Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams are a set of weird stories that ask you to look deeper into what each episode is telling you. This week Crazy Diamond is an episode that really does feel like a dream, or to be more exact, a world where dreams are not meant to be, and everything is has a very short shelf life.
Ed Morris (Steve Buscemi) is just a normal man doing his job and living his life. His job at the Spirit Mill is to maintain vials of ‘Quantum Conciseness’ which are used on synthetic humans to give them that magical spark of life which makes them a person, namely a Jack or a Jill. This is where he meets a Jill (Sidse Babett Knudsen) who promises to give him everything he dreamed of. Though that dream may turn into a nightmare.
Ed and his wife live in a house at the edge of a cliff where they are constantly reminded that they can’t waste the food they are forced to buy, and can’t grow their own. The fact they break those rules is telling of what Ed represents, and that is a non-conformist, and one set to fail in a dystopian world where you are meant to live for the day. The fact Ed makes a joke about living for the “squeeze” highlights the controlling nature of the society they are in.
What Jill represents is the consumerisation of life itself. Bred to pretty much do the jobs that people don’t want to do, she herself has a dream, and that is to live. Her shelf life is short and is wearing down, and she uses Ed to get what she wants. The fact he holds no value in who she actually is, is his downfall and telling of the falseness of his dreams. He may work on his boat and constantly talk about escaping the world he and his wife are in, but he never really means to take that step.
What feels weird about this episode of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams is that it feels straight forward, but of course it isn’t. The aftermath of Ed’s mistake with Jill, and the destruction of his house shows that his life is falling apart around him, and the fact he is thrown off his boat shows that even his dream isn’t really his. The conclusion that we are given, in a way is more positive as the people who truly deserve to escape are the ones that do, not Ed who has no faith in what he could actually achieve.
Steve Buscemi is one of those actors who you can depend on to bring a character to life, and he does a very good job with Ed. Julia Davis, as Sally his wife also puts in a good performance as the quiet but dependable wife who is the one who actually looks to break the rules of the conformist life. Her heart shines through, and that is what is important. Knudsen as Jill also performs well, moving from the creepy side of the character to the more badass with ease as she works as the catalyst that Ed and Sally need, even if they aren’t aware of it.
I really feel that Crazy Diamond will be an episode that needs watching a few times to really make sense of it, and will be seen as one of the best. There are quite a few layers to the story that raise quite a few questions, but as with previous episodes, there will be many interpretations of what we’ve experienced, and that is the sign of good television.
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams airs in the UK on Channel 4, 9pm on Sundays.