I’m not a big movie fan. In fact, there are maybe 10 movies I genuinely like and would be willing to re-watch, I myself am far more prone to comedy sitcoms. Then there are movies that gently and with time rather aggressively lead you to a soothing self-destruction of existential crises. Inception by extension, Matrix rather directly and then you have Black Mirror.
Who else was incredibly excited about season 4, knowing that it’ll be a bit of a mind marathon? You know before you hit play on Netflix, that this episode (every episode) is going to fuck with you but you need to be in the know. Black mirror is the darkest of science fiction but the real horror camouflages in the very realism of it. We all see it. I’m sure you must have discussed the morbid influences of life-altering technology and the ever-intriguing reality of Artificial intelligence over lunch at some point in time.
Black mirror, a serious phenomenon which is reasonably summed up with the term ‘daunting’. Daunting in the fact that it opens you to the repercussions of technology for which you simply lacked the imagination to picture yourself. Daunting in that you dread it. Daunting in the realisation.
You always have this part of your pre-millennial old brain telling you that on some level, the amount of time you spend on your phone or indulging your vanity through selfies and insta can’t be good for you, on some mental level. Simultaneously though, we shrug it off when it becomes the norm – you’ll buckle. You’ll be aware of the risks, but not enough to go sober.
Season 4 is about giving us a picture of what digital consciousness may look like, how it will be misused and trialed.
I won’t be summarising the episodes, nor will I be making a fully-fledged review. It’s simply bits and pieces that resonated, sometimes elaborated. Note – not all episodes are covered.
Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 1 – USS Calister
As always the show astonishes you by just how far you can commiserate the villain of the story and find his reasoning, suffering, and actions – up to a point – understandable. We rather drastically change our tune regarding this innovative form of therapy when we realise that the crew characters are fully-conscious characters that are suffering while he actively relishes the pain he inflicts on them. He develops a taste; no longer revenge driven made him an unsympathetic character when he ‘recruited’ the innocent Nanette Cole.
This episode (as well as Hang the DJ) gives an enthusiastic nod to the simulated reality theory – always interesting.
Did you notice our impressions of Robert Daley went through a rollercoaster? A whopping 4 times in only an hour and 15.
The first clip of this guy rather cheesily directing his space crew into victory – he’s cool, capable and dependable (if rather corny).
We then find out what his real life looks like, the dichotomy emerges – we pity the guy. Heck, we get it. His co-workers are assholes. We can empathise.
He treats his crew like shit – humongous asshole.
He tortures and torments– a psychopathic sadist – which we finally settle on.
Death isn’t the worst thing in the world. Far from it. It is the unceasing existence of oneself in a confined space while fully conscious. That’s hell. Death may very well be the relief of it (a rather nihilistic morale to draw, I know).
Living a dichotomy manifests itself in ways you can’t see. Technology can pull out the worst of it and grow it exponentially. It can be as simple as the common metaphor of wearing a mask when out in public which you take off once you close the front door behind you.
Black Mirror Season 4 episode 2 – Arkangel
What better name to give this technology than Arkangel?
Mothers will always invade their kid’s privacy. If your teenage self-hid that diary under your pillow, you best believe your mum’s fully updated on your personal life.
So here we see another personal conflict, the mum having had two early scares that left a deep mark, a fear of loss, leading her to reach out towards the unknown, the unsafe.
Habits form quickly.
As always, we’re well on our way to a similar future reality. What better reason to implant your kid and breach their privacy than for their safety? You can see that argument winning, can’t you?
Making mistakes, big and small ones alike are not only a luxury but a necessity for growing up (not that it is necessary to snort a line).
We already have apps that allow one to live track another via GPS, most commonly used, you guessed it, between a parent and child.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 3 – Crocodile
I know what you did last summer fused with some futuristic tech that looks retro.
Escalation is serious in this one. Like a murder bender.
‘Sin begets sin begets sin’ and I am not even religious.
Unless you know how to control your thoughts, don’t let them stick pins into your head.
Technology meant for good can be misused in the wrong hands – like everything else in the world.
Guinea Pigs are bloody adorable.
Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 4 – Hang the DJ
Ah, the modern Romeo and Juliet.
‘Everything happens for a reason’ how ironic – an answer given in religion now used to explain away the reasoning behind technology. Let’s not accept this as an answer, shall we?
The conclusion was shockingly wholesome for black mirror – it prioritises initiative and heart over a complex formula working through a tech system. BL always warns against future advancements but never quite this directly and PG-friendly.
The trial made it seem like it’s all about the destination, the outcome. Romance indeed. Dating is supposed to be fun, isn’t it? Or is it always about finding the one?
There’s something to be said about chance in romance.
The continuous pursuit of practicality and time efficiency goes down this path. Enter tinder.
Frank is a huge bitch. A year? I’d have stabbed myself with that fork. I mean what does it say about you being paired with someone like that? Do you question yourself or do you question the analysis i.e. the tech?
Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 6 – Black Museum
Horror-adjacent. What with all the torture and stuff.
Okay, who ever thought to put two personalities into one was a good idea? Like seriously.
Consciousness – even today we discuss immortality through the digitised consciousness. Here’s an exaggerated representation of one of the most potentially depressing possibilities.
A similar morale here as was the case in USS Calister – immortality in a confined space seems to be just about the worst thing. To get to a point where you yearn death – the worst case scenario – and see it as a form of mercy.