Black Mirror Season 2, written by Charlie Brooker (Channel 4, 2013)
Score: Three words: ‘ham’, ‘hyphen’, ‘fisted’.
You don’t get to see a lot of sci-fi on TV. You’ve got your Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, the occasional The 4400, FastForward and so on, but very little on speculative fiction. Black Mirror is one exception, as far as settings and themes are concerned. We can have a break from space operas, conspiracies and alien invasions and have some good old-fashioned reflection on how technology and progress affect us as a society. The only problem is that these stories have already been done multiple times, have already been done better and the aesop is about as subtle as having the writer knock on your door asking if you have a few minutes to discuss why new media is evil.
Among the good things, the 20 minutes into the future design and prediction of trending technologies is quite good, and something other series should learn from. Except, you know, for that person who was running iOS 6 on an iPhone in White Bear. That’s a surprisingly long-lived iPhone, and without even updating it!
So let’s have a look at each episode individually, and watch out for ***SPOLERS***
Be right back.
So Ash is married to Martha. Ash is quite dependent on social networks, and also a bit of an idiot. Ash one day goes to return a rented van and never comes back, presumably because he drove into a tree while updating Facebook or something. Martha is devastated and at the funeral some asshole decides to sign her up for some beta software that emulates the late person’s speech so you can pretend to speak with them. Long story short, she ends up ordering a full-sized simulacrum, but just as expected, the simulacrum is just not enough for Martha and she ends up loathing it. Nothing Philip K. Dick couldn’t have told you. She decides to keep the thing because she can’t bring herself to destroying it or just asking for a refund, despite it not even being alive or having any sense of identity or survival instinct. I like to think she’s keeping the android as a sex slave behind her daughter’s back. By the way, what kind of lover thinks that the best way to make a woman scream in bed is emulating porn?
Like in the first season, the middle episode is the hysterical one.
At first I thought, ‘oh, not some Battle Royale/Hunger Games crap’, although I liked it when the young woman commented that she didn’t think the signal did anything to the hunters, they were already that way. Then when they showed the audience applauding I went ‘it’s not possible that you’re copying an episode of The Simpsons and still expecting to be taken seriously’ and then I saw what the thing was actually about. I liked the twist up to that point, but only up to that point. I never thought I would say this, but Natural Born Killers was subtler at criticising the media’s and people’s fascination with violent crime, and Natural Born Killers was not remotely what I would call subtle. And on top of that I bet I’m supposed to be outraged at what I’m watching and thinking ‘oh God, I shouldn’t have read that piece on that little girl Asunta, I’M A MONSTER!!’ Haha, I’m sorry but no. Go emotionally blackmail someone else, and try to be cleverer next time.
The Waldo moment.
This one is the least awful of the three, but not particularly good either.
It reflects on the issue of bipartisanship, political skepticism and so on, and it’s a raging current topic. I don’t know about other countries, but here is Spain there is not just one Waldo, virtually every comedian pisses on politicians one way or the other, but they don’t run for the elections. Pablo Iglesias deeply despises politicians but unlike Waldo, he has a political agenda, so you might like him or not, but they’re not the same thing. The only sane thing I heard from this three episodes is said here: ‘Waldo is antipolitical, which is a political stance in itself’. The overall reflection on politics is mildly interesting but sort of shallow. And then there’s the ending where Jamie wakes up in hospital having lost control of his creature like it’s a cheesy copy of Tyler Durden and then ends up homeless and beaten by the police while Waldo becomes a worldwide brand of political flavoured slavery. It kind of reminds me of the time we sent Rodolfo Chikilicuatre to Eurovision.