A rebellion makes its way to the Savage Lands, and visitors from New London, Bernard (Harry Lloyd) and Lenina (Jessica Brown Findlay), are nearly killed. In another burst of creative energy, the tension between the two worlds snaps during an explosive scene that’s shot in one-take, rushing from different things, tossing Bernard and Lenina into a reality filled with acts of savagery they can’t comprehend. In these frantic scenes, it’s a thrilling survival story, as they try to get to the border with the help of John’s mother Linda (Demi Moore).
All of this is just act one—by episode four, John is an outsider in New London, and by either letting himself be seduced by its way of life or resisting it, he’s going to mess it up. This is where Peacock’s “Westworld” aspirations kick in, and soon fall short. There is a grave lack of stakes for this world where no villain is outright visible, and the revolution rarely feels like this much of a slog. With John serving as our surrogate, “Brave New World” becomes an arch dissection of this particular society, stating the obvious with either exposition about how this place functions, or during more philosophical conversations about why we as humans can’t imprison our feelings. It’s stuffy and far too self-serious, and if you’ve seen nearly any dystopian tale before, especially ones specifically meant to be eye-opening for young adults, awfully familiar.
And because “Brave New World” is a nine-episode miniseries at approximately 45 minutes each, we have to see John’s influence move slowly throughout New London, on a microscopic level, and how it shakes up Lenina and the especially uptight Bernard. The story tries to spike its interest during these with its showier tricks—here’s another massive party with a lush techno score, or a zippy commercial, or a sequence built around Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”—but as much as the series can sometimes perk up, it fades fast. “Brave New World” gets even worse when it lands on a love triangle between Lenina, Bernard, and John, in which everyone’s core desire to not have to share a sexual partner takes the show full circle back to intentionally over-baked fare you’d see in the Savage Lands.