Thursday, January 4, 2018

Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 2 - Arkangel

Black Mirror (2011-)
Season 4 - 6 episodes (2017)
Watch Black Mirror Season 4 on Netflix
Created by: Charlie Brooker
Rosemarie Dewitt
Watch the trailer
Black Mirror Main Page

Each unconnected episode examines the pitfalls when technology and society intersect. What happens when technology goes off the rails, creating a horrifying situation? Does technology make us happier, is being connected at all times beneficial, and does it do more harm than good? The stories are known for their harrowing nature and depressing conclusions.

The second episode of season four is Arkangel, a mother goes to the extreme to monitor her daughter.

Exploring the desire of parents to keep their kids safe, a mother ends up severing the relationship with her daughter. What if you could check in on your kid at any time, monitor their vitals, and even filter out disturbing images from the world? While I would think the child would be more emotionally stunted that portrayed, the focus is on the lack of trust and how it doesn't matter how closely you monitor your kid, they can still rebel.
Raising a child is like holding a bar of soap. Too tighter or too loose a grip and you'll no longer be holding the soap.
The ending is bleak in true Black Mirror fashion.
Watch it.

This starts with a mother suffering the trauma of losing her kid. Sarah is found safe, but the mother was so concerned that in essence she chips her kid. A facility injects something into the kids head without the child even noticing. It's GPS tracking like a pet, but you can track vitals and even see what Sarah sees. I figured the question would be can you know too much about your kids.
The mother has options to control what the child sees, blocking out disturbing sights and sounds. Will it stunt the child's development by censoring the world? Is the chip forever? What happens if it falls into the wrong hands? I get parents want to protect and while this seems safe, this is a step too far.
The editing is nice. With Sarah on a swing, she ages as it swings, growing from three to ten. Just prior to the jump in time the grandfather had a heart attack but Sarah couldn't see him as it was blocked.
What unintended harm can the system cause? The system seems to act as a proxy. The mother doesn't interact with her child, instead seeing through her eyes with the screen.
The child stabs herself in the finger to try and see blood since she's never seen it. You knew the child was going to make a bad decision. She doesn't understand intense emotions as she's never seen them. I really thought this was going to look at how this program would developmentally stunt emotional maturation, but it doesn't. Sarah seems to grow up fine despite this program.
After the finger incident, the mother looks into disabling it. The Arkangel program was banned and the implant can't be removed. The mother can throw away the controls and she puts them in the attic. I wasn't sure she'd give up control. The mom can't, and her kid is going to see a whole new world. Leave it up to a child to indoctrinate Sarah into the worst the world has to offer.

We get another time jump to age fifteen or so. Those edits are really well done. Teenage hi-jinks push mom to bring the baby monitor back out. Mom is going to see daughter do something she wish she hadn't. I do like the show has a quick clip of a power cord to charge the tablet after years of it being in the attic. I love the detail.
The tablet has a narcotics alert which seems weird since it was a system for babies. Was the plan to spread to parolees too?
This thing can even review past footage. This would drive the parent of a teen crazy. It's too much power. The ability to review past footage is a lot like The Entire History of You episode. This one just has a different focus. Mom is on the warpath and doesn't trust her daughter.
We get an even bigger bombshell when we discover the tablet informs you if your child is pregnant. Mom terminated the pregnancy without Sarah knowing.
This gets dark, it is Black Mirror after all. The ending has Sarah enraged at her mother for spying on her. The use of the disturbing content filter is well done, but brutal. There's letting your kid go as they grow up and having them ripped out of your hands. The mother had a death grip on her daughter is responsible for completely severing their bond with the use of this program. This explores helicopter parents. I like this one more than episode one. It's hard to watch the portrait of a psychopath, and this conclusion is particularly bleak.
The imagery and the parting shot are powerful. Kids run away no matter how closely you govern them. In this case the mom pushed Sarah away due to her need to control. That's what makes this episode so bleak, the mom was trying to help and ruined it.

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