Hey guys! It’s also my birthday, but today’s post isn’t about that! We’re still continuing with our Black Mirror reviews series, which is coming to an end as of next week (until we get more episodes)!
Today, we’re discussing Smithereens. Trigger warnings involving suicide.
We’re back in the British-based setting for this episode, which is a welcome change from the American-set episodes that we’ve seen for the most part recently. I don’t have a problem with the American episode style, I just really like going back to the roots just a little bit.
The episode starts off intreresting, with a guy called Chris being this rideshare driver, and picks up Jaden, who is a new employee for Smithereen, which is a large social media company. Chris abducts him at gunpoint, resulting in a huge hostage standoff with police involved. Chris wants to speak to Billy Bauer, the CEO of Smithereen, and ends up doing so after some back-and-forth. It turns out Chris’s fiancee was killed by a drunk driver three years earlier. Turns out Chris had been checking his Smithereen notification at the time, thus blames himself for the death, and (only now) has lashed out at the company itself. The issue was that Smithereen was designed to be as addictive as possible, and both Billy and Chris agree to that sentiment. Chris wants to kill himself. Then there’s a cliffhanger where the snipers fire into the car.
I feel that the subplot with Hayley just added to some of the confusion for me, and it didn’t feel entirely relevant. If Chris hadn’t had the Strong Woohoo with her, it’d be inevitable that her exposure on the episode was worthless. It didn’t add to the urgency for me, and slowed it down. It’s why I didn’t add it to my quick summary here. It just didn’t feel worth adding.
I just feel that Billy Bauer’s scenes just didn’t feel like they connected well, and they took me right out of the episode. I also don’t feel it’s entirely realistic that a CEO of a company would jump into the fray for an employee that had only started the week before. I’ve known people that have worked at companies for years, decades even, and the CEOs wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire. I’m positive most CEOs, at the sign of trouble like in this episode, would hide away further and let their PAs handle the situation, or just ignore it completely. I think they wanted to make Billy appear more approachable and respectable, but it doesn’t feel that it connects properly with Chris’s view of Smithereen and social media in general.
I feel that the themes of social accountability and software addiction were done much better in The National Anthem and Arkangel respectively.
The amount of times I typed out ‘Christ’ instead of ‘Chris’ is disgusting. Overall there just wasn’t a lot that I wanted to discuss, really. I know a lot of people enjoyed it, but it didn’t hit the mark at all. I even think now, looking back, that it’s functionally worse than Metalhead, which doesn’t say a lot because I appreciate Metalhead a lot more now.
Next time, the final episode (for now), Raclen, Jack and Ashley Too!