Last week’s episode of Scott Z. Burns’ “Extrapolations” focused on Jonathan Chopin (Edward Norton), Rowan (Michael Gandolfini), and Gita (Indira Varma). It showed Rowan and Gita’s plans to control the Earth’s temperature by shooting calcium carbonate into the sky. That’d create an artificial layer between the Sun and the Earth, thereby allowing the planet to cool down, at least temporarily. While Rowan and Gita were convinced this would work, Jonathan was sure that this would cause such unpredictable changes that humanity wouldn’t be able to take the necessary measures to tackle it. Gita and Rowan went ahead with their plan to use massive planes to do the necessary deployment. But Gita, along with the rest of her planes, was shot down, presumably by Nick Bilton (Kit Harington). That was when we got a glimpse of one of the major players in this week’s episode, Gaurav (Adarsh Gourav), as well as a hint that this week’s episode is going to unfold in India.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Neel Reveals His True Skills At A Police Checkpoint
“2059 Part 2: Nightbirds” opens in Svalbard, Norway, where a woman named Sanj (Divya Sethi) enters a secure facility and makes a run for it with an important item. Then we move to Mumbai, where the air is so unbreathable that people have to wear portable oxygen masks or pay to have a puff of oxygen at the local stalls. The heat of the Sun is so intense that there are daytime curfews in place to prevent people from fainting and dying due to a stroke. Since the temperature is so high and there are no rains, drought-resistant wheat, bajra, and rice seeds are being sold. But it definitely sounds like a grift because if humans can’t survive such intense heat, how in the hell are crops going to tolerate it? By the way, I must say that “Extrapolations” is a rare international production that has managed to portray an Indian city correctly, that too during a post-apocalyptic period. The key to it is the humidity and the perpetual sweating of the characters. Anyway, we learn that Gaurav is a driver, and he transports items from one state to another for a living.
For his latest job, Gaurav has to deliver something from Mumbai to Varanasi and then somewhere up north, with an amputee named Neel (Gaz Choudhry) by his side. Although he’s hesitant about taking the trip, as soon as Gaurav learns about the fees (10,000 euros), he agrees to get into the driver’s seat. Side-note: We hear Divine’s “Kohinoor” playing on the truck’s speakers. On the way, they exchange stories about lost love, nasal nanobots versus oxygen masks, and the war between India and Pakistan, all of which eventually turn into Islamophobic conspiracy theories that Gaurav apparently hears on “the news.” But when Neel questions Gaurav about his involvement in the war, he says he received an exemption since his father committed suicide after all the crops died, thereby revealing where his pessimism comes from. Neel’s general optimism about life causes Gaurav to talk about his plans to go to Goa, though, while Neel talks about going to Kuwait after payday. Sadly, all that positivity goes down the drain as the police try to nab what the duo is carrying, thereby forcing Neel to pull out his firearm and kill them all. Upon questioning, Neel reveals that he’s Gaurav’s bodyguard, and he’s there to ensure that he and the package get to the destination safely.
Gaurav Deviates From The Mission To Save Neel
We briefly see that an employee of Alpha (played by Keri Russell) is tracking Gaurav and Neel, which means that whatever is in the duo’s possession is Alpha property, and they want it back. And when we return to Gaurav and Neel, we see that the former is not interested in continuing this mission because they’ve been branded criminals after killing three policemen. So, Neel reminds Gaurav about the money yet again, and Gaurav reluctantly agrees to continue the journey to Varanasi while pretending to be brothers who are on their way to pray over there. As they wait for a vehicle to pick them up, Neel talks about his philosophy. He says that, despite having the skills to kill, he isn’t particularly happy about it. Therefore, whenever his job forces him to pick up the gun, he tries to balance things out by saving a life. Neel thinks that after saving Gaurav’s life, he needs to save two more in order to cancel out the three kills. Gaurav points out the fallacy in his logic by saying that the ratio of lives taken to lives saved is too imbalanced to be sorted out in this lifetime.
Upon reaching their employer in Varanasi, Madam Anusha, Gaurav and Neel are told that they’ve got to take the top-secret package to Amritsar. And since the police will be hunting them by night, they’ve got to travel by day, thereby risking the deadly heat of the Sun. Anusha explains all the necessary precautions they can take, while highlighting the fact that they need to follow all the rules of traveling in the morning, or else they’ll end up like their additional package, the scientist Mr. Harbaksh. Despite his physical and mental issues due to extended exposure to the Sun, Harbaksh does manage to reveal the fact that the top-secret package contains seeds. No, not the fake stuff that’s being sold on the streets or the synthesized things that they’re making biryani out of. It’s the real thing that was stored in Norway. Gaurav theorizes that Harbaksh is tasked with cloning the original seeds, which are being kept from the public because of their uniqueness, for the farmers. Gaurav says that the whole exercise is pointless, though, because if it doesn’t rain, the seeds won’t bear any fruit. As they start moving again, kids from the neighborhood start pelting fruits at the car. The heatwave starts, causing one of the kids to faint. Neel goes to save him by pushing him into his heat proof sleeping bag and passes out soon after. So, Gaurav ditches the main mission and takes all of them to the nearby village to treat them.
‘Extrapolations’ Episode 5 Ending Explained – What Happened To The “Magic” Seeds?
As soon as Gaurav realizes that Neel is Muslim, he feels guilty for spewing all that Islamophobic nonsense earlier. Gaurav’s bigotry is further questioned as the village he enters is a Muslim-majority area, and the only people he must rely on are Muslims. The doctor tells him to go get ice, if he can, from the neighboring village because they need to lower Neel’s body heat or else he’ll succumb to hyperthermia. When Gaurav goes out, the Alpha assassin (Keri Russell’s Hindi is pretty good) drops out of nowhere to get the seeds. Since Gaurav isn’t that good at fighting or negotiating, he seemingly agrees to give them up to the assassin. But Neel isn’t like Gaurav, and he goes down fighting. The Muslim woman, whose son Neel had saved, stabs the assassin and kills her. Gaurav tries to shoot down the drone that’s tracking them, but even that’s executed by the kid, that too with a slingshot. After grieving Neel’s death, Gaurav completes the task by delivering Harbaksh to Amritsar. While returning to Zira, he confronts an Islamophobic man, thereby exhibiting change. Upon reaching the village, he gives the seeds to the kid he and Neel had saved as the rain starts to pour for the first time in a long time.
Although the fifth episode of “Extrapolations” is about getting a package of seeds that represents the remnants of the old world that have been hoarded by the capitalists and are being repurposed by the revolutionaries, it’s actually about unlearning one’s bigotry. Gaurav’s character is emblematic of many people who think that the only way to digest the atrocities that they’ve faced is by finding someone who has been historically oppressed and directing all their hatred at them. That’s not going to solve anything. But, in their heads, they are doing something righteous because they think that minorities are responsible for every bad thing that has happened in the world. Addressing the fact that the majority has sold their souls to politicians and money-hungry corporations is a bitter and tough pill to swallow. That’s why Gaurav doesn’t do that. He has suffered like many others have, and there’s no doubt about that. However, that doesn’t give him a free pass to hate those who simply follow a different religion than him. He learns this the hard way as he sees his colleague do the same thing that he has done, but with a sense of optimism and the will to help those who are in need of it. That said, has Gaurav learned his lesson in time?
Given how Gaurav stands up to a man saying bigoted things and returns to Zira, it shows that he has changed. He has realized that, while religion is here to stay, there’s no point in discriminating, especially during these trying times. That doesn’t mean one should discriminate when things are relatively okay. No matter how good or bad the condition of the planet is, one shouldn’t discriminate. We should treat each other as human beings, be respectful of each other’s beliefs, and push back against those who are using their religious beliefs to hurt others. That’s not a tall order at all. Now, initially, it seems that the rain that hits India is a literal and metaphorical cleansing of Gaurav and the country’s souls, which have been stained by unnecessary hatred. However, as the newsreader keeps talking about the rain, it becomes apparent that it’s not actually a boon but a bane. The rain isn’t there to wash away anything. Instead, it’s there to punish the folks in the form of a flash flood for meddling with nature or merely standing on the sidelines and watching those who are playing God.