Patrick Malahide has a small part in season 2 of the BBC’s “Survivors” (2010), which is basically the story of a post-apocalyptic Earth ravaged by an extremely aggressive and still-mutating form of deadly flu. A very small number of humans prove to have a natural immunity to the disease and band together for survival. Malahide plays Landry, a mysterious figure who seems to wield a lot of power over a group of doctors working for PSJ Pharmaceuticals, a company that does not hesitate to kidnap test subjects from the few humans left alive after the pandemic, for purposes unknown.
Shadowy Leader of a Shadowy Organization
In episodes one and two, we only briefly glimpse Landry through short internet video conferences with Dr. James Whitaker (Nicholas Gleaves). He seems to be the genially menacing evil overlord of a shadowy corporation, and he’s putting pressure on the doctor to get cracking on a vaccine. Whitaker and his group live in a secure scientific facility with access to water, light, and power; the doctor proves to be sufficiently amoral in pursuing a vaccine, as he’s entirely willing to keep survivor Abby Grant (Julie Graham) captive in a vegetative state while her body is repeatedly bled for antibodies (it’s okay, she escapes). Abby’s son Peter (Jack Richardson) is likewise a potential source of vaccine, and through a convoluted set of circumstances I won’t go into here, Whitaker is able to get his hands on Peter, telling him that his mother’s dead. Upon hearing that Whitaker now has a source of vaccine, Landry instructs Whitaker to await evacuation from a nearby airfield.
And Landry does show up in style, in a lovely 1944 Douglas C-47B Skytrain. I was very envious. I assume higher-tech jets and the like are no longer practical due to there being very little around in the way of functioning airports, let alone sources of aviation fuel in sufficiently large quantities, but who’d want a jet when you can have a C-47? 😉 Anyway… Landry’s main interest is in packing Peter off to where he can be “studied” (read: stuck with needles, infected and re-infected to produce antibodies, and everything else horrible you can imagine). However, things become complicated for Landry and Whitaker when the rest of the Survivors arrive at the airfield, determined to get Peter back.
At first there’s an attempt at negotiation. The Survivors offer several vials of finished, tested vaccine in exchange for Peter. Landry seems to agree, but as soon as he actually has the case containing the vaccine in his possession, decides he’s “under no obligation” to accept the deal and says he’s still taking Peter as insurance. Abby offers herself in her son’s place and Landry accepts, with a surprisingly easy-going shrug. Greg Preston (Paterson Joseph), another Survivor, demands some answers before Landry leaves, asking if PSJ Pharmaceuticals knew the pandemic would happen. In the only moment in which he appears even slightly ashamed, Landry admits that his group of companies was testing a bioengineered virus as a universal flu vaccine. It was supposed to be a single cure for all forms of flu, but it proved to have “unforeseen complications” with the human immune system (that is to say, very rapid death) . “We had… the very best of intentions,” says Landry, just a bit regretfully. Before the pandemic hit, he and a select group of “others” apparently managed to steal away to a Supervillain Island somewhere, where they plan to “restart society when the time comes.” They have not been exposed to the virus thus far, have no immunity, and therefore are ruthless and desperate about acquiring a vaccine. Landry himself is very careful (backing it up with armed henchmen) to keep all of the Survivors at a safe distance.
Just as Abby is about to turn herself over, we have a bit of a gunfight between Survivor Tom Price (Max Beesley), who’s just arrived and sized up the situation, and Landry’s henchmen, which distracts everybody. A couple of Red Shirts (okay, they’re actually wearing black) and Whitaker are killed; perhaps recalculating his odds, Landry agrees to give up Peter in exchange for the vaccine. After declaring that “the vaccine will be mass produced… everyone will be provided for,” Landry flies off into the sunset in his C-47B with the vaccine, bound for his Supervillain Island (or perhaps Supervillain Mountain Lair). But… unbeknownst to him… Tom and his trusty sub-machine gun have stowed away in the plane’s quarantine area. Dun dun duuuunnn!
The cliffhanger is never resolved, since “Survivors” never got a third season. If it had, we might have seen more of Landry, his nefarious(?) plans, and his mysterious consortium. As it is, this was not a very deep or meaty role for Patrick Malahide, though he was effective, as usual, at giving us an all-too-brief glimpse of Landry’s humanity, as well as his genial ruthlessness and amorality (in a good cause? hmm). It would’ve been interesting to see what he could have done with a more developed character and story. I do hope he at least got to ride in the C-47B. 😉