'Brave New World' Episode 9: Lenina Crowne in 2020's version rejects her destiny as a sexual plaything
One of the biggest surprises of the 'Brave New World' 2020 version is the character of Lenina Crowne. In the original novel, she is described several times as "pneumatic". This description is physical -- she essentially resembles the voluptuous dolls made famous by surrealist Hans Bellmer in the 1930s -- the predecessors of the modern blow-up sex dolls. In addition, she is also what we would call "an airhead" -- she is 'pneumatic' in the mental sense as well.
She is happy to go along with New World's sex and soma routine. She only sees John as a "beautiful boy" and lusts after him. She is confused by John's Shakespeare-infused medieval courting rituals. All she wants is to cut to the chase and doesn't get why John wants to have sex only after they have 'fallen in love' -- an alien concept to her. Men lust after her because she is pretty and she satisfies them all because this is what her conditioning tells her to do.
Lenina Crowne of the show, on the other hand, is reprimanded in the very first episode for "being monogamous with Henry Foster". Through the entirety of the show, she claws to find more meaning in her life, be it through love or trying to be a better version of herself. She enjoys being unique rather than being another disposable Beta.
Men still want her but you gather that they are attracted to something more ephemeral than her looks. Both Bernard and John are after what her consciousness represents -- her soul -- for lack of a better word. John falls in love with her when he sees her handling a dead bird with a curious fascination, eager to know what that bird represents. Bernard falls in love with her when he sees her expression of love and anxiety as she clutches Henry Foster afraid to lose him -- a depth of feeling he has never seen in any Beta.
As the world breaks down, thanks to AI Indra pulling everyone's puppet strings (including John's), Lenina is the only one who unplugs before anyone -- destroying the hold the interface has over her. In the end, she rejects John's possessive love because, as she sees it, he is "imprisoned" by his own mind's constructs, which makes him unable to trust her and their love. She also rejects Bernard's Machaevillian move to ingratiate himself by preying on her loneliness of "being different".
Even without New World's destruction, Lenina was already on her way out to explore the big world without any crutches or baggage weighing her down. That is when all hell breaks loose with Epsilons wreaking havoc, influenced consciously by John's revolutionary words and subconsciously by AI Indra.
Lenina's qualities of resilience, independence and "being different" help her escape the clutches of both men in her life, the rampaging Epsilons and AI Indra, not to mention her "reconditioned" best friend Frannie who goes Terminator on her. World Controller Mond also recognizes her unique personality, saying "I've been watching you". Mond tells her that she will be the one who will rebuild the New World "without guidance and protection" of the AI Indra -- a task she thinks Lenina is best suited for. The final shot of the episode shows Lenina smiling, the fields of the New World behind her, bursting with a plentiful harvest. By the end of Season 1, Lenina is more 'free' than any other character on the show, finally in charge of her own life.
'Brave New World' premiered on July 15 on Peacock and is available to stream.