Summary: Karin and Blue work together on a murder case when somebody who was getting a lot of social media hate was murdered. They discover it happening multiple times and learn that somebody is killing them because they are unpopular on social media with a hashtag. The most popular person to receive the hashtag in a day dies. There are ADIs, which are artificial bees which are being hijacked and controlled to do the killings. The mastermind is discovered to be Garrett Scholes who leaves a trail for the detectives to find. When the detectives think they have won, it unleashes a mass murder of everyone who used the hashtag.
The Good: The mystery thriller is always entertaining to watch and I think it's smart that the show used an exciting plot line to make the longest episode so far feel a little bit shorter and tense. It was a fun case to watch unfold and I got a decent amount of enjoyment out of it, as with all mysteries.
The idea of the artificial bees and the death hashtag is brilliant and is another innovative, impressive and surprising concept from Black Mirror. I'm impressed that the show continues to spout out genius concepts for episodes so consistently, with the last 3 episodes being creative highlights in concept. The bees were logical on one hand, but quickly became terrifying when taken over, not only as spy tools but also as murdering weapons. Even scarier though was the DeathTo hashtag which allowed the people to vote on whoever they wanted to die.
The episode had a very tense and horrific nature to it as well. The bees were certainly a cool concept, but they were turned absolutely terrifying by the episode's end when they became killing devices. The sequence when Karina and Blue were attempting to protect Clara in the house as bees swarmed the place was horrific and traumatizing and it was absolutely brutal seeing the bees all desperately try to get into the bathroom where one viciously kills Clara. What's even more unsettling is the way the bees just stop and act completely normal after Clara dies, almost as if nothing had happened. It's creepy and terrifying, and once more became unsettling in the episode's climax.
This episode had a great look at social media and how cruel people can be. The idea that social media shouldn't be used as a way for us to say what we want without consequences is good and I liked the moments in the episode which focused on that topic, like learning about Garret's book and seeing the effects that all the social media hate was having on Clara.
The Bad: This episode had a good concept but in execution it was really dull and uninspired. This was essentially just a generic and boring cop drama with minimal originality and twists which make us question the story. We have victim characters who are introduced to die and provide the leads a big clue, and we even have the cliché of good guys thinking they won before everything goes bad. Add in the evil government spying on people and this episode really feels like it lacks in originality. Seeing that all other Black Mirror episodes were more interesting (yes even Waldo), this ends up being really disappointing. This episode lacked the ambition I had expected it to have.
The characters were very weak too. The 2 leads were as dull as they could be and I had no reason whatsoever to care about them or their storyline. I can't even tell you who they are or what their motives are. That's much worse than the impressively written characters in the previous episodes. Furthermore, the side characters are also very lame. Shaun serves no purpose in the story except for being the one who gets everyone killed, and even that moment lacks impact because it's hard to buy into him being thick-headed enough to press the button anyways. The villain isn't good either. He's 2-dimensional and we have no idea why he decided to do this and lacks motivation completely. The villain from "The National Anthem" who had 30 seconds of screen time was more developed than this guy.
The ending didn't do anything for me either. The main climax lacked the emotional resonance it needed because we weren't shown the actual onslaught of bees. Usually I would be happy to be spared of the misery and death, but in this case I feel like we needed to see more than we did for there to be an appropriately powerful climax, especially considering that I didn't care about the fates of all main characters. The actual ending scene was dumb too. I didn't at all care about Blue getting revenge on Garrett and to make things worse we don't even know what she did to him. I usually do like vague endings, but in an episode where I don't know the motivations of any character, this kind of vague ending is horribly unsatisfying and just feels like a total waste of time. That's where the episode's length really works against it too. At an hour and a half in length, there needed to be a satisfying conclusion for the episode to feel like it was worth a watch but there unfortunately wasn't.
I had plenty of nitpicks too. The whole time they were protecting Clara, I was practically screaming at them to cover her face with a mask and give her earplugs or something like that. These are cops, surely they would be smart enough to realize that if they block the entry points into the head, Clara can't die. Another nitpick is Nick sending the hashtag out o Garret. Why wouldn't he ask somebody about doing that before he did it? And why on Earth did he do that on a personal account of his? It's idiotic. Furthermore, Garret's entire plan revolved around this idiot sending that hashtag so he could make his mistake which is really dumb. Who would leave a critical aspect of their plan to the chance of somebody doing something stupid?
I also think this episode did a weak job of raising intriguing moral questions. I certainly don't think we should be killed for our roles in social media, and it feels like a stupid question to ask because the answer is far too obvious.
The Unknown: What happens to Garret and everybody else at the end? Will Shaun be blamed for what happened? Will the people ever find out the truth? What happens to the ADIs and Granular now? Will they be shut down?
Did everybody deserve to die for what happened? I certainly don't think so.
Best Moment: The bees attacking the safe house when Karin, Blue and Clara were in it was terrifying and tense television.
Character of the Episode: Karin.
Conclusion: This was a solid and enjoyable episode but nothing more than that. This episode was unoriginal in everything except concept, meaning that it totally lacked the ambition and brave approach which has so often made Black Mirror compelling. A disappointing end to the season.
As a whole, I thought this was another really good season. While I don't think it hit the highs of previous episodes as frequently, it was certainly very enjoyable and I don't think any episode was actually bad. With the exception of "Hated in the Nation", every episode delivered on my expectations and continued this show's streak of powerful and creative ideas to focus on.
Summary: Stripe works for the army, who protect villagers by killing roaches, which are basically like zombies. He has an implant called a mass. After Stripe kills 2 roaches and is hit by a strange device which disables his mass. Stripe realizes that the roaches are people too and that the mass makes him think that they are something else. The leader of the army, Arquette, imprisons Stripe and explains that the mass wipes memories and replaces them and that Stripe agreed to have it implanted in him. Arquette gives Stripe no choice and forces him to reset his mass and forget everything he learned.
The Good: This was another remarkably powerful episode which delivered more compelling television.
The early parts of the episode came off as a basic military action episode and were easy to get engaged with and fairly fun. The technology was very cool and smartly conveyed to introduce us to the concept of the mass, which was another creative and realistic innovation of technology. The early parts of the episode also did a wonderful job of introducing the roaches as zombie-like enemies that needed to be purged. There was a really great sequence of the soldiers exploring the house while we got some subtle exposition from Medina which I really enjoyed.
The big twist about the roaches being real humans was executed brilliantly. While I unfortunately did see it coming (see: The Bad), I thought that the foreshadowing was superb and the execution of the twist was wonderfully shocking and powerful. The fact that the reveal was aided by a sequence of Rai gleefully mowing down humans while anticipating her reward made for genuinely unsettling television and it was easy to understand why Stripe would knock her out to stop the mindless bloodshed. The video game-esque shots of Rai killing were really clever too and nicely symbolized how killing the roaches is almost like a game for those under the influence of the mass.
The best parts of the episode were unquestionably in Stripe's confinement cell though. Here we get to see Arquette again, who had initially seemed to be a sort of therapist for those who felt something from killing roaches. But now we learn that he is essentially a higher power in the military who controls the masses and sees nothing wrong with what the military is attempting to do. The episode succeeds here by adding a ton of layers on top of the predictable twist that roaches are humans. While that thought is terrifying enough on its own, the terror is ratcheted up with a ton of other additional information and thoughts. We learn that not only is Arquette and the military fine with the extermination of the roaches, but so are all of the other villagers who apparently just really don't want some genetic disorders. It's horrifying to think that all of these people are just innocents being killed off because of disorders which somebody decreed shouldn't exist in this world.
The most horrific part of the episode comes from the mind of Stripe though. Malachi Kirby did a superb job in this episode and by that final scene I was really sympathizing with his awful situation. It traumatizes him to know that innocents are being killed, but then it just keeps getting worse. We learn in a more surprising twist that Stripe himself agreed to the terms of the mass to exterminate the people with disorders, essentially proving that there are no people who actually seem to think this is wrong. Then we are taken on a trip to experience Stripe's nightmare as we realize that he's practically sold his life at this point. Arquette has total control over him and makes him lose sight and then experience the torturous pain of killing an innocent civilian with threats to ensure that he suffers from this until the end of time. It's horrific, immoral and painful to watch and really emphasizes the unsettling life which we may find ourselves in if military technology is used immaturely.
The ending scene was powerful too and showed that Stripe has also lost the life he had before. We see the girl in his dreams appear inside of a beautiful bungalow which is what Stripe sees, but in reality all he is coming home to at the end is a rotten old house with nobody real to comfort him. It's a sad and disturbing final image to conclude the episode.
I appreciate that this episode got creative. Some episodes in the past 2 seasons have treaded familiar territory, but this one felt entirely original with its take on military technology and the future it may pave for us. The original feel to this makes it one of my favourite episodes this season for sure.
The Bad: The roaches twist was very easy to predict. The zombie reveal was given very quickly, and as this show has become known for its painful twists, it took no real effort to think of the idea that the roaches may have been real people, especially with the amount of hints we were given. I could understand somebody else not being able to see through this twist, but as I predicted it with ease, that took away from the episode a little bit.
All the villagers wanting the roaches dead feels a little too insane. There needed to be more people like Heidekker who would think of this execution as inhumane. Surely somebody would have drawn comparisons to the Holocaust or any other big genocide which negatively impacted humanity.
The Unknown: Did Stripe even have a wife or is this woman just conjured from thin air? Or perhaps has she left after Stripe signed with the military?
What convinced Stripe to sign up anyways? He seemed like a bit of a careless fool in the video and it seems like he only joined because he had nothing better to do. It would certainly have been interesting to learn more about him.
Is it right to protect the roaches or did they deserve to be killed off like that? Would it be for the better to prevent genetic disorders in the future? Could there be another more humane way way to prevent these disorders?
Best Moment: Every moment between Stripe and Arquette at the end was superb. The scene had me gripped and provided one hell of a catharsis.
Character of the Episode: Stripe.
Conclusion: This was another excellent episode which continued the show's brilliant explorations into technology and how deadly of a weapon it can be.
Summary: Yorkie is making visits to San Junipero, a sort of heaven for those who want to stay there after death. She meets Kelly and they fall in love. Yorkie reveals that she became a quadriplegic and is going to be dying soon. She is getting married to a random guy so she can choose to be in San Junipero forever. Kelly chooses to marry her instead. Yorkie wants Kelly to choose to stay in San Junipero after she dies, but Kelly doesn't want to because her husband and daughter both didn't get to experience the world. After an argument, Kelly ultimately decides to stay in San Junipero and the 2 remain together forever.
The Good: This was a very different episode for Black Mirror and the new approach with new themes and different storytelling served to create one of the very best hours of the show so far.
The setting of the episode was a small thing which was done completely right. The colouring of all the scenes was excellent and the setting did a great job of establishing the tones of all of the scenes, from the creepy aura of the Quagmire to the loving beauty of the beaches. This ended up becoming a really atmospheric episode and it only added to the experience.
The world itself is really interesting and I was always trying to figure out what time period it was from. I love how the reveal that San Junipero is a sort of heaven was given to us slowly so that it could be pieced together. It was really great and it also allowed me more time to process the characters' stories and what they were doing in San Junipero. The concept of this sort of heaven which is accessible by humanity is really interesting and I liked this unique exploration of technology.
The characters were outstanding though. Both Kelly and Yorkie felt relatively fleshed out, had motivations and had background to provide insight on why they were that way. I love seeing such detailed characters in an episode like this and it definitely made me care a ton about their fates in this episode. The relationship they had was great as well, and while I don't think it's as good as it could have been, it was enough to get me to buy into their bond, especially when you take into account that these 2 are essentially just 2 really lonely old woman who are looking for their place in the world before they die.
Kelly's character story is excellent. Her backstory is suitably tragic when we learn that her husband left her in the world after 49 years and it's easy to sympathize with her and understand the void that he has left behind, as well as the feeling that she doesn't want to be left behind again so she is scared to love. But somehow, the show digs deeper to really pull at our heart-strings as we learn that she had a daughter who died before her time. This adds even more layers to Kelly and makes her unease in choosing to stay in San Junipero so much more understanding. After all, her daughter didn't get to enjoy the luxury so why should she? It's painful, it's real and it's understandable, giving Kelly's character a truckload of depth which really impressed me and made me feel, as the show does all to well with episodes like this.
Yorkie's story was another tearjerker though. Her tragic life was very sad and it was awful to learn about her quadriplegia, but that also made it understandable why she would want to keep going back to San Junipero and stay there. Her life was robbed from her in the real world, but here she gets to enjoy moving around and doing what she pleases. The reveal that she was dying and seemed to be on borrowed time was also heartbreaking, but it led to a much happier moment as Kelly and Yorkie got officially married, providing a rare glimmer of hope in this show.
That hope would thankfully stay though. After their fight, it seemed destined for both ladies to live separately forever in a pained existence, just as miserable as other episodes of the show. But thankfully that wasn't the case and instead we actually got a happy ending where both women got to live out their lives together forever. In an episode with no real twists and turns, this happy ending actually ended up becoming one of the show's biggest twists. It was powerful, genuinely unexpected and satisfying as we finally got to see some characters living happily without any kind of misery or pain thrown at them. It's a wonderful change of tone and makes this episode really stand out and feel special. Not to mention, it's wonderful to feel happiness after an episode of Black Mirror for a change.
The Bad: I wish that Yorkie's joy at being able to move again was played out a little bit better. We really got no reaction from her, but I feel that it would have been much more powerful and affecting to have some scenes showing Yorkie's joy in San Junipero.
The Unknown: What would you choose? San Junipero or passing over peacefully? Which is the better option? Can you ever leave San Junipero if you die there?
What is passing over? What happens to those who do? Is there another world out there?
Will Kelly and Yorkie remain happy forever in San Junipero? Will Kelly be satisfied with her life or will she still feel the guilt she felt earlier about staying in San Junipero while her family passed over?
Did Kelly make the right choice or should she have honoured her old family by passing over?
Best Moment: The happy ending was powerful and for once this show managed to make me feel complete happiness. That's really impressive and I hope this show continues to demonstrate an ability to provide a wide variety of emotions.
Character of the Episode: Kelly was better than Yorkie in my opinion.
Conclusion: A stellar episode, and one which isn't afraid to do something different. Black Mirror has always been a bold and powerful show, and this episode exemplifies both of those aspects in wonderful fashion. Easily one of the show's finest hours.
Summary: Kenny is a kind teenager working at a fast food restaurant. He is hacked and a video I recorded of him masturbating to porn. The hackers give him orders which lead to him meeting Hector, another man in a similar situation and they don't want the videos leaked. The 2 are forced to rob a bank against their will. Kenny is forced to fight another man to the death. However, the hackers release the videos anyways. Kenny is revealed to be a pedophile.
The Good: Unlike most other episodes on the show, this episode is actually taking place in the present without any kind of fancy new technology. While other episodes have been devastating because of their human implications, this episode becomes devastating in a different way because it is conceivably something which could actually happen in our current world. It's a scary thought and it really aids the depressing nature of this episode and makes it one of the most painful episodes yet to get through, and that is saying something, especially since this episode followed the horrific "Playtest".
The episode works very well because we immediately sympathize with Kenny in the beginning of the episode and it makes his journey gripping to watch since we really hope that he can find a way to avoid having his reputation ruined, no matter what the cost. It's also easier to sympathize because what he did doesn't seem at all like a big deal and it would be awful if he met a terrible fate because of something as simple as masturbating on camera. Alex Lawther also adds a really great performance, one of my favourites in the show so far, and it's his heart which really makes Kenny's character work. Of course there was the twist at the end which threw a wrench into things, but more on that in a bit.
The tension in the episode was really good. While it was obvious that Kenny would make it on time, what was far more tense was later in the episode, when Kenny and Hector were working together. Their relationship made sense as both were good people who made mistakes and were thrown into an awful situation and had to work together. Of course Karen's arrival had to complicate things though and the entire time when Karen was in the car had me on the edge of the seat. This could have been the ideal time for a plot twist, so it had real stakes to it and I was very interested to see what came next.
The Karen scene wasn't the only fantastic bit of tension though. The bank robbery scene was dripping with tension too. I thought that the horror that both characters felt was conveyed well and I sympathized with both as they forced themselves through the ordeal. It was tough to watch, but at least it was better than the videos being leaked for them.
Then came the big ending which was stunning and so devastating. Of course we learn that the hackers just released the videos anyways. So not only do everyone have all these awful deeds torturing them for the rest of their lives, but they know that it was all pointless and accomplished absolutely nothing. It's a rough ending to the episode which essentially makes all the characters pay the ultimate price for their mistakes.
The Kenny twist was by far the most stunning reveal though. I had felt so bad for this poor kid, and yet with the reveal that he was a pedophile, most of that suddenly changed. I didn't know how to feel anymore and the conclusion of the episode left me in total confusion, almost wanting it to not be true. I felt uncomfortable having sympathized with a pedophile character and I just couldn't believe it. But that's the genius of this episode. As humans, we often associate pedophiles as monsters in the public, but are they really? Here we see that Kenny is just a normal kid but he can't help himself and it's not like he actually did anything bad to children. Are we right to just judge people for being pedophiles or should we maybe try to get them some help instead and treat pedophilia like more of a mental illness? It's a fascinating concept and I'm glad that the episode explored it.
The Bad: This episode treaded some familiar points though. The questions raised were very similar to the ones raised in "White Bear" and the whole justice system and final twist was also reminiscent of that episode. I'm fine with the ideas that the episode explored but they were hardly original and I want the show to keep reinventing its message and not settle for the same messages over and over again.
This show is currently at risk for becoming exactly what I don't want it to become: a basic storyline with a surprise twist which exists purely for shock value. While this episode thankfully avoided that by raising some interesting questions, I'm definitely worried that the show may go down the road of empty shocks if they run out of creative ways to provide a powerful message. I hope that doesn't happen, but the episode quality isn't quite at the same level it was at for the first 2 seasons and that's not a great sign. The show is still awesome right now, but I'm getting a little nervous as this is the third episode in a row which was only great.
The Unknown: Who were the hackers? What did they want? Just justice? How do they organize themselves to get control over so many people? Was that kid in the hotel one of the hackers by chance?
What were the pictures for? Why did Kenny have to take a picture of Hector?
Was the drone recording just for the entertainment of the hacker, or has Kenny's murder of the other man been released to the public too?
I feel like I should be adding the thought-provoking questions the show raises in this section as well, so going forward I will be sure to do that.
Were we right to sympathize with Kenny? Should we judge him for what he has done, or should we still sympathize with him? Surely he didn't deserve what he got. His life is basically over now.
Is this justice system moral? Is this something we should enforce or shut down? Were the hackers the actual good guys of this story? All the other characters seemed to make pretty awful mistakes.
Best Moment: The twist that Kenny was a pedophile made me feel so uncomfortable so it really has to be the best moment.
Character of the Episode: Kenny.
Conclusion: This was a really nicely written episode and was one of the most disturbing episodes thus far. Another powerful episode of Black Mirror, though season 3 is yet to come anywhere near the highs of the first 2 seasons.
Summary: Cooper is travelling the world to avoid problems at home. His dad passed of Alzheimer's and he is afraid of talking to his mom. He meets Sonja and they hook up. Sonja recommends Cooper to go test a new game. He goes and experiences a horror game simulation in real life and goes through a nightmarish game. His phone wasn't turned off however and his mom calls him during the experience. This causes Cooper to die.
The Good: This was a very different episode of Black Mirror. Like "White Bear", I think this was more valuable as an experience than an episode of television, and it left me feeling really unsettled and horrified by its ending.
Before the horror though, we are allowed to learn who our main character is. We learn a lot about Cooper, and we come to care about him as one of the better characters in the show. He has depth to his character, we like who he is and we can understand his problems and fears all too well. His relationship with Sonja is effective at letting us understand who he is and preparing us for the nightmare he will experience later in the episode.
And now it's time to discuss the terrifying nightmare that Cooper was put through when testing the game. The idea of the game is hardly described to us and all we know is that it's going to be a new experience for Cooper. Of course we know that anything can happen, our minds have been trained to expect anything in a simulation and we have also been trained to expect twists in this show. But Cooper isn't aware in the way we are and he obviously believes that he is actually safe from any harm. Of course this is a signature set-up for any horror film, and leads to Cooper getting way more than he anticipated as he faces horror after horror which slowly breaks him down. So many horror films are fixated on jump scares but this is smarter than that and even makes fun of jump scares. Instead we are treated to the horror of having to face all of your worst fears one after the other, which has so much more entertainment and emotional value to it. It makes for some genuinely affecting television.
The fears which are explored here are fantastic and have a lot of meaning because of what we know about Cooper. We see a casual fear like arachnophobia explored at first, but then things ratchet up as we see fears from Cooper's past explored like Josh Peters and memories of his dad's Alzheimer's, and then we climax as we see fears stemmed from anxiety and paranoia as we see Cooper's fears about how his mother is in a terrific scene which has a lot of power (see: Best Moment).
The writing was sublime as usual. I was ready to complain about inconsistencies like Saito's English-speaking, but it turns out that the whole sequence was part of the game which essentially forgives every single inconsistency which just becomes foreshadowing.
There were a couple things in this episode which I noticed which have been present in other episodes too but I haven't had a chance to explore them. For one, the show's transitions to sex are always hilarious. Every time it's a smooth transition which puts a smile on my face. Also, the show does a tremendous job with irony. The big example in this episode being the observations of Cooper's death being that he finally "called Mom".
The Bad: This episode fell into the trap of too many twists which don't have much resonance to them. The twists were fairly predictable and unsurprising, and they didn't really offer any new depth to the story.
The ending was too depressing. For this show to have a depressing and cruel ending, it needs to establish that the characters deserved their fates. This was done expertly in previous episodes like "White Bear" and "White Christmas" but it really wasn't done at all here. Cooper was a good guy and the only mistake he made was turning his cell phone on, and it led to his death. This show often makes me feel emotionally drained after an episode, but here I feel it was too far. At least give me a reason for putting me through this pain, but instead the only reasoning here is for shock value and the irony of "called mom".
This also leads to my next point: the theme. This episode is missing a proper theme to examine. Other episodes have all focused on something in particular about technology and how it will impact our future, but this one is missing that. The examination is very weak in this episode and it's tough to center around an actual point being made. I suppose it's that we shouldn't get careless with testing technology. Or that we should turn our phones off. Either way it's unsatisfying and it doesn't do its job of neatly tying the episode together. Instead what we are left with is just a terrifying nightmare, and while that is still impactful to watch, it's nowhere near the level of quality that the show usually explores.
The Unknown: Has this ever happened before where a playtest killed somebody? What consequences would be brought on by Cooper's death?
Best Moment: Cooper finding his mother, only to see she has Alzheimer's was the perfect personification of how anxiety will create our worst fears. After all the scariest thing is always the unknown, and our greatest fears come from us imagining the worst possible outcome. This scene explored that in a tragic and heartbreaking way. I just wish the ending had perhaps gone in a more hopeful direction like the previous episode to make this scene even more powerful.
Character of the Episode: Cooper.
Conclusion: This was a terrific nightmarish episode that was well on its way to being one of the show's very best until the ending. Had we gotten a happier ending which had more thematic relevance, this would have been thought-provoking and cathartic in all the right ways. Instead the show opted for the edgier depressing ending and I feel that it diminished the quality of this episode by a lot. Hopefully the other episodes don't fall into a similar trap.
Summary: Lacie lives in a community where your social status is judged by a rating from 1 to 5 which is given by other people based off of how much they like you. Lacie is a 4.2 but needs to be a 4.5 to get a house she wants and she needs approval from high 4s. She goes to attend a wedding which will have a bunch of other high 4s, but things go wrong and her rating steadily falls as everything goes to hell. She begins to realize that the ratings won't make her happy. She arrives at the wedding as a 1.1 and gives her speech solely to embarrass her friend. She is taken to jail where she feels more free than ever before and properly connects with a guy in another cell.
The Good: This community is a very frightening concept, and is a great social commentary on social media taking over our lives and us becoming a slave to our devices. Everything is this community is so fake, from the pastel look, to the interactions of the people living in it. There are some really great scenes which really highlight the fake nature of this episode, like the conversation Lacie has with Beth in the elevator which is all about what they post on social media and as no real heart to it. It's a horribly uncomfortable atmosphere which got me emotionally engaged just from the concept. Furthermore, the idea that the higher ranked you are, the better you are, is insane and often it seems to be completely inaccurate as Susan (1.4) comes off as a much better person than Naomi (4.8). Additionally I love how it's implied that when talking with a high 4, it doesn't matter what you do, because they can rank you low and nobody bats an eye, but it's an awful thing to rank them low because it will lower your popularity. Essentially you are being judged for the conversation and they just aren't at all. A great example is Lacie's conversation with a high 4 in the elevator, where this high 4 makes absolutely no attempt for conversation.
While most episodes of Black Mirror tend to disturb or leave you extremely tense, this episode instead lets you feel how it would be like to live in this world. In doing so, the episode causes you to feel intense anxiety throughout, while you hope for Lacie to not have too hard of a fall in the episode. The episode is called "Nosedive", and by now we have been accustomed to the horrors of this show, so there is a huge anxiety created in the first half hour as we know that Lacie's fall is coming but we really don't want so many terrible things to happen to her.
Of course it has to happen though, and I think that Lacie's fall was handled pretty well and offered some really horrific encounters, like the man listening to porn at the charging station and the terrifying security guard who just smiled through everything as Lacie went through a pretty rough moment. It was uncomfortable to watch of course, and it all led wonderfully to a climax when Lacie arrives at the wedding to finally give the speech she prepared so hard for and ends up doing it to embarrass Naomi and provide some subtle insight to the high 4s on how life is so fake that nothing is real anymore and nothing really matters.
The story was really good, but it wouldn't have worked without good motives for Lacie. I thought the motives given were excellent, as we see Lacie wanting to buy a really expensive house. Why? Not because she wanted it, but because the house seemed to promise something real for her. Living in this world without any real human interaction has created a loneliness inside Lacie who longs for something real, and her entire trip to increase her fake social rank is all to get her to something real. It's a great motive because it's relatable and understandable, and it makes sense why her motives led to her downfall.
I think that the title "Nosedive" isn't entirely accurate for this episode. Sure Lacie had her rating fall pretty hard, but was it really a fall for her character? I don't think so, and I'm very happy to say that for once it actually feels like a happy ending on this show. Lacie was looking for something real, that was what she wanted, and by falling so hard, it actually led her to exactly what she wanted as she sat in her prison cell, free from the rating system. In the end, she finally found something real as she got to talk to a guy without the crutches of the world she lives in, allowing for the most organic conversation we have seen in the entire episode.
The Bad: This episode was notably longer and I think it really does feel its length. The episode tends to drag on more than others, and is hurt by the fact that it doesn't have as many cathartic scenes or devastating twists as every other episode. The episode gives a great message and tells a nice story of character transformation, but it's missing that level of emotion that Black Mirror usually hits in every episode.
The episode does feel anticlimactic. There was so much anxiety built up in the first half hour, and honestly there is never really any pay-off for that. Compared to every other character's story, Lacie's suffering is extremely tame and as such I feel unsatisfied when the episode built to such a foreboding ending, only for there to really not be anything that bad at all.
I wasn't a fan of Susan's character who was used to spark a change in Lacie. The wise old sage cliché has been done to death and I wasn't a fan of seeing it here. Furthermore, it's implied that you can still have a successful life with a lower rating, so why aren't there more people who just don't care about the ratings system who live their own life. For a system like this to work, everyone needs to comply and that's really hard to buy into, especially when it seems like there aren't any people around who just ignore the system.
The Unknown: Prison seems to have more freedom than the actual world. I wonder if people actually go to prison to free themselves from the ratings system?
Best Moment: The airport scene was really great. The staff was about as unhelpful as they get and their fake happiness was just annoying. And when Lacie lets out some emotion instead of her fake cheer, she is immediately downvoted by everyone. If that's not a metaphor for how society judges people, I don't know what is. It's really painful to see that success in this world is based off of how other people judge you, and I think this scene best demonstrated the horrors of that.
Character of the Episode: Lacie.
Conclusion: This was a really good episode with a solid story. I don't think it reached the heights of the best Black Mirror episodes, as this felt very safe and by the numbers, but it was still a really great episode to watch.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.