Fifteen Million Merits: The thing that makes Black Mirror such a fascinating anthology series is that it relies so heavily on show, don’t tell. It does not have the luxury that most science fiction does, where it has the time and space to set up its world, and the world’s rules, and then get into the actual story. This episodes throw us straight into the world, and lets us figure out what’s going on on our own. It’s all there, as long as we can piece together how this technology and society works. This is very apparent in 15 million merits. It’s the episode that, of all the episodes, is the most separate from our world. It’s basically a nightmarish dystopia filled with junk entertainment, and exercise. In this world, we see the beginning of a love story between two of the “bikers” begin a tentative romance, and we end on a twisted singing contest, in a last ditch chance to find a better life. It’s fascinating, chilling, and works as a metaphor for so many parts of society, it’s hard to pick it all out on a first view. And it’s all just based on what we see on screen.
Be Right Back: Beware of this episode. Not many shows can make me cry, and this one caused a never ending string of tears going down my face, pretty much the whole hour. In this story, a young woman (played by the awesome Hayley Atwell, Agent Carter herself) has her life town apart when her fiancé dies suddenly in a car crash. In her grief, she desperately seeks out a new technological service, that can create a digital version of a deceased loved one, using only their social media output. This episode deals with the overwhelming presence of the internet and social media, and how we connect with those just as much as with real people, but it’s mostly a story about grief, and how you can deal with it, or not. Prepare to ugly cry.
White Bear: This is one of those episodes that, while amazingly directed, written, and acted, I will never watch it ever again. Every. It is so intense, that I felt like I ran a marathon after I watched it, it’s that freaking harrowing of an experience. I won’t tell you much (there are enough plot twists to make M. Night Shayamalan`s head explode), but here is the basic plot. A young woman wakes up, alone, in a house. She has no memory of who she is, or how she got there. There are people outside the house, taking pictures of her with their camera phones. Then, mask wearing murders start chasing her, as the on lookers just impassively record. It turns into a brilliant, dark, disturbing parable about passive violence, justice, and about a dozen other things I don’t want to get into, because it would give away the multiple twists. Just, give this a watch, and be prepared to eat some ice cream, or find someone to hug you, soon afterwards.