate purpose, or at least, Christie’s purpose, is to sterilise the global population for three generations, thereby forcibly reducing overpopulation and the strain it places on the planet’s natural resources.
What is Home?
‘A new society, a grand social experiment’
The headquarters of The Harvest, where children (especially twins – matching pairs are useful in genetic studies) are shipped in from impoverished countries all over the world and brainwashed in Christie’s beliefs. Some are experimented on, some are trained –like Arby – to be assassins, others are trained to sacrifice themselves as martyrs. They’re all taught to respect the ‘purpose’ assigned to them, and to end each day by asking what they’ve done to earn their place in this crowded world.
What is hidden inside the Flu vaccine?
‘You won’t be having any children’
A sterilisation gene that’s effective for three generations, stopping anybody who got the vaccine from having children during that time. It’s part of Christie’s Thanos-alike plan to reverse global overpopulation and reduce the pressure it puts on scarce natural resources, which he predicts would lead to the “war of wars”.
What happened to Jessica in that yellow house?
‘Your father created you for me’
She was gassed and experimented on as a child, her body used to test viruses, vaccines and genetic behavioural modifications. The ‘presents’ she remembers being delivered were crates of children purchased from their parents in poverty all over the world, there to be used as lab rats, or trained as soldiers or martyrs. When ‘Mr Rabbit’ used to give Jessica cookies, presumably they were infected with various flus against which she’d been vaccinated. (Or maybe they were just cookies? He does love kids, after all.) Jessica lived there alone, being experimented on by her father, until Artemis (a combination of UK character The Tramp and Jessica’s unseen trainer/saviour Christos, whom a 15-year-old Arby tortured to death) broke them both out, hiding Jessica’s father in an institution and taking the girl on the run.
Who was the man in Jessica Hyde’s basement?
‘My dear, he didn’t care about you at all’
Jessica’s father, the scientist who drew the Dystopia and Utopia comics, and who manufactured multiple viruses during his time working for The Harvest. When Artemis sprang young Jessica and her father from Home and took them on the run, she hid Jessica’s father in an insane asylum (the same one Dr Mike was checked into by his Harvest sleeper agent/wife Maureen), before Milner presumably had it burned to the ground, taking Jessica’s father and imprisoning him in the basement underneath the yellow house.
Is Milner Jessica’s biological mother?
‘I’m not Homeland, I’m Home’
There’s nothing to suggest that Jessica wasn’t simply part of a shipment of children, raised by her scientist ‘father’ in the same way that Dale was given twins Charlotte and Lily to raise as his own. However, there’s a chance that she could be her father’s biological child, and if so, there’s also a chance that Milner is her biological mother (though at this stage, we’re only in the realm of mad speculation.) Arby does call Jessica his sister, but presumably he’s talking figuratively in light of their shared childhoods as lab rats.
Why did Arby/John betray The Harvest?
‘Every child needs love, I think’
Because he read the Utopia pages he’d taken from Grant, and realised that The Harvest had subjected him to experiments as a child that turned him into an unfeeling monster able to commit brutal acts without feeling remorse. Arby (a modification of the initials R.B, which stood for Raisin Boy, the name the Harvest scientists gave him because of his fondness for chocolate-covered raisins – he didn’t even have a name) realised that Harvest had mistreated him, and so decided to choose his own name – John – and his own purpose: to help his ‘sister’ in experimentation, Jessica Hyde.
Why was Wilson Wilson with Thomas and Christie in the end?
‘Everything I do is a cure for our current situation.’
Because (unless he’s playing the double agent game) Wilson Wilson had come around to Christie’s way of thinking, and so betrayed the group. As its most fringe member, and a believer in conspiracy theories, Wilson felt that Christie was right about global overpopulation (remember his frustration about Dr Mike and the rich oligarch whose house they crashed at having too many belongings?). Wilson, we can assume, has now joined The Harvest as one of Christie’s followers, despite The Harvest having murdered his family.
Why didn’t Dr Mike destroy the vaccine’s mother egg?
‘Whoever holds the egg holds the power’
When Dr Mike destroyed the eggs in which the vaccines were stored, it was assumed he also destroyed the mother-egg containing the source of the sterilisation vaccine that Christie Labs were preparing to send out all over the United States. The last we saw Dr Mike, he was driving out of Chicago with the mother-egg intact. After being used and manipulated by Christie and The Harvest, he’s taken the vaccine mother-egg to use as a bargaining chip.
How did Jessica get the T-shaped rash flu and why didn’t she die?
‘Your blood is slowly saving you.’
On the drive back from destroying the bunnies at the travelling petting zoo that was spreading the ‘Stearns’ flu around US schoolchildren, Jessica was bitten on the finger by the white rabbit the gang had taken for Dr Mike to test. She was thus infected with the flu and started to develop its characteristic T-shaped forehead rash. Dr Mike discovered that the rabbit was infected with flu, but it was a different strain to the one he’d developed a vaccine for. That told him that the vaccine in production at Christie Labs wouldn’t cure the T-shaped flu – that was all just pantomime to get Americans clamouring for the vaccine – so it must have been designed for another secret purpose (see above).
What were all those marks on Jessica’s back?
‘Thanks to you, humans will be immune from acting with greed.’
The constellation of different shaped marks on Jessica’s back, like her ‘starburst’ arm mark, are scars from various vaccinations and experiments her father and Milner performed on her. Milner and Jessica’s father were working on genetic modifications to human behaviour, forcing people to “act correctly” by taking away their free will. Inside Jessica Hyde’s blood is a whole bunch of vitally important genetic information, which is why Milner needed Jessica herself back at Home. The Harvest’s search for the Utopia manuscript was only ever intended to bring Jessica back after Artemis smuggled her and her father out when she was a child.
How did Becky contract Deel’s Syndrome?
‘What we are doing is far bigger than death.’
She was deliberately infected with it by The Harvest when they sent the disease out into US schools in order to test whether they could introduce a virus into humans that would then be passed on genetically, as a dress rehearsal of the sterilisation plan.
Where did everybody end up?
‘We won, we wiped you out.’
Jessica is currently being held captive by Milner, along with her father, at Home. Becky was captured by Thomas, Christie and Wilson Wilson, who appears to have gone over to the dark side. Grant (still wanted for the killing of Cara’s family) was captured by the police. Alice and Ian were left on the run together. And Dr Mike was last seen driving out of Chicago with the ‘Stearns Flu’ vaccine mother-egg in his possession.
Utopia is available to stream now on Amazon Prime.