25th Sep2017

‘Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams 1×02: Impossible Planet’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


After last week’s episode of Electric Dreams hooked us, the job of this week’s episode is to show it wasn’t a fluke. This week’s Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams is Impossible Planet, which will test how much of a hopeless romantic you are.

When Brian and Ed (Jack Reynor and Benedict Wong), two space tourism employees are asked by an elderly woman (Geraldine Chaplin) to her on a trip to Earth, they know that this is an impossibility. The fact the existence of the planet is a debunked myth they decide to fake the trip for her, and take the huge sum of money they are offering her. As Ed grows closer to Irma though it gets harder to continue the scam, leading to a bittersweet ending.

What makes this episode of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams interesting is that there are only four characters in it (on the ship anyway). We have Brian, Ed, Irma and her robot RB29 (voiced by Christopher Staines with Malik Ibheis underneath the makeup.

The relationship between Brian and Irma is interesting, and there does seem to be a connection between the two. This is where the hopeless romantic element comes in. Are they star-crossed lovers living out a relationship from previous lives? There is an argument for that, and in the way the show ends you could really believe this is the truth. If you are more cynical though there is a much colder explanation.

This is where the robot, RB29 becomes an interesting element. We see him discovering the scam and coldly watching on, at some point he even shows forms of anger over it with glowing eyes. What he does is manipulate everybody to make sure his dying owner gets the end she wants. Even if it killer her in the progress, and what other lives it takes, her end will be fitting for her.

In some ways, this is where there is a weakness in the story. We never get to see into the robot’s thinking, there is no signs of malice. The malice many times comes from Ed, who is only interested in the money. Brian also shows a level of selfishness, but this slowly fades as he also decides to give Irma what she wants.

The weakness is the fact that the robot is unreadable, but in many ways, you could also argue for the story it is not a weakness, in fact exactly what Philip K. Dick wanted. The robot is not designed to feel, it is only made to take logical actions to please its master. This is what it does, while it is left to the humans to show greed and selfishness.

I’ll admit that I’m on the side of the hopeless romantics with this one. Geraldine Chaplin is very good at making the audience empathise with the character, and Jack Reynor conveys his internal struggle well. This is the relationship you want to believe in, and when we see the conclusion of the story why wouldn’t we want to see the more romantic side, whether it be truth or not?

Impossible Planet is going to be one of those episodes of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams that stick in people’s memories. The main question we are left to ponder may be unanswered, but it is left open to our hearts. Much like last week’s conclusion, the open-ended nature leaves us to ponder the very nature of humanity.

***** 5/5

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams airs in the UK on Channel 4, 9pm on Sundays.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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