“Monogamy and Futility, Part 2” gets as dark as the show has ever been, with both John and Bernard grappling with each other and their emotions as rebellion threatens to overwhelm New London.
This recap of Brave New World season 1, episode 8, “Monogamy and Futility, Part 2”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
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“Monogamy and Futility, Part 2” gets unusually, uncomfortably dark, a change that is reflected, rather comically, in John’s outfit and attitude. He spends most of his time marching around in a black trench coat pulling moody faces, being indecisive about whether he wants to engage with his emotions or not, and then ultimately getting super weird with Lenina in what I think is the only sex scene of the season that has actually meant something – although what it meant doesn’t exactly bode well.
John having Helm plug him into Indra turned out to be a mistake, which anyone could have seen coming, really, though perhaps not in quite this way. As it turns out, it isn’t simply a case of switching John’s emotions off so that he can be comfortably numb; a person has to feel something, after all, and John’s problem in Brave New World episode 8 is that he can’t decide – or perhaps even identify – what it is he feels. He’s overwhelmed not just by the complexity of his own feelings but by the breadth of everyone else’s. He rejects the interface, ripping it out.
But the damage is done. Now he knows the unfettered access to everyone’s consciousness that the optic gives him, it’s only a matter of time until he reconnects. Bernard doesn’t help since he’s now in touch with his own emotions enough to realize that he’s jealous of John and that he’d quite enjoy taking some revenge on him. At first, he takes his newfound impulse out on Gary, but then he directs it to John personally, implying that he had sex with Lenina, knowing that John’s issues with Lenina’s promiscuity are in large part what’s sending him crackers.
And CJack60 doesn’t help because he turns John’s own ideology and words back on him. He makes him not only confess his feelings but interrogate why he’s having them; why can’t he choose, as he implored the Epsilons to do, whether to live like this? The answer, of course, is because he’s so hung up on Lenina. It’s wondering what she’s doing that compels him to put the optic back in, but when he does, he sees her with another man. Ironically enough, John’s emotional indecision is what causes him to miss the context of her night out, compelled into it by Frannie, and so he sees, in a sense, what he wants to see.
After seeing this, John confronts Lenina about it, and turns it into a weird part-kinky-part-creepy sex game, although with this show it’s always difficult to tell to what extent any sexual encounter is creepy or kinky because subservience is baked into virtually every character’s DNA, making the question of consent a difficult one to answer. Either way, it doesn’t work out well for John, who breaks down sobbing, having been cursed to fall in love with someone who has been conditioned not to love him in return.
And he has also been cursed with Bernard, whose crusade against him in Brave New World episode 8 reaches a whole new level. First, he approaches Henry Foster and implores him to banish John on grounds that would very easily apply to himself, but Henry’s not in a good position given what he just learned about the true nature of Indra, so his new Director position seems in some considerable jeopardy. Instead, Bernard goes to Helm, who has been irrevocably changed by her brush with John’s fraught emotions. She’s now too weepy to stave Bernard off when he wants to see John’s interface, and doing so lets him see everything John has experienced – including killing the Director.
With this evidence and Henry’s blessing, Bernard is able to go full villain, a pivot that Harry Lloyd clearly relishes, and that plays into Bernard’s established character given his need to be useful, to be valued. But his value is in his title, a proxy authority, whereas John, in his brief time in New London, has managed to compel the Epsilons to his way of thinking. When Bernard orders them to arrest John, they don’t. As “Monogamy and Futility, Part 2” ends, they lead Henry behind a hedgerow and presumably beat him to death. As Mustafar said, John is the outlier, the element Indra can’t control or predict – and he’s about to trigger an uprising.
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