'Brave New World' Episode 5: John sends ripples through social order, teaching violence to New Worlders
Experiencing extreme culture shock, grief about his mother's death, and fearful about pushing his father off a cliff accidentally, John has been in his own head for the most part since entering the New World. The soma pills he has been swallowing has helped him acclimatize but he hasn't really been getting into the 'swing of things', shall we say.
In this episode, 'Firefall' he does — in a big way, becoming an instant celebrity, debuting in Helm Watson's 'Feelie' titled 'Firefall'. By now, we already have seen how pervasive the sounds and sights of sex are in the New World. With John instigating Bernard to punch Henry Foster, the ultra-civilized New Worlders discover sex's twin impulse, violence. Even though the punch is actually thrown by Bernard, the "social body" made up by the participants, enjoying Watson's newest Feelie orgy, surge towards John, the party's violent nucleus.
For New Worlders, sex is a social duty but violence is a taboo novelty — they are 'virgins' when it comes to 'being savage'. Like children, they are fascinated by the look and feel of this new concept, completely oblivious about its dangers. They have no conception of how John's violence will ripple across the social body like a stone cast in a placid pond.
However, World Controller Mond seems to know this. The episode is bookended with Mond playing the game of 'Go', an ancient Chinese strategy game, with AI Indra. Mond can't understand why AI Indra is making adjustments, like letting the Epsilon CJack60 feel sad, or allowing the violence, initiated by John's entry into the social body, to spread.
While she wants John to integrate seamlessly into the New World as soon as possible with Bernard's help, AI Indra seems to have other plans. Indra openly challenges Mond, asking her what it means when Mond can no longer defeat her (in other words, control her). She speaks of entropy, of civilizations collapsing once they get corrupted, hinting at the end of the New World, to Mond's anguish. Mond, agitated, sweeps the board and its pieces on the floor in violent denial.
Even Lenina Crowne seems to be affected by the violence bug independently. She tries to become the dominant one while having sex with Henry Foster and humiliating Frannie in a game of competitive tennis. She is, for the first time, not very nice, mirroring John's 'F**k you' attitude as if absorbing it by osmosis since the two haven't interacted since their return from the Savage Lands.
There is a reason why the Romans swung from bingeing on food, sex orgies to gladiator fights — food, sex, and violence all make our blood sing in a way no other human habits do. Food is conspicuously missing in the New World — we only see the Epsilons eating their bland food, everyone else seems to live on soma pills and drinks. Sex has been reduced to a meaningless pursuit because of easy availability. But the novelty of violence in the New World is like an aphrodisiac like no other.
'Brave New World' premiered on Peacock on July 15 and is available to stream.