Black Mirror season 3(open spoilers)

We have a thread already for the show, but I think Black Mirror needs a season by season thread as they make new ones. Season 4 will be made as well and we’ll need one for that as well.

It hit Netflix in the middle of the night last night and I know a few people have seen one or two by now.

I’ll be starting tonight and will share my thoughts, but what thoughts have you all had so far? Is it as good as the first two series?

By the way, Charlie Brooker is absolutely hilarious if you get a chance to watch his “wipe” shows he does. We need him in America to talk about the election, though Brexit provided him with a lot of fodder over there.

I saw the first one just now. I liked it a lot. Like all the best Black Mirror episodes, the premise was simultaneously ridiculous and oddly plausible. It’s basically about a world where people can (and do) ‘rate’ every social interaction on a 5 star scale. The barista gave you a little cookie with your cappuccino? Aww, how nice. Give him 5 stars. That douchebag in Accounts Payable didn’t hold the door open for you? Fuck him. Give him a 1. That kind of thing.

Anyway, the more positive ratings you get, the higher your average rating. The higher your average rating, the more ‘influential’ you are considered to be. The more influential you are, the more cool stuff you can afford to have as you leverage your high average rating for discounts on cars, houses, computers, kitchen-ware appliances, and pretty much everything else you can think of, until your entire life is basically just one giant product placement smorgasbord. Clothes become fashionable because “That’s what all the 4.8s are wearing” etc…

Anyway, the episode is about Lacey, a 4.2, who wants an apartment she can’t afford. However, 4.5s get a 20% discount so she sets about increasing her rating. Luckily, Naomi, one of her old High school friends is a 4.9. She’s getting married, and she wants Lacey to be her maid of honour. Lacey’s popularity advisor (basically a PR guy with ratings tips) thinks this is great, because if she gives a good speech at a wedding filled with 4.9s, her average will easily beat 4.5 and she’ll be able to afford the apartment.

Predictably, things don’t go according to plan. In the space of a day, Lacey experiences a string of total catastrophes (none of which are her fault, and including the cancellation of her flight) that sees her rating drop from 4.2 to 2.8. At this point, after spending the whole night doing battle with her shitty rent-a-car (you need a 3.5 or above to get the decent models), hitch-hiking with a cynical trucker with a 1.4 (which is basically one step above serial killer in this universe) and then bullshitting her way into an RV filled with sci-fi obsessives road-tripping to an anime convention, Naomi calls up to rudely disinvite her from the wedding. Turns out that Naomi only wanted Lacey there because her popularity advisor said a maid of honour speech from a 4.2 would make her seem more genuine (as in “OMG! She got a 4.2 to be her maid of honour? Wow, Naomi isn’t all about the numbers. Friendship matters. We could learn a lot from her” - that kind of thing) and thus boost her popularity.

At this point, Lacey goes nuts and decides she’s going to give that fucking speech if it kills her. She turns up at the wedding dinner utterly disheveled and gives her speech. Her rating plummets to zero and she is arrested and thrown in a jail cell (though whether she’s arrested for disturbing the peace or merely for having a zero rating isn’t make clear). There, she meets another prisoner and the episode finishes with them joyously throwing ever more crude and hilariously baroque insults at one another (“Which cartoon character did your mom have to fuck to squeeze you out?” that kind of thing) until, laughing hysterically, Lacey is genuinely happy for the first time in the entire episode and, we suspect, for a great many years.

It’s a fucking terrific episode. The message is heavy-handed, but it works for two reasons. Firstly, the acting is brilliant. Everyone involved really commits to the premise and they sell it beautifully, especially Bryce Dallas Howard and Alice Eve as Lacey and Naomi respectively. They really make you believe that this is something that can happen if we’re not careful.

The second reason it works is that the premise (far-fetched as it may be) adheres mercilessly to its own internal logic. You soon viscerally understand how crucial it is that Lacey’s every interaction goes as smoothly as possible. In one scene, she meets a distant acquaintance by chance in an elevator and I actually found myself thinking “Come on, Lacey. Say something funny. You need at least a 4 star from this random to keep your average up!” In another scene, she realises just slightly too late that one of her co-workers has been ostracised by the rest of the team after a bad break-up and, because she’s accidentally ben nice to him, their interaction receives several anonymous down votes - that’s another thing, btw. You can vote on interactions you’re not even involved in - and I realised it’s just like Twitter. How many times has someone tweeted something perfectly innocuous only to be assailed by anonymous troll-eggs just because they didn’t like the tweet?

Every aspect of this madness is reflected in Lacey’s extraordinary wedding speech. She hates the system, she hates the fakery of it, but she needs it too. Your rating is currency, and dropping too low is, in effect, exactly like dropping below the poverty line. She hates Naomi, who was often a pretty shitty friend, and, it transpires, hasn’t spared her a second’s thought since high school. But she loves Naomi at the same time, because she’s spent her whole life aspiring to be Naomi and the ratings culture they’re trapped in has only amplified that need.

But the most striking thing about the episode is how relatable it is. Before I realised it was a piece of shit, and the worst communications medium ever devised, I used to use twitter. One time, I was retweeted by an author I particularly like and I got a genuine thrill out of it. An old workmate once got retweeted by Ricky Gervais. He was genuinely proud. He took a screenshot to show us all! Approval is like a drug, and with so many social media platforms using approval as a kind of unofficial currency, it’s easy to empathise with Lacey. And in the end, you’re forced to admit that if you were picked up and dumped in this world and left to fend for yourself, you’d probably play the game too, and the chances are you’d probably enjoy it.

I liked Ep1 OK, but it lost me a couple times. Like when she was trying to fake fandom for the comic-con people she was hitching with. Why wouldn’t they have just looked her up instead of the trap questions - she would have clearly not been a fan by her feed. And the whole speeding down the highway on the ATV. Funny, but totally didn’t buy it.

Episode 2, however, was a wowser for me. But I like kind of scary suspenseful stuff. Excited there are 6 episodes this season, and will likely finish them by Monday. Can’t wait to hear other people’s takes on these!

Which is the “official” thread for this?

I liked the first episode. For those who are not aware, the concept of “influencer” is a real thing and advertisers look for people at the center of large social networks and try to get them to talk about or at least “like” (in the Facebook sense) their product. So it’s somewhat plausible that it could become an important number similar to your credit rating. Although the concept they were using isn’t exactly the same thing.

I honestly wasn’t impressed by the second one. I thought that it was too predictable - almost cliched. I just kept thinking: “nope, not back to reality yet”.

Just saw the second episode.

Holy fucking fuck.


No more Black Mirror for me tonight.

I just finished the third one. Holy shit.
It’s way too fucking plausible. Holy crap.

Number 4. A positive story!
But I got the impression that the ending was maybe tacked on, maybe at the request of the producers. It sort of changed the whole tone which, up to that point, seemed to be that maybe forever isn’t really all that desirable, especially if it’s a pointless artificial existence.

Plausible? It’s probable! There’s absolutely no reason why that couldn’t happen today.

S3E4 might possibly my favorite episode of everything ever. That’s not an exaggeration, the sheer depth of emotions it made me feel was profound, though a large part of that is personal.

I didn’t get that sense, but I think the writers may have realized that Tragic Queers is a really unfortunate, annoyingly common trope. While most people aren’t aware of it, in the queer community it’s well known that most good works of queer, and especially lesbian, romance end with tragedy. It annoys the community to no end, so the fact that this is both amazing and positive is a huge plus as a work of queer fiction.

Interesting. Honestly, the nature of that relationship didn’t even stand out to me as an important part of the story. I just saw it as a romance with a sci-fi twist that could have been about any couple. I guess that says something about how much our society has changed, that I didn’t even see that as an important aspect of the story.

Some more thoughts on episode 4:
Where are the children? Do they not get to go if they die? Do they advance them all to twenty something? That could be a confusing situation for a 3 year old. What about babies?

I think it’s heavily implied that San Junipero is just one of many places to go. Others may be more kid-and-parent-oriented?

Episode 5 is kind of meh. Episode 6 is an episode whose premise deserved much better execution.

Yup, that was an amazing hour of television, and the greatest love story I’ve ever seen in film.

I had no idea Charlie Booker had such range with his writing talents.

Episode 4 was by far the best. Episode 3 was second best (but very dark). The other 4 were good, but not amazing. However I’m glad Netflix picked up this show.

Episode 5 reminded me of the outer limits episode Hearts and Minds.

In the end in the server room you can see the words ‘San Junipero’ on the server that the two main characters are plugged into. And that was a huge building, so there were probably endless options.

It already happens. People pretend to be underage, get people to send them sexual info, then blackmail them.

What I don’t get is why did the people orchestrating everything not wait until they got the money before releasing everyone’s secrets? The bank robbery was for nothing.

Ep1. Loved it. The ending had me laughing out loud. I bet that felt good.

Ep2. Loved it. Although I found the protagonist to be slightly grating.

Ep3. Was okay. But did we discover at the end he was actually watching kiddie porn? I couldn’t quite get what the mother was going on about on the phone. What parent doesn’t know their teenage kid wanks off from time to time?

Ep4. Sweet episode.

Ep5. Did not care for it.

Ep6. Enjoyed it, but not as much as episodes 1 and 2.
I got the impression the produces may have been pandering to their American fans this season.

Yes. Both he and the guy he was fighting, apparently. It was foreshadowed early on at his job, when he was watching the young girl leaving with her mother closely enough to realize the girl had left her toy behind.

That was the point. It was all for nothing. At least, nothing material. The perpetrators were nihilistic sociopaths. They never cared about the money. It was just another prop to motivate Luke to go into the forest so they could watch him fight for their own amusement. The whole thing was just one great big troll.

My feelings about each episode pretty much align with Grrr!'s. Though I did understand the teenager was revealed to be a pedo at the end.

I don’t think the hackers in Ep. 3 (Shut Up and Dance) wanted the money. Just ways to ruin these “morally corrupt” individuals lives for their own amusement. Hence the Troll faces at the end.

I thought Ep. 5 (Man against Fire) certainly the weakest, but still interesting and good.

Ep. 6 (Hated in the Nation) dragged for me in parts, but overall, I thought it a haunting take on the whole nanobots-gone-rogue trope. Those bees and hives were cool but eerie.

Episodes 1 & 4 were the best, IMHO. And really, all of them just stay with you. Brooker really has a way to make these stories resonate, even for the weaker episodes, like Ep. 2 & 5.

I really can’t wait for the next 6 episodes! When can we expect them?