John is consumed by his emotions while Bernard goes out of his way to embrace his in “Monogamy and Futility, Part 1”.
This recap of Brave New World season 1, episode 7, “Monogamy and Futility, Part 1”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
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John the Savage moves pretty quickly. In the previous episode, he went on date with Lenina to uncharted Epsilon territory and they built an imaginary house; in Brave New World episode 7, “Monogamy and Futility, Part 1”, they’re telling each other that they’re in love. The problem, of course, is that Lenina doesn’t really know what the words “I love you” actually mean. She isn’t familiar with human emotion; isn’t built for it. This opens John up to some difficulties, especially since their trysts are being kept secretive for now, both to evade Indra’s anti-monogamy laws and to prevent Bernard’s feelings from getting hurt. Their only confidante is Gary Gamma.
Since John and Bernard staged their fight, enthusiasm for the savage has been renewed, but John is getting sick of that. He’s sick of the prying eyes and the invasions of privacy and the expectation that he’ll do something crazy and violent at any moment. But there’s a part of him that genuinely cares for Bernard, who seems to be loving it, so he begrudgingly agrees to go along to a garden party hosted by the Arch-Community-Songster, the man responsible for New London’s awful wordless synth-pop soundtrack. The party involves a game of hide-and-seek that naturally devolves into a muddy orgy, which is a problem for John since he stumbles upon Lenina having sex with someone else.
You can see the problem here. Lenina just doesn’t understand monogamy, and faces serious reprisal if she strays too far from the rules. But John is in love with Lenina and wants a normal relationship where his partner doesn’t have sex with someone else every night. It’s a complicated dynamic, and as Lenina puts it, “It’s this or nothing.”
John kind of understands. But he also kind of hates the reality of it, so he spends a good chunk of Brave New World episode 7 moping around and listening to Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”, which actually becomes a plot point later, when Bernard, inspired by John’s antisocial behavior, asks Lenina out on a date and hears her humming the tune. But John’s behavior has other pretty substantial knock-on effects. He lashes out at the Epsilons for their docility. And in the process, he causes a rebellion among them, led by CJack60.
This is all in service of John and Bernard’s contrasting arcs. The former, a man of emotion and truth, sees the value in being closed-off from the pain of jealousy and trauma — something that New London, and Helm specifically, who he visits for help, can provide. In the meanwhile, Bernard wants to feel his real emotions for the very first time — he takes Lenina’s rejection of him as an excuse to really be in pain, something which is new to him. John’s path leads him to his very own optical implant.
But plugging into the system will no doubt prove to be a mistake, since the system itself, as we learn in “Monogamy and Futility, Part 1”, is in control. Mustafa has been usurped, or perhaps was never in charge, to begin with — Indra, in the guise of her daughter, has a prime directive that it must fulfill, and it’ll continue meddling, tweaking, correcting, until that directive has been achieved. You’ll be surprised — or not — to learn that the directive is death.
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