Black Mirror, Black Mirror Season 4, Charlie Brooker, Jodie Foster

‘Black Mirror’ Season 4 – Review & Analysis (SPOILERS)

Season four of Black Mirror is finally here! If you haven’t checked it out yet, or you’re maybe on the fence about whether or not it’s worth your time, head over to our SPOILER-FREE review by clicking here. Otherwise, read on for a detailed analysis and review of each episode.

Black Mirror, Black Mirror Season 4, USS Callister, Jesse Plemons, Cristin Milioti
‘Black Mirror’ Season 4 – ‘USS Callister’

‘USS Callister’

What’s Going On?

There’s this guy named Robert (Jesse Plemons) who’s obsessed with an old-timey show called Space Fleet. He also happens to be the creator of the successful, full-immersion VR app Infinity, which is an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) space exploration game. Being the creator, Rob modifies a version of the game for his own private use, rendering everything to appear as if it were right out of an episode of Space Fleet. The problem is, the other players in Rob’s version of the game are all sentient code created from the DNA of real people. The code version of each of these people carries the memories of their real-world counter-parts, right up until the moment the counter-parts’ DNA was entered into the system, so they’re effectively thinking, feeling clones who are perpetually imprisoned in Rob’s simulation. And Rob is a dick! He’s violent, sexually abusive and psychologically manipulative. But, in the real world, Rob’s also a little downtrodden, kind of loser. Being a successful media coder is the only thing he has going for himself. Seriously. The only thing.

So, when Nanette (Cristin Milioti), the new girl working at Infinity, introduces herself as a fan of Rob’s work, he kind of takes the compliment the wrong way and becomes infatuated with her. Stealing a sample of her DNA, Rob uploads a version of her to his ‘private game’. Nanette’s code clone won’t stand for an eternity of imprisonment, however, and she ultimately leads a daring and successful attempt at escaping Rob’s simulation into the freedom of the updated online game. And poor old Rob is forever trapped in a black void after an unforeseen glitch occurs during the update, erasing his modifications and locking his brain into an offline corner of the system.

The Writing

The plotting is fantastic and fairly air-tight. This is the only episode in this season in which series creator Charlie Brooker collaborates with another writer, William Bridges. Bridges also wrote an episode of Black Mirror back in season three, Shut Up and Dance. Obviously, this story pays a loving homage to the campiness that is the original Star Trek, but it does so in a way that doesn’t feel reliant upon that homage in order to make the episode interesting. The writers could have told this story using any other backdrop for Rob’s personal simulation. The fact that they chose to tip their hats to Trek just made the whole thing that much more charming.

The Acting

The acting is great, everyone rocked their roles, playing up the humor with excellent line delivery. I particularly enjoyed Jimmi Simpson’s (Westworld) character Walton and the extra depth he gave to the story.

The Visuals

The camera work is fine and the special effects are about what you’d expect for show like this. There were some fairly basic space traversal shots that did what they were supposed to do well enough. I was, however, slightly annoyed by the costume designs for the characters in Space Fleet uniforms: There were certain shots in which that clothing just seemed crooked or like it didn’t fit in a very flattering way. Perhaps this was intentional, and I admit even mentioning it is a nitpick, but I honestly found it distracting.

The Sound

The score featured serviceable, unmemorable space exploration music and sound effects. Nothing to complain about. Nothing to bow down and praise.

The Directing

Toby (not Rolo) Haynes takes the wheel for this first episode. Haynes has directed episodes of Sherlock and Dr. Who and what I absolutely loved about this episode is that it felt like a demented rendition of Star Trek. It was also a damn good chapter in Black Mirror. The characters were presented in such a way that the audience could view the circumstances and the cruelty of the dreaded Captain Robert from different perspectives, which made it interesting enough to mull around in my brain for a while. The emphasis on humor was a nice change of pace for the series and I found myself laughing out loud several times.

Overall

This first episode introduces the idea of conscious programs, or sentient code, right off the bat. It paves the way to further examine the over-arching theme of this season, ‘artificial’ consciousness. There’s also a hint at what could be an interesting spin-off series, featuring the code-clones as they explore the endless expanse of the online game Infinity. A great start to the new season; a fun ride, with some good food for thought.

Rating – 9/10

 

Black Mirror, Black Mirror Season 4, Arkangel, Jodie Foster, Rosemarie DeWitt, Brenna Harding
‘Black Mirror’ Season 4 – ‘Arkangel’

‘Arkangel’

What’s Going On?

Marie had to have a cesarean performed in order to give birth to her baby girl, Sara. When the doctors finally pulled Sara from Marie’s womb, she wasn’t crying. After a brief moment of terror for her baby’s life, Marie breathed a sigh of relief when finally the infant began to bawl. But this experience still haunts Marie and, coupled with Sara’s temporary disappearance in pursuit of a stray cat, it ultimately leads Marie to invest in a child-monitoring technology known as ‘Arkangel’. While it’s still in a beta phase when Marie takes interest, Arkangel is theoretically designed to protect children by monitoring their vitals, tracking their location and even allowing their parents to see what they see by viewing an optic feed through the complimentary tablet. For several years, Marie uses these innovations to keep a close watch over her daughter. She also censors anything Sara sees that might make her anxious. However, this sheltered existence begins to negatively affect Sara’s behavior and Marie grows concerned about the impact Arkangel is having on her daughter’s mental and emotional development. Marie eventually removes the censorship clouds from Sara’s eyes and retires the tablet, opting to let her daughter finish growing up the old-fashioned way. This works out well… until Sara becomes a teenager.

Marie catches Sara lying about her whereabouts one night and, desperately trying to figure out where her daughter actually is, she checks the Arkangel tablet for the first time in years. Marie discovers Sara having sex with this dude named Trick, but she doesn’t say anything to Sara at first.  Checking the tablet a second time, in another bout of curiosity, Marie then finds out that Sara has also started doing coke with this guy. Still, Marie doesn’t say anything to Sara. And this is where everything falls apart: Marie threatens Trick and makes him break up with Sara. Sara figures this out and prepares to leave town, but not before she confronts her mother. Sara takes the tablet from Marie and tries to turn it off, accidentally hitting the censorship button instead. As Marie tries to wrestle the tablet back from her, Sara ends up beating her mom’s face to a bloody pulp with it (which she doesn’t realize she’s doing at first, because the blood is blurred out). But then Sara discovers what she’s done a moment later and decides to leave her mother in that defeated state. Marie, battered and bruised, wakes up to find her daughter missing again. Desperately, she runs out into the street and calls for Sara. Sara, however, is long gone, having left town on a hitched ride with a trucker.

The Writing

The writing could be better, honestly. I’m not sure I buy Marie’s reaction to discovering Sara’s deception, or Sara’s unrealistic lack of teenager-ish caution when partying behind her mom’s back, especially since Sara knows Marie can monitor her every move if she wants to. One more re-write would have tightened up some of the weaker aspects of character motivation here. There’s also a blatant mistake in the on-screen description of how contraceptive pills work, indicating that they terminate pregnancy, rather than prevent it. This poor explanation has upset a few members of the show’s audience. While I don’t think these negative aspects break the episode, the plotting just isn’t as good as it should have been. That said, it must also be noted that the overall idea of ‘Arkangel’ is an interesting one and it was still executed well-enough to be satisfactorily thought-provoking.

The Acting

The actors did their jobs. I can’t say that anyone’s performance particularly stood out to me, except to note that Rosemarie DeWitt’s (Marie) acting sometimes seemed slightly overstated.

The Visuals

It’s disturbing to see a tri-prong needle puncture a little girl’s temple. It’s disturbing to see that same little girl viewing the world through pixelated censorship filters and become indifferent to violence. It’s disturbing to see the little girl grow up to brutalize her own mother because she can’t see what she’s really doing. For me, the irony and the danger of over-protective parenting was conveyed best through the visuals. Good stuff.

The Sound

It did exactly what it needed to do.

The Directing

So, this episode was directed by Jodie Foster (yeah, the Jodie Foster). She set the right mood, an air of impending doom, and keeps it consistent throughout the runtime. There’s also a solid sense of dramatic irony in the ending, which Foster executed beautifully. Aside from being a great actress, Foster has directed a number of projects, including episodes of Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards. I like what she did with this material and her direction was definitely one of the strong points of this episode for me.

Overall

Despite real flaws in the writing, Arkangel does a decent job of exploring the consequences of over-protective, surveillance-based parenting. We live in a world in which parents are already monitoring their children through cell-phones, or raising kids on ‘extended youth’ programs, trying to preserve innocence. Personal censorship and ceaseless watchfulness, as depicted in this episode, don’t feel that farfetched or distant as tools of futuristic, hyper-concerned parents. Neither do their potential consequences.

Rating – 7/10

Black Mirror, Black Mirror Season 4, Crocodile, Andrea Riseborough
‘Black Mirror’ Season 4 – ‘Crocodile’

‘Crocodile’

What’s Going On?

A young woman named Mia is riding in a car with a young man named Rob at the wheel.  They’re both talking and having a good time (and totally intoxicated) when Rob accidentally hits and kills a stray cyclist. Mia helps Rob dispose of the body so that he doesn’t have to spend decades in prison. After burying her guilt over this act of accomplice for a very long time, Mia finds herself face to face with Rob once more, when he comes to see her in her hotel room. Upon this much delayed reunion, Rob reveals that he’s prioritized sobriety and is trying to make amends for the wrongs he’s committed during his years of reckless alcoholism. Knowing fully that the widower of his hapless victim is still waiting to find out what happened to her beloved so many years after the accident, Rob is set to confess his sins and put the woman’s unresolved query to rest. But Mia doesn’t like that idea one bit. Even though Rob promises he’ll tell no-one of her involvement, Mia knows such an omittance won’t be enough to protect her from the cold hand of justice. Realizing that Rob is deadset on turning himself in, Mia makes the split second decision to kill him. Right after doing just that, Mia looks out her window onto the city street to witness another man struck down by another vehicle, this time an automated vending truck.

This incident leads an insurance adjuster, Shazia to begin an investigation into the injured, truck-stricken man’s claim. After discovering that Mia may have witnessed the incident, Shazia shows up at Mia’s house to… ‘ask her some questions’. The hook is that Shazia doesn’t ask questions with words; she scans her subjects’ memories. Obviously, Mia doesn’t want anyone looking at her memories from the night she murdered a dude in cold blood. She tries to refuse, but Shazia explains that the authorities will become involved if Mia doesn’t cooperate with the insurance investigation. Mia does her best to think ‘happy thoughts’ while her crime scene of a brain is being scanned, but her indiscretion is discovered nonetheless. Once again left with no choice, Mia decides to kill Shazia too, but not before finding out that someone else knew where she was supposed to be: Her husband, Anan. So she goes to Anan’s house and kills him. Then she notices that Anan and Shazia’s little baby appears to be looking at her from his crib. So, Mia’s gotta kill the baby, too. Irony is, the baby couldn’t see because the baby was born blind. But Mia didn’t kill the baby’s new hamster, which could see just fine. So, the feds scan the hamster’s memories and show up to arrest Mia during her son’s school play. Happiness.

The Writing

The writing is sick and I mean that in all the good ways. This is one of the most twisted stories of the series to date, so well-crafted. The tension is built on cause and effect all the way through and the story climaxes with the purest, darkest sense of irony I’ve seen in a character study for a long time.

The Acting

Outstanding. Andrea Riseborough kills it as Mia and all of the supporting cast bring exactly what they need to, in order to make this thing work.

The Visuals

Cold. Bleak. Lifeless. They filmed this episode in Iceland, which translated to a unique, frozen future-scape. The camera work captures Mia’s sense of isolation, living with her guilt, slightly set apart from the rest of the world. The perfectly framed shots of giant windows and the frozen tundra beyond them reflecting in Mia’s eyes as she looks out work well as a metaphor for what must be Mia’s soul by the end of this episode.

The Sound

Serviceable and fitting. The music was perfectly subdued.

The Directing

Gotta say, John Hillcoat nailed this one. Great pacing, great atmosphere. I’d expect just as much from the guy who gave us The Road and Lawless. Hillcoat is gifted with the transmission of character and place.

Overall

One of the best episode’s of the season, to be sure. This was a surprisingly dark and poignant look at the escalation of marshal enforcement and the things a desperate person might do to avoid prosecution in a future defined by surveillance. It’s a demanding consideration of whether or not advancing surveillance technology will help prevent heinous crimes, such as infanticide, or actually inadvertently encourage them.

Rating – 10/10

Black Mirror, Black Mirror Season 4, Hang the DJ, Georgina Campbell, Joe Cole
‘Black Mirror’ Season 4 – ‘Hang the DJ’

‘Hang the DJ’

What’s Going On?

Amy and Frank meet at a dinner table in a crowded restaurant the way most people meet each other on a blind date. It’s a little awkward at first, but despite the initial nervousness, there’s still nice chemistry between them. After enjoying food and conversation for a while, they both agree to pull out little round devices and check how long their relationship will last. They do this by consulting a dating app they simply refer to as ‘The System’. The System tells them that their relationship will expire in precisely 12 hours. So, making the most of a short time, they leave the restaurant and walk across the beautifully verdant, walled compound to a designer, prefab cabin, with all the impersonal amenities of a temporary home. Amy and Frank share the bed only in the most utilitarian sense, merely holding hands as they banter and slowly fall asleep together. The next morning, the amicably part ways. That very same night, both of them are hooking up with their next matches from The System. Amy ends up going through a series of shorter relationships, with guys she enjoys for… ‘physical’ reasons, but not for much else. Frank, on the other hand, ends up in a longer relationship with a human factory of despair. But everyone on the compound is supposed to do exactly what The System says, even if the prospect is insurmountably miserable. So, Frank sticks it out with his nightmare woman and Amy continues to have empty sex with a string of muscular guys.

Eventually, though, Amy and Frank are matched together again. This time they both decide not to check their relationship’s expiration date in favor of just enjoying their time together while it lasts, because they’ve come to realize how much they actually like each other. Unfortunately, Frank slips a little on this agreement when he realizes how strong his feelings for Amy are and he decides he has to know when his happiness will end. Finding out they have only five more years together, Frank initiates a ‘one-sided observation’ about the relationship. This ends up shortening its lifespan considerably and Frank eventually confesses to Amy that he inadvertently cut their remaining time together down to only 20 hours. Understandably, Amy is hurt by this betrayal and she ultimately leaves the prematurely ended relationship heartbroken. Amy and Frank are eventually notified by The System that they will soon meet their ultimate match and that they can each say goodbye to one person of their choosing. Amy chooses Frank and Frank chooses Amy. When they meet up for the final time, they both agree to reject The System and leave the compound by climbing the wall. They book it out of the restaurant, in which all of the other patrons have suddenly stopped moving, talking or breathing, completely frozen in time. Running to the wall, Amy and Frank begin to climb, but before they can make it over the edge, the world deteriorates around them in a flurry of pixels. The System announces that they are the 998th rebellion in… the simulation. But Amy and Frank aren’t just in a simulation, they’re part of a simulation. And this simulation has paired real-life Amy and real-Frank with a rating of 99.8% compatibility. Real-life Amy looks at her phone as the dating app signals her that her perfect match, real-life Frank, is standing only across the room.

The Writing

It’s a good story. Definitely lighter fare than what I’m used to in Dark Mirror, but no less relevant. San Junipero was one of my favorite episodes of the last season and can certainly be used as a comparison to this. I can see some of DJ‘s major plot points potentially causing a little confusion on first viewing, but after seeing it twice, I gotta say everything adds up pretty well, even though my emotional investment diminished on the second viewing.

The Acting

It’s hard to convey chemistry on camera. It’s even harder to convey chemistry on camera when you have to act off of a bunch of other people who you’re not supposed to have chemistry with. The two leads, Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole, are completely magnetized to eachother onscreen. I was absolutely ‘shipping’ them from scene one. Great performances all around.

The Visuals

Nothing stood out to me as particularly amazing or lackluster, although I was pleasantly surprised by the climactic scene, when the compound de-rezzed around them as they were trying to climb over the wall.

The Sound

The music got my emotions flowing for these two characters. For an episode called ‘Hang the DJ’, I also have to salute use of Panic by The Smiths.

The Directing

Timothy Van Patten has directed episodes of Game of Thrones, The Sapranos, Boardwalk Empire, The Wire and so much more. He knows how to make a good show and didn’t fail here.

Overall

A great episode, even if it’s potentially a little confusing towards the end. This is a brilliant commentary on the highs and lows of falling in love or trying to find someone to fall in love with at all. It also pokes good fun at the peaks and pitfalls of matchmaking apps, fairly questioning stringent subscription to romantic matches that were made by algorithms and coming to an interesting conclusion. The major thing this episode suffers from is a possible lack of re-watchability.

Rating – 9/10

Black Mirror, Black Mirror Season 4, Metal Head, Maxine Peake
‘Black Mirror’ Season 4 – ‘Metalhead’

‘Metalhead’

What’s Going On?

There’s a car speeding through an apocalyptic wasteland. Bella, Clarke and Anthony ponder the desolation from inside the vehicle, observing farming pens dotting the deserted highland. The pigs are gone. There used to be pigs. They park the car inside a gated lot, abandoned. They’re looking for something, trying to help someone back home who is terminally ill. Clarke splits off from Bella and Anthony, who both enter a warehouse in pursuit of their objective. Anthony climbs up to a top shelf which contains a box of the items he was looking for. A moment later, he is killed. The killer is a dreaded ‘dog’, which unfurls itself from its patient, robotic crouch, no longer hidden behind the box. Bella runs for her life, informing Clarke over her radio that the mechanical dog is aggressively pursuing her. Clarke attempts a getaway in a commandeered vehicle, while Bella tries to flee in the car they arrived in. The dog first turns its attentions to Clarke, who is quickly executed in the driver’s seat of his van. Then it’s Bella’s turn. Right before the dog killed Anthony, it deployed a fragmentation grenade, the shards of which contained tracking beacons that embed themselves within the victim’s skin. Bella has one of these shards in her leg, leading the dog to her exact location. The dog attacks Bella in her car, sending the vehicle sliding to a teetering halt on the edge of a cliff. Bella manages to defend herself long enough to break off one of the dog’s legs and escapes the car before it finally tips into the precipice with the mechanized demon inside.

Having bought herself a little time, Bella then removes the tracker embedded in her leg (not without a good deal of pain) and puts it in an empty water bottle to send it floating down a creek. She contacts her people over a weak radio signal to let them know what happened, informing them that, while her chances of survival are slim, she’s still trying to make it back. However, this radio signal leads the dog right back to her and Bella is forced to retreat to the higher branches of a tree. The dog can’t climb to her vantage point with it’s damaged leg, but instead begins to hibernate in ‘sleep mode’, patiently waiting for Bella’s inevitable descent. Bella, however, discovers she can outsmart the creature. During the dark of night, the dog’s built-in solar panels have nothing with which to recharge its batteries; she continually rouses the dog from sleep mode, draining its power supply temporarily and giving herself just enough time to make it out of the tree and back to the lot. There, Bella finds a shotgun in the hands of a suicide victim. She uses this weapon in combination with some strategically placed paint, covering the relentless dog’s visual sensor, to defeat the killer mutt once and for all. Unfortunately, cyber-Cujo doesn’t go down before detonating one last tracking frag. This time, Bella gets hit by more than one shard, sending out multiple signals to any dogs in the nearby area. Bella realizes she’ll never be able to remove the shard embedded in her neck, because it’s clipped her jugular vein. So, she contacts HQ again, to let them know that she won’t be making it back, after all. She apologizes that she couldn’t get Jack a replacement. From all across the barren , dogs march toward Bella’s location, making ready to extinguish her once and for all. And all Bella wanted was to get little Jack another teddy-bear before he passed away. That’s what was in the box that Anthony found. The box that three people died for. Teddy bears. Yeah…

The Writing

It’s elegant, it’s simple. There’s no backstory, no forced exposition. You have to figure out what’s going on from the few lines in the entire episode. Three people died trying to get a stuffed animal for a child. Was it a stupid mission? Maybe. Maybe just a sentimental one. The better question is: Will weaponized robots one day become so visciously indiscriminate in their programmed directive to exterminate everything that they will mercilessly hunt down people who are just trying to retrieve toys? It’s a commentary on drones, not on waste-landers without a sense of priority.

The Acting

The acting is terrific. The central performance by Maxine Peake carries the show, as well it should, since she’s the only living, breathing performer for most of the runtime.

The Visuals

That dog is one of the scariest robots I’ve seen in a while. The design is a perfect combination of animalistic machination and expressionless function, made all the more terrifying by the Hitchcockian black and white the episode is presented in. The aesthetic for this story is experimental for Black Mirror, but it worked well to convey a sense of desolation, as well as being a great representation of the simple nature of survival, an ‘either, or’ paradigm.

The Sound

The music and sound effects are perfect. They both provide the perfect sense of tension and horror, during both the draw of the chase sequences and the release of the carnage.

The Directing

The director, David Slade, is no stranger to suspense, having headed episodes of Hannibal, as well as 2007’s 30 Days of Night. The atmosphere of this episode is one of the most tangible in the whole series. The black and white aesthetic makes the whole thing feel like an extra crispy nightmare. Very well done.

Overall

One of the best entries in the series, especially regarding its elegant execution. It has a subtle message that doesn’t overtake the visceral experience of a lone woman’s struggle for survival.

Rating – 10/10

Black Mirror, Black Mirror Season 4, Black Museum, Letitia Wright
‘Black Mirror’ Season 4 – ‘Black Museum’

‘Black Museum’

What’s Going On?

Nish needs to recharge her (beautiful) solar-electric car, so she stops at an abandoned gas station. Right next to this gas station is a place called ‘Black Museum’. She’s got some time to kill. She takes a tour. The tour guide is a guy named Rolo Haynes, who is also the museum’s owner. Nish is the only visitor, so Haynes takes her through all the displays of ‘authentic criminological artifacts’, affording a little extra time to explain the history some of the items to her. First, he tells her a story about an electric headdress, which allowed someone else with an accompanying neural implant to experience the sensations of the person wearing it. Haynes tells the story of a struggling doctor who used it to better diagnose his patients, as he could sense the nature and location of their discomfort. Unfortunately, the doctor eventually became addicted to pain, aroused by it. He started abusing his patients just to get his daily dose of sweet agony. Of course, this compromised his career and he ended up alone at home, with nothing else to do but mutilate himself in order to get a small degree of satisfaction. But self-mutilation was missing the crucial ingredient of fear, which always accompanied the vicarious sensations he had experienced in his dying patients. So, the good doctor went out and killed a homeless guy so he could feel both pain and fear in a cocktail of perfect discomfort… one last time. The experience put him in a permanent coma.

Hayne’s shrugs this story away and notes how hot it feels inside the museum, realizing the air conditioning isn’t working. Gratefully, Hayne’s takes some water offered by Nish and they move on to a teddy bear in a glass case (teddy bears seem to be a bad sign in this show). The teddy bear carries the consciousness of a woman who also ended up in a coma, after a bad traffic accident crippled her body. Her baby-daddy had originally opted to have her consciousness implanted in his own brain, so that his sweetheart might live vicariously through him, instead of just existing in a hospital bed. The problem with this, as Haynes describes it, is that the baby-daddy had no privacy from his partner, who, in turn, had no agency of her own. After putting up with what surely felt like a nagging sentience in his head for some time, the baby-daddy decided to have a feature installed that would allow him to essentially pause his baby-mama altogether. And because he could basically turn her presence off, the baby-daddy inevitably fell in love with another woman, who still had a body of her own. When finally he ‘unpaused’ his baby-mama, the baby-daddy’s new girlfriend didn’t like having the extra sentient consciousness hanging around. Her disapproval and the baby-daddy’s mental fatigue ultimately led the father to transfer his baby-mama’s consciousness into the stuffed bear instead. And this bear was presented to the baby-mama’s baby as a present, who had, by this time, grown into a little boy and discarded the stuffed animal (and, unbeknownst to him, his own mom) in boredom.

Haynes doesn’t dwell on this sad anti-climax for too long, however, taking another hearty swig of water from Nish to fight the pounding heat. Finally, he takes her to the main attraction, the display that used to bring booming business to Black Museum. A glass cell houses a holographic man, crouched in defeat and staring straight ahead with unseeing, tortured eyes. The hologram is a digital copy of a man named Clayton, who ended up on death row for a murder he claimed not to have committed. Clayton agreed to have his identity copied in this way, giving over the rights to his image and personality, so he could provide financial security for his family if his innocence couldn’t be proven. And who did Clayton sell his own rights to? Rolo Haynes. Haynes fondly recalls the days in which people would come from all over just to see the convicted murderer and recreate his electrocution, tormenting the hologram in a virtual electric chair by flipping a lever and watching the man fry. The real problem with this kind of torture porn is that Clayton’s hologram, for all intents and purposes, seems to be absolutely conscious of itself. So, every time he’s electrocuted, it’s absolute agony, experienced by a sentient person, over and over again. But Haynes doesn’t care. He even charges a little more for people who particularly enjoy the suffering of other, so that they can zap Clayton a little longer. This ultimately destroyed holographic Clayton’s mind. And here’s the catch: Clayton was actually Nish’s dad. And the water she’s been letting Haynes drink to quench his thirst is poisoned. As Haynes realizes Nish has it is for him and starts to fade away, she transfers his consciousness into Clayton’s cyber persona, puts her dad out of his misery with one final electrocution and saves herself a copy of Haynes’ perpetual agony during the execution. Nish leaves the museum in her car, having completed what she came to do. Her mother gives warm approval from her seat in Nish’s brain.

The Writing

It’s a little convoluted at times and the episode may need more than one viewing to fully appreciate. Overall, the script did a good job of combining all the disparate elements of the first two narratives and reincorporating them back into the thread about Clayton. Nish’s true identity was an excellent twist and made for a satisfying conclusion to the season.

The Acting

Great performances all around, but I was especially impressed by Letitia Wright (Nish) and Douglas Hodge (Rolo Haynes).

The Visuals

Great camera work and compelling composition.

The Sound

It did its job.

The Directing

Colm McCarthy, contributing director to shows such as Dr. WhoSherlock and Peaky Blinders does a good job of tying a lot of things, and a lot of themes, together.  He successfully incorporated not only two disparate storylines from the first half of the episode into the climactic finale; he also drew a nice comparison between this episode and the entire series.

Overall

This is a nice final stroke for the season. In many ways, it feels like it might just be the end of Black Mirror, because of the episode’s encompassing resemblance to the series as a whole. Black Museum questions spectacle and exploitation; it examines technology and speculates on the ways in which innovation and advancement may impact the human experience. But it only does these things by first demanding a sense of empathy for the victims of technology, the victims of spectacle, very much like the show Black Mirror itself. If Museum is viewed as an allegory to the series as a whole, it is viewed at its best. There’s also some really fun references to other episodes, which considerably advance the theory that every episode of Black Mirror exists at some point in time within the same universe.

Rating – 9/10

Leave a Reply