Charlie Brooker’s techno paranoia series continues with a terrifying look at an entirely plausible not too distant future, in which a young woman, Victoria (played by Being Human’s Lenora Critchlow) wakes up with no memory of who she is, only to find that the rest of the world is filming her for reasons unknown.
Well, that was interesting, wasn’t it? Best to remove all sharp objects when watching this series, for this week is oppressively bleak and unrelentingly intense, which then transforms into something altogether different but still incredibly unsettling once the twist is revealed.
But even before the twist arrives we’re treated to a nightmarish landscape where everyone bar a handful of people are turned into dumb voyeurs, silently recording every move she makes with their phones; constantly taking photos and crucially never helping people even when they’re being brutally murdered. Always. Just. Recording. Lenora Critchlow is fantastic; you really feel sympathetic towards her plight, even if all she does is moan and cry throughout.
But then, what would you do? The world presented is all the more terrifying because it’s so normal, being the most recognisable world we’ve seen in Black Mirror since the opening episode with the Prime Minister and the pig, and while the subtext isn’t exactly what you’d call subtle (alright, Charlie, we’ll stop taking photos of everything and posting them online), the wonderful trippy direction just sucks you in further, making you just as disorientated and confused as Victoria.
And how deeply unnerving was the hum of the signal being broadcast?
And once the twist arrives, we’re thrust into a world with even more avenues of discussion. Victoria is being punished for a murder she was complicit in, and all the people she’s encountered thus far are actors playing roles, most notably Michael Smiley’s terrifying murderer/presenter in a bizarre Truman Show-like fantasy world. And this revelation throws up more questions that smartly Brooker doesn’t offer any answers to; is this a fair punishment for the crime? Are the baying crowds a jury or an audience? Who should we be feeling sympathy for?
And then in the final moments, we go to even darker places as it’s revealed that Victoria is stuck in a loop and replays the same scenario over and over again, like some sort of twisted Groundhog Day. And it appears to be government funded. Which brings up even more intriguing questions; does this punishment go on indefinitely? Can she ever escape? Is this where we as a society are headed?
One thing is for sure, you’ll be thinking about it long after the credits roll.