Previously on Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams
Project Fandom coverage follows the episode Amazon (US) running order as opposed to the original Channel 4 running order, with two reviews each week.
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams – S1E5 – “The Hood Maker” | Starring: Richard Madden, Holliday Grainger, Noma Dumezweni, Anneika Rose, Richard McCabe
Setting: Dystopian world on the brink of war with a 1970’s vibe.
Us and Them a.k.a No One Really Likes Us or Them
“The Hood Maker” thrust us into a world where people are separated into two groups, ‘normals’ and ‘teeps’; people without telepathic ability and those with telepathic ability. Normals are protesting the Free Union’s new anti-immunity bill that allows the government to utilize telepaths to read non-telepath minds. The protest is being observed by the government’s security forces including Agent Ross, who is directing a telepath, Honor, to read the minds of the protestors. A masked figure emerges from the crowd and throws a Molotov cocktail at the security forces. Honor is unable to get a read on the bomber, but Ross is able to chase down the suspect.
On the way to the government offices, we learn more about the telepaths. They all have scars on their faces to make them recognizable. Naturally people are not pleased the government is using telepaths to read their minds, but telepaths don’t seem to be respected or trusted by non-telepaths not even those within the government. Ross’ boss Senior Agent Okhile informs him of the unrest and the displeasure over employing telepaths. Okhile has the brilliant idea to join agents with telepaths as partners. During Ross and Okhile’s conversation we see things from Honor’s perspective as she waits outside in the open office.
When Honor and Ross interrogate the bombing suspect, Honor gets into the suspect’s head and is able to read his thoughts beyond those related to the bombing. Honor goes deep into his mind and observes his family and home life. The experience is traumatic for the bomber and Honor, and they both are in tears by the end of the interrogation. Ross and Honor use the information they gained to find the bombers co-conspirators. They are all a part of a group that is campaigning against the anti-immunity bill. When Ross and Honor — along with other security force members — storm the crew’s hideaway, they find another hooded mask. The hood makes it immune for the wearer’s thoughts to be read by a telepath. Interestingly enough, the mask have a striking similarity to the Sons of Harpy’s masks from Game of Thrones. In this case, these masks are made from a special kind of linen.
After work, Ross drops Honor off at her house, a dormitory of sorts where Honor and other telepaths live. Mary, a sex worker, is seeing a client who tortures her with a twisted mind game. Mary ends up with a nightmare that spreads to her fellow telepaths and Honor tries to comfort her, but Mary refuses Honor’s help. Honor is tantamount to a traitor due to her work with the government.
The next morning back at work, Honor gets to show her stuff in a department meeting where she is able to figure out a potential lead to where the linen for the mask is stored. While at work, Honor gets a vision of Mary in danger. Honor and Ross return to the telepath compound and find the same man Mary had a previous encounter with. This time, he’s wearing one of the hooded masks and holding a gun to Mary’s neck. We find out that the client is a government official named Franklyn who invokes immunity. Franklyn warns Ross that a resistance is brewing among the telepaths in addition to the issues with non-telepaths.
When Honor and Ross are alone, Honor explains that the usual noise she hears with others is not present when she’s with Ross. We could interpret this as a special moment between the two.
You in Danger, Girl!
Later in the day, Franklyn returns to the telepath compound and calls Mary to his car. This time Mary and her fellow telepaths fight back by descending on Franklyn and his driver to mentally attack them. When Honor and Ross return to the compound Mary telepathically connects to Honor and relays that the game is afoot. A riot has broken out and the security forces are trying to squelch it. Ross takes Honor back to his place for safety and the two share a few hours of emotional and physical intimacy.
After Honor figures out the exact location of the linen factor Ross goes off by himself. Although Ross tells Honor not to go with him, which he attributes to concern for her safety, Honor follows him. Ross finds the hood maker, Dr. Cutter, surrounded by a number hooded masks. Cutter recognizes Ross and calls him the ultimate weapon against the telepaths. It turns out that Ross can block telepaths from reading him because his mind acts as a hood. Honor telepathically leads her fellow telepaths to the linen factory, and Cutter realizes Honor is present. Ross tries to assure Honor that he was going to tell her the truth about himself. The telepaths mentally attack Cutter and burn the hoods along with the building. Meanwhile, Honor locks herself in a room and refuses to let Ross in unless he lets her read his mind. Honor reads Ross‘ mind and finds out that his real job was to learn about the telepath resistance movement and he had derogatory words and views on telepaths. Honor is visibly hurt and as the story ends, Ross is begging Honor to trust him while she in turn looks towards the burning skyline.
Moral of the story: Dudes are slick with lies; Anyone can be fooled, Karma is real and quick; Don’t underestimate oppressed groups.
Thoughts and Observations
- “The Hood Maker” is another intriguing story in the series.
- Nice to see Holiday Grainger and Richard Madden united again after their paring in Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 2015.
- The visuals, which are a mix of dystopia/mid-war fallout with a touch of 1970’s inner city apartment towers, heightens the tension.
Plot: 8 | Dialogue: 7 | Performance: 8.5 = 7.8
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams – S1E6 – “Safe and Sound” | Starring: Maura Tierney, Annalise Basso, Alice Lee, Algee Smith, Martin Donovan, Connor Paolo
Setting: The not-so-distant future where the United States is divided into free regions called ‘bubbles’ in the west with the majority of the rest of the country living in heavily monitored area called the ‘Rift’. As the AutoFac episode highlighted similarities with Amazon, in this episode SIMI company has similarities to Apple and Google.
The Bubble Burst
“Safe and Sound” centers around Foster, a naïve teenager and her freedom-fighting politician mother, Irene. The pair are moving from a free region of the United States in the west to the Rift, the heavily securitized main section of the country. Irene has come to represent her territory in negotiations with the Rift’s government. In the media, free regions’ citizens are characterized as terrorists who are out to destroy the safe and secure way of life in the Rift.
Foster begins to attend school and she is quickly spotted as an outsider, not only because of her clothes, but because she doesn’t have a Dex. A Dex is a thin rubberband like wrist device that tracks a wearer’s every move. Students scan into school using their Dexes and they also serve as a way for students to do homework and classwork because the device creates a hologram like laptop screen right in front of the user’s eyes. Without the Dex, Foster has to take notes with a pen and paper.
The school is marketed as a SIMI Safe Zone where the outside world doesn’t touch students and they are free from shootings and terrorist attacks. As Foster is harassed by other students because she’s from a bubble region, she’s rescued by Milena, another student without a Dex. In what appear to be a genuine act of friendliness, Kaveh, a fellow student, offers to get Foster a Dex. When Foster tries to talk her mother into letting her get a Dex, Irene calls the device nothing more than an invasion of privacy and the gateway into government surveillance.
Kaveh helps Foster order a Dex, but they have to use her mother’s background check to order it. In return for his help, Kaveh comes on to Foster and basically asks to be repaid in sex. After Foster explains that she was just asking for help and nothing more, Kaveh throws her out of his house and tells her to wait outside for the Dex to be delivered by a drone. In order to acclimate herself with the Dex, Foster calls the help line where she encounters a tech assistant who sounds like a friendly Apple representative. The representative is kind, but does not give his name when Foster asks.
Mr. Nice Guy Tracker
The next day at a school a fellow student advises Foster to sleep with Kaveh because he’s going around telling people that she used her mother’s details to acquire the Dex, which is illegal. She says that Kaveh won’t get her pregnant due to being on sterilization drugs, so Foster doesn’t have to worry. These people are the worst.
Kaveh is known for making people’s lives hell, so Foster attempts to flirt with Kaveh and suggests that they hook up. Being the vile and manipulative person that he is, Kaveh humiliates Foster by turning her down in front of a cafeteria full of people. An embarrassed Foster runs into the bathroom and gets frustrated when the faucet sensors don’t work. The Dex representative that Foster spoke with the evening before suddenly talks to her and asks if she’s okay. Apparently, his name is Ethan and he placed an alert on her file to see if she needed any more help. This is the kind of gesture that sounds sweet in a story, but is a bit creepy and intrusive. Ethan offers to look into Kaveh’s background with an implied plan to get revenge on Foster’s behalf.
That same day, a supposed terrorist attack is broadcast. Irene doesn’t believe the attack is real and tells one of the Rift officials that the timing of the attack seems suspicious given that they have just begun negotiations between the free regions and the Rift. Of course, the Rift official disagrees. The next day Ethan contacts Foster and tells her that Kaveh and other kids take of their Dexes at the exact same time daily for the same amount of time. Ethan has Foster follow Kaveh because he is concerned that they could be terrorists. As Foster waits in the hallway watching the locked room Kaveh entered, she talks to Ethan. A classmate comes by and asks Foster if she’s okay. It turns out that Foster appears to be talking to herself because the Dex she received has ‘hear gel’ technology that is essentially a sticky piece of tape that goes behind the ear and serves as a speaker. The technology has not been publicly available, so rightfully Foster’s classmate is concerned. And it is about now that Foster should become suspicious of Ethan. He has her chasing down Kaveh and looking as if she’s taking to herself.
Ethan is able to see everything Foster sees, and he sees that instead of Kevah coming out of the room, Milena, a non-Dex user, comes out. As Milena walks away, Ethan advices Foster to follow Milena. Foster strikes up a conversation with Milena and the two go to Milena’s secret hideaway, an old library with actual books. Milena explains that she’s been having sex with Kaveh so that he won’t make her life difficult. As Ethan pushes Foster to question Milena, Foster has a panic attack. Milena gives Foster tea to help calm her down and explains that she is also from a bubble community. Ethan then tells Foster to rush to the bathroom and vomit because Milena might have poisoned the tea. If Foster was not suspicious of Ethan yet, this was another time to start questioning him.
Gullible and Dangerous
That afternoon, Irene finds out that Foster got a Dex and she warns her daughter that having the Dex undermines the negotiations and everything the bubble regions have worked for. As such, Irene makes Foster get rid of the Dex. The next day the school has a terrorist attack alert and as Dex-less person, Foster cannot go to the safe room with everyone else. However, Ethan is still able to speak with Foster through the hear gel and he tells her that they can only communicate if she goes to a park and sits near ants which have the right frequency for their conversation to transmit. Why is she not even the slightest bit suspicious of this strange request?
Ethan goes on to tells Foster that her psych profile — along with others, including a boy who committed that day’s terrorist attack — has been changed. According to Ethan, Foster has changed because she has been programmed by a ‘Radical Western terrorist’, namely her mother Irene. Foster tells Ethan that she is afraid because she is talking to ants and that her father had mental issues. Ethan screams and curses at Foster to pull it together and listen to him. Back at home Irene and Foster have a talk and Irene tells Foster that she cannot force her ideals upon her and as such she returns the Dex. Foster decides not to wear the Dex for one more day. Instead of discussing Ethan’s claims with her mother, Foster builds a bomb and takes it to school. As Foster runs into the school security turnstiles Milena tries to stop her, but Foster turns on Milena and attacks her. The bomb does not go off and security guards tackle Foster. She looks up in the sky and sees a message that says: ‘Thank you, Foster’
Two months later, Odin, the representative who was negotiating with Irene, makes a statement at a press conference. The official story is that Irene trained Foster to become a terrorist, but Foster bravely resisted and recovered. Due to the failed attack, the government has created a mandatory student tracking policy that will be conducted using SIMI technology and subsidized by the government. Foster makes a speech and at the end goes off text by rambling about people needing someone to trust and the need to not only be safe but comfortable. Ethan whisks her off the stage offering to take her out to lunch. The episode ends with quick flashbacks in time where Ethan discovers that Foster ordered a Dex. From there, the behind the scenes manipulation of Ethan’s interactions with Foster are shown to be carefully choreographed. Ethan was a plant whose task was to use Foster to help bring down Irene.
Moral of the story: Your parents are actually right; Don’t trust random dudes who pretend to be your friends; Don’t try to fit in to the point that you don’t trust the right people; It pays to be inquisitive and slightly suspicious.
Thoughts and Observations
- Foster annoyed me. You would think the daughter of a woman like Irene would at least be slightly skeptical and question things more. But despite that, I couldn’t help but feel sad for her. She was so naïve and desperate for friends. Annalise Basso portrayal really highlighted Foster’s desperation.
- Kaveh was disgusting.
- Milena was the only likeable character besides Irene.