TV Review: Electric Dreams - Kill All Others

PHILIP K. DICK’S ELECTRIC DREAMS

EPISODE 7: “Kill All Others”

 
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The show’s seventh episode delivers a haunting vision of authoritarianism and also comments on our ability to stay alert to important issues.

Philbert Noyce (Mel Rodriguez) is an average Joe living in the future megastate of Mex-US-Can (whose motto “Yes-US-can” is already a crime in itself) governed in a so-called Uniparty system by the only political party and its leader, The Candidate (Vera Farmiga). Philbert’s world is characterised by intrusive rampant capitalism and hollow routine, which is one day disrupted when he hears The Candidate announce the new program of the party: to “kill all Others.”

The bitter political satire is clear enough: as a psychologist remarks to Philbert, “under close enough observation anybody can look a little Other.” One day you might be the target of insidious government propaganda and find yourself in the position of having to fight for your rights or even your life. Meanwhile, no one seems to notice what the hell is going on, and whistleblowers are dismissed as naïve alarmists. The general atmosphere is similar to the one portrayed in those flashback-sections of The Handmaid’s Tale in which the establishment of Gilead is explained, though obviously with broader brushstrokes, “Kill All Others” being only one episode in length.

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Parallel to the political aspect that teeters on the edge of bluntness and didacticism runs another theme which is subtle but equally timely. Philbert is old-fashioned: he uses public transport instead of an automated vehicle, likes to clock in at work instead of having his car do it, and he prefers real-life people to visual simulations. His friends advise him “[not to] be so tactile” and encourage him to gorge on holographic pseudo-pornography, but he is overall more attracted to his organic girlfriend (Sarah Baker). On top of that, during an incident he seems utterly shocked by the geolocation capabilities of telecommunication networks, which is just plain unbelievable for a person living in 2054 (or 2018, for that matter). Philbert is out of touch with technology and current affairs, and that is a handicap in his fight against the system.

Solving and understanding geo- and bio-political problems is impossible without engagement in debate and looking at the world critically. It is easy to be lulled into silent compliance by the pleasures of virtual reality and consumption, but this potentially blinds and exposes many members of society to exploitation and oppression by those in power. “Kill All Others” warns viewers to stay critical, stay alert, and make a hell of a racket if things seem to go in an alarming direction.


 
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DANIEL PANKA

Is currently doing his PhD focusing on science fiction literature. His research focus is identity creation in Science Fiction and post-humanist explorations of subjectivity. He loves the work of Philip K. Dick and is our resident expert on all things Dickian.