Channel 4’s Electric Dreams
Season 1, Episode 4: “Crazy Diamond”
Directed by Marc Munden
Written by Tony Grisoni
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Commuter” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Real Life” – click here
“Everything decays, everything dies.”
Ed Morris (Steve Buscemi) dreams of a woman literally falling apart before his eyes, wrinkling into a prune-shaped person. He wakes on his boat off the dock. He heads back home to Sally (Julia Davis), his wife.
But they have a visitor: the woman from his dreams, an insurance agent (Sidse Babett Knudsen).
Go back seven days. The world is falling to pieces, climate change sliding homes into the ocean. Nature is not the same anymore, you can’t even keep eggs around for more than a couple days. And you can’t waste anything, not in this world. Ed talks about going on a voyage, just he and his wife, to the “Elysian Fields” and “El Dorado“; mythical places, as if they can simply sail there by boat.
There’s talk of “quantum consciousness” and implants, synthetic humans – Jacks and Jills. Around the facility, the spirit mill where Ed works, the woman from his dreams is touring with a group. The two of them get talking, he explains the process of creating QC, et cetera. These synthetics, they are “latent possibility,” but they have no experience – without the QC; this is what makes them, essentially.
A little later, we see the process of the dormant, fleshy shells being implanted with their own QCs. They come alive, from a pile of skin and bones. They have genuine thoughts about thought: “meta–cognition.” An amazing yet totally eerie experience.
On his way out of the facility, he sees the woman from his dreams – Jill. She’s one of the synthetics. Although he’d already assumed so. She seems a bit disoriented, so he offers to help take her home. They stop at a bar. Jill is “failing” and doesn’t have much long left. As a human, Ed is a bit callous at first how he talks to her, not taking into account her own humanity despite she’s a fabricated person.
“In fact, I‘m a big believer in neural network equality.”
Ed’s becoming increasingly disillusioned with reality, the natural world keeps on slipping away from them. Sally’s trying to keep him grounded, so that he doesn’t do something illegal by taking his sailing fantasies any further than that. Meanwhile, he and Sally spend time together at the bar, she tries convincing him they could make his fantasies reality. Maybe they could steal a QC, sell it on the black market at an enormous price, begin a new life. This is when they get closer, spending time together on his boat. She makes a synthetic copy of his hand, so she and a couple thieves can get into the spirit mill, to steal themselves a QC or two. When Sally finds Ed watching the heist, wondering what’s happening, he sends out an alert for the facility.
The “living doll” Jill gets away with a few souls to pawn off on a fella. When they do the exchange, things go wrong, and the buyers start a gunfight, attempting to steal the QCs.
The next day, Ed’s championed at work for being a hero. He plays dumb, trying to get what info he can on the robbery. They already know it was a Jill. Hopefully they can’t trace it back to him. Sally’s worried that her husband has done something wrong, she suspects he’s having a crisis.
One day, Jill arrives at the Morris home in her insurance agent role. They talk about having children, trying to get pregnant, so on. Now we’re back to the beginning, when Ed arrives at home to find Jill there. It worries him a little. But they get talking about life insurance, like it’s all normal. When Jill has a bit of trouble, fainting slightly, Sally wants to help her. She doesn’t realise what’s going on right under her nose.
When they get time alone, Jill asks Ed to help her go after the men who took the QCs. He doesn’t want to do this anymore. Only problem is she’s used his hand print, his DNA, it was used to get inside, so he’s a part of it no matter how he feels. He’s realised that his fantasy is just a fantasy; in real life, he’s a simple man with simple desires. However, she has a way of convincing a man.
Ed discovers Sally met with Jill, about the “double indemnity” policy. She wants to go ahead and purchase it, so that they’ll be taken care of in case one of them dies. A bit of assurance, instead of remaining perpetually unsure of their lives, what might happen; in a world falling apart, it’s a brief comfort. He’s also being chastised for trying to grow his own vegetables. It’s a no no. Funny, a self-sustaining lifestyle is “illegal” in this future economy. Strange how times could change.
Jill is failing faster by the minute, even with Ed agreeing to another heist. They head out to meet the black market dealers in the woods, posing as buyers. He tests one of the QCs by implanting it into Jill’s head. She doesn’t have much to say immediately. Until she hops up and fires shots into a couple of the men, initiating the rest of their heist plan, getting away with their box of QCs.
But soon we discover the spirit mill’s big boss isn’t such a wonderful guy like he seemed. He stops Ed and Jill in their tracks, wanting the QCs back. Ed has to make a choice, whether to go for his fantasy, or continue living in this grim reality. Jill makes the choice for him and manages to kill his boss. Then she has her human buddy at her will, leaving with the QCs on her own.
Jill goes to see Sally. When Ed gets home, they’re gone, a note left for them. Right then more of their little provincial town crumbles, the ground falling into the ocean. He goes for his boat, sailing onto the waters by himself. From nowhere, he sees Sally and Jill at the bow of the boat, both unimpressed. He tries apologising. It isn’t enough. And he goes into the dark, deep waters. He makes it back to shore, seeing the house over a cliff, wreckage of this new world. On the beach, he sees one of his vinyl records, so he slips back into the music, running his hand over it, and falling back into that synthetic world. Because it’ll all fall apart, soon enough. One of the lessons here being, hold on to what you’ve got rather than seeking something that may not even exist at all.
Loved this episode. Buscemi’s a fantastic actor, and Knudsen is so talented! Great pairing. The whole thing had a wonderful atmosphere, very dystopian and eerie in its own ways. Can’t get enough of this series.
“Real Life” is the next episode.