In “In the Dirt”, John becomes a local celebrity, Bernard becomes surplus to requirements, eyes are opened, and leadership is questioned.
This recap of Brave New World season 1, episode 6, “In the Dirt”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Bernard decking Henry was a punch heard all around the insulated, repressed world of New London, but for all intents and purposes, it’s John who threw it. His savage ways have turned the status quo on its head in Brave New World episode 6, and now, there’s a mass appeal in punching someone out. John’s exaggerated stories of his life — including a fanciful retelling of his relationship with Madysun — earn rapt audiences, and even though John is dismayed at playing up the harsh reality of the Savage life for entertainment, the endless plaudits and no-strings-attached sex he’s getting as a result, not to mention the soma he keeps popping, make it difficult for him to stop. He’s becoming of New London, even as, on some level, he continues to rewrite it in his image.
Mustafa, meanwhile, ventures into some tunnels and through a fingerprint-locked door which leads to an idyllic beach where a man with the same face as the Jack clones is getting a tan. She tells him there’s a new virus — and it looks just like a man.
John continues to throw spanners in the works everywhere he goes, and that includes correctly pointing out to Lenina that what she believes is the right thing is really just conditioning. He convinces her to board the Epsilon train, the destination of which nobody but the Epsilons know, and also to remove her optic, thus disconnecting her from Indra. These adventures are a great point of consternation for Bernard since John is his responsibility and he keeps losing him — Gary: “He comes back in the morning smelling… popular.” — thus undermining his own importance in New London.
Bernard, then, is getting sick of it all. At a swanky induction dinner for Henry, which John was supposed to attend, Henry grossly undermines Bernard again, and so he gives a speech to the attendees about his exciting adventures in the Savage Lands, much to the cringing embarrassment of Helm. He’s so desperate to have some utility in this society, independently of John, that he’s just flailing at any opportunity to stand out. “You all know me. I threw the punch,” as he says. But does anyone care to know him, really?
Back on the beach, Elliot wants Mustafa — who’s dying, we learn — to stay on the beach with him, but she claims she still has things to do. If she dies “out there” it is, apparently, forever. He also calls her Jane. Inside, along with Elliot’s comatose body plugged into some kind of machine, are others just like him, and an empty space, presumably for Mustafa. She looks at it tearfully, but she’s not ready to lie down just yet.
Everyone’s coming to new realizations in Brave New World episode 6. John and Lenina role-play a romantic fantasy about living off the land in a tiny house they built themselves, but it’s less an exercise in limitless possibility than it is really laborious foreplay. Much less romantic is the conversation Bernard has with Helm about his own eroding usefulness, although the latter lays out, succinctly, why the old is consistently replaced with the new — because the old is boring, and if people are bored, they’re left alone with their thoughts. And when they think too much, well… you know what happens next.
Bernard takes what he learned from Helm to John directly. But he’s smarter than he looks, and makes sure their confrontation breaks into a fight, all of which is streamed through Indra by Gary. If it was a disappointment to learn than the Savage wasn’t all that savage, well… here’s some violence and savagery to prove otherwise. Helm admires this ploy, and it seems to work.
“In the Dirt” ends with misfortune for Mustafa, though, who is caught short in the tunnels, forced to question if what she’s experiencing is reality or simulation, as water rushes down the tunnel towards her.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.