It didn’t take long for Electric Dreams to become full science fiction, but that’s exactly what happened in the second instalment of the Philip K Dick adaptation.
The Impossible Planet was just as bleak as The Hood Maker, but in a slightly different way. Here was our first glimpse at a proper Doctor Who-esque spaceship, with accompanying metal man as a helpful, if slightly terrifying, companion and conscience.
This was an episode which featured more than just a battle with an enemy – the true war was one with the very nature of humanity. Irma (Geraldine Chaplin) was 342-years-old and just wanted to experience planet Earth for the last time without passing. Enter Andrews (Benedict Wong), a man with very little sense of morality with a product that could take you on a ride and show you whatever you wanted to see with just a flick of the wrist and the help of some neat technology that generated the perfect image. Accompanying Andrews, was crew member, Norton (Jack Reynor), who served Irma and therefore was more in touch with wants, needs and desire.
The problem comes from the fact that Earth doesn’t exist any more. Left desolate from time, supernaturally old Irma doesn’t know that her beloved America is just dust now. Gone are the vibrant blues of the sea and the sky and in it’s place is a waste land, straight out of T.S. Eliot.
Conflict comes at the point that the viewer learns that the ship isn’t actually heading for Earth, rather Emphor III, but Andrew convinces vulnerable Irma that her home is the chosen destination. In walks RB29, the woman’s faithful bot companion to act as a conscience for Andrews and Norton. The latter of which it actually works on. One of the most powerful scenes is actually between the metal man’s conversation with Andrews in an attempt to make him change his course. Ironically, the one who doesn’t have a heart showed himself to have the biggest one, ensuring to out-sass the Captain by branding him “a b***ard” for his actions.
The touching part of the episode come as Norton found himself developing feelings for Irma and they seemed to develop shared memories the closer to “Earth” they found themselves. Stepping out into the unknown and desolate planet, the pair only had 12% oxygen left, which Andrews watched disappear in agony. But it was in their moment of death that their life really began. Looking increasingly more like his girlfriend, Norton finds himself propelled towards following Irma into what appears to be their heaven – an idyllic lake in the middle of Ohio. With the show’s colourists breaking the bank during this particular moment, it is a plain reminder of how beautiful and human-like hard science fiction can actually be.
Next week, it’s Timothy Spall’s time to shine in the anthology as he takes on the starring role in The Commuter.
Contributed by Helen Daly
Electric Dreams Continues Sunday on Channel 4 at 9.00pm