Sunday, January 7, 2018

Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 5 - Metalhead

Black Mirror (2011-)
Season 4 - 6 episodes (2017)
Watch Black Mirror Season 4 on Netflix
Created by: Charlie Brooker
Maxine Peake, Jake Davies, Clint Dyer
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 fifth episode of season four is Metalhead, where robots hunt and kill any remaining human survivors.

I love the style of this episode. It's black and white which only reinforces how bleak it is. The action is often intercut with music creating the feeling of a music video (albeit violent). We know very little about this world, and it isn't explained. The world isn't the point. This is a game of survival between human and robot. This has the best conclusion of any episode this season. I didn't think this episode could get any more bleak, and it manages to go even further. This might be my favorite episode this season, not least of which, it leaves me wondering what happened in this world.
Watch it.

How did the world get to this point? We don't know, and that completely works in this world. Did A.I. go off the rails and take over like Skynet in Terminator? Are humans eradicating other humans with advanced tools? Did the tools we created to patrol simply get bad code? These dogs may have been created to hunt pests and an error in the code made them hunt everything. Well, I suppose that's unlikely. These metalheads have some specific tools to bring down humans.
I love the black and white. If any episode needed a reduced color palette, it's this one. With the style and music this feels like an 80's thriller. We start with a group of three survivors hunting for what we presume are supplies. They have lot numbers and know the warehouse containing the items. They reference dogs, and we soon discover these are crazy killer robots designed for maximum destruction. This is bloody, violent, gory, and intense. It's a terminator dog. The dog just doesn't quit.

In the warehouse that has the supplies, they run across a dog and from this point on it's race for survival.
Bella manages to trap one of the dogs in a car, but the dog rips its own leg off to escape. This is certainly one of the bleaker Black Mirror worlds. I wondered how the dog was tracking Bella, and we soon find out. The shrapnel it shot out in the warehouse had a tracker in it, embedding itself in Bella's leg. Things that are missed in other properties for the sake of the plot are answered head on. Many shows just have the antagonist know where the main character is. Black Mirror provides specific reason.
Bella ends up in a tree, the dog waiting for her. She throws candy at it, waiting for it's battery to run down.
This is painful to watch. There are so many rough scenes of self surgery. How is this going to end? There's no way Bella survives. There's no way Black Mirror can make this any bleaker... they find a way.
The characters had referenced that searching for supplies was a foolish endeavor, but we discover they were searching for a teddy bear. We don't know why or  for whom, but I immediately pictured a child back home. What is life like? They have to stay sheltered and locked inside. Those dogs are no joke. That teddy bear might have been the only toy the child ever sees. Bella's ending was already bleak enough, realizing there was no escape.
I like this episode. It's artistic. The silent scenes with musical overlay are effective. The tracking shot at the end shows the path of destruction starting at the end and tracing to the beginning, showing us what was in the dropped box the trio wanted. Wow, what a reveal.

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