Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams: Kill All Others (K.A.O.)
January 22, 2018 7:38 AM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

During a televised interview with The Candidate (Vera Farmiga), she makes a shocking statement encouraging violence. No one seems to pay much heed, except a plant worker, Philbert Noyce (Mel Rodriguez), whose responses draw attention to him.

Based on "The Hanging Stranger" (story summary on PKD Review, with spoilers)

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams Recap: Monotone Horror By Film Crit Hulk for Vulture
“Kill All Others” is a simple parable about our modern slide into fascist hate speech, as well as the emotional cost it takes on those who refuse to shrug it off. I was incredibly excited to see this episode, as it was written and directed by Dee Rees (Pariah, Mudbound), whose raw, realist work deserves endless eyeballs. But it suffers the same fate of a lot of sci-fi: It’s stuck in a kind of no-man’s land. It’s not funny or scathing enough to be satire, nor is it emotionally grounded enough to be moving. Which means it coasts along the surface when it should cut to the bone.
posted by filthy light thief (10 comments total)
A bit on the nose but I thought this was good and relevant. It really captured the feeling of the last two years of politics in America where Trump says something insane and I pull out my hair while I wait for the grown ups to simply say "this was insane and wrong."
posted by Tevin at 8:37 AM on January 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

It’s not funny or scathing enough to be satire, nor is it emotionally grounded enough to be moving.

I wasn't super impressed by this, so I looked up the short story. The short story was fantastic and now I'm annoyed at this episode for not doing a better job. For example, when Philbert ends up being hung from the billboard at the end, there wasn't a particular point to it that I saw beyond it being some sort of authoritarian dystopia. In the original, the identity of who was previously and who's next in line to be hung is just about the entire punchline of the story! I've seen this sort of cargo cult adaptation* thing before and it's frustrating.

MexUsCan / "Yes us can", on the other hand, was hilarious.

* I don't know what else to call it, but I think this name works. The original story wasn't made good by including a hanging, it was good because of what it did with the hanging. You can't just grab all the elements of a good story, change the plot, and still expect the story to be good -_-
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:58 AM on January 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

OK now I'll read the story because I was really disappointed in this episode.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:52 PM on January 22, 2018

This is one of my favorite episodes so far, though I agree that it didn't stick the landing. The world-building and ratcheting paranoia struck some very PKD-ish notes, even if the script had only a glancing resemblance to the story that inspired it. But most importantly, Mel Rodriguez is the absolute best. While many of the preceding episodes took me a while to warm up to, Mel's performance invested me in his character immediately.
posted by ejs at 10:05 PM on January 28, 2018

i also feel let down by the episode. everything seems like it hit their mark, but i just didn't feel very impressed. it was also directed by Dee Rees which i why i was surprised it didn't have more of an emotional weight. but i suppose it comes down to connecting with the characters and i just couldn't relate to Philbert...

the final broadcast of the candidate showing a mostly female and diverse crew behind the scenes was noticeable. I wonder if it's a commentary on how "the Other" is slowly going to be white males. But if it is, the message of "Kill All Others" seems ... extreme.
posted by numaner at 1:13 PM on January 29, 2018

Written and directed by Dee Rees, who was recently Oscar nominated for co-writing the screenplay of Mudbound

ah, missed that it had already been pointed out that Dee Rees wrote and directed it
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:07 PM on February 3, 2018

I liked the cop cars used the same sound effect as Bladerunner
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:38 PM on February 3, 2018

I thought this episode worked pretty well. It took the themes of the original but dropped the central sci-fi conceit to say "This is us, this is us right now." Maybe the whole thing could be accused of being a bit simplistic politically, but the actor who played Philbert sold the feeling of slowly realizing that things that seemed bad but "just the way things are" are actually fully beyond the pale and cannot be accepted. Film Crit Hulk's "I’m at a loss in trying to decipher the episode’s take on modern politics" seems purposefully obtuse. It's like he doesn't want to believe that Dee Rees is saying what she is obviously saying, so he pretends he doesn't understand it.

Did anyone else think, in the beginning, that The Candidate's mannerisms or speech patterns were patterned on Hillary Clinton? And the sense of inevitability of The Candidate's ascension mirrors the media coverage of the US election over a lot of 2016. And then the episode goes into full-blown, strategic use of xenophobia as a tool to consolidate power.

I'm not sure I understand the objection above about the hanging, as it seemed to me to perform the exact same function in this episode as in the story, to identify those who would not be easily assimilated to the new reality. There are also hints suggesting that the messages are being conveyed at first in a way that is purposefully easy to ignore, quickly blinking text, so some will doubt they even saw it while others will become paranoid. Then the messages become overt and bold, to bait and provoke those who can't not respond. (There is a message in here about advertising too, that being bombarded with advertising makes it more difficult to think independently, but it gets a little muddled with the issues of the marriage.)

It's funny that in his interview with the authorities, which amounts to a psych evaluation, they ask if he can see the sheep and he can't. Then he starts to see that he is surrounded by sheep. And then he realizes that the sheep are actually quite dangerous. It is unfortunate that his wife ends up being portrayed as a sheep too.
posted by nequalsone at 7:48 AM on May 24, 2018

This is more a general note on the series...

It is interesting that out of 10 episodes, 2 had women as both writer and director, while 8 had women in neither role. This episode and "Human Is" were the two helmed by women. I thought Human is was the only episode that was very good, while this episode belonged to the 3 or 4 that worked and had some good acting but were not anything really special.

Separately, it's sad that while most of the episodes had good acting or interesting settings, almost every episode had either weak, unimaginative writing or messy, confused writing.
posted by nequalsone at 8:02 AM on May 24, 2018

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