Today, we are going to explain a movie called “Equals” which has got drama, romance, and it’s a sci-fi film about star-crossed lovers in a world with no emotion. They found love where there should be none. There is no single definition for love.
Love can be felt towards yourself, the people you care for, your passions, or even inanimate objects. But what happens when love is taken away?
In this film, two rule breakers find a way to answer that question. And in the process, they’ll discover that love is one of the most powerful emotions anyone could experience.
In a futuristic dystopian utopia, a community prospers as there’s no violence and crime. Everyone has their part to play in their peaceful way of living. The people are labeled “members,” and they’re all under the governance of an administration named “The Collective.”
Silas is an ordinary citizen. He wakes up in his room, and as soon as he gets off, the bed seamlessly integrates itself within the walls. He goes on about his daily routine of taking a shower, wearing his plain white uniform, and drinking a liquid for breakfast.
Other members roam around the peaceful city. No one talks, simply passing each other as they head to their jobs. A video displays on the walls, reminding people to report deviant behavior. We can see that the Collective heavily promotes negativity towards emotions.
A faint smile, a disgruntled face, or a tremble of the hand is cause for arrest. Despite the oppression, the members don’t bat an eye. They’re docile and are in some sort of control, which they allow and support.
At a train station, a multitude of members passes through a gate. A polite exchange happens between Silas and a woman. His profile shows that he’s an illustrator for the company Atmos. Silas enters the train, sitting in front of a screen.
The collective conveys a message of caution, stating symptoms of a disease called “S.O.S,” or the Switched-On Syndrome. This rampant disease restores the emotions of the repressed members. Silas ignores the warning and continues watching the news. This foreboding disease could suggest something could soon change in Silas’ life.
At Atmos, Silas approaches his work desk. He works on his digital art while he listens to a documentary about “The great war.”
The war brought about the divide between The Collective and a place called “The Peninsula.” The latter community is less developed and more chaotic because their emotions aren’t suppressed.
During a meeting, an article writer, Nia, suggests changing details of a project they’re working on. Later that day, the employees eat side by side, inches apart. Two employees gossip about their coworker who just returned from conception duty.
The traditional method of reproduction isn’t practiced in the Collective as artificial insemination has advanced to be the more efficient process. As we can see, the Collective undergo extreme means to prohibit people from feeling a connection with someone.
Even in reproduction, there are safeguards inhibiting temptation for physical intimacy. They live life without the sensual touch of another human, without the conclusion of built-up tension and the wonder that is creating life. Silas then asks where they plan to watch the upcoming spacecraft landing.
On his way home, Silas sees a sick couple escorted by safety officers. He enters his unit, selecting the eat option on the wall. A counter slides out, along with his closet. Silas eats his pre-prepared meal and does his nightly fun of puzzle solving. The view from the outside shows his neighbors doing a similar routine.
The following day, Silas watches the news of a couple. They’ll be sent to a Defective Emotional Neuropathy Facility, or DEN facility, for emotional suppression because they’re infected.
The Collective asks for the member’s cooperation in reporting someone who shows signs of S.O.S. While Silas is hard at work, an employee hits the ground behind him. They inspect the jumper, but no one seems to show any emotion.
Suddenly, Nia silently expresses her frustration, and Silas notices. At the watch party, Atmos employees watch the spacecraft landing. Everyone but Silas focuses on the display as he can’t take his eyes off Nia.
The emotional lapse from Nia made Silas wonder if she does have emotions. Throughout the time he contemplates whether or not his gut feeling is true, he also starts to feel. Inside his brain is a reaction of hormones that’s completely alien to him.
He now has the choice to either fight or accept it. We can see that Silas is slowly gaining back the ability to feel. He doesn’t have the faintest clue how he’d react to this as he’s experiencing this feeling for the first time.
Back at home, Silas anxiously eats his dinner. His bites slow down as he thinks of Nia, and even his nightly puzzle gets interrupted.
During another meeting, Silas is preoccupied with his thoughts. He apologizes for zoning out and continues to explain his work. In his unit, Silas dreams that he’s standing on a building’s edge. As he’s about to fall, he wakes up, startled and disoriented, running straight to a wall.
The following day, Silas sees a bruise on his forehead. In a health center, Silas sees a woman cry as they watch a video about S.O.S. He learns there are four stages of the S.O.S. that grow more dangerous with each stage. The man beside him, Jonas, asks what stage Silas is on, to which he replies that he’s just getting a check-up to be safe.
Jonas also has S.O.S., and he’s currently on stage 2. In the doctor’s office, Silas shares the nightmare he had. The doctor tests his blood for S.O.S, immediately showing that he’s positive. Silas worries about being sent to a DEN facility, but the doctor assures him that they’re working on a cure.
The state of fear is seen in the community. Normal emotions a human is designed to feel frightens them and pushes them to immediately report their condition. The Collective’s propaganda effectively implants in a person’s mind that something’s wrong with them. We can notice that there is clear irony here. The Collective is supposedly unable to show emotions yet they fear S.O.S.
At the station, Silas scans himself, now showing that he has stage 1 S.O.S. At the office, a coworker asks why he has a bruise. To avoid discrimination, Silas lies and tells her that he got it from a Tai Chi class. They doubt him, but Nia interrupts and supports his lies. This would probably confirm Silas’ suspicions of Nia. Now that she tried defending him, it’s probable that she has S.O.S. too.
During lunchtime, Nia traps a bumblebee. As she explains how a bee flies, Silas can’t help but look at her beautiful face. Later on, Silas picks up his shades and medication from a health center. Back at home, he watches an instructional video made for S.O.S. infected members.
Silas finds the genetic reason for his sickness. His gene that suppresses emotion and rids of human flaws malfunctioned, causing him to behave differently. Only an inhibitor pill can delay their inevitable transfer to a DEN facility until a cure is discovered.
Throughout the next day, Silas experiences the detrimental effects of S.O.S. First, he can feel anxiety, loss of focus, and depression. Then he acquires sensitivity to light. Next is a decrease in productivity, which will worsen and ultimately lead to the last stage of S.O.S., where the infected will undergo a pain-free death.
In a shared bathroom, Silas and Nia have a brief interaction. From afar, Silas follows Nia, and she remains oblivious. Finally, Nia enters her living quarters, and Silas loses his chance to confront her. In his room, Silas decides to stop taking the inhibitor pills.
S.O.S. is quickly taking over Silas’ calm and collected manner. Nia is his catalyst as something about her allures Silas. A biological need, a primal urge, or simply his first crush. Silas wants to know how it feels to be with her, but his inhibited self forces him to just watch for now.
The next day, Silas approaches Nia and asks her to check his work. He switched with a coworker so that he has a reason to interact with her. Nia takes note of his odd behavior and agrees to review his work.
As Nia looks at a drawing of a lander on another planet, Silas experiences an alien feeling as he gazes at Nia’s supple lips and porcelain skin. Nia gives her feedback, and Silas leaves feeling satisfied.
Late at night, Silas enters the empty office. He opens up Nia’s work desk and listens to her voice memos. Silas absorbs her every tone and articulation, and it follows him to his bed and dreams.
Another meeting occurs, and Silas spills his drink. A coworker returns the shades he dropped, revealing his secret to the team. Silas finally admits his sickness, assuring his coworkers that S.O.S isn’t contagious. Nia leads the decision for Silas to separate himself from the group.
To make Silas feel better, they give him their thoughts and prayers. Silas now sits in a corner far away from everyone else. There’s discrimination against people with the disease. They’re looked as less effective members, and the healthy public doesn’t realize how wrong they treat them.
Since they don’t feel, there’s no room for empathy and understanding, only efficiency and superiority, or so they are led to believe. One could argue a clear presence of empathy and concern when Silas reveals his illness. They offer him thoughts and prayers, indicating sympathy and a concern for his well-being. Their shift ends, and Silas continues to stalk Nia.
Suddenly, she appears behind him, threatening to report Silas if he doesn’t stop. Silas accuses Nia of having S.O.S, but she denies it. He then says that if Nia isn’t infected, she would’ve already reported him. Nia ignores Silas and leaves. The next day, Silas and Nia interact just like nothing happened.
During lunch, she looks at a lonely Silas. Nia tries her best to avoid any interaction with him, even during the meeting. As she stands alone, she anxiously fidgets with her hand. Later that day, the two are alone in the office. Tension forms between them, making Nia leave.
Silas follows her to the bathroom, entering the stall she’s in. The two stand face to face, unfamiliar with what they’re feeling. Silas touches her trembling hands and her trembling face. Nia leans in, and they feel the warmth of each other’s embrace. Nia admits that she’s been infected for over a year. She felt alone and scared, but she used that to control herself.
Still, there’s a huge fear of getting caught. Nia says they can’t be together as she’d rather hold out for the cure. Silas accepts their reality, but not without stealing a kiss first.
The next day, Nia mingles with her coworkers, but her heart and mind flutter to Silas. The two are alone once again, and Silas eyes her out. He follows her, and the two share an intimate moment, breathing heavily on each other’s skin.
Nia is reluctant to continue, but Silas’ carnal desires refuse to give up. They touch parts they’ve never touched before, and the fear of getting caught strengthens their feelings. That bathroom stall becomes their escape from the mundane and stressful world.
Every gaze and forbidden moment pushes them to experiment. They form a deeper connection on the foundation of intimacy.
The first confession, the first person they can be themselves with, and the first shoulder to lean, cry and laugh on. Through developing a deeper understanding of each other, they also understood more about themselves. A human’s complexity, imperfections, and need for companionship.
Silas leaves the bathroom as their manager interrupts their moment. He asks if Silas has thought about killing himself. Silas says he’ll consider it when he reaches the next stage of S.O.S. As they leave, the manager asks why Nia’s desk is on.
He knows that Silas has been snooping on Nia. He then threatens to report Silas if he doesn’t stop. After another workday, Silas is reluctant to follow Nia to the bathroom. She waits for him, but he doesn’t show up. Later at a pathway, they talk about the manager noticing their odd behavior.
Complications of Love
Nia proposes to stop their interaction, but Silas can’t bear to see Nia at work every day and not be with her. He plans to resign from Atmos and work someplace else. Nia leaves without saying a word.
At her home, Nia has a nervous breakdown. Silas meets the morning with a gloomy mood. He goes to work and reports his resignation. He attributes the career change to his desire to work in an environment where his sickness won’t trouble others.
After some time, Nia meets Silas’ replacement, Dominic. Meanwhile, Silas starts work at a nature sanctuary.
Nia is not handling the separation well, and she’s reminded of Silas, even more so when she sees his cup. As the team is having lunch, Nia can’t help but get annoyed at Dominic’s pretentious statements. In her unit, she holds Silas’ cup. She then sits in the shower, missing the touch of her lover.
Nia grew dependent on their connection. Having acquired such a special relationship, only for it to be taken away just as quickly, took a toll on her mental health.
As she switched on all the pent-up emotions, she can’t just simply turn it back off. Silas feels the same, so he ventures out to free up his mind. He encounters Jonas, who accompanies Silas on his walk. Silas opens up about his relationship with Nia.
Jonas relates to him as he also had a connection with a woman, but their love story turned tragic. Jonas tells her that Nia belongs to a group called hiders. They’re self-diagnosed infected people that fight S.O.S. without drugs. Jonas then invites him to a support group, and Silas accepts.
Back in Atmos, Dominic urges Nia to give him an article he can illustrate. Nia, with her baggy eyes, asks him to wait, thanking him for his patience. Silas secretly makes his way to the support group’s meeting, and Jonas introduces him to everyone. A man shares his fears about the DEN facility. Silas asks what happens inside the DEN.
Bess informs him that half the people who enter the DEN kill themselves. The other half are restrained and forced to undergo emotion-suppressing treatment.
Bess is also a hider like Nia. As a doctor, Bess oversees the mercy killings. She doesn’t interfere; instead, she accompanies the infected, letting them know they’re not alone.
The majority of the group wants to return to feeling nothing as emotions make their life miserable. Silas thinks deeply about their perspective. He then approaches his door, and there stands Nia. Silas calms down the frustrated Nia.
They passionately make love, remembering each other’s touch. After the forbidden experience, the two talk about love. At first, they feared the feeling, but time cultivated their connection. They vow not to stay apart; in the day, they’ll act like strangers, but at night they’re lovers. Forbidden love is a powerful emotion because it encourages rebellion.
As partners in crime, the couple is willing to risk their life in utopia for a life that’s actually worth living. Now that they have found the beauty of having someone to care for, the former gray and depressing world is filled with bright colors.
A question of surrendering freedom to live in a utopia comes to mind. Would you give up emotions for a chance to live in paradise? Or would you rather retain your emotions but live in chaos. Maybe you can reach a compromise? Hide while maintaining your forbidden love.
Throughout the next few days, they act more like a couple in private. They go on secret dates and get to know one another. They share food, showers, and their dreams and passions. Silas stops taking medication as Nia’s love is the only drug he needs.
Meanwhile, Nia returns to her old self, performing exemplary at work. Even after their reunion, Silas still desires not to hide their love from the world. Oddly, rather than performing terribly like Silas, Nia exhibits the opposite.
Fear of losing love
On his way to work, members and safety officers surround a display. The Collective has found a cure for S.O.S., preventing the disease from spreading and returning.
Despite the breakthrough, Silas and Nia are far from happy. They fear not having to feel again, and they fear losing each other. Silas doesn’t want the cure, and neither does Nia. Silas brings Nia to the support group, informing them that they plan to escape to the Peninsula.
They try to change their mind, but their love for each other is unwavering. In a final attempt to sway them, Bess tells the story of a man who went to the Peninsula, who she assumes died. This doesn’t convince the couple, and Jonas agrees to help them. If there’s a sliver of hope they can be together, Silas and Nia will gamble everything for it.
Despite the danger in the Peninsula, they’ll make it work. Even if they’re tired, hungry, beaten up, love will keep them alive. A person’s desire for love and companionship is incredible.
Even when faced with potential death, Nia and Silas choose it over living in paradise. The next day, Jonas secretly shares the details of the couple’s flight. He then wishes Silas good luck.
Back in his unit, they talk about the plan. They have three days until the escape, and the nerves are getting to them. They’re scared of failing, but they fear not being with each other more.
Nia approaches the gate to get scanned. Suddenly, an alarm blares, and a safety officer approaches her. At the sanctuary, Nia informs Silas that she’s getting summoned for conception duty.
Nia can’t leave as she’s restricted from riding the trains. Silas assures her that the doctor will just diagnose Nia and advise her to get the cure. They then plan to meet after her check-up.
The Medical Examination
At the doctor’s office, the doctor tests Nia’s blood. She asks the doctor if she has S.O.S, and to her surprise, the doctor tells her she’s pregnant. This information is probably one of the most surreal experiences for Nia. Not only has their love bore a child, she’s also one of the few natural pregnancies in a long time.
Will their love be enough to overcome their challenges, or will the fruit their love bore be the end of it all?
Silas anxiously walks around the meet-up spot. He visits the health center to see safety officers taking Nia away. Nia is now in the DEN facility, restrained and defeated.
Meanwhile, Silas finds out why they took Nia. In an empty room, medical personnel approach Nia. They pass the corridors, and Bess sees her.
There lies Nia in a room with a mesmerizing wall and a vaccine beside her. A man tells Jonas the situation, and he waits outside to meet with Silas.
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Jonas will contact Bess to try and get Nia out. Feeling restless, Silas can’t just sit around and do nothing. However, Jonas asks him to calm down and trust him.
In his unit, Silas anxiously waits. Morning arrives, and Silas heads out, wearing his old uniform. Meanwhile, Bess frees Nia. She pushes her to a room, where Jonas and his colleagues await them.
As Nia gets dressed, Bess informs her that she’ll switch places with a woman who recently killed herself. They insert a tool in Nia’s arm, changing her identity. Before leaving, she thanks Bess.
Nia runs to the station, passing through the gates with ease. Meanwhile, Jonas and the group encounter safety officers. As they leave the elevator, they’re confronted by a vaccinated member of the support group, who snitched on them.
Nia arrives at Silas’ apartment to see him gone. Silas sees the news of Jonas and the group’s arrest. He runs to the DEN facility to ask a gatekeeper for Nia, and he tells her that Nia died. Silas is in disbelief and cries in a tunnel. Meanwhile, Nia gets tired of waiting for him. She scours the sanctuary for Silas, but to no avail.
An unfortunate decision caused unnecessary pain for Silas and anxiety for Nia. He thinks the love of his life is gone, but she’s a mere train ride away. That moment of his life will be the longest, and he has so much time to think in such a dangerous state. The despair he’s feeling might make him do something he’ll regret. A classic Romeo-Juliet dilemma has forsaken the star-crossed lovers.
In Atmos, Silas makes his way up the rooftops. Just like his dream before, he stands on the edge, but he doesn’t step off.
Equals Climax: Fighting the Cure
Hopelessness grows as Nia returns to the unit. Night arrives, and so does Silas. They reunite, and Silas is speechless. Not because of relief, but because he realizes the grave mistake he made.
Silas has 5 hours until he feels no more. Nia doesn’t want to accept the reality, asking Silas to fight the cure as they still plan to escape. Hours pass and Silas starts to lose emotion. He asks Nia to still love him even if he changes.
Morning arrives, and Nia sees Silas all dressed up looking outside. She asks if he still loves her. He remembers the love they shared, but the feelings have vanished.
Despite this, they will still go to the Peninsula. On an escalator, Nia looks at the emotionless Silas standing in front of her. On the train, they sit silently like the strangers they once were.
Nia cries as she remembers their moments in the bathroom. Suddenly, Silas approaches. The two sit face to face, reliving a familiar feeling. Silas then touches her hand.
The few hours they spent together trying to fight Silas’ loss of emotions is nothing compared to the lifetime they’ll have to regain the love they lost. With the gesture of Silas touching Nia’s hand, deep down, he knew he loved her.
All the firsts, the memories, and the child that Nia carries aren’t just tied to emotions. With that, love is not a matter of if and how, but a matter of when.