I just finished the third episode of Black Mirror’s first season and my mind is spinning all over the place. After just three episodes I’ve become hooked to the show in a way that feels slightly masochistic, given the abject bleakness of the content. If you’re a fan of The Twilight Zone, you’d probably be into this show as well. The premise is similar in that each episode features a different cast living in a different reality and experiencing a different sort of twist. The first three episodes (and, from what I understand in reading reviews, many of the subsequent episodes as well) serve as criticisms of the ways in which we consume technology obsessively. In her review Willa Paskin writes that “every episode is so distinct, so varied, so polished, so full of ideas that taken all together they amount to a feat of imagination, if not a kind of strength.” I think I’m most fascinated by the show’s ability to tackle human fallacies in a way that feels simultaneously like improbable fiction and reality fused together. On the surface level, the show’s use of Orwellian-style scenarios and experiences makes it feel far from reality, like these kinds of things would never (!!!!!) happen in society. But the humanity of each episode is very real, making it feel like maybe they could (or already do…).
The third episode chronicles the collapse of a once sweet marriage that has been tainted by infidelity. In this reality, people have the option to implant a small chip into their neck that allows them to record, rewind and re-watch certain moments from throughout their life. Some of the show’s characters do so in seemingly innocuous ways; to laugh at an awkward moment, or to share memories of vacations with friends and families. Others (specifically the main character, Liam) use the memory chip to obsessively analyze moments that make him suspicious or insecure about himself, his career and his marriage. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but…another man comes into the picture and the obsessive amount of rewinding/re-watching his interactions with Liam’s wife doesn’t end well for anybody. Of course, it might seem sort of far-fetched to imagine a world in which we all choose to implant a microchip into our neck just for the purposes of re-watching our life. But I guess when I really think about it, I don’t need a microchip for that—I do it already. In fact, I had a sort of awkward experience at the gym a couple of days ago and I replayed the scene over and over and over in my mind that night in a way that felt borderline unhealthy.
If you’re cool with shows that are a little creepy, watch this. There’s lots of food for thought.