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Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams - S1E1/S1E2 - Real Life/Autofac

Project Fandom coverage follows the episode Amazon (US) running order as opposed to the original Channel 4 running order, with two reviews each week.

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams - S1E1 - “Real Life” | Starring: Anna Paquin, Terrance Howard, Rachelle Lefevre, Sam Witwer, Jacob Vargas

Sarah (Anna Paquin) and Katie (Rachelle Lefevre)
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams Episode 1 “Real Life”

Setting: 2012 and an unnamed gleaming year set in the future

Vacation Time

The story opens up with Sarah, a police officer, and her colleague Jacob in a diner. Sarah is clearly preoccupied, which makes sense given the fact that she survived a massacre where many of her fellow officers were killed. The pair leave the diner and the city skyline is active and full of lights and sleek automated flying cards. Back at home, Sarah’s wife Katie tries to cajole Sarah out of her downcast mood. Katie gives Sarah an implant that she compares to a vacation. The device which isn’t ready for the general market, allows the user to enter another reality, where she can inhabit another person’s life.

Sarah enters the life of George, who is with his friend Chris. They are in the middle of what is tantamount to an action film heist in which they have to shoot their way out of a warehouse. Their nemesis is a gangster named Colin. Sarah is still getting the hang of her life as George, but Chris attributes George’s confusion to the shootout and recent stress. As such, Chris suggests that Paula, a doctor friend, examine George. During the exam at his house, George remembers that he is the head of a multi-billion dollar tech company in the year 2012. Given his position, what in the hell is George doing getting caught up in a warehouse gunfight? Chris arrives as Paula is leaving and he has a similar conversation with George that Katie had with Sarah. Upon Chris’ suggestion that George take a vacation, George remembers that he built a prototype VR headset that is personalized to each user. George puts it on and Sarah goes back to her life.

Back to Life?

Sarah is back in the diner with Jacob and everything feels different. She and Jacob receive an alert concerning Sarah’s tip about the location of the group who committed the massacre. When the pair arrive at the location, a warehouse, Sarah notices that it’s the same place that George and Chris had their shootout. Sarah and Jacob overhear the criminals discussing a plan to blow up City Hall and Jacob steps away to get a signal so that he can call for backup. When the criminals become aware of Sarah’s presence she is chased down and knocked out by a flying object. Sarah then wakes up in George’s life. George meets with the Justice Department who are investigating George’s recent stint as a vigilante. He’s been on a mission to find the killer of his wife after her murder went viral. In the middle of the meeting, George falls ill and again Paula visits him at his home. She says that he has a larger concussion than she first thought, and the memory loss could be permanent but is most likely temporary.

George’s major concern is that he doesn’t remember his wife and he starts to question why there are no pictures of the two of them. Paula refers to George’s wife as Katie and shows George a picture from her phone. The woman in the picture looks just like Sarah’s wife Katie. Upon seeing the picture George starts to mix memories of Sarah’s Katie with memories of George’s Katie. When George tells Paula that there are two Katies and that he has memories of another life, Paula gives him a stern warning that further use of the VR could give him permanent brain damage. George pretends to agree to not use the VR headset again but as soon as Paula leaves George puts on the headset.

Paula (Lara Pulver) and George (Terrence Howard).Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams Episode 1 - Real Life

Make A Choice

Sarah wakes up in the hospital with Katie and Jacob present. They tell her that the operation was successful and that the gang is in jail apart from Colin who is also in the hospital. Is this the same Colin from George’s world? Back at home after they have sex, Katie jokes with Sarah about whether she had sex during her time in the other life. Sarah tells Katie no and discusses the similarities in the other life including Katie, Colin, and the VR machine. Sarah even questions her own life and likens it to that of a male sci-fi fantasy. Katie refuses to even dignify Sarah’s reasoning and explains that the game is based on the user’s subconscious and that it’s time to erase all trace of the other life from Sarah’s mind. In the middle of the night, Sarah goes into the other world.

George goes to a diner that is quite similar to the one that Sarah and Jacob frequent. George is still discombobulated from Sarah’s jump, but George is also intrigued by the diner and how similar it is to Sarah’s diner. Chris joins George and tells him that Colin has left the country. George thinks he’s figured out what is going on. He goes home and is not surprised to see Paula waiting for him. When George goes looking for the VR headset and demands Paula gives it back to him. He tells Paula that she’s a simulation and that the VR is the real world. As she touches him in an attempt to plead with him to not use the VR, George remembers that the two of them had an affair. Paula explains that they promised each other it would end before Colin kidnapped Katie. Paula is able to convince George to stay by telling him that they are in the real world and they must take the penance for this life and not try to escape. After George destroys the VR headset, Sarah’s brain shuts down. When Jacob asks Katie why Sarah would want to stay in that unhappy world, Katie responds that Sarah wanted to be punished for sins, real and perceived.

Moral of the story: Happiness is an option and sometimes human beings choose pain over joy.

Thoughts and Observations

  • Excellent cast. Although the writing was slightly heavy handed, the performances were perfect for each role.
  • Great to see a future where LGBTQ rights are the norm.
  • The scene where George tries to start the car as if it was automated was a nice bit of comic relief.

Plot 8 | Dialogue 7 | Performance 9 = 8.0

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams - S1E2 - “Autofac” | Starring: Juno Temple, Jay Paulson, David Lyons, Janelle Monáe, Nick Eversman

Setting: Post-apocalyptic/ Post-civil war world sometime in the future


The story focuses on Emily and her community. They live in a compound in a world which is dominated by a machine run company named Autofac. The firm continues to manufacture all manner of consumer goods despite polluting the environment and reducing the quality of life and safety for the remaining human inhabitants on the Earth. In attempt to bring down Autofac, Emily, Connie, and Reverend Perin shoot down an Autofac drone delivering goods.

Emily is the techie of the bunch and she keeps having flashbacks to the world as it was before. She and her conspirators tap into Autofac’s help system and file a service request. The company says it will send a representative to help. Although Autofac’s response was calm, the community meets to discuss the visit and their concerns about an aggressive response from Autofac’s representative. The war has been over for 20 years and yet the Autofac factory has not stopped running. Connie argues that it is up to human beings as the creators of Autofac to bring it the system to an end. Emily agrees with Conrad and plans to use her technical know-how to take Autofac down.

Emily is in a relationship with Avishai, a librarian, but she has kept it hidden from Connie whom she was previously involved with. Avishai feels his role in the group is less important than Emily and Connie’s because he views them both as revolutionaries. Emily disagrees and tells Avishai that his role as a librarian is essential in the rebuilding of the world post Autofac.


Alice, the Autofac representative arrives. She discusses things like an interactive automated telephone line, but in a full humanoid/robot form. Connie and the Reverend meet with Alice and she explains that the Autofac knows that the war is over, but believes human beings require Autofac’s presence. During the meeting Emily attacks Alice. When Alice wakes up to find that she has been tied down with her hard drive/brain open, she is aware of Emily’s desire to reprogram her. Although Alice is a ‘hospitality unit’ her programming is quite sophisticated because Autofac believes human beings want to interact with highly sophisticated units. Emily threatens to reprogram Alice with the brain capacity of a drone unless Alice takes the crew into the Autofac factory; Alice agrees. Emily proceeds to lie to Connie and the Reverend that she reprogramed Alice.

As Alice flies Emily, Connie, and the Reverend to the factory they discuss their plans. Once at the factory, Connie and the Reverend each go to separate floors, while Emily has Alice escort her to the mainframe. Connie and the Reverend are both killed by the Autofac. On their way to the mainframe Alice asks Emily why she lied to the guys about reprogramming her. Emily states that she sensed that Alice had more in common with human beings than the men would want to admit. Alice explains that she was purposefully designed to have human characteristics. Alice the robot was programmed after a human being, Alice Fry, the original head of PR for Autofac.

The Founder

Alice takes Emily to the mainframe and Emily finds a robot version of herself in a case. Alice breaks the news to Emily that she is already a robot and the robot is just another copy of her. Human beings became extinct after the war and have been replaced with duplicates throughout various communities. In a sense, Autofac was lonely and wanted to have consumers to make things for again. Emily’s community was the only group that refused to accept the system of consumerism and fought back. After Alice hooks Emily up to the system in order to wipe her memory, Alice notices that Emily put a logic bomb/virus into the system. Emily then reveals that the figured out she was robot via dreams and flashbacks. As such she uploaded the logic bomb to the system. For once Alice looks shook and she asks Emily why she would do something that would inevitable destroy herself. Emily explains that the dreams she had not only revealed another life where she saw the end of the world occur, but she felt she was modeled after someone. Alice confirms that Emily was modeled after Emily Zabriskie, the creator of Autofac. Emily fulfills her and Conrad’s plan to destroy the Autofac. It is only fitting that Emily is the one to do this since the human Emily created the program. As the story ends Emily returns to Avishai and the rest of the community.

Moral of the story: Consumerism is dangerous; Machines will revolt; You can eventually correct your mistakes.

Thoughts and Observations

  • Parts of each adaptation have been tweaked to connect with a contemporary audience. The Amazonian adaptation of the Autofac factory really taps into Amazon’s international reach and its relationship with customers worldwide, not to mention Electric Dreams being available through Amazon in the US. Talk about eerie.
  • Janelle Monáe is perfect to play Alice given the subject matter of her first two studio albums which featured an android protagonist.
  • Although it was clear that Emily was more than likely a robot, the added twist of her being the founder of Autofac was perfect because it helped to explain why Emily was so technically talented.
"Autofac" Review Score
  • 8/10
    Plot - 8/10
  • 7/10
    Dialogue - 7/10
  • 8/10
    Performances - 8/10

"Real Life" / "AutoFac"

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams - S1E1 - “Real Life” | Starring: Anna Paquin, Terrance Howard, Rachelle Lefevre, Sam Witwer, Jacob Vargas

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams - S1E2 - “AutoFac” | Starring: Juno Temple, Jay Paulson, David Lyons, Janelle Monáe, Nick Eversman

User Review
5 (1 vote)
About Ejiro Onomake (18 Articles)
Ejiro is an ardent fan of British mysteries, sci-fi, Psych, and well produced HBO dramas. She believes there is way too much good television, books, and podcasts to waste time on the mediocre.

1 Comment on Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams - S1E1/S1E2 - Real Life/Autofac

  1. Autofac isn’t on the UK episodes.

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