Black Mirror: The tales of the unknown

Alexis Richard ’18, Editor-in-Chief

You awake from a deep sleep. Your heart is pounding, and you feel like you just finished running a long, never ending marathon. Checking your surroundings, you realize you are safe and out of harm’s way. The images that were previously in your head are still lingering while you try your hardest to shake off that terrible feeling of someone watching you while you sleep. But, they won’t go away, and you’re left there to think about the scary events that just transpired in your head. Let’s go back to that night. Imagine that nightmare you awoke from. Remember how scared and defenseless you felt. Now, imagine if you could never wake up.
This is what it would be like if you lived in the universe where the popular TV show Black Mirror exists. Black Mirror is a sci-fi anthology, filled with many different stories that leave you uneasy, questioning the entire human race, in shock that something like that could actually happen, or all of the above. Every episode is different, with new stories, new characters, new actors, and new directors. With the multiple directors, you get stories that are shot completely in a pastel colored lense with pastel clothing and props (Nosedive, season 3 episode 1) and a black and white lense that has remembrance of the 1940’s (Metalhead, season 4 episode 5). With this diversity in episodes, it always leaves the audience wanting more.
Critics and fans go back and forth on when the universe of this show is supposed to take place. Ten years? 100 years from now? Even though the “when” is unclear, one thing is for sure- these episodes are a possible future for the world. Episodes such as Shut Up and Dance, season 3 episode 3, and The National Anthem, season 1 episode 1, are scenarios that are practical because the concepts are more realistic than past episodes.
The National Anthem an episode about on how the Prime Minister of England must save Princess Suzanna from a kidnapper. In most entertainment, this is a very common storyline: a family must pay a ransom to release the victim. We’ve all seen this before; however, this is Black Mirror, and they put a very dark twist on a common event: the Prime Minister must perform graphic acts on live television in order to save the princess. Even though this is a disturbing idea, it’s still a realistic concept that could happen because there is no sign of clear futuristic events, including advanced technology.
Shut Up and Dance is a chilling episode about how people are blackmailed into doing criminal and barbaric acts. These people are portrayed as the victims, however, some may say that the blackmailing was just and fair. The audience follows a teenage boy who is a pedopihle, and there’s a video proving that, alongside a storyline of a working family man who goes to see a prostitute on the side with proof of the saved conversations between the two, and finally a high-up woman in a business firm that wrote some very racist comments concerning employment which can be proved through emails. These are all the people who were caught up in a very messy situation and had to perform these degrading acts. They had to follow certain instructions from a hacker, who found out about all of the terrible information about them through their computer. Robbing a bank and fighting to the death are just two examples of the hackers blackmail.
These are, surprisingly, the more tame episodes. Others are much more terrifying and nerve-wracking. Two episodes, that personally freaked me out, are Crocodile, season 4, episode 3, and Playtest, season 3, episode 2. (These episodes are less practical, because of how advanced the technology is.) Both of these center around the idea of other people seeing or controlling what we see in our minds. That day might come eventually, and that is both amazing and terrifying at the same time.
Crocodile follows the story of a famous architect, Mia, who is very focused on keeping her family happy and looking out for what’s best for her. This mindset led her into some tricky events with shocking outcomes. She could have gotten away with some of these actions, if this were present day, but since this takes place in the future, they’ve developed a machine that can recall all of your memories. You can try to alter your memories, but that tactic rarely works. That is what Mia tried to accomplish, but ultimately fails. An insurance investigator takes up the job to investigate an incident that Mia is involved in and she had to use the memory machine to find more information, and there are deadly consequences.
Playtest was a haunting episode. The audience watches a man desperate for money so he can return home to the United States. He decides that he would take an odd job while staying in Britain, and this leads him to a whole new world he never knew existed. He volunteers as a subject to be tested for a new virtual reality video game. Little does he know that people in the past who volunteered were said to never be seen or heard from again. This episode didn’t bother me much because of the jump scares or the gruesome parts, itt was the idea that what could feel like hours on time, could only happen in a half of a second.
Both of these episodes had the audience on the edge of their seats the entire time. They both had eerie tones that led to the feeling of being unsettled.
We only know of the past and the present. The idea of the future and possible events to happen are so hard to grasp, that some just choose to ignore the inevitable change into a new and technologically-ran world. Black Mirror is like jumping into a time machine, and taking a look at what’s to come (or may not come.) So, grab your snacks, grab your blanket, and get ready to give yourself a break in between episodes to let all of the craziness set in. It’s going to be a long journey.
Black Mirror is a TV show originally aired in England through the BBC network and can be found on Netflix for those who need a good binge.

Picture courtesy of  cdn.com

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