Genesis opens with Greg, Abby and Jenny all in the same part of the country but not yet close enough to make contact. Abby sees Greg’s helicopter but can’t attract his attention, Jenny sees the remnants of a fire lit by Abby but by the time she gets there Abby’s moved on.
Greg had been working in Holland and pilots the company helicopter back to his house. A piece of visual shorthand (a wedding photo) gives us that information and when he sees a slumped figure on the sofa it immediately brings to mind Abby’s discovery of her dead husband in the previous episode. But his first words show us that theirs was quite a different marriage. “I was wrong Jeannie. I thought you were the kind to survive just to spite me.”
Greg obviously still had a lingering sense of duty to check if she was alive, but her death has freed him of that obligation so he drives away. Like most of the people we’ve seen so far, he doesn’t have any particular destination in mind, so when a woman, Anne Tranter (Myra Francis), flags him down and frantically asks for his help, he agrees.
She takes him to a quarry, where a man called Vic Thatcher (Terry Scully) is trapped under a tractor. Greg manages to free him, but his legs are mangled beyond repair. Anne, like Abby, comes from a privileged background, but there the similarities end since Anne is completely self centered and spoilt. Myra Francis is perfectly cast as the rich bitch and it’s a pity that she didn’t appear in more episodes (she has one more after this).
Terry Scully excelled at playing victims and Vic is another notable one. At the end of the episode it might be assumed that we’d seen the last of him, but he does reappear later in the series. It’s just a shame that Scully had to be replaced by Hugh Walters for the last few episodes of series one.
The survivors are able to take anything they wish – witness Tom Price’s child-like pleasure in acquiring a Rolls Royce (I particularly like the way he continually beeps the horn, as if he can’t quite believe he’s driving it). He runs into Jenny again, who begs him to take her with him, but he refuses. He reassures her that help will be on the way soon, if not from this country then from America. He’s convinced that the Yanks will come through, just like they did in the war.
Elsewhere, we see that Greg has a much more realistic view. He tells Anne that things won’t get back to normal for decades, if ever. As an engineer, some part of Greg’s mind must be pondering how to rebuild the shattered infrastructure (even if it’s only local to begin with). Anne is clearly only concerned with her own welfare – there’s enough supplies stockpiled to ensure she can live a comfortable life, so why should she worry about anybody else? (The most obvious example of this is later, when she abandons the crippled Vic).
Arthur Wormley (George Baker) leads a group that is, for the moment, self sufficient. He appears charming, but it quickly becomes clear to Abby that he sees himself as the man to lead the remnants of society. Some may not see this as a bad thing, but in Wormley’s world not everybody is created equal. His vision of a centralised government (with him at the centre) dismays Abby, who likens his proposals to that of a feudal baron. Later, we see how ruthless he can be when dealing with anyone who disagrees with him (executing a man who has broken what he considers to be the law)
Whilst he doesn’t threaten Abby, his presence serves as a reminder that the fracturing of society will inevitably see groups of survivors banding together, not only for their own safety but simply because everybody’s chances of survival will be greater if they join forces. This is fine, but whose authority (if anybody’s) should they be under? This is a topic that the series will return to again.
Before Abby moves on, she does try and explain to him the importance of self-sufficiency – not just in growing food, but in all aspects of their new lives. It’s another chance for Terry Nation to outline his own philosophy (several other examples can be found in The Fourth Horseman). It’s interesting how Abby’s speech is a refined version of the one that Dr Bronson gave to her. Clearly what he told her has sunk in.
“Don’t you see the point we’d reached in our civilisation? Now look around you, anywhere you like, in this house in this room. I doubt if it contains a single artifact that was the exclusive creation of one person. This table, this simple wooden table. Could you knock up something like this, right from scratch? You’d fell the timber, with what – an axe or a saw? The steel for the saw has been made in a foundry. The iron-ore has been dug from the ground and the fuel to smelt it with has been mined. Now what happens when the last axe-head cracks and the last saw breaks?
Wormley isn’t the only one to have visions of how society needs to be rebuilt. Anne tells Greg that they should scavenge as much food and other provisions as they can, working throughout the winter. They can then use this stockpile to their benefit – employing people to work for them and using the goods as payment. The privileged Anne sees nothing wrong in this – she had a comfortable life in the old world, why should her life in the new one be any different?
Naturally, Greg isn’t convinced and the next day he leaves, telling her that he may be back or he may not. He does, but before that happens he runs into Jenny. Jenny tells him that she needs to be with people, despite being (or so she considered) an independent person – she simply couldn’t cope on her own. Greg tells that there’s bound to be groups setting up, so they’ll find something for her. At this time, it’s plain that Greg is considering moving on by himself. Or does he need people just as much as Jenny, but his stoic personality won’t admit it?
When Greg returns to Anne with some drugs he’s scavenged for Vic she tells him that Vic’s dead, so the three of them leave. Before this, Greg gives her a long, hard stare but doesn’t question her. Given that he’s already had plenty of opportunities to see just how unscrupulous she is, it’s surprising that he doesn’t check (which leaves poor Vic stranded).
A light in the middle of the night brings Greg and Jenny into contact with Abby and now the three sides of the triangle that create the dynamic during series one are complete. Jenny is delighted to have found another friendly person (and with the prospect of more to come) whilst Greg’s expression is a lot harder to read.