Page 45 Review by Stephen
From the writer of SAGA.
EX MACHINA is a political comedy thriller, highly successful in all three aspects: it's funny, it's politically realistic rather than a big wet dream for pinko lefties like me, and it's tense as hell.
Mitchell Hundred is mayor of New York City, but for some he will always be remembered as The Great Machine, a man who saved one of the Twin Towers from destruction using his ability to communicate with mechanisms. Until now we haven't known exactly how he managed that; hell, until now we haven't known where the powers exactly came from. All that changes at this half-way stage, and the signs are ominous.
As Mayor Hundred and his team gear up to tackle New York City's drug laws - with internal debates as sophisticated as any of those you'll have seen in that particularly cathartic episode of The West Wing - a woman sitting calmly on City Hall's steps douses herself in kerosene and sets herself on fire. Is there a connection between that, Hundred's recent admission to having smoked marijuana* and his earlier failure to get his priorities straight as a jet-packed crime fighter? Meanwhile his power to interact with machines appears to be overloading, and he's having strange dreams with talking animals in them...
"These plants. They're marijuana."
"It's not about the pot, 100. It's about the black kettle."
Threaded throughout is the search for a black male dressed in what looks like an authentic, department-issue fire fighter's gear, using it to smash his way into apartments, assault and steal, with repercussions as brutal as The Shield's. And that's where Hundred's liberal crusade to marry Wylie's brother to his boyfriend so publicly comes back to haunt him, because Wiley's brother is a fire fighter
"Actually, Mr. Major, I've got a pretty tight alibi. I was, uh... I was at a hotel. With another man."
"When you say "another man," please tell me you're talking about your husband. Your lawfully wedded husband."
"Sir, Bill and I have an... agreement. As long as it's only physical, and as long as we're safe and discreet, we trust each other enough to --"
"Jesus Christ, do you think that will mean anything to Middle America after some homophobic asshole in the NYPD leaks this to Limbaugh? You two had a responsibility! You represent fidelity and.. and commitment to millions of people who think that's something your kind is totally incapable of!"
See, that's what I love about this: even its chief protagonist is complex and flawed, and the issues - including the drug ones - will not be easily resolved, however good the intentions.
Now a man in what looks like a sophisticated deep-sea diving suit materialises by the harbour; the city is plunged into darkness as the electricity go out; the machines stop talking to Hundred.
The stranger is here with a warning, but where's he from? Another planet? Another time? And what does he want with Kremlin, Mitchell's old friend currently conspiring to sabotage his administration from within?