Black Mirror – Men Against Fire Review

Hey guys! We’re at the penultimate episode of season 3, and while we won’t get the ultimate feels fest of San Junipero, we do have more episodes that make us react in…certain ways. Today’s episode is Men Against Fire, which takes a look at the bleak side of the military.

I will say that this is one of the episodes that I always forget about, but that’s mainly because there are so many episodes in seasons 3 and 4 that the ones that aren’t Nosedive or San Junipero kinda get left in the wilderness.

In this episode, we follow Stripe, a soldier whose duty is to hunt humanoid mutants, which are referred to as ‘roaches’ in this episode. He also has these dreams of, well, strong boning as a reward for his kills. He ends up with his MASS implant malfunctioning over the course of the episode, and this is where things kinda get messy.

I want to discuss the strong boning dreams (yes this is what we’re calling them today), and for me, even the first time around they felt really out of place for the scenario. I can see what they were trying to do, but it just didn’t go…all the way for me.

Stripe’s MASS malfunctions in battle, and he ends up seeing the roaches for what they really are – normal human beings. This is because the MASS implant alters the perception of reality for the bearer, meaning that he has perceived the regular humans, only different by ethnicity, as ‘roaches’. Catarina, one of the ‘roaches’ basically gives him the real low-down of what was happening – basically an exposition dump, and the military’s actions can be summed up as ‘genetic cleansing’.

Of course, Stripe learns of the MASS technology, and is told that the MASS alters the perception so that soldiers can kill without any hesitation. The perception of roaches is how the military perceives them, which is fitting, really. They’re looked down like a lesser being, so having the soldiers perceive them as lesser too, makes the job more efficient.

I can see the direction where they were going with this – focusing on xenophobia and genetic cleansing. It feels like we’re watching a more technological version of the Nazi regime – and I feel that this direction is what that one Nazi episode of Misfits should have been like, at least in meaning and aesthetics.

Of course, at the time we just had Donald Trump’s first Presidential campaign, as well as the fallout from Brexit to exemplify what this episode means, and even now when COVID-19 first emerged, Asians were treated like lesser people because of the virus’s identification in China.

Overall, it’s not the best episode, but it’s by no means the worst.

Next episode we’re looking at Hated in the Nation, which kinda hits a little too close to home for my liking.

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