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Recap / Philip K Dicks Electric Dreams S 1 E 1 The Hood Maker

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  • Adaptational Heroism: In Dick's original short story the teeps were unambiguously villainous and the anti-teep bigotry completely justified. This was changed both to add depth to the story and to avoid Unfortunate Implications regarding minority groups in real life (in the original story the teeps were directly compared to communist infiltrators). More specifically, the closest character to Honor in the original story is Ernest Abbud, a young man who ends up betraying the protagonist and exemplifies the Master Race tendencies of the teeps. This makes Honor an example of Adaptational Attractiveness, Gender Flip and Promoted to Love Interest as well as Adaptational Heroism.
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  • Adaptational Villainy: Agent Ross' motivations and methods are far less savory than the protagonist of Dick's story. Unlike the original story, the Free Union government he works for is oppressing both the teeps and the ordinary humans alike. The teeps who work for Clearance to stamp out dissent have clearly been drafted into service rather than volunteering.
  • After the End: This story is implied to take place shortly after some kind of nuclear war that set technology back to the level of roughly the 1950s (i.e. an Apocalypse How Class 1). The Hood Maker is old enough to remember the "old world" where the Internet existed and digital technology was ubiquitous.
  • Ambiguous Ending: A staple for this show. We are left guessing whether Honor saves Ross or chooses to leave him to his fate. Ross's final words to her, and the final shot of her hesitation against the backdrop of the burning city, implies that her choice symbolizes the uncertainty of whether humanity will learn to trust each other in time to avoid destroying themselves.
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  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Ross having doubts about the Anti-Immunity Bill:
    Firebombs? Scuffed hats? I don't think so.
  • Blessed with Suck: Unlike Dick's original short story, this is teeps to a tee. Most of the obvious strategic advantages of being a telepath are removed by having highly recognizable facial scars, and by the "tingle" that tips off normal humans if you try to read their thoughts too deeply against their will. As a result, they are a despised, oppressed and exploited minority, with A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read in full effect.
  • Clash of Evolutionary Levels: As typical for Hollywood Evolution, the teeps proclaim themselves the "next step in human evolution" when they finally begin their revolution, although the question of whether their ability breeds true is left unanswered (note that the resolution of Dick's original story is Cutter, the hood maker, revealing that teeps are sterile). In a possible subversion of this trope, Cutter instead reveals that ordinary humans are evolving a Psychic Block Defense, with Ross being the first, and therefore the teeps will soon be the ones driven to extinction.
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  • Dating Catwoman: Both Honor and Ross are aware how dangerous it is for teep and a Clearance agent to fall in love with each other. Subverted, when Ross reveals that his assignment was to be a Honey Trap for Honor to take down the teep rebellion, and that his Psychic Block Defense meant she was no threat to him at all.
  • Decomposite Character: The protagonist of Dick's original story was the Director of the Clearance agency, named Franklin. Here the protagonist is an ordinary agent named Ross, and "Franklyn" is a Corrupt Politician in a different department.
  • Dirty Mind-Reading: Played incredibly straight, incredibly dark. This effect is weaponized against teeps, with teeps providing a form of sex work where clients pay them to sit next to them while they think their perverted and sadistic sexual fantasies at them, knowing that if a thought is directed at them the teep can't help but "read" it in all its gory detail.
  • Dissonant Serenity: The teeps as they very lightly pluck aside the linen strings standing between them and Cutter, and Cutter calmly waiting to be killed.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The title does straightforwardly refer to the physical hoods and Cutter, the man who has been manufacturing them. However, in the ending Cutter reveals the hoods — which are, after all, a highly visible and easily breached defense — exist mostly for symbolic value. Agent Ross' natural ability is the true "hood".
  • Dying Declaration of Hate: Cutter's final moments veer between this and Evil Gloating. Notable in that the very "secret weapon" against the teeps he claims makes his hoods obsolete, Agent Ross, is likely to undergo A Fate Worse Than Death because he couldn't resist blabbing about it right to their faces.
  • Empty Shell: All that's left of Franklyn after Mary and the other teeps turn their powers against him.
  • Fantastic Racism: Telepaths are treated as a despised racial minority; it's implied that they're mutated children who showed up after the nuclear war that destroyed the previous civilization. Notably, the teeps we see all seem to have some kind of radiation-based facial scarring as a Mark of Shame.
  • Fantastic Slurs: "Teep" for "telepath".
  • Grey and Gray Morality: There are two opposing subversive movements against the Free Union government, the teeps and the anti-teeps, and both have a point — the anti-teeps rightfully fear what will happen to them when the government's Anti-Immunity Act legalizes using teeps as weapons against them, and the teeps just want to live in peace rather than being weaponized.
  • Happy Place: Ross' childhood memory of going fishing with his dad is this. It becomes Honor's happy place, too, after he tells her about it and she absorbs his love of that place from his dreams. It turns out that projecting this ingrained memory and the peaceful feelings associated with it is integral to his Psychic Block Defense.
  • How We Got Here: We start the episode with an incongruous shot of Honor standing ankle-deep in a pristine river running through the wilderness, watching a boy and his father fly-fishing. This turns out to be the Happy Place Ross uses as a psychic defense, and the scene takes place during Honor and Ross' Battle in the Center of the Mind.
  • Hive Mind: The teeps' information- and gossip-sharing "Grapevine" is a weak version of this, and the closest thing after the nukes fell that exists to a Google search. Becomes a much more disturbing and conventional version of this trope when the teeps make the collective decision to begin their revolt.
  • In Love with the Mark: Ross claims that falling in love with Honor was this for him.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Ross's superior casually refers to Honor as "it" only for Ross to correct her. In a bit of Dramatic Irony it turns out that, out of Honor's hearing moments before, his superior had been the one to correct Ross when he called Honor an "it", and he was sarcastically needling her about it.
  • Like Father, Like Son:
    • Ross confides to Honor that, while both of them live in a world of deception and betrayal, his father was a simple man who "wore his heart on his sleeve", and would've had nothing to fear from the Anti-Immunity Act because he would have nothing to hide from a teep. It's this sense of serene honesty she gets from Ross, despite the nature of his job, that makes Honor fall in love with him despite herself.
    • Like Father, Unlike Son: All of the above is a lie. Whether or not the story about Ross's father was true, Ross is intentionally using these feelings about his father to mask his true thoughts and emotions. Honor feels safe around Ross because he's an anti-teep agent specifically trained to use a Psychic Block Defense to lie to her where no one else can, and betray her more deeply than anyone else has ever been able to.
    • A possible Double Subversion. Ross was recruited as a child for his gift and never had a choice in what he became any more than Honor did. He ends the episode pleading with her that his true heart's desire is to be an "open book" to her, uncertain if she'll believe him.
  • Meaningful Name: Honor. Caught in a classic Conflicting Loyalty situation, the only ethos she has is that she never lies and always keeps her word, especially to never use her telepathy on a Clearance agent (even when she thinks she might get away with it). It turns out her partner has not been so honorable.
  • Mind Rape:
    • Honor does this in a horribly disturbing way to the protester in the beginning — the shame and agony he experiences reminds us that the normals' fear and loathing of teeps is, to a degree, justified. (Ross even remarks dryly "You raped him pretty good" afterwards.)
    • On the other hand, Franklyn pulls off a twisted reversal of this on the teep prostitute Mary — literally forcing her to use her telepathy to experience his sadistic fantasy of raping her.
    • This ends up being the means by which the insurgent teep rebellion executes Franklyn and Cutter.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Ross shares his fellow agents' dislike and distrust of teeps, but regards himself as duty-bound to treat Honor well as long as she's his partner, including doing her unheard-of favors for a teep like showing up at her house in the slums and buying her breakfast. It's all an act, at least at first.
  • Oedipus Complex: Honor breaks down the protester she's interrogating by revealing his suppressed attraction to his own mother.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Honor is forbidden to use her telepathy against Clearance agents, and any of them getting the telltale "tingle" might result in her being killed, so she's forced to sit and watch her future partner Agent Ross talk to his superior through a window with no clue what they're saying. When she revisits this memory from his perspective at the end of the episode she learns that his friendliness when he came out and greeted her was all an act; he's been trained as an anti-teep asset since childhood thanks to his Psychic Block Defense talent and started off hating teeps more than his boss did.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The Orwellian government is known as the "Free Union" (although this may refer to the different states that formed the union freely joining it, rather than the freedom of the populace they collectively rule). The Secret Police / State Sec organization the protagonists work for goes by the Non-Indicative Name of "Clearance".
  • Playing with Syringes: The teeps seem to have been created by accident, not design, but that didn't stop the government from imprisoning them and conducting terrible experiments on them as children to see how their powers worked. This is how the technology behind the hoods was first developed. It's also the program that discovered and recruited Agent Ross.
  • Power of Trust: The aesop of this episode. Ross ends the episode pleading with Honor that, even though he's taken away any logical reason for her to trust him, if normals and teeps can't trust each other then the world is doomed to burn.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Not only was there no love story in the original story, the script started without any explicit romance, only for Honor and Ross' relationship to gain intensity as the script developed.
  • Psychic Block Defense: Agent Ross's secret superpower turns out to be this.
  • Psychic Static: The protester Honor interrogates appears to have been trained in some form of this, using the famous pangram "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" as a sort of Survival Mantra to block her mind reading. Unfortunately for him, Honor seems to have been trained in a sort of countermeasure, repeating the alternate phrase "The slow black dog bows before the regal fox"; when he replaces his phrase for hers it indicates she has won the Battle in the Center of the Mind. Agent Ross' version of this trick is far more effective.
  • The Oldest Profession: It is implied that most of the teeps who, unlike Honor, have not been press-ganged into working for Clearance, have turned to this to survive.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The teep rebellion.
  • They Fight Crime!: A bog-standard science-fiction version of this trope, pairing a downtrodden mutant with one of the cops who's supposed to keep her kind in line. One of the other cops even remarks on the Wunza Plot, calling them "Ebony and Ivory". Turns out to be true on a deeper level than Honor knew — they assigned the one cop capable of a Psychic Block Defense to their first telepathic deputy, specifically because he alone had the ability to lie to her.
  • Tinfoil Hat: The titular hoods are this trope played straight — a device that acts as a sort of Faraday cage that blocks telepathy. Both the original story and this episode deal with the Fridge Logic that a defense as obvious and easy to remove as a tinfoil hat would be of very limited value in real life — in both stories, the hood itself is only a stopgap and a symbol of resistance, and the hood maker's true weapon is the Awful Truth about teeps he possesses.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Honor tears down the protester's pretensions to idealism by revealing that all he wants by participating in the anti-teep rebellion is to impress his older brother.
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