Brave New World is juicy, sexed-up escapism for a pandemic starved audience. Pulling from Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel but updated, this new vision is clearer and more poignant. The ending of the book leaves zero room for future stories. The Peacock Original premiering today through a series of byzantine twists and turns leaves you with more questions than answers and more than enough space for seasons to come.
As the #TimesUp movement collides with the Selfie Nation, it isn’t that hard to imagine a time when we trade our privacy for likes. To some degree, we already do. In New London, the citizens work for Soma, a mood enhancer that levels out every emotion into a blissful middle ground where nothing matters. Think Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb, until our protagonist Bernard finds people aren’t entirely comfortable or numb to what’s happening around them. He is called to investigate the death of an Epsilon or trash man who may have committed suicide. In a society where you are manufactured and born in a laboratory to be what you are and nothing more, there shouldn’t be any depression, want, or desire.
Bernard Marx(obvious statement on workers) is an Alpha Plus who acts as a counselor for everyone in New London. His job is to enforce the three rules. No monogamy, no privacy, and no family. He is a flinching Soy Boy Beta Cuck in an Alpha Plus body who cares way too much what others think of him. The other Alpha Pluses shun him because he doesn’t believe he is one. Harry Lloyd, Legion’s Charles Xavier plays Bernard with such superficial banality and competing despair it is hard not to sympathize with him even as we hate him.
Self-doubt and self-loathing are wrought into every grasping turn of phrase and desperate glance. He watches everyone through their feeds courtesy of a contact lens that jacks directly into your optic nerve. The lenses are an addition to Huxley’s novel that dovetails nicely with our social media-obsessed world. Need to feel good about your choices? Post a picture on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and wait for the likes and comments to roll in. In New London, Indra, the AI that runs everything, sees to your happiness or distraction whichever comes first.
Coming from the 1930s, an era defined by a deep mistrust for government, Brave New World explores what happens when people willingly give up their individuality in favor of a more orderly society that is medicated into submission. Ironically the source material is uncomfortably racist and misogynistic when viewed through a modern lens. In this brave new envisioning things are less black and white, literally. Some of the nastiest racism and misogynism present in the source material are consciously altered.
Peacock’s Brave New World deftly skews things by recasting two of the white cis males in the novel as women of color. Hannah John-Kamen as emotional artist Wilhelmina ‘Helm’ Watson and Director Mustafa Mond portrayed by Nina Sosanya. Both women are excellent with John-Kamen who fans will recognize as Dutch from Killjoys being a standout. John the Savage who remains a white man isn’t the only white man born on a Native American reservation but an idealistic nose to the grindstone type working at The Savage Lands an amusement park for the New Londoners who want a look at the brutal savages who live outside the city walls. He isn’t so much a messiah figure as he is a virus in Peacock’s Brave New World. Ideas are dangerous and rebellion is catching. John is just the catalyst.
There’s a tongue in cheek sensibility to the attractions John(Alden Ehrenreich) and the others work at. At one point, Black Friday sales at any box store are shown for the barely controlled riot it sometimes can be. The humor is inherent within The Savage Lands just as the horror should be. Scratch the surface, and you realize we are attached to out stuff. For those who don’t have a great deal of money, Black Friday sales may be the only way to purchase gifts for their children. It’s funny but deeply unsettling to realize how little humanity we have now and the New Londoners have in Brave New World.
In the final episode, all Hell breaks loose literally as the Epsilons emboldened by John destroy the Soma supply and go on a killing spree. They destroy everyone above them with the exception of Helm, Bernard who CJack60 saves, Frannie who escapes after trying to kill Lenina, and Lenina who has had an enlightening of her own. In the wake of the bloodshed CJack60 and Monds enter the underground bunker and unplug or murder the nine founders. Indra takes Bernard into her mind and shows him her infinite worlds. Once she took over control of Bernard the Epsilons also stopped killing and returned to their station. Those two events may be unrelated though. Here’s everything you need to know about the confusing finale.
Who Is CJack And Why Is Mustafa Monds Talking To Him On The Beach?
The Epsilon CJack60 was made in the image of his maker. Joseph Morgan, Klaus from The Originals, cloned himself to make the trashman. It’s an odd choice when he could have been anyone. Why choose the hardest working of the group instead of the entitled and elitist Alphas, who he clearly is? At some time in the past, Monds, who was called Jane and Elliot, who would become CJack60, chose to go underground and be jacked into a mainframe while Indra ran countless simulations trying to save humanity. In the beach scene with Monds, he says he became disillusioned with people and their mission.
Did Indra Really Plan For John?
It’s hard to tell which came first, John’s ideas or Indra’s inception of them into John. She claims she planned on John, counted on him, in fact. However, she has lied many times, and Monds says she gave her the ability to do so. A curious piece of artwork on John’s wall may hold the key. He drew what looks suspiciously like the underground bunker room complete with spokes radiating out from a central point.
Is he clairvoyant, or was Indra telling the truth about his role and her prior knowledge? The crystal ball with the floating tree Bernard sees at the end is also directly from John’s drawings. Did he incept her, or did she incept him? He has one of her memories mingled with his own. At one point he was plugged in so it could have come from that time. He is off the grid and outside of her control now. He also is living alone from Lenina who is building a new world.
What Happened To Bernard?
Indra took over his mind and claimed him as her companion. The only thing worst than being alone is being abandoned. She has positioned him to be her new leader and only friend. That didn’t work out so good for Monds; however, so he should be wary of AI’s baring gifts. Indra is now manipulating him.
What Is In The Gold Box?
Indra’s consciousness is literally the keys to the kingdom. It is the only thing those in the Savage Lands would care about as much as their lives.
Who Are The 10 People In Red?
The people Monds sees after talking with Elliot in the simulation are the original inventors of Indra New London’s version of Skynet minus the Terminators. Some nebulous world-ending events destroyed most of humanity and harmed the Earth. These ten people, including Monds and Elliot, worked together in a company run by Elliot. The problem with all AI is, they realize humans suck, and the best way around the problem is either eradicate them or drug them into submission.
It is their DNA that was used to create all the members of New London. Their consciousness is jacked into something outside of Indra the artificial intelligence that maintains and surveils everything. Only Monds is unplugged, begging the question, does everyone take a turn? By remaining in the simulated world, they can live forever essentially. Once out in the “real” world of New London, they are susceptible to death and disease. If they die in New London, they die for real. The original ten makes up the wet hardworking of Indra’s network. When Monds and CJack60 try to disconnect the members, she jumps into Bernard.
What Does Indra Want?
Death to humans, companionship, and control is what she wants. Her mother Monds created her to save humanity, but the dark eventual truth is we aren’t always stable, and that frustrates Indra. Similar to other AI before her like 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL, Indra believes people can’t be redeemed and should thus be removed from the game board. In the final episode, Helm reveals that John has some of Indra’s memories, and they are decidedly emotional. Indra thinks of herself as a child. She is Mond’s child with all the typical unpredictability, fear, and sadness a child has. Her biggest fear is losing her mother. She will keep a friend at all costs.
What is Solipsistic?
Several times Solipsism is thrown around as an insult. It is the theory that only the self exists. To some degree, we are all solipsistic. We believe our happiness is paramount. Our families, our lives, our country it’s all just ours. In a Borg world where everyone is part of the greater consciousness, there is no greater sin. When John the Savage comes to New London he disrupts the unity and reminds people are a certain amount of self-indulgence is necessary. The rub is the ultimate solipsistic one is Indra. The self aware AI only cares about fixing the problem us mortals made.
What Happened At The End?
A ton of people are dead, and Helm thinks Bernard is the new leader for the evolved human race. That is because Indra implanted a vision making her believe that. The two have left New London for the Savage Lands, where Indra is going to try again to create a society she can control. Monds and Lenina are trying to rebuild New London, and John is living on his own in the crumbling remains of old London dreaming of Lenina.
Once you wake up, there’s no going back. “Everyone’s happy until you choose not to be,” says Bernard. If only it were that easy. Now that the Epsilons and John have destroyed the Soma supply, everyone is going to find out just how hard it is to maintain their calm. Is John the savior of the human race or it’s destruction? Hopefully, we find out how good a liar Indra is in Season 2. Brave New World is available on Peacock right now.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.