Yes, I know it’s only October, but I messed up with the scheduling and so here we are, celebrating Christmas in October. I suppose we’re just trying to see out the end of the year as soon as possible!
But here we have the final season 2 episode of Black Mirror – White Christmas.
I do have to mention there’s a trigger warning here: suicide, abortion, rape & child death.
This is just one of my favourite episodes, alongside White Bear and Nosedive, which we’re reviewing next week! I actually did rewatch this episode last Christmas, so this is my third viewing. It basically follows two men in isolation during Christmas, as they talk about themselves. It’s a simple premise, really. They’ve been in isolation for five years, as is established, and I’m not sure how Joe, the silent, brooding one, hasn’t snapped and talked up to this point.
Matt, the cheery American dude, is fully in the Christmas spirit, and starts the discussion about his life and what went wrong in his life.
The first story is where Matt was a guru, helping introverted guys get laid via Eye-Link, so he can see everything. The story focuses on Harry, who was crashing a Christmas party to get that opportunity to get laid. Honestly, this sort of job and technology would come in handy for a lot of introverted people who struggle to find dates or a fun night of…well, strong sex. The technology also includes facial recognition, bringing up social media profiles, which is a bit less favourable. Although it helps in a pinch, I prefer keeping my personal social media private, after all. My Facebook is private to friends only, and I have a personal Twitter account which is protected.
It’s all well and good, but he live-streams the action to other people (look closely, and you can see one of them has the username I_AM_WALDO, a nod to the previous episode. Now that’s all just creepy. Imagine getting these services and having people watch you try and succeed in getting laid? I’m happily in a relationship, so it’s just not the kind of thing I’d do anyway, but that sounds like a nightmare to have to deal with.
Of course, the one woman he picks just happens to be the one that ends up killing him via her twisted interpretation of a suicide pact. Of course, Matt doesn’t report it or anything, but just scarpers. His wife finds out about the ‘profession’, and blocks him (using a remote system similar to the ones used in The Entire History of You), resulting in him being sent to this isolation setting.
On the in-between, watching Matt cook a Christmas dinner makes me want to cook one myself. But I guess it just makes me look more forward to Christmas.
The next story is probably my least favourite of the three, due to the lack of context, but it’s the most important for the long-game. Basically, the woman, Greta, gets surgery to rip out a pre-installed ‘cookie’ to put in a machine to do tasks around the house. Of course, they do this because who knows you better than yourself? Although I’m sure there’s a better way to do it, such as inputting commands in an automatic system. At least they can be given an automated body, to make the AI feel more comfortable. Now, honestly, this is a smart home that we normally see nowadays, but controlled by yourself in AI form.
The technology shown literally tortures the one inside the system, making it ethically and morally questionable, which is something that is reflected on later on in the show. This is what Matt’s actual role was – to help assimilate the AI technology into the new surroundings and give them information on their new role. He can sometimes even speed up time within the cookie, which really does sound like torture.
The third story is Joe’s tale, as he finally opens up about his past. Aside from his future father-in-law hating him, everything seemed happy with him and his fiancée, Beth, and even If Anyone Knows What Love Is by Irma Thomas is sung by Beth at a karaoke with Joe and their friends.
It all comes around when Joe discovers Beth’s positive pregnancy test in the trash one night. The fight was very uncomfortable to watch. Admittedly, with Beth and Joe fighting so violently over the abortion topic, resulting in Beth indefinitely blocking him, and then choosing to keep the baby doesn’t really make logical sense to me. In a world where people tell childfree women that they wish a man would r*pe them and get pregnant, or are desperate for said women to have a ‘happy accident’, on top of saying that you’ll grow to love the child, or it’s different when it’s your own. I did make an entire post on that before, but it really grinds my gears when this sort of thing happens. Honestly, I’m childfree, and if I was told that someone wished r*pe upon me to produce a child, I’d slap the everlasting shit out of them. You should never wish r*pe on anyone, but I’m annoyed that I have to even say that.
The creepiest thing is that every Christmas after the block, Joe stalks Beth to see his child, who is also under the block restrictions because of the legal status of the block. It all turns on its head once news breaks of Beth’s death, thus dropping the block restrictions (also note the Hot Shot programme, a reference to Fifteen Million Merits).
I find it a bit odd in this day and age with the reveal of Beth’s child clearly not being Joe’s, because it’s clear without saying that the child, May, is their friend Tim’s, and thus Beth had had an affair at some point, because isn’t that usually the case? Of course, he flips out on Beth’s dad, and ends up hitting him in the head with the snow globe he wanted to give to May, killing him in the process. And May went out to find help, but with Beth’s dad’s home being isolated, she ended up freezing to death. Hearing O Come, All Ye Faithful on the radio was haunting, and then it changes to I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, and I can no longer hear that song without thinking of this episode.
The whole scenario reminds me of The Entire History of You, with the affair resulting in a child, and the man going insane.
In the end, it turns out that the entire episode took place in one of the cookies that I mentioned earlier. It was to get the information from Joe’s cookie to get him to admit to the crimes, hence why Matt was a part of this, as well as for Matt to atone for his own crime. The cabin that the two stayed in inside the cookie slowly took the form of Beth’s dad’s home.
However, these two suffer from torturous fates – the cookie version of Joe is sped up to 1,000 hours per minute, with I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday playing to torture him. Matt was labelled as a sex offender, and had a universal block placed on him, so he couldn’t talk to anyone, and everyone else saw his red silhouette (different to the white usually shown on blocks), and people would alienate him for that. Honestly I don’t know what kind of torture was worse.
Holy crap! This episode always gets me, and it always remains one of my favourite episodes of Black Mirror. As for the future seasons, this was the last of the series to be done by Channel 4, and the rest were all Netflix productions, hence the difference in production styles for the most part going forward, which is interesting.
The next episode is Nosedive, but will that get a 5* rating? Find out next week!