Hey guys! I know last week’s episode was a bit…meh, but this week’s is on another level entirely. Today, we are reviewing the season 2 episode White Bear.
We’re introduced to some glitching on the screen, with some glyphs (I laughed at this the first time because I’d watched Bandersnatch first). Our main character, a woman, wakes up in a house, injured and bandaged at the wrists, with some pills scattered at her feet. This form of scene-setting is my favourite when featuring an amnesiac character, as they explore a lot of things around them. The same glyph from the glitch appears on the TVs in the house when she starts exploring. From the Netflix blurb, we’re told she’s called Victoria, so we already have that information at least.
Obviously, with her being an amnesiac, she searches for any signs of her identity, and she picks up the image of a little girl, and suddenly has a flashback.
The whole episode starts getting strange once Victoria starts exploring the outside world. People are literally standing outside their windows, filming her with their phones. Now I made a bold assumption the first time, about how this demonstrated a society enslaved by their phones, and a lone woman having no recollection, being the odd one out free from this technology. This was the route I initially took for this, and for a Black Mirror episode, it wouldn’t have been too farfetched.
Except there’s a guy wearing a balaclava with a glyph, and he pulls out a gun. Because apparently gun laws are non-existent in the UK…and the same people are coming out of their homes and still filming her. Now the first time around, I still had the train of thought that she was still a victim of an oppressed society, and they refuse to help until she submits.
On the run, Victoria ends up meeting a couple of others who end up assisting her, one of which ends up dying, and the people are still filming.
Along the way, Victoria gets more flashbacks of the past, revealing a man and child. And then there’s more people that are now called ‘the hunters’ and one of them wears an elaborate dress and I’m actually envious.
Victoria tells the female stranger that’s helping her about her predicament, and that she probably has a daughter, a nod to the photo and the flashbacks she had earlier. The stranger discusses a phenomenon that happened with the glyph acting as a signal to brainwash people to become ‘onlookers’, and some people weren’t affected, like Victoria. The plan is to knock the transmitters out at White Bear (roll credits) to fix the problem.
The whole episode is very tense, with the ‘onlookers’ and ‘hunters’, and the new guy offering a ride, with that new guy being shotgun guy from earlier. The ‘playground’ is terrifying, with crucified bodies and nooses aplenty, and ‘onlookers’, of course.
It’s revealed that the whole day was an act put on as an eternal punishment for Victoria, as she filmed the murder of the girl that she kidnapped (and in her amnesiac state thought she was her daughter). She’s made to relive the same day over and over, while having her memory of it wiped after every outing. The clue of the kidnap was a white teddy bear (hence the name of the transmittor location and the episode title). The glyph was tied together well as it was also the tattoo on Victoria’s fiance’s neck. That fiance died before the events of the episode, so obviously doesn’t go through this punishment.
The whole reveal of it being an attraction of sorts for the public to witness someone like this, it’s just harrowing. You’ve been on the side of Victoria this entire episode, and it turns out she was the bad guy all along. Just the audience watching and jeering, as well as the behind-the-scenes at the White Bear Justice Park, makes it very jarring, and I have questions.
The first question is what happens during the change of seasons and her memory? Snow days? Storms? Does this run through holidays such as Christmas or Easter? I’m pretty sure that the actors have shift patterns, but the participants, I’m sure they do it for a day out. Also, what became of the town/village that it takes place in? It just makes you think, and I doubt the questions are a bad thing, just something to keep your mind busy after the fact.
Also the biggest question: is this ethically sound? Some may suggest it is, as she was an accomplice in a horrible crime. Others may suggest that jail is better suited. After all, other child kidnappers/murderers get beaten in jail as well – see Ian Huntley, for example.
It’s even more prominent on the second viewing, because you’re able to get the full experience this way. I love how everything’s all acted out, and especially how Victoria pieces together some of the events that’ll happen, like the safe place being in the woods.
Overall I’m intrigued that the way I thought the episode was going to go down didn’t actually go down the way I thought it would. But at the same time, it’s really clever having her go through similar torture to what she’d put the little girl, Jemima, through. I was so excited to go back to review this episode, probably one of the ones I was most excited for. It makes me want to do a top 5 Black Mirror post once I’ve individually reviewed all of them.
This has to be one of my favourite Black Mirror episodes of all-time, even after the other memorable episodes. It actually inspired one of my November challenge short stories from last year!
Next week, we’ll look at The Waldo Moment, which is definitely relevant to our modern day.