This super-sized season of Black Mirror, filled with difficult and dark moments, comes to an end with a feature-length episode, which mixes together police drama, near-future technology, hacking thriller and some tough decisions for our characters.
“Hated in the Nation” takes us no more than a few years into the future. The bees became extinct, and so a new company, mostly funded by the British government, created an artificial bee, robotic pollinator for plants. Those bees cannot make honey, and they don’t follow any queen, but they saved they plants from catastrophic implications, by taking over the pollination.
From the very first moment we lay our eyes on a robotic bee, early on in the episode, we have to assume they have a role here. This is Black Mirror, after all.
Jo Powers, a very unorthodox journalist, is found dead in her home, after writing negative piece about a woman who set herself on fire in front of school kids (some sort of activist maybe?). Karin Park (Kelly McDonald, “Broadwalk Empire”), and her new shadow detective, Blue Colson (Faye Marsay, “Game of Thrones”), are going through all the leads: Hate commentators, the sender of the hate cake, her husband. he husband claims Jo did this to herself, that she became crazy like an animal. Later, the coroner calls the detectives, showing them a robotic bee he found inside Jo’s head. There’s our connection!
Our two heroes go to the company who manufactures the bees, and we learn there about their standalone nature and the fact that there are virtually millions of bees around the world. The head of the program, Rasmus Sjolberg (Jonas Karlsson), finds out that one of the bees (also called ADIs) dropped offline in the vicinity of Jo’s house. He promises to keep on investigating the breach. Or is he the one responsible?
The day after, there is another incident: a rapper named Tusk, who hurt a little kid’s feelings when he dances live on television, began acting crazy. An ambulance took him to a hospital, and during the MRI scan, he died, after a bee that was inside him brain was pulled by the magnet. At that point, Shaun Li (Benedict Wong, Kublai Khan from “Marco Polo”) joins our team. He is from the NCA, a government authority that has connections to the ADIs project.
Blue, whose previous job was cracking digital evidence, begins searching a twitter-like social network that seems to be the most popular these days. She finds out about the hashtag #DeathTo, which people use as some kind of a daily poll to choose which hated figure should die. The one responsible for the hashtag promises that by 17:00pm every evening, the person with most votes will be killed. Today, this person is Clara Meades, a college girl who took a selfie “pissing” on a war memorial. Karin, Jo and Shaun race to take her to safety, riding an NCA autonomous car with an advanced spy system, that can even turn all the lights green in the way. Nice one.
They take the girl to a safe house, but the hacker of the bees is wiser. He uses the bees built in camera to see that the girl was taken, and lands one of the bees on the car. In the safe house, we see Shaun talking suspiciously on the phone (is he the one to blame?), and then, a cloud of bees storms the house. They manage to break the windows, crawl into the inside bathroom and kill the girl. The detectives are in shock.
While Blue investigates the bee’s software, the next victim is about to be the prime minister. Of course, he is not gonna fall easily, and he purposes to shut down the entire ADI program, no matter what might happen to the environment. At this point, the public becomes aware of those incidents and the hacker, and Karin brings several workers from the company for questioning.
Blue managed to repair the bee’s broken hard drive, and finds a manifest file by Nick Shelton, a former employee, who left Britain several years ago. They found his location in one of the photos, and managed to find a burnt hard disk there (Shelton wasn’t there, of course). Using this new hard disk, and Sjolberg’s system (whose now under total control of the hacker), they try and turn off the system before 17:00pm.
Unfortunately, using those files was a huge mistake. A list of people that used this hashtag is there. Shaun insists shutting down, and presses the button. What happened later, was a surreal montage of swarms of bees, under the hackers control, targeting all of the people that have used to hashtag. This was the endgame. The hacker trusted they would do it, and this was his way to complete his agenda. 387,000 people, dead.
In a trial that sort of narrated the episode, Karin and Shaun told their perspectives. Blue wasn’t there. She supposedly committed suicide, because she believed what happened was her fault, since she followed the hacker’s trail blindly. In reality, she faked her disappearance, and is now following Shelton in a foreign country. She updates Karin via anonymous SMS.
While not necessarily needing 90 minutes to tell this story, and since it felt dragging several times, all in all it was a great sci-fi-crime story, with a beginning (first death), a middle (investigating who is the hacker) and an end (the aftermath). Shelton described his satanic plan as a “Game of Consequences”, his way of punishing all those who thought they can be god. But they people didn’t decide who’s gonna die- Shelton did. He killed them all, teaching the public a tough lesson.
During the episode, we suspected several people. It’s the nature of a police drama: Everyone’s a suspect in the viewer’s eye. A lot of people has something to gain from this scheme, and we don’t know all the fact. Shaun, especially, deemed odd and distant, like he has something to hide. In the end, he didn’t. There was an outside player, a person who wanted to revenge a shaming that the girl he had a crush on went through. Of course, this is not the way, and in this episode, there is no question of right and wrong. There’s mostly wrong.
This episode, therefore, deals mostly with the dark consequences of advances and autonomous technology (self-driven cars are potentially dangerous, as well). A vigilante with the right tools can do so much damage, can turn a good and environment-aware invention into a death machine. And no program is 100% secure. We’ll have to learn to live with it. No matter what.
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