Utopia recap: Week two and more chicken tractors
ICYMI on Friday’s extra episode: Dave can handle not getting his “ramen soups” (as long as he gets to yell about it and branch off to form a separate state); he can handle spending money on “pickled horseradishes” (as long as he can yell even more and destroy cans of valuable resources in a fit of rage); but he simply draws the food drama line at shifty banana trades. Don’t we all?
After Amanda borrowed six bananas from the Utopia State of Freedom—you know, to feed the unborn fetus growing inside of her—and only received four bananas in the grocery delivery to pay them back, Dave, uh, lost his damn mind. So, he left Utopia, which is actually more sane than anything else he’s done. Then he left a letter in the Utopia mailbox (sure, why wouldn’t they tell us these people can receive mail and are more connected to the outside world than the people on The Biggest Loser ranch next door, or pretty much any other reality show) asking if he could come back, to which everyone was like, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! but you can come back and get baptized and then, see ya never, hope you turn over a new leaf.”
“These people does not know a damn thing about surviving.” –Red
Friday’s episode saw Josh the Contractor and Rob the Patriot successfully installing power and plumbing to the barn, and the producers installing two new Utopia pioneer candidates—Kristen and Rhonda—who the original pioneers must choose between to stay. Both women describe themselves as entrepreneurs, but Kristen really puts the hard sell on knowing the ins and outs of business and how to make money. I didn’t really know that business acumen was going to be an issue in Utopia Land of Dreams, but the way they go on and on about it makes me think I might be able to buy some Utopian jams and jellies on the side of an L.A. highway quite soon. Fox realizes it’s just making a cult, right? This is basically the beginning of Marcy May Marlene, but as a comedy of errors instead of a terrifying indie drama.
The pioneers need some sort of business to bring in money for new appliances, because apparently they’re not looking to keep eating mysterious substances out of tiny pans and drinking even more mysterious substances out of giant mason jars… seriously, what are they always drinking? And with Kristen on their side—sorry Rhonda, I wish you the best of luck in your enthusiasm for motorcycles—the business ideas are really flowing:
–Hillbilly survival lessons with Red
–Hex can make jewelry out of nails
–”I’ve been putting rocks in the garden… so people can donate memorial rocks to their pets.” – Bella
–Dr. Nikki can teach Utopi-yoga
NEXT: And the first Utopia business is (fingers crossed for nail jewelry)…
And of all of those Fortune $500 ideas plans—You guys! Memorial rocks! For your pets!—the pioneers settle on Utopi-yoga with Dr. Nikki. They call up all of the people they’ve been in contact with while in Utopia to advertise the classes such as, “the food delivery guy,” and “Lefty the farmer,” who both sound like they’ll be super into $40 yoga classes.
They are not. Only Ben shows up, a stranger who’s been obsessively watching the live feeds with his roommate; and I actually think a social experiment on people who obsessively watch Utopia live feeds might prove more fruitful than whatever has been happening here between the chicken tractors, and banana blowups, and lime baths. But Ben brings his yoga mat and he does his yoga with Dr. Nikki, while everyone else hoots and hollers in the barn about how terrible it is that only one person showed up.
At their follow up business meeting, Amanda rightly points out that making $40 in a day is pretty good, considering that’s $40 more than they’ve made on any other day. And if they’re allowed to just have people over to Utopia-land for $40 stretching, then they could probably spin this to buy, like, a whole fleet of stainless steel refrigerators with state of the art ice makers and water filtration systems. One has to wonder if the implication is that all future utopias will need to be televised in order to provide the marketing necessary to make enough money for a refrigerator. I think that might have been what the The Truman Show was about? But who can be sure?
Post-baptism, but pre-$40-yoga, Pastor Jonathan hurt his hand. A doctor swings by with his X-rays—oh, well sure, my Utopia definitely has free health insurance and house visits—to tell him that if he doesn’t have surgery, he could lose mobility in his hand, and if he has surgery, he’ll have to stay out of Utopia for six to eight weeks. Bella immediately bursts into tears because, “We need Pastor here more than you know.” She keeps calling him just “pastor,” like someone in an intermediate English class who can handle verbs, but hasn’t quite mastered articles, and it’s enough to distract from the fact that there are no real stakes to leaving Utopia. Jonathan will probably be able to come back if he wants to, and if not, he’ll just be replaced with a younger, hotter pastor who will fill the exact needs of Utopia (stay tuned).
It is a poignant moment when Jonathan makes the decision to leave though, and he clearly fulfilled a serious need in their little community by generally being a kind and compassionate person. I think that people also like that he didn’t yell all the time. Even Rob, the First in Command of Yelling now that Dave is gone, had been touched by Jonathan, as he got emotional trying to tell him goodbye, comparing him to a sentiment they have in the Marines: “Some people wake up every morning wondering if they touched anybody’s life. Marines don’t have that problem.” Jonathan also seemed not to have that problem because everyone was absolutely weeping when his wife showed up to take him back to the non-utopian land of indoor plumbing and full-hand mobility.
NEXT: Where is my Lefty the Farmer spin-off?
Garden of Bella
But even Jonathan can’t solve a problem like Bella. It’s not that Bella doesn’t know how to tend a garden—I mean, she doesn’t seem to know how to do that, but that’s not the immediate problem. The immediate problem is that every time she speaks you can almost see her fellow pioneers evolving to develop some sort of skin flap to close their ears to sound. When Lefty the Farmer swings by, he tells Bella that her chicken tractor isn’t a terrible idea, and she begs him to relay that message to the rest of the group. Lefty more or less says that chicken tractors are a real thing, but they’ll need shade to lay eggs, and there’s a lot more to keeping this garden going than chicken servitude. When someone asks about the keyhole gardening technique Bella has them using, he tries to tell them it’s one of many gardening myths while Bella just talks over him; but when he tells them they basically just need to work harder on their garden, she’s all closed-mouth-smile-nods, which is simply the worst kind of nod.
What Bella ends up taking from all of this is that their chickens need to be free range, and I don’t totally know what that means, but I don’t think it’s letting the chickens out to wander the farm unattended and eat cow manure. Hex is the one who sees all of this go down, and instead of telling you the ways that Bella defends her actions, I’d rather just give you the most choice Hex quotes:
–”Call me crazy, but it’s common sense that chickens shouldn’t be pecking at doo doo.”
–”Son of a bitch, we’re going to lose our cock!”
–”I don’t want to yell at the chickens because Bella says I have a bad aura.”
So, she just yells at Bella instead. It goes about as well as yelling at the chickens might have. I feel slightly bad for Bella because everyone feels completely comfortable railing on her now, but also, I wish she wouldn’t say any of the things that she says in any of the ways that she says them.
New Kid on the Block
Hex’s aura is singing a different tune though, when Dave’s replacement makes it to Utopia. Taylor was designed in a Fox lab to make the single ladies of Utopia say, “he’s cute!” Aaron say, “thank you for bringing the Omaha beef with you, you beautiful piece of Omaha beef,” and Josh say, “Wait, you’re a younger version of me? This blows.” Everyone seems very happy to have some fresh meat in the mix, no one more so than Hex, who everyone keeps teasing about being “thirsty.” That’s funny and all, but c’mon guys… could anyone really be that thirsty when you’ve only been there two weeks, there was verbal reminder earlier to wear deodorant, and everyone is about to have to eat manure eggs? I don’t think so.
The jury is out on if Taylor’s skills in landscaping will be as useful as he makes them out to be, but he’s got to be bringing more to the pioneer team than Dave (barbershop, Statue of Liberty, moneybag, angel emojis, versus bulldozer, flexing muscle, hammer emojis), even if it is just quenching Hex’s metaphorical thirst. Stay thirsty, my friends—there are still 50 weeks of this social experiment to go, and plenty of time to make it to L.A. for some Utopi-yoga.