Summary: Victoria wakes up in a room and remembers nothing, not even her own name. She goes outside and is chased by terrorizing people while others film her and watch. She meets a girl named Jem who tells her that the world has been taken over by technology and that everyone just watches now. Their goal is to reach a transmitter called White Bear to find safety. When they reach there, Victoria fights for her life, but discovers that it was all a play. She is in fact a criminal and is forced to go through this tortuous play every day as penance for her role in the murder of a 6 year old girl, where she filmed the entire thing.
The Good: Wow. This was something else entirely. I have never seen a TV episode like this one, making this one of the most unique television experiences I have ever had. I have never been this confused, stunned or disturbed by an episode of TV since that episode of Game of Thrones (if you have seen the show, you know the one). This episode has to be one of the most uniquely powerful pieces of art I have seen.
It's hard to think about where to start, so I'll just start at the beginning. We open the episode completely confused and disoriented along with Victoria, whose name we don't even know at this point. There is lots of intriguing mystery and we genuinely don't know what has happened as we try to piece together who this character is, where she is, and what is going on. It's a genuinely confusing experience, and one which sucks you in right away and allows you to sympathize with the characters since we can completely understand what she is going through; after all we are currently experiencing the exact same thing.
The early parts of the episode are crafted really well in how they give us answers without answering much at all. The answers feel credible, but not quite right, and it makes me crave more for an answer. To distract me from the answers though, the episode builds tension brilliantly within the mystery, and it ends up becoming a sort of horror thriller, and a damn good one at that. Fear of the unknown is the worst kind of fear, and this episode capitalizes on that to make for some uncomfortably tense viewing.
Then in comes the twist. I have to say I was expecting some kind of big twist, but what we got completely annihilated my expectations and genuinely stunned me. It turns out that everything that happened was just a well-orchestrated play designed to punish our main character who was responsible for the horrific murder of a 6 year old girl which she filmed on camera. The reveal is socking and very well done, as it gives us a satisfying answer about these mysterious flashes Victoria had been having, while also serving as a horrific twist to inform us that Victoria is far from a good person. It's deeply uncomfortable to see this, as Victoria screams and suffers as she realizes that she has done something awful and is now living a life of punishment for a crime which she didn't even know she committed. It's brutal and devastating and allows us to still sympathize with this murderer due to the sheer brutality of the situation she is in.
This concept is incredible though, and it takes a really creative mind to come up with something so brilliant. To face up for her terrible crime, she is essentially being shown how it felt to be the little girl she killed every single day, where something awful happens to her as people just stand around filming her. And then this all culminates in the final 30 or so minutes of her day, which is the only time where she actually ahs to face what she has done and watch as hundreds of people boo her and throw stuff at her. And of course the irony in all of this is that all of the people who are contributing to this are essentially just becoming what she was: a watcher relishing in the suffering of another human being. It's really powerful storytelling which is not only a thought-provoking examination of justice, but also a look at the hypocrisy of being a human being and the disgusting things we do to get our revenge on other people who have done bad things.
One of the most interesting parts of this episode was the fact that the White Bear Justice Park is profiting from Victoria's suffering. Instead of just punishing her in a jail cell, they cause her endless suffering every single day and make money off of it, all the while acting incredibly cheerful about what they do, going as far as to tell their audience to "have fun" at the park. This is a really sick and twisted justice system, which seems to not even care about the unjust elements it has.
Lastly, as I was watching the episode I was noticing a lot of flaws and I was ready to put this down as the weakest episode. For example, the same hunters tracking down Victoria felt ridiculous, the amount of close calls were just dumb, Damien dying in such dramatic fashion was ridiculous, and Baxter having no clear motives was dumb. I was thinking about how this sloppy writing just felt like an average film, but the twist at the end surprisingly revealed that it was all supposed to be an average film. There were so many clichés because it was all a play, and with that one reveal, the episode went from one of the worst written, to the very best written episode of the entire show, and that removes almost every problem I had with the show.
The Bad: So apparently the people here have the technology to just erase memories. Why don't they just wipe people memories? Surely they shouldn't feel the need for such excessive punishment when they can just wipe memories and have people essentially start anew.
The episode had one somewhat major flaw in its main character. She was annoying at times which affected my ability to sympathize with her, and also made her endless screaming feel almost tiresome and too depressing.
This episode's character writing isn't as good as other episodes, and it certainly doesn't pack as real of an emotional punch as something like "Be Right Back". As much as I want to give this a really high score for its outstanding writing and twist, I don't feel that it has deep enough emotion to justify that. The shock isn't exactly subtle and it is hammered in repeatedly, and while that doesn't bother me too much, it hurts this episode's chances of being truly ascendant as a TV episode.
The Unknown: Is this system of punishment just? I was going to raise a point about wasting money on this park, but apparently it's self-sustaining and likely makes more money than it uses, so there is no money concern here. But is it really okay to put somebody through so much endless suffering?
Are there other facilities like this in the world for other criminals? Or is it just for Victoria?
Best Moment: The reveal of the twist was spectacular, and everything that followed was just stunning and devastating television. Fantastic stuff.
Character of the Episode: Victoria.
Conclusion: This was one hell of an experience. I can comfortably say that this was one of the most devastating episodes of television I have ever seen, but it's hard to rank it amongst the best episodes ever, so scoring is really tough. I suppose the best way to describe the episode, is that it's one of the best experiences out there and is something you absolutely should watch, but as an episode of TV, it doesn't hold up as one of the best ever. Still, this episode is a tremendous accomplishment and will go down as another huge success for the show.
Summary: Martha and her lover Ash are in a happy relationship until Ash is tragically killed in an accident. Martha struggles to get past this and goes for a new technology which creates a new robot which mimics Ash's voice. She also discovers that she is pregnant. She orders a physical robot of Ash to have with her, but is eventually creeped out by it since it isn't really Ash and is basically just a memory. Martha banishes Ash to the attic as a memory as she lives her life.
The Good: Another powerful episode kicks off season 2. This episode once more delved into the horrors that technological advancement could hit the world with, while also giving us a moving and devastating character arc throughout the entire hour.
The concept, as usual, is nothing short of brilliant. This episode focuses on the idea that technology can bring back the spirit of a deceased loved one in the form of a robot, and how it will affect the way we move on from tragedies. It's a clever idea, and feels like something we may not be too far away from having in our world, making the horrors explored in the episode feel so real and impactful.
The episode started off very simply, and with the charm of the actors, it provided us a relationship we could care about in the first 5 minutes. This makes it so when Ash dies, we have a good idea of what Martha has just lost and it's incredibly easy to put ourselves in her shoes, especially if you understand how it feels to lose a loved one. Hayley Atwell does a tremendous job of portraying Martha's pain after she loses Ash, and her eventual desperation to get Ash back, through this mysterious program somebody had suggested to her.
Her obsession with the phone Ash was done really well. We get to see her clinging onto his memory more and more, as she loses all other social activity in an attempt to reconnect with this memory of Ash, which she can't help but want to spend all her time with. It's a powerful message which reflects the natural human inability to let go and move on, and through the excellent storytelling, we get to see the negative effects that Martha clinging on to Ash has on her life, and how it ultimately ends up bringing her more suffering than good.
This brings me to the robot Ash which Martha does everything to get her hands on. The phone Ash was easier to connect with, as she doesn't get to experience all of Ash's habits, but when this robot comes in, she realizes that what she has gotten is just a shell with pieces of Ash's personality added into it, and the robot just follows her around like some sort of lot child or animal. It's brutal to watch and very creepy, and it's sad to see this memory of Ash rapidly drive Martha insane as she realizes that it can't give her what she wants it to.
The climax of the episode is a fantastic scene which perfectly portrays Martha's struggle as she brings "Ash" to the lover's leap spot and asks him to jump off, but at the same time lets out her anger that he isn't refusing in the way Ash would. But in the end, all this does is torture her more, as she now has to look at an image of Ash crying and begging her not to kill him. Her scream at the end perfectly encapsulated her misery and felt like a perfect cathartic conclusion to her story, so perfect in fact, that I think the episode could have ended there if it wanted to.
But one thing this show des brilliantly, is offer one extra twist at the end, creating even more emotion while still driving home the episode. The ending to this episode is gut-wrenching as we learn that Martha has sent Ash up to the attic, just like Ash's mother did with the photographs, essentially adapting him as just a memory. It's really powerful, not only from the idea that her daughter seemingly visits him extremely rarely, but also from the thought that Ash is just standing there waiting, probably for months at a time, just for somebody to visit him once for a little while. That's even more powerful stuff to end the episode on.
The writing on the show is superb as ever. There were so many little things which impressed me a lot. There were these fantastic little touches which made robot Ash feel even more inhuman when compared to the real Ash, including his hollow reactions to Ash's childhood picture and the Bee Gees song which Martha played in the car. The way the show handled Ash's death was great as well, making it impactful while also leaving some interesting ambiguity to it (see: The Unknown). Lastly, I thought the nature of the pregnancy test was fantastic as instead of a happy moment, it served as a painful reminder of what Martha has lost and how tough it would be to move on.
The Bad: Sarah signing Martha up for the program felt stupid. How did she get Martha's information? Clearly they weren't that close since she doesn't appear again in the episode. And also, how would the company let Martha get signed up without her own consent?
I felt like there was a bit too much repetition towards the end of the episode. I think the show lingered on Ash's creepiness and how it was bothering Martha a bit too much. I feel like it diminished the power of the episode quite a bit since the overall message seemed to drone on.
Though that last point could definitely just be a problem for me. Having lost some people close to me recently, this was a very tough episode for me to watch, and a lot of the time it was too much for me. I can't deny that the storytelling was outstanding, but it was incredibly rough to watch, and I think that for me it was a bit too rough. I can't deny the episode's quality, but considering my uncomfortable reaction to it, I can't rank it amongst the best of the show.
The Unknown: How did Ash end up dying? You would have to suspect that it was from his cell phone addition (another nod to the show's messages about technology). I like that the show leaves these small things ambiguous to let us fill in our own answers.
Best Moment: The scene between Martha and Ash on the cliff was definitely the most affecting. It was easy to understand Martha's dilemma and her scream was fantastic.
Character of the Episode: Martha.
Conclusion: Black Mirror continues its strong streak with another excellent episode, which examines loss and the affects it has on people. While this episode is really uncomfortable for me to watch, I can't deny that the writing was outstanding.
Summary: Captain John Franklin leads his crew to find the Northwest Passage on 2 ships, The Terror and The Erebus. After The Erebus gets caught in ice, Francis wants to harbour both ships for the winter, but Franklin chooses to press on, getting a crew member to dislodge the ice. One of the crew members, David, gets mysteriously sick and dies. He is buried in a coffin with a loose lid. After 6 days, The Terror and The Erebus get trapped in the ice and are seemingly stuck for the winter.
The Good: This show really has a Ridley Scott horror feeling to it, reminiscent of the first Alien movie. There is a real uncomfortable tension brought in by outstanding visuals with bleak colouring creating a sense of foreboding in a lot of the scenes. Furthermore, the cramped cinematography gives off a claustrophobic feel, which is aided by the presence of a huge amount of crew-members which occupy almost all empty space, and also some fantastic sound design which accounts for the gentle flowing water and the creaks and groans as the ships travel. While very little has happened so far, there has been a unique slow-burn tension present in the entire episode, similar to the first hour of the "Alien" movie. Hell, there is even a scene which reminded me of the famous "chest-burster" scene from that film.
The characters in the show are simplistic so far, but we get a good idea of who they are. Captain Franklin is a good man, and though he made a poor decision by pressing forwards, he clearly doesn't do it for greed and ambition, but rather in an attempt to keep the crew optimistic despite the blatantly miserable conditions. This is much better than just having an annoying character as captain who is difficult to sympathize with. The other characters, like the doctor, Francis and James have been well-defined so far and I'm interested to learn some more about them as the show goes on. Thankfully, the acting from all characters has been excellent so far, and with high-tier actors working the show like Ciaran Hinds, Jared Harris and Tobias Menzies, I suspect that the acting will remain a consistent high point of the show.
I did like the little bit of characterization that the character who went to cover David's body (forgot his name, oops) got. We don't know much about him, but he got to demonstrate some morality by not leaving David just out in the open like that. I also like the characterization of the doctor, who tried to show some heart for David, before doing his job and cutting him open, and also of Francis, who clearly has experienced something traumatic in the past.
Like a lot of other successful pilots, this show does a great job of setting up a lot of questions as it gets started. I'm very intrigued to find out what happens in the show and I want to see more, which means that the episode definitely did its job.
The Bad: The biggest problem with this episode however is that it is VERY slow. It's risky to have such a methodically paced pilot because it has a chance of alienating viewers very quickly. When I look at this episode as an overall package, very little actually happens and that makes it rather tough to get involved in the show early on, despite the intrigue it raises. I'm curious, but I can't call it good television yet. I feel that the episode took too long to get to the big moment of the ships getting trapped in the ice and that the episode may have been more gripping if that had happened a little earlier on.
Anybody who has seen any horror will know that David will return in some form. The loose coffin lid felt like an easy way to bring him back without any complications. I'm fine if they want to bring him back as a twist, but I wish it wasn't so easy to spot that detail.
The Unknown: What sickness hit David? What did it do to him and how did it kill him? How did he get it and how does it spread? Do other crew members have it now? How would they be able to know if they have it?
Who was the person David imagined? Were they just a hallucination or were they actually there in some form? Are they connected to the sickness? What did David mean when he said "he wants us to run"? Did he mean run from the man, or is the man trying to help them?
What was the dog barking at? Is there something that the dog noticed that the humans didn't?
Is David going to return in some form?
Best Moment: While the moment didn't really impact the story much, I really enjoyed the crew member's descent into the water. It was a fantastic horror scene which put us in an uncomfortable situation where we didn't know what awaited us under the water. The arrival of the dead body was very good and appropriately scary.
Character of the Episode: Franklin.
Conclusion: This was a solid pilot episode, but it was very slow and I don't feel that enough happened to really engage us into the story. Of course I do expect things to get better once the horror aspect actually kicks in, so this episode is far from problematic. It's just completely unspectacular and feels too focused on set-up.
Summary: Chandler is afraid to commit to his relationship with Janice but after talking to his friends, he overcommits and scares Janice away. Joey recruits Phoebe as an agent to help him get auditions but she doesn't want the job because she hates telling Joey when he doesn't get an audition. Ross is displeased to see that Ben is playing with a Barbie and tries to get him to play with something else.
The Good: I enjoyed the Chandler storyline a fair amount. His scenes were funny and he got a lot of good moments as he played a desperate guy who doesn't want to ruin his biggest relationship yet. I enjoyed the conclusion of the story too where Chandler is somehow able to keep his relationship together which surprises Monica and Rachel. Ross is fine in his storyline too and provides the odd chuckle, which is perfect for a background story like his. Phoebe and Joey also provide the occasional laugh in their storyline.
The Bad: Chandler is a bit excessive at times, which takes away from his storyline. A lot of the funny moments feel like they are overacted which diminishes their impact. The other storylines are fine but I feel like they don't have much too them and I didn't laugh as much as I would have wanted. The Phoebe and Joey story was fine, but it wasn't funny and didn't have much of a point other than the ironic twist that Phoebe made up bad things about Joey to get out of her job, but even that felt out of character for Phoebe who values her friends more than that.
Best Moment: Chandler horribly failing his aloof encounter with Janice at the store was very funny and definitely got a lot of laughs out of me.
Character of the Episode: Chandler.
Conclusion: This episode had a strong Chandler story, but unfortunately it was bogged down by overacting, while the rest of the episode really lacked. In the end we have just a decent episode.
Summary: Liam is a lawyer who lives in a world where everyone has a grain - an implant in their heads which allows them to re-watch any of their memories at any time. Liam attends a party with his wife Fi, involving an old friend of hers named Jonas. Liam suspects some adultery to be going on and by examining memories with his grain he finds them to be true and discovers that his child isn't even his. Fi seemingly moves out with the child, leaving Liam alone and he removes his grain to cut off his memories.
The Good: This was another tremendously powerful episode with depressing themes and a strong look at technology and how it can affect lives. This show continues to impress me with its storytelling and understanding of how to make the audience emotionally invested while also providing impactful scenes which hit hard.
First of all, the concept of this episode was brilliant. It wasn't as far-fetched as the previous episode and the idea of having some sort of chip installed in your head to film all of your memories seems to fit very nicely in the real world. After all, it does seem like an appealing idea on the surface, and I'm sure that most people have at least wondered about how convenient it would be if you could just record everything you experience. But this episode takes a look at how these chips will make us suffer and it was immediately used in a clever way to solve a relationship drama, which is pretty much the first thing each of us would expect the chip to be useful for. Yet of course, as we see in this episode, the grain won't provide us with the satisfaction we may expect and it could very well do more harm than good. I'll be going into more detail about that later (see: Best Moment).
The concept of the grain was implemented in really smart ways too. I really liked Liam re-watching his interview over and over again in an attempt to get some answers, and even more, I liked how the grain has become an important security measure in the world, with the airports viewing a person's private memories to ensure that there isn't anything suspicious.
I thought that Liam's paranoia was conveyed really well and that his scenes with Fi had real tensions to them. It seemed pretty clear that there was something going on, and the episode did a great job of making us suspect that something was up during the party at Jonas' without ever telling us the details. From Fi's reactions and her suspicious behaviour, it seemed clear that there was something going on between her and Jonas, but it never felt horribly obvious until Liam started scavenging his memories and finding more and more evidence that something isn't right. The tension built beautifully and led to a lot of fantastic scenes between Liam and Fi where they argued about what happened before Fi is ultimately exposed as an unfaithful wife who lied to Liam.
There were a lot of great small things too. The sex scene was creepy and disturbing in every way as it cut between both Liam and Fi recalling their past memories of sex before showing us the 2 of them, dead-eyed and straight-faced in bed, just slightly moving. It was a haunting visual for sure and one that really conveyed how different the grain would make real life. I also really loved how Liam accidentally estranged the babysitter when he showed her a joke he had made about her which he had completely forgotten about. That moment felt very real and really demonstrates how the grain would o just as much harm as it would good, as it has serious potential to destroy relationships.
The Bad: This episode was flawed though. The biggest issue for me was that the characters weren't really likable at all. I didn't sympathize as much with Liam as I think I should have. He came across as an asshole and wasn't much better than his cheating wife. Because of this I felt a disconnect with the characters, and I didn't root as much for Liam to find the truth as I think I should have. While the episode was powerful because of its ideas and handling of themes, I think it missed a trick by not making us care about the characters' story. The previous episode made me care about Bing's character but I really couldn't be bothered by Liam or Fi's characters in this episode.
I feel like Liam descended a bit too quickly into his paranoia and anger. It felt rushed and wasn't really aided by the fact that I hardly knew who Liam was before he started suspecting his wife of cheating. The transformation didn't feel earned in the same way Bing's or even Michael's was in the previous episode and that also affected the quality of the episode.
It's hard to buy that Liam didn't get arrested. Surely Jonas just got footage on his grain of him being threatened by Liam who was obviously impaired and driving. That's really illegal, so shouldn't the cops have been called for Jonas to show the evidence against Liam to get him arrested? It seems ridiculous that he seemed to have gotten away scot free after such a serious crime.
The Unknown: What happed at the end? Did Fi just move out with her child? Is she with Jonas now? Where did that leave Liam? We never got confirmation that the baby was Jonas', but I don't think we needed to get it. It just makes perfect sense for it to be, so I'm going with that assumption.
Why did Jonas feel the need to remove his grain? Was it because he blames it for what happened to him, or rather was it because the memories he had were just torturing him so he had to remove it? Either way, the final scene was sad and powerful.
Best Moment: The final 4 minutes were spectacular. It was horribly sad seeing Liam around his house all alone, just re-watching all of his past memories when he was happy with his wife. The use of colour was tremendous as the past memories were bright and vibrant whereas the present was dull and lonely. This final sequence did a tremendous job of showing us exactly what Liam had lost in the past day or so. This final scene also reinforced the message of the grain can do more harm than good. Sure, without the grain, Liam would have been living with a cheater, but is this depressing, miserable life really better for Liam? Besides now he has all of these happy memories which have become bittersweet and will likely haunt him more than they ill do good. And that's what makes the ending so powerful, as we see that Liam can't stand the pain he feels anymore which is brought on by these past memories which have now become even easier to access and dwell in. One can only assume that depression rates have increased now that these grains have become popularized, due to the easy ability to stress from past experiences. This scene was so good because of how thought-provoking it is and how it makes a very clear and powerful point about the new technology.
Character of the Episode: Liam.
Conclusion: This was another great episode, though it was certainly flawed. It didn't reach the heights of "Fifteen Million Merits" due to some character and writing issues, but overall it was still another powerful episode with a meaningful message.
After just 3 episodes, Black Mirror has completed its first season, and in those 3 episodes, it has already made its case to be one of the best TV shows I have ever seen. With a focus on standalone episodes, thematic exploration and raw emotional power, this show is basically primed to succeed. And I'm so glad to say that the writing is superb and allows this show to exceed all of its potential, making for some special viewing. I can't say anything about the rest of the series yet, but this first season of the show is excellent television and is must-watch.
Summary: Bing lives in a dystopian future where everybody lives in cells with advanced technology and have to run the bikes every day to power the world. There is a show called Hot Shot which is the goal for everybody to enter. Bing meets a new girl named Abi Khan who is a talented signer. Bing helps her get into Hot Shot but instead of taking her as a singer, they take her as a porn star. Bing plots revenge and gets into Hot Shot himself and makes a chilling speech but he is hired to produce real speeches like that himself.
The Good: I thought this was stellar storytelling. Last episode was interesting and had some flaws but left an overall positive outlook with some really good storytelling. This episode on the other hand completely killed it on almost every level with even better storytelling, tighter writing and more thought-provoking themes. I thought this was one of the best standalone episodes of drama I have ever seen, up there with "Two Boats and a Helicopter" and "International Assassin" from The Leftovers, though not quite that amazing.
I really loved the sudden introduction to this advanced modern world. The last episode was more grounded in our reality, but this episode shifted to a drastically different setting and I thought it was done really well. The first 15-20 minutes of this episode really didn't accomplish much for the plot, and was instead focused on introducing us to how this futuristic world works, while impressively completely avoiding exposition. We were shown things and pieced things together ourselves, which is so much better than watching and being told everything that is going on. It felt earned and I felt like I got to explore this world instead of just having it shown to me. Without those first 15 minutes, this episode wouldn't have been anywhere near as engrossing as it was and this excellent world-building paid off hugely later in the episode.
Speaking of the pay-off, my god, was it stellar. All the small things, the toothpaste (pays off when we see Bing using minimal toothpaste to save merits), the ability to skip ads (pays off when Bing runs out of money to skip ads and suffers through Abi's ad), the repetitive biking (puts over why Abi would choose to have a better life), the broken vending machine (allows a good reason for Bing and Abi to talk again), the annoying redhead who always decked out his avatar (the powerful final scene), and more all had moments where they aided the story and had genuine emotional impact. The show expertly had small moments of pay off like this throughout the episode, leading to so many small moments of satisfaction, increasing my interest in the episode even more.
The characters in the story were really good too, especially the main character. Bing was very simple in his motivations. He is bored in life because everything is so fake and all the people around him are just as fake as the actual world around him. And when he finally finds something real and has it taken from him he is suitably mad. We have sympathized with this character and to see him lose the one thing he actually found is heart-breaking and it's so easy to feel for him and understand that he wants to do something about it. Better yet, we never quite figure out what his goal is until he actually enacts his performance, which is where everything becomes crystal clear and once more truly satisfying.
How great was that big speech though? The episode had expertly demonstrated how fake and controlled the world is, so it was relatively easy to pick up the theme of the episode. And then in that big scene, we got a terrific performance from Daniel Kaluuya which not only drives in the theme but provided a powerful catharsis for the character of Bing who had finally snapped after being so fed up with the world he was in. The entire time, I was at the edge of my seat and I was incredibly satisfied with the conclusion of this character's journey which ended with him just blowing off tons of steam.
This episode, like the last one had a killer twist at the end as well which was dark and powerful. Apparently Judge Hope was far better at manipulating the audience and the performers than anyone expected as he managed to turn Bing's outburst of truth into yet another game, something fake for the world to just enjoy and pay money for. It was a powerful message, saying how in the world we all just take anything good and use it to make money for ourselves and how all of this awful world we are a part of is of our own doing. And the message is even more resonant as Bing actually gives in at the end and sells out to the world, now using his truth as another fake thing for people to enjoy. He caved just like Abi did before and we are left with a dark message at the end where Bing lives "happily ever after" in his fake and uninteresting world.
I thought the side character of Glee was pretty good at providing some laughs as she had waited for seemingly forever. And hilariously enough there was some pay-off for her character too as we see that she was a trash singer the whole time and had no real talent.
The Bad: It really doesn't make sense that the world would make it so that you have to watch some of these ads and u can't just stop watching. I understand that it's a metaphor for mobile games, which also have required ads which you have to watch before getting to do what you want, but it feels a little excessive for you to not be allowed to close your eyes. It's not a big problem though as the closing eyes thing really helped make the best moment of the episode even more powerful.
Another nitpick, but shouldn't somebody be pissed at Bing for destroying his cell? And wouldn't they notice that a large piece of glass was missing? That felt a bit too convenient.
The Unknown: I doubt we will get answers to any of these questions. But that is the fun of it all, as it leaves us to theorize the true meaning behind this and come to our own conclusions.
What is the time period here? How far in the future was this story? How did technology get so advanced?
Is there an outside world to this? Are the characters just in some kind of prison, or is this really all that is left in the world? Was the forest at the end real or just another screen?
Were Abi and Bing ultimately able to find some sort of peace with their lives? Or did they simply suffer in this false world the entire time? It's a sad thought but it could very well have been their fates.
Best Moment: While Bing's speech was incredible, I don't think it is quite the best moment in all of this. That would have to go to Bing's breakdown in his room after Abi is taken away. I was able to buy into their relationship due to the fantastic first 15 minutes which established how lonely Bing's life is, making me believe that he would truly care about her, who he feels is real. So to have her wrenched away and forced to live in such an inhumane life against her will was awful for Bing, and it was powerful to see that he has fallen so low with insufficient merits to the point where he has to just watch all of the pain he put Abi into. It was sad stuff, and it was really powerful seeing Bing just break down quickly and descend into panic and anger over time. Stunningly good storytelling.
Character of the Episode: Bing.
Conclusion: This was an outstanding episode of television. The storytelling, characters and themes were so well done and everything about this was extremely well-thought-out with attention to detail and understanding of the emotions which make television so powerful. This was a must-watch episode.
Summary: Monica starts making jam to get over Richard and Joey eats it. Phoebe is stalked by a man who mistakes her for Ursula and they start a relationship. Chandler goes to Ross who gives him advice about how to sleep with Janice without cuddling her.
The Good: There were lots of things to like about this episode. The story of Chandler trying to sleep with Janice without cuddling was Friends at its best and his conversations with Rachel and Ross about it were hilarious. I really love how Ross had kept everything secret from Rachel with his "hug and roll" technique before Chandler blew it like an idiot and got Ross in trouble. The scenes between them had tons of comedic value and I was laughing the entire time, all the way until the big pay off at the end with Ross telling Chandler that "women talk". Monica's decision to make jam was pretty good and added for some good laughs with Joey and one great laugh (see: Best Moment). The sperm bank idea was harmless fun and had a good sitcom story where Monica came to realize that she really did want to have a guy in her life with her baby.
The Bad: The stalker storyline wasn't that great unfortunately. There were some nice laughs, but it was obvious that he wouldn't stop following Ursula so that took away a lot of the story's impact as well as some of the comedy when Ursula turns up at the end.
Best Moment: Chandler asks Joey if he wants the Xerox girl naked or a bug tub of jam, to which Joey hilariously responds with "put your hands together". Fantastic comedy.
Character of the Episode: Chandler.
Conclusion: This was 2/3s of a fantastic episode but the Phoebe story unfortunately wasn't that great. This was another really strong episode though and had a lot of good laughs.
Summary: Michael is the prime minister and he receives a video from an anonymous who says he has captured Princess Susannah and will only release her if he broadcasts a video later that day of him having intercourse with a pig. The video was uploaded on YouTube and has gone viral. As the situation worsens, and the terrorist isn't found, Michael is forced to perform the act to save Susannah. Susannah is let free but she was released a half hour before the act. The terrorist kills himself.
The Good: This was such a unique pilot for a TV show. I've heard a lot about this show, and to say the least, this first episode really surprised and impressed me.
I really liked the overall story. Sure it was ridiculous (see: The Bad), but it was so ridiculous that it became genius, as it was such a creative new idea which added some very real stakes to the episode. The episode had the basic kidnapping story with the main character needing to do something to save the victim, but it was kept fresh by the extremely strange ransom which not only piqued my interest, but kept me hooked for the entire hour, allowing me to enjoy the story. Like seriously, the ransom requested for the prime minister to have intercourse with a pig on a live broadcast. Who expected that? I surely didn't and the episode did a great job to make me think about what the ransom could possibly be, before blowing my mind with what it actually was. I laughed immediately after hearing it and I thought it was stupid, but the stupidity of it all kept me invested somehow and allowed me to completely enjoy the episode. That was masterful writing which took advantage of the active mind of the audience and used it to create something really good.
The overall message was really good too. I love this look at how technology destroys people and turns a private and embarrassing story into everybody's problem. It's a message which hasn't been done to death and it was intelligently and subtly placed into this episode without it ever feeling like it was rubbed in our faces. I also like the detail of how the crowd were initially almost excited to watch the event before being overcome with horror as their PM did something truly horrific to save a life. It's a good portrayal of how people usually don't realize how terrible things are until they see or experience it firsthand.
I really liked Michael as the main character in this episode. He did a great job portraying the prime minister's initial hope that everything would work out, before slowly getting more aggressive and scared as he realized that he may actually have to do something terrible. There were a lot of really good scenes with him, such as the one where he walked down the hall to do the act as the camera zoomed in on his face. His assistant talked in the background, but the words reaching Michael's ears weren't matching the lips. The sequence was wonderful and did a fantastic job of portraying Michael's fear and unease.
The actual act was suitably horrific without showing anything. The reactions of the people watching were all that was necessary to convey the uncomfortable nature of the situation and how awful it was. It would have been too much to actually show the act, so I think the subtle approach was absolutely the right call. The ending was stellar too, providing a real irony as it was revealed that Susannah was released a half hour before the act, rendering the whole thing pointless.
The Bad: The whole thing feels a little too ridiculous. I could never buy something like this actually happening and it seems ridiculous for the PM to actually do something so embarrassing on live television. Even worse is the fact that majority of people seemed to want him to do it, including the people he worked with. I could buy a few people making that decision, but not 86%. That's just insane and unrealistic.
How did the terrorist know that they were planning a fake with Rod Senseless? Apparently there were social media posts, but how did he get access to all of this without anybody else knowing? Apparently it was only one man, so it's hard to buy that he can pull all of this off by himself.
Susannah getting released early felt too convenient. Did nobody really notice her on that bridge for half an hour? Surely there were tons of people who didn't want to watch the awful act on television (especially CHILDREN) so why weren't there more people outside who could have potentially found Susannah?
The one girl working for UKN was a really stupid story. It was a side-plot and seemed to accomplish nothing. It's hard to buy that a news reporter would go into such a dangerous location without informing anybody, especially when there was a government mission taking place.
The Unknown: What were the killer's motives? Apparently he was an artist, so was this some twisted form of art he was trying to create? I doubt we will get an answer, but it's really fascinating to come up with theories for why this guy did what he did.
Has Michael lost his wife after this whole ordeal? That's quite a tragic ending if it is the case.
Best Moment: The final twist that Susannah was released earlier was a genuine surprise and made all fo the suffering essentially meaningless. We were treated to Michael throwing up and crying immediately afterwards, making for some really tragic and painful viewing which this pretty hard.
Character of the Episode: Michael.
Conclusion: This was such a uniquely crafted episode. It was a simple story which we have seen hundreds of times, yet with a ridiculous twist which both added to the story and took away from it. While there were lots of cons, I think the good outweighs the bad here and I can comfortably say that this was a good pilot episode. I'm really intrigued to see what other stories this show will explore.
Summary: Flashbacks show Hannah's last day alive. She goes to talk to Mr. Porter to talk with him but she doesn't get much help. She commits suicide soon after. In the present, the students have their depositions. Tyler reveals the existence of the tapes. Clay goes to talk with Mr. Porter and gives him the tapes. He has also recorded Bryce's confession for tape 14. Justin tells Bryce about the tapes. Jessica tells her father about Bryce's rape. Alex shoots himself in the head and is in critical condition.
The Good: This was a solid finale for the show. There were tons of powerful moments throughout and the show made sure to focus on its primary theme and ensure that the viewers understood what the show was all about.
I thought the flashbacks were well done for the most part. I was very happy to see that Hannah actually did look for some help before she died and that letting everything out when making the tapes gave her something of a will to live. That felt much more real than a lot of the other things in this show and it pleased me.
The suicide scene itself was really well constructed. I can understand why some people would be appalled by the graphic depiction of suicide, but I feel that it was necessary for the show to demonstrate everything that Hannah did and emphasize how terrible it is. I'm treating this show as a form of entertainment instead of a PSA for suicide so I'm not bothered by the depiction of suicide, but it is easy to see why some would be bothered by this. I thought the scene was a good pay off for Hannah's story and it was a suitably depressing end for her story.
I enjoyed Clay confronting Mr. Porter as well. I thought their conversation as really good an did an excellent job of putting over the idea that we could definitely do more good by paying more attention to others and being kinder to them since you will never know what they are thinking.
I thought that Tyler was handled nicely as well. He seems to be getting more bitter and angry in every episode and I'm excited to see him reach his breaking point. It was also very logical for him to be the one to reveal the truth about the tapes. Nobody really cared about him and Tyler really has nothing to lose at this point in his life, so it made perfect sense for him to give up everybody's secret.
The Bad: Overall this episode was similarly disappointing in the same way almost every other episode disappointed. There were too many writing flaws for this episode to truly be successful.
While I enjoyed most of the flashbacks, I did not like Mr. Porter's conversation with Hannah very much. Don't get me wrong, I liked parts of it, like Mr. Porter refusing to pick up the phone and Hannah being scared to talk about the rape, but the overall package felt very weak. The biggest problem is how quickly Hannah gave up on Mr. Porter. She said absolutely nothing to him, so how was he supposed to help? If she really wanted to live, surely she would have said more before giving up. But apparently she didn't say more which feels like a big mistake. The most realistic way for this to go down would be if Mr. Porter actually didn't help her when she told him everything, but since she told him absolutely nothing, it's hard to feel like Mr. Porter let her down here, which is what I should be feeling. The best way to help somebody feeling depressed or suicidal is to talk to them, so the show should have been much more careful when portraying somebody trying to get help by talking to someone.
Furthermore, Mr. Porter telling Hannah to move on was stupid and uncharacteristic of Mr. Porter to say. It's unfortunate that the writers had to take so many shortcuts in this storyline. Another nitpick is Clay. I could understand Hannah not talking to Clay because the last time they talked he was obviously very hurt. But then in this episode he was very obviously trying to rebuild his relationship with Hannah, so why not just talk to him instead of Mr. Porter? Or how about Tony, who was clearly still very kind and friendly to her?
Tony doesn't work in this story. He is so rooted in the background that it's impossible to care about him. Here he makes a huge decision to give the Baker the tapes, yet the scene means nothing because I have no idea why he did that. That entire arc failed to deliver, and we don't even get the pay-off of the Bakers learning about why Hannah killed herself. It's just a cliff-hanger for next season (more on that later).
Justin and Jessica are still terrible. Their scenes are getting repetitive fast and it's hard to buy that Justin cares so much about Jessica. Even though Jessica was raped, I still can't care at all about her which is a result of weak acting an character writing.
I didn't like Courtney's deposition. Why did they show her that picture? What was that supposed to accomplish? How did it make it into evidence and not get questioned by the lawyers? Weak writing which was just used to create some weak drama for Courtney.
I'm pretty displeased that very little was wrapped up with this episode. We had some powerful moments, but a lot of the characters didn't reach anything of a conclusion in their arcs and a lot of plot threads were left to be resolved next season. I really don't like that the show did that, especially since we spent 13 overly long episodes getting to this point. It hurts even more that we got very little resolution at the end and are left to tune in for another season o presumably 13 more episodes.
The Unknown: What will Mr. Porter do with the tapes? Will he show them to others? Will he try to get Bryce arrested? Or will he do something else?
What is Alex's fate? Is he going to die or will he survive? What was with the phone call to Zach beforehand?
Is Tyler planning a school shooting now? Or is he just going after the students? Did he shoot Alex instead? Tyler did take Alex's picture down from his list of targets.
What will the Bakers so with the tapes? Will they do something if Mr. Porter doesn't? Or could they end the lawsuit now?
Best Moment: The suicide scene was the most powerful and chilling scene in the episode.
Character of the Episode: Hannah.
Conclusion: This episode was rather disappointing even if it was powerful. There was little resolution and writing flaws still took away from this.
The season overall had a load of potential, but bad writing seems to have consistently damaged this show to the point where it has hit nowhere near the level I was hoping from it after the first episode. I will definitely watch season 2 with hopes of more resolution for the characters there, but I don't expect season 2 to suddenly fix the major problems the show has. This show feels like a lot of missed potential despite it being an easy watch which is fairly entertaining.
Summary: In flashbacks, Hannah accidentally loses several hundred dollars. She isn't close with Clay anymore. In her depression, she goes to one of Bryce's party and he rapes her. She begins to work on the tapes. In the present, Jessica remains hostile towards Justin. The students all receive notice for subpoenas except Sheri. Clay talks with Bryce and accuses him of being a rapist. Bryce beats him up.
The Good: There was appropriate misery for Hannah here. With just one episode left in the season, we really had to understand why Hannah did what she did. While I think there is still a big problem here (see: The Bad), the rape at the hands of Bryce is a fitting moment to send Hannah over the edge to begin feeling suicidal.
I did like getting some more background behind Justin's relationship with Bryce. It did feel pretty odd that he didn't cut ties with Bryce for being a rapist, but thankfully we were actually given a realistic reason why Justin couldn't turn on Bryce. He feels indebted to Bryce and wouldn't be comfortable repaying Bryce by turning him in and breaking their friendship. I wish we had characterization and character motivation on this level more often.
I really enjoyed the group meeting in this episode. Usually those scenes have felt like bland filler and haven't been interesting, but with the impending subpoenas, this time the scene had a purpose and a sense of tension which made it gripping and interesting. The discussion felt more important and it was nice to see the clashing ideals of all of the characters as they tried to determine what the best option was for moving forward. The truth may seem like a sensible thing, but considering the situation, it's easy to understand the thought process of those who don't want to reveal the full truth. I really enjoyed Alex's final speech suggesting that they were all flawed people who did play a part in Hannah's suicide (see: Best Moment), but I feel like that scene also had a really worrying aspect about it too (also see: The Bad).
There were some really good small scenes as well. I liked the Clay and Hannah interactions being really awkward after what happened at the party. It felt suitably sad and tragic. Sheri deciding to finally tell the truth was a nice moment as well, and continued to have her as one of the most likeable characters on the show. I also got a good laugh every time Ryan bluntly responded to Courtney's claims that Hannah lied.
The Bad: The biggest problem I have here is that Hannah has never attempted to get help for her problems. I was hoping that the party would have been Hannah's lowest point and that the rest of the show would be her trying to find some help. Unfortunately, the how has seemingly ignored the aspect of a suicidal person attempting to get help for their condition which not only makes Hannah seem extremely unlikeable (more on that later) but also misses a VERY important point about suicide. While I enjoyed Alex's speech, it suggested that they were responsible for Hannah's death because they chose not to be friends with her. While that's partially true, and it's easy for them to think that way, it seems to suggest that Hannah had tried really hard to get help but they had refused to help her. But we know from the flashbacks, that it's completely false and that Hannah never really asked for help. That makes it even harder to buy into the idea of Hannah's suicide which is really poor.
Hannah as a character is badly hurt by this development as well. The fact that Hannah didn't get help strongly implies that she actually did kill herself for attention which is the exact thing a show like this should have been doing everything to avoid. With the idea of the tapes being almost like Hannah getting revenge, this show needed to make a point to not make it seem like Hannah killed herself just to get back at the people who she thinks did her wrong. Unfortunately the show has not done that at all, and it makes Hannah seem like a really unsympathetic character which is not at all how I should feel towards a suicide victim. Katherine Langford has put on a hell of a performance as Hannah and it's a shame that the character she is playing seems really unlikeable. At this point the performance is the only real thing that is keeping me engaged in Hannah's story.
Jessica remains annoying as well. Now she seems to remember everything about the rape and how painful it was. I'm not doubting that it hurts to be raped, but she suddenly seems to recall the feeling which is ridiculous seeing how she pretended for weeks like it never happened. This storyline has been handled really poorly at times and I wish it had been executed with better character writing.
The problem with the students' scene is that a lot of them are still very shallow and I don't acre about them. Because of that, it's hard for me to get invested in what they want or what their ultimate fate will be. I wish that I had a better idea of who these characters are so I could care. But since I don't care, the whole story surrounding them has a good chance of falling flat.
Tony and Brad's scene was hard to care about too. Brad has hardly been in the show and I don't buy into his scene with Tony. While it is nice to get a scene of Tony letting out how he feels, the scene missed out on being good in my opinion because it was hinging on a relationship I really can't be bothered to care about. In the end the scene felt like an unfortunate waste of time. It also doesn't help that Tony is still a shallow character who I know next to nothing about because the show has been so preoccupied with keeping him mysterious.
Clay confronting Bryce was a total miss in my eyes. In one scene, Bryce turned into just a generic teenage villain while Clay did something seemingly out of character by confronting Bryce directly and getting him to admit to raping Hannah. There was also an extremely odd scene of him cheering afterwards. I presume that he recorded the entire conversation and that's why he is happy but why on Earth did the show not reveal he recorded it? It's a dumb attempt at shock value for the finale I presume and it left t Bryce scene feeling extremely awkward and unfulfilling. We should never be played by having a show leave a very important character motive in the dark for the sake of shock value. It ruins my emotional engagement.
The Unknown: So did Clay record the conversation with Bryce? What does he plan to do with the tape?
Why did Tyler buy a gun? Who does he want to shoot?
Who was in the ambulance at the end? Was it Clay? The show seems to be suggesting that. Who shot him? Tyler? That would make a lot of sense but I feel like it's too obvious to be the answer.
Best Moment: Alex's speech was really great and allowed us to really reflect on how guilty the entire group must be feeling after what happened to Hannah. It's true that had somebody remained close to her, she may still have been alive and it's nice to see somebody attempting to make that point.
Character of the Episode: Alex.
Conclusion: This episode was a solid continuation of the story. The show remains enjoyable but is still way too flawed, and the huge issue regarding Hannah really dragged down this episode for me. I had held out hope that the show would understand how to portray a suicide victim but I was let down here.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.