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Black Mirror - Spoilers after the first post

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Got through four episodes so far. Title says "spoilers," so I'm not tagging any of these.

Callister reminded me of the Christmas episode. It was just a small component of the Christmas episode, but it's the part of it that stuck with me the most -- the part with Oona Chaplin cloning herself and using the eClone as a slave. That really messed with me, but it was just a story beat as opposed to the focus of the episode.

They really glossed over the mortality aspect of it all in Callister, though. I get why the eClones wanted to off themselves, but the idea that they were real even though they weren't "real" could've been expanded. That fascinates me. Like, if you found out you were just a copy of the real you...? That's fucked up. Would you willingly look for ways to kill yourself, or would you be fixated on finding a way to live, despite it all? Granted, if I lost my dick, I'd probably be willing to fly into a worm hole, myself. Fun episode, though.

I thought Arkangel was just okay. Reminded me more of an after school special than anything.

Crocodile primarily made me hate white women -- jokes, y'all.

Hang the DJ reminded me of San Junipero, in that it was hopeful...? Stay tuned. I was all set to see this one go sideways at the end. Ultimately, what was revving up to be a definite anti-technology episode turned out to be pretty damn pro tech. But the twisted shit is, you can still be uncomfortable with the way the AI manipulated the "algorithm" throughout. This theme is pretty consistent with how I felt about Callister. The show has a knack for not just painting tech as the villain, but literally turning the characters into a "program" for some twisted experimentation in dehumanizing them. I can't even really articulate what I think about it right now, but this is the third time I've noticed it.

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21 hours ago, Kalbear said:

They say what this is in the episode. He'll burn up, but he won't die - he'll just be a pile of ash for eternity until Daly decides to let him die. You can't kill yourself in the game normally without his permission. 

The only way to escape is to go through the update patch and be out of the game's system.

But he was in the ship when it went through the update wormhole, so he's dead, right? Or at least dying of his burns while the others celebrate their escape. 

Arkangel was the weakest for me. It just went exactly where you'd expect it to with no wrinkles. The biggest surprise was when the mother said her daughter was only fifteen. That actress looked college aged. 

 

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I'm not sure I followed what even happened in Crocodile; need to rewatch.  Would agree that Arkangel is the weakest of the four I've seen so far.  Still laughing at images of Plemons acting like a cocksure Captain Kirk.  

Can anyone explain why Hang the DJ was so named?  I'm aware of the Smiths song that they play at the end.  I just totally missed how it ties into the episode in any way.  I enjoyed the two leads in that episode.

And sort of Black Mirror related...jeebus the internet is creepy.  I've got an advert to my left for the Oona Chaplin biography presumably for no reason other than Bastard of Boston mentioning her.

ETA:  Here's one person's ranking of all Black Mirror episodes, and they rate Arkangel the lowest.

Edited by Triskele

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Ok. We've finished them all. I'd say they probably go in this order for me.

  1. USS Callister
  2. Hang the DJ
  3. Metalhead
  4. Arkangel
  5. Black Museum
  6. Crocodile

Thought the first two were fantastic and the third one bleak as fuck. After that, it was a mixed bag. Arkangel just made me angry at DeWitt, Black Museum was ok but didn't love the ending and Crocodile made me hate everyone.

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24 minutes ago, Triskele said:

Can anyone explain why Hang the DJ was so named?  I'm aware of the Smiths song that they play at the end.  I just totally missed how it ties into the episode in any way.  I enjoyed the two leads in that episode.

I wondered the same thing, the only thing I could come up with was that within the simulation "Coach" / "The System" was the DJ, picking partners rather than songs. So instead of dismantling the system that dispenses empty pop songs over the radio the two characters are trying to escape a system that dishes out mostly empty relationships.

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Okay, done. Metalhead didn't accomplish much for me. It was your standard apocalyptic scenario, but with none of the intrigue Black Mirror usually provides. There's typically a more nuanced narrative, but this was your basic "robots kill everyone off." Kind of disappointed. I was expecting some twist at the end, and all I got was a box full of teddy bears. Feels like the writer(s) thought they were being cute, but this was filler. I'll give it credit, though. Those robots are some mean sumbitches. Definitely succeeded in perpetuating my fear of being killed by rogue AI.

Now, Black Museum deserved to be last. I didn't like it better than Hang the DJ, but it's so close. I liked the tales within the tale and how they all dovetailed into the ending. And it was satisfying. The girl who plays Nish is playing Shuri in Black Panther, so I was especially interested in her.

The format of the episode reminded me a lot of the Christmas episode, with the tales within a tale approach, and I liked the easter eggs to previous Black Mirror episodes. I see this one having a Get Out-like effect on people. It isn't a coincidence that they titled this "Black Museum."

I feel like that first tale ties into the last -- like the doctor is the one who killed the weather girl...or am I reading too much into that? Or maybe it was clearly shown in the episode, and I missed it. I feel like it's the only way to make this one completely work, as there were clear racial tones in all of the stories, but for that first one. It would be fixed if Nish's father took the fall for something the white doc did.

Overall, I think I only genuinely liked two out of the six episodes. I'm wondering if we're witnessing a case of the showrunner running out of ideas.

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4 hours ago, Triskele said:

 

And sort of Black Mirror related...jeebus the internet is creepy.  I've got an advert to my left for the Oona Chaplin biography presumably for no reason other than Bastard of Boston mentioning her.

I now go through life picking out how everything could be a Black Mirror episode. Today, it was incorrect emoji usage. The internet is indeed a scary place.

Edited by Bastard of Boston

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11 hours ago, RumHam said:

But he was in the ship when it went through the update wormhole, so he's dead, right? Or at least dying of his burns while the others celebrate their escape. 

No - everyone who was transformed but not dead came back to life. 

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I think Crocodile was ok.  It didn't seem all that Black Mirror-ish.  The tech just seemed to be the convenient stand in thing that gave a reason for Mia's behavior, but it really could have been anything. She was always the sort that wasn't going to stand for her perfect life and image to be disrupted without her permission.  So it was good, but could have been an episode on any show.

Hang the DJ was sweet.  I was fully prepared for it to end up being one of my nightmare scenarios where they were living out their afterlife or their cloned consciousnesses were inside some sort of tech and glad it didn't turn out to be another repeat of that.  I was really intrigued by the idea of this technology deciding relationships and you just have to go with it until it's over and the next one is dictated for you.  Sounds interesting. I want a dating app that works that well.

I didn't care for Metalhead.  It seems run-of-the-mill post apocalyptic robots-kill-us-all.  And the twist that our group died because they were stupid and sentimental wasn't that much of a twist.  I figured it would be something worthless in that box, was more disappointed that it was nothing but teddy bears.  

Black Museum was very meh.  I felt each story stood well on their own, but it was almost as though the showrunners had these ideas and couldn't choose just one and didn't have enough money to make more episodes so just decided to toss them all in together.  Maybe they thought there wasn't enough anti-tech theme throughout the season and just wanted to really rub it in and make sure we got it.  I wanted to like it, but never quite did.  

If I had to rank the season, I'd rank in order of episodes

USS Calister, ArkAngel, Crocodile, Hang the DJ, Metalhead, and Black Museum.

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13 hours ago, Kalbear said:

No - everyone who was transformed but not dead came back to life. 

But he wouldn't have been dead, as he didn't have Daly's permission to die. My understanding is that he would have just been living in burnt agony forever, or the simulation should have reset him to his regular human form like the others when they joined the normal version of Infinity. 

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I have a question about Metalhead.  Was the dog programmed to guard the wherehouse or was it a killer robot in some post-apocalyptic world that just happened to be in that warehouse?  I don't think this was explained unless I missed it, and if it was guarding the warehouse it seems strange that it would go to such lengths to follow its targets away.

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22 minutes ago, Triskele said:

I have a question about Metalhead.  Was the dog programmed to guard the wherehouse or was it a killer robot in some post-apocalyptic world that just happened to be in that warehouse?  I don't think this was explained unless I missed it, and if it was guarding the warehouse it seems strange that it would go to such lengths to follow its targets away.

The latter. I think we're meant to suspect they're breaking into to some super important facility guarded by robots at the start. But after the teddy bear reveal it makes way more sense that that robo-dog just killed everyone in the warehouse and then went into sleep mode until it detected movement. 

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On 1/2/2018 at 6:49 AM, Triskele said:

I have a question about Metalhead.  Was the dog programmed to guard the wherehouse or was it a killer robot in some post-apocalyptic world that just happened to be in that warehouse?  I don't think this was explained unless I missed it, and if it was guarding the warehouse it seems strange that it would go to such lengths to follow its targets away.

The ending shows us a bunch of dogs roaming around the locations that we've been through, so it seems like the dogs are generally ... roamers.

Arkangel didn't do much for me, but I was expecting a more gimmicky ending, where it turned out that the mother was able to proceed to watch her daughter from another device, and did so in secrecy up through her adult life as a window into the life of a daughter who refused any contact with her. I figured the mother would then do what she could to secretly help out her daughter in life from afar without the daughter realizing it, literally becoming a watching archangel.

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I just finished them all finally. USS Callister was easily the best of this season, and after Black Museum the rest were really hard to rank for me. 

  1. USS Callister
  2. Black Museum
  3. Hang the DJ
  4. Metalhead
  5. Crocodile
  6. Arkangel

 

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Just finished. I'm not sure how I would rank each in order, but I did feel that 'Arkangel' was the weakest, in that it's a standard Black Mirror scenario that goes exactly where you expect and hasn't anything really to make it stand out. In terms of tone, structure, plot, visuals, performances, even message, it's all fine but nothing elevates it.

Crocodile has some good performances - Kiran Sonia Sarwar is terrific, really likeable and believable - and some lovely visuals. But it has some flaws too. We never get a chance to understand why Mia goes off the deep end so fast. Covering up an accident is one thing. And there's obviously supposed to be a progression going on: her killing of Rob starts off as sort-of an accident too, one she just takes advantage of in the heat of the moment, and then it goes from there. But I just didn't get enough about Mia to understand why she would go to such extremes after that, why she had no line she wouldn't cross. And the twist that catches her is weak.

Metalhead is buoyed up by having Maxine Peake, who is always amazing, by the decision to go in B&W, and by a really good design for the dog. It's also just the right length. Not the best but decent.

USS Callister involves quite a lot of hand-waving to make the plot work but I enjoyed it a good deal and it freaked the fuck out of me. It really is the flipside to San Junipero - eternal life in a simulation, but at the mercy of a twisted man-child. Ugh.

Black Museum is smart, well-acted, and well-made. The metaphor of Rollo making his living by making entertainment out of a black man's pain is not subtle, nor is the fact that the black man in question was on the wrong end of systemic injustice. But it works just the same. The twist unfolds beautifully - there's a moment where it all just fell into place at once for me, who Nish was, what she had done, what she was about to do. Click, simple as that. The lead-up stories, I liked, because being told by Rollo, they had his stamp all over them and they let us know what kind of man he was, as well as putting the pieces in place for the denouement. I did feel

having the mother in Nish's head as well

was a step too far. But it's a small misstep. And it cleverly ties together the series, not just by dropping Easter eggs but by thematic parallels - consider Clayton's plight in the context of 'Callister', for example.

Hang The DJ has a happy ending but also leaves us with a question or two to consider about the price: were these simulations, too, sentient? If so, was it worth it? Two of those didn't work out, after all. And it is smart about the cliches of real-life dating and relationships. I liked it a good deal.

 

I think that might actually be a ranking, of sorts. But I'm not wedded to it: things could move up or down a couple of places.

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Honestly the most chilling thing in the whole series for me was the plight of the mother's consciousness stuck inside a teddy bear.  For, what, years?  An eternity of complete immobility and utter isolation, with nothing to do but stare helplessly at the wall?  Just kill me, please.

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Yeah, how many Black Mirror episodes have played with the concept of an endless digital life?  The Christmas episode with Jon Hamm plus USS Callister and Black Museum from this season.  I wonder if we'll get a Black Mirror suicide in the real world where someone leaves a note saying "There merest possibility of this happening to me in the future was enough to convince me to take my life to prevent it from happening."  

Finally saw Black Museum to finish the season.  That was one of the craziest episodes this show has done.  Damn.  So my order would be really similar to Ramsay's.  Same top three for sure.  

Here's an article on where the Hang the DJ name comes from.  

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I’d go slightly further with the Hang the DJ thing - Panic, the song, is Morissey’s reaction to what he considered the mindless, irrelevant pop staples of the 80s. Ironically, it was a big hit, played alongside all those tracks he apparently hated.

The app in the episode seems to be an app based on a likelihood of rejecting app data (paradox much?) and yet appears to be highly efficient at predicting success in relationships. So I think it’s more like it’s saying that part of a successful system involves rejection of the system. Which seems like a pretty apt summation of human interactions.

Of course, the other side to the hang the dj controversy is the often repeated idea that it’s a racist song by the reactionary white boys of the Smiths, targeting disco music. Not the only potentially iffy thing Morrissey has ever done or said on the subject either.  Anyway, I was singing that refrain the whole night after watching that one.

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I’ve seen half the season so far - USS Callister, Arkangel, and Crocodile. All have been good, but I don’t think any of them approach season three for me. USS Callister has been my favourite this season for various reasons; the plot, the characters, the acting, and overall look of the episode appealed to me. Also, the online troll at the end was hilarious and entirely accurate and I laughed for a good five minutes at it whichever was probably a bit excessive but oh well.

Crocodile was probably my least favourite because despite some good performances and visually gorgeous setting, I didn’t ever buy into Mia’s character or find myself understanding her. So it never really clicked with me the way others did.

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So I was singing that bloody Hang the DJ again all night as i went to bed.  Good song, I prefer Bigmouth Strikes Again though ...

Anyway, thoughts on the series - 

USS Callister - It was definitely the most chilling script out of all of them but rather spoiled by the parade of utter nonsense that supported it.  Ranging from building a digital replicate from a DNA sample, to the likelihood of somebody building a virtual reality simulator with no physical means of exit.  Both of those could’ve easily been written around.  Also didn’t believe anyone would go to such lengths to recover intimate pictures of themselves.  So, pretty bad writing.  Also the only episode not written by Brooker, iirc.

Arkangel - Probably the weakest of the bunch.  I liked the technology and some of the things they did with it.  But the ending was overblown.  In the final moments the daughter attacks and seriously injures the mother apparently because the perception filter is on and she doesn’t see what she’s doing.  Bullshit.  She’s had the implant off for ten years at that point, she should know what happens when you hit someone repeatedly round the head.

Crocodile - Seemed unnecessarily bleak but i suppose they always need one episode that really goes to the bitter dregs.  Kind of hard to understand Mia’s motivations, as mormont said, but there wasn’t any particular plot holes that I noticed.  I enjoyed the empty Icelandic landscapes too.

Hang the DJ - My favourite episode.  It took a moment to understand that it was all supposed to be occurring in an algorithm.  How it apparently works doesn’t really make much sense but you could explain it by saying that its just the app quietly daydreaming while it performs its calculations.  One gripe is that I don’t see why any simulation wouldve involved the participants wondering if they’re in a simulation, that would tend to break the whole process I would’ve thought.

Metalhead - I loved the look of it but there wasn’t really much to the story.  It wasn’t really trying to say anything except perhaps that robots don’t care about teddy bears.  And I’m not sure if that’s something to celebrate about humanity.  In the circumstances it certainly seemed ridiculous that anybody would waste lives and resources just to get one.

Black Museum - Yeah, didn’t like this one.  The Nish character turned out to be more evil than the supposed antagonist.  The nasty neighbour woman gets away scot free, there’s more Doctor Who science logic, particularly in the idea that your digital consciousness dies when its shocked for more than 10 seconds.  It bothered me more than it entertained me.

All in all I thought the general standard was pretty good but there was no real stand out episode like there’ve been in previous series.  Also, there seems to be less inventive scenarios they’re coming up with as they make more episodes.  Nearly every episode in this series involves being injected in the head with a big needle.  And nearly every setting involved cars driving down empty roads.  Still always a show i have to pay full attention to, which is about as good as it gets these days.

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