Most episodes of Black Mirror are some sort of a roller coaster. It may start slow, or unexplained, but once the plot takes a hold of you, you’re in for a very well deserved ride. Episode 3 is no different: It starts slow, with a random woman parking in an underground parking lot, leaving something above the tire, and leaving. All this time, she was obsessed with her phone.
At that point we get to know Kenny (Alex Lawther, you may remember him from “The Imitation Game”), who works in a restaurant and lives with his sister and his mom. It seems as if this episode is going to be about a young boy and his difficulties in life, the girl he has a crash on, and his fights with his sister. But, it all takes a drastic turn, after we find out that his sister, unintentionally, installed a virus on his laptop, that opened a back door for hackers to take control of his webcam. After they record him supposedly masturbating, and threaten to send this video to everyone he knows, he is forced to do whatever they tell him to.
So he finds himself starting to get instructions just as he arrived at work. He needs to get to a location, where a messenger gives him a box. Then, he needs to take this box (in which there’s only a cake, what a relief) to another direction, a hotel room. The person refuses to open the door, until the hackers involve a woman he knows.
This person is Hector (Jerome Flynn, “Game of Thrones” and “Ripper Street”), a man who cheats his wife, and in order for his misbehaving to stay private, he needs to cooperate, together with Kenny. They both need to head down to the parking lot (there was a strange fella at the reception desk), where a car awaits (so that’s what this strange woman did in the beginning!), and drive to another location. The use of apps and technology in this episode is very well done.
In the next location there is a bank, and one of them needs to rob it, while the other waits as a driver. There’s a gun, a hat and sun glasses inside the cake. On the way there, they met at a gas station a woman Hector knows, who took a ride with them, a deed that made the hackers pretty angry, since their direction was opposite of their destination. However, they manages to get out of this situation, and arrived at the bank. Hector insisted that Kenny should do the robbing, and after a nervous breakdown, he agrees. For a moment, it seems Hector took off while waiting, but he was only hiding, since a strange fella was there. Same strange fella?
Now with the money, they get another location for a possible drop-off. Believing this will be the end, they drive there. The hackers insist Kenny takes the money while Hector gets rid of the car. Inside some sort of a reservation, Kenny finds a guy, who turns on a drone, as instructed by the hackers, and informs Kenny that they have to fight to the death. The hackers have something on him too- looking at young children photos, probably, or going full-pedophile, it doesn’t matter. It seems Kenny is also ashamed of the same thing. Is it true? He tries to use the gun, but there are no bullets. The money is for the winner. Meanwhile, we see Hector, peaceful, back at home.
In this situation, as viewers, we know something else is bound to happen. Someone won the fight- Kenny, hurt and dragging a foot. Our two heroes managed to win. Or did they? At the same time, the hackers send all terrifying data to all the contacts of all the people involved. Hector’s wife knows about his mistress, the woman from the parking lot is racist, the messenger is a “pervert”, as his wife states, and Kenny’s mom calls him and asks, crying with terror, “What did you do, Kenny? They’re saying it’s kids! That you’ve been looking at kids!”. His sister even saw his video.
What do we have here? Are the hackers criminals, or fighters for the common good? By exposing other criminals, are they good-doers? Do we need people shedding light on cheaters, pedophiles, racists etc? Is it no longer the police’s work? Is the police even doing its job?
For starters, think there was only one hacker. We were led to believe there were “they”, but the strange looking fella (which I caught only twice, but he could be there even more), is the hacker. He took advantage of people by tapping into the biggest fears being exposed, and used it to get what he wanted. He only got the money, but those “exploited” people were toast, no matter what. They could very well ignore him from the beginning.
I don’t think a lone ranger is what the public need. It’s true, the police isn’t half as good as it should be, but enforcing the law is not a job for anyone with basic programming skills. There are consequences. There are people’s lives being destroyed. Some so-called “criminals” can be treated with much better methods. Because everyone deserves a change for redemption.
I liked the crazy ride in this episode, and the deep ideas it invokes. However, Reasonable people could find ways to fight this hacker back. Perhaps he chose unreasonable people for this very reason. Alex Lawther did a wonderful job as the frightened / brave kid. Jerome Flynn was awesome, being rude and paternal at the same time. It was a very well executed episode.
You think otherwise? Comment and share!