/ Leigh Alexander / 7 am Mon, Feb 18 2013
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  • Black Mirror decodes our modern dread of technology

    Black Mirror decodes our modern dread of technology

    The English have a coy euphemism for addiction: “moreish.” It summons the delightful anxiety in surrendering your control to something else, the ambivalent cocktail of desire and guilt. We feel it flickering in the periphery, and we feel our smartphones in the middle of a restaurant dinner.

    We live with the inability to fall asleep without a glassy black object nearby – you don’t need your phone when you’re going to bed, exactly, but you take no ease unless you know where it is. We lock our phones without a concrete reason besides the fact that letting someone else pick it up and look feels violating, too-intimate. It summons a nonspecific anxiety.

    Game designer and critic Ian Bogost’s iOS-centric installation, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, aims to explore what the designer sees as a relationship between technology and religion; he likens the iPhone to a rosary, something we thumb automatically, observant. As a journalist on games I once craved the mainstreaming of designed interaction – now I startle to enter a silent subway car full of passengers with heads in laps, faces illuminated by screens, tapping.

    The role of horror media in our culture is to show us our fears, to illuminate unspoken anxieties. Charlie Brooker’s Channel 4 series Black Mirror, something of a spiritual successor to The Twilight Zone, takes up the mantle for the digital age. Launched last year and now in its second season, it was inspired by the popular satirist and presenter’s own ambivalence to the increasing proliferation of these dark little screens; he found himself sincerely conversing with Siri (“a servile asslick with zero self-respect”), routinely performing the thoughtless tug-and-pop of Twitter refreshes.

    Black Mirror's format is one I wish more American series emulated; rather than spooling shows into endless seasons of quick hits, it’s more common in the UK for quality TV to air robust, brief seasons. Black Mirror’s first season consists of three hour-long episodes, united by tone and theme instead of recurring characters or settings.

    The third episode is called The Entire History of You, and it’s the one everyone talks about the most, with a sort of hushed dread (Robert Downey, Jr. reportedly optioned it for a film. Get the Arcade Fire to lend their song to the credits?). You ought not to watch it if you’re in a couple, they say, with a stricken look. This show has that kind of power: to rub your face in the viscera of everything about the modern world that you don’t want to think about. It is many things, but it is not pleasant viewing.

    The boyfriend I’m in London to visit did not want us to watch The Entire History of You, which apparently involves a near-future where devices embedded in your body record everything you see, say and do – including your past relationships – for later viewing. In the browsing history of his iPad are several articles offering advice on overcoming jealousy of a partner’s past. He doesn’t know I’ve seen them, and he hasn’t told me about them; I know his mind from that black tablet.

    The recently-aired first episode of season two explores just how much of a person can exist in the digital ether. It’s called Be Right Back, a play on the "BRB" notification people leave when exiting chat windows to go do real life.

    A better title might have been Be Right There.

    “Are we going to watch the new Black Mirror?” I asked my boyfriend.

    “Be right there,” he said, immersed in a pretend city he was building on the iPad. I picked up my iPhone to kill time on Twitter until he was done.

    “Are we watching it?” He asked ten minutes later. “Be right there,” I said. The irony of negotiating with our devices in order to watch a program about our relationship to our devices was pretty embarrassing.

    Be Right Back is about a social media widow. Martha and Ash have moved in to a pastoral country house; Ash’s constant palming his stark black phone highlights the contrast between his social media use and the couple’s tactile life, framed in neutral tones with touching notes of green and turquoise. As characterization goes, Ash’s compulsion is wisely sketched with a light hand; he uses social media a lot, but not apparently dangerously so. No more than any of us.

    The story begins in earnest when Ash is killed in an accident. A friend or relative–it’s not clear, as Black Mirror tends to place viewers directly into the flow of an episode without lavishing on background or irrelevant details –intrudes upon Martha at Ash’s funeral with an unsettling suggestion: There’s a new service that lets you talk to the dead.

    Using the manifold digital fingerprints, photographs, voice recordings and text interactions he’s left in the social media space, this tech can serve Martha an interactive AI of Ash’s personality. It knows how he talks, his tastes and his memories – so long as he has shared them.

    You can’t help but be gripped with the unease of wondering how much the black mirrors know about you. If it’s enough to resurrect you, how much of your essence have you divested onto the infrastructure? Twitter and Facebook obsess us with ideas about “sharing” and socialization, but is that really your life “on there,” or a thin, troubling simulacrum?

    As we watch Martha, who learns she’s pregnant, succumb to her own grief-stricken urges to contact Ash’s memory through technology, the AI learns. It gains enough data to talk on the phone to her, and she reminds him of certain memories he’s meant to have, which he retains. When she nearly breaks her phone – and the increasingly-crucial lifeline, we feel her raw nerves.

    We understand the ill junction of compulsion and disgust behind the mad, grotesque decision she makes next – a flickering car dash advertisement for synthetic body parts that we see  at the episode's outset foreshadows a key clue. The episode’s best moment is a lovely exercise in restraint: Martha waiting restlessly in her living room for what she’s wrought to leave the upstairs bathroom. The calm, gentle voice of the man she loves pleads urgently with her not to turn the light on.

    I won't spoil the ending, but I’ll tell you it’s not the shambling Night of the Living Dead you’d expect of typical horror. It is more subtle, more gently terrible, sawing slowly at the heart like a dull knife. Martha’s “resurrection” of Ash ultimately suggests that the parody of authentic-self that we serve to social media is unholy, a violation.

    Black Mirror’s gift is that it presents a world where anything is possible thanks to technology -- and prickles our skin regarding the inevitable complications of that possibility. We are ever on a quest for advancement, and it’s quite likely that we’ll figure out how to do things we’ll end up wishing we never learned how to do and cannot unlearn.

    This is a show about our fear that some line may loom in the story of humankind that we ought not cross, for our own good. Such a line feels tangible, near; maybe we’ve even crossed it already. It is considered unenlightened and luddite to fear technology, but Black Mirror makes it startlingly easy to admit that there is much to be unsettled about these days, quietly, ambivalently.

    The newest episode airs on Channel 4 on February 18. Brooker’s said it’s “not for the fainthearted.” I know, because I follow him on Twitter. Can't wait. Show is moreish.

    Previously: Black Mirror is black, and it's brilliant - best sf on TV

    / / COMMENTS

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    1. I’ve only watched the first episode of Black Mirror based on its promotion here on BB… but maybe someone can explain to me why it’s so great? None of the characters were interesting, the situation felt like it was going for shock value rather than anyone attempting to write a dramatic story, and the various reveals at the end felt cheap and forced, like someone’s forcing the anti-technology messages down my throat. Am I missing something? How is that great television?

        1. I simply couldn’t bring myself to watch it because of things like that (though I do like Brooker’s writing, his own personal limbo-bar of narrative darkness is set much lower than my mental back can bend to), but I really can’t imagine that it would be any worse than the schlock nonsense of Utopia…

          Truth always hurts the worst, and horror is always most effective when it cuts very close to reality and what could well happen just with the right series of decisions by a few unexpectedly influential people – or what may have happened if they had made them differently.

          Let’s say, for example, yer man in Russia who held his nerve when their ballistic early warning system glitched out and suddenly started showing multiple incoming bogeys, refusing to turn his activation key because he couldn’t believe a state even as heavy on the rhetoric as the USA would dare act with the necessary belligerence to launch a first strike without any warning, build up, or other more minor action… for which he was proven right.

          He has one more cup of coffee that morning, or had a fight with his wife the night before, or simply has a minor car accident on the way to work that means his post is filled by an upstart young lieutenant keen to get in his superiors’ good books. The key is turned. As a result, we get The Day After, and Threads… the kind of thing that made people shit themselves at the time and has since been held up as truly classic. The kind of thing that, despite far more low key, intimate and low budget, makes the Skynet attack in Terminator 2 seem relatively harmless and cartoonish.

      1. Umm, no, if you don’t understand why people like it, I doubt that anyone will be able to explain to your satisfaction why they like it. After all, the article above provides a pretty good explanation; if you read it and don’t understand, I don’t know how the rest of us are going to have any better luck.

      2. the first episode is really a poor example, watch 15 million merits or be right back instead and you’ll likely get it or at least spend the rest of the night in a cold sweat.

        If you do like it, then watch the other one, likely the most uncomfortable to watch of the bunch, and wait for tonight.

        pigfucking really was the worst way to start this series.

          1. I was super in love with the episode. Hilarious.

            As I’m not a fan of the * Idol/reality shows and don’t really care that they’re a form of exploitation only a few notches down from porn, the pigfucker episode laughs got me to the third episode.

      3. The first episode is, tonally, and content-wise pretty starkly different from the rest of the series. It’s such a short time commitment, I’d recommend watching the other episodes before drawing a strong conclusion.
        The show can be heavy-handed or hackneyed (the second episode is basically what you’d get if you were teaching a high school course on “social commentary” and asked your students to write an updated 1984/Brave New World/We-type dystopian future commenting on contemporary issues), but it’s still possibly the best TV sci-fi we’ve had in a long time, and I’d argue a worthy heir to prior sci-fi anthologies like Twilight Zone or Outer Limits, which were generally of patchier quality than we like to admit in retrospect.

        I deeply enjoyed the first episode.

        The state was unable to control information in a way that it had become accustomed to and the public was able to observe the raw situation rather than carefully filtered/edited footage of events. The politicians felt forced to react to the polls instead of making their own decisions resulting in a prime minister fucking a pig, ruining his marriage privately, and it was all for nothing as the “artist” was already dead. Don’t think of the ending as a cheap twist, think of it as a punchline.

        I of course found it charming and hilarious. It’s why I stuck around for the other episodes.

        Please explain to me more why you didn’t enjoy the episode.

        1. I detested the first episode, since I could not suspend disbelief.  It just didn’t make any sense to me.   When a terrorist makes a capricious, humiliating demand as depicted in the episode, you have no rational reason to believe he’ll actually release the hostage even if you comply. In fact, compliance is just begging for another demand.

          When you go off on a “What If” premise, the premise may be fantastical, but the consequences must follow realistically.

          Also, I thought they got the tone wrong: would people really be cheering in bars at the thought of the PM fulfilling the demand?

      5. I kind of think Max Headroom did what they were trying for a lot better and back when “technology has a dark side” was more of a novel concept.

        1. Don’t play the ‘it was better back when’ game. Black mirror is about our behavior with regard to technology, how it is changing our patterns of interaction and our emotional, social, public and private lives. It’s not a simple frankenstein story designed as some timeless warning to humanity – it’s for us. today. 

          1. But neither was Max Headroom. It dealt with many of the same issues that Black Mirror does — and is in many ways more relevant today than when it originally aired because the all-pervasive computer networks it depicted were just Gibsonian fantasy then, but basically reality now.

    2. I have my own black mirrors, but they are full-size immobile CRTs. A series like this heartens me to the fact I am not on Facebook and do not have a “smart phone”, nor feel the need to have any of these things.

        1. Well it’s a thing. I’m saying it makes me better than anybody else. All I’m saying is when I go out I am not tied to the net. There’s a certain freedom in that.

          1. “There’s a certain freedom in that.”

            Yeah, I can get that, too — I don’t bring my phone. Or I just turn it off!

            I hate this notion that “You have a cell phone!  You must be tied to the net and to people all the time. Gosh, how do you do that? I don’t have a smart phone!”

            Oh.  Sometimes I turn my phone off?

            1. Or turn notifications off and turn on call screening. Ultimately, you control tech–it doesn’t control you, any more than junk food or TV “controls” you.

            2. Something tells me “self-satisfied, pleased with every facet of technology and its tendrils” aren’t the target demographic.

      1. I fail to see that as a win, when /even I/ can tell that you were born in 1978, you live in mountain view, California, you attended hill view middle school and later on California polytechnic. Etc.

        Opting out of Facebook and having no phone does not make you invisible to “the system”. You are in it.

          1. I’m from unincorporated San Mateo County. Menlo-Atherton High School took students from Atherton, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto (not exactly rich, those people), as well as others.

        1. I don’t REFUSE to get “a radio or a telephone”. I’m just poor. I can’t afford to buy a new big flatscreen monitor or a smartphone.

    3.  The first episode of Series 2 was really depressing. It took a simple idea and spun it out intelligently and focussed on the human responses to the promises technology offered and the reality it actually delivered. It felt more Ray Bradbury than purist sci-fi.

      I’d also recommend Channel 4’s new six part conspiracy drama Utopia (last part on tomorrow night). Stylishly filmed, bonkers plot and extremely violent.

      1. The first episode of Series 2

        I was utterly blown away by its quality and was moved as deeply as by anything I’ve ever seen.

        I’m still tingling, minutes later.

        Brooker’s smashing it.

      2. Eh, I tuned into it, found it rather dull and exploitative, tuned back out when the eye-torturer came along, thus lowering the bar somewhat past Reservoir Dogs and into Human Centipede territory.

        Nope, nope, nope.

      1. Be sure and make it past episode 1. They are all just…so different. S01E02 took my breath away, and S01E03 gave the wife and I something very serious to talk about. It was so powerful spot-on to certain, unhealthy, “couple” problems that we should work on.

    4. You know, when I stay over at a friend’s, I have a much easier time “losing” my phone and other devices — I’ll even mostly or totally ignore the internet and my email.  For entire weekend’s, sometimes. Not so easy when I’m home, though, where I live alone.  Although I’ll still often “lose” my phone (oh, I left it in the car? dang!), I’ll at least have my laptop or kindle fire near-by…

    5. Leigh, it’s not right to say that “moreish” is the equivalent of “addiction”, rather it means “mildly addictive” and is used informally to describe foods, you can’t find your cellphone or cigarettes to be moreish.

      1. To be fair, cigarettes are pretty moreish.

        It’s not technically the ‘correct’ use of the word, but it’s much more fun to use it that way.

        Who was it that described heroin as moreish? I want to say Harry Hill?

        [Edit: Heroine/heroin – doh]

        1. Yes, thank you — had it explained to me by my dude here, but as  Nathan points out I thought it’d be a little bit fun to indulge some slight misuse! Indulge me! Americans don’t say it at all and it IS so cute. 

          1. It’s the ol’ British under-exaggeration-for-comedic-effect at work there, mate (even if he’s a foreign character, he’s being written by a pair of Brits, and a pair known for that kind of wry humour). If he’d lost a leg in a road accident and was bleeding out from the stump, he’d probably ask whether anyone had any paracetamol and a sticking plaster…

        2. No, chocolate/candy can be moreish, a box of crackers with some decent cheese or pizza strips with dips can be moreish. Or most identifiably, Pringles. Or a simplistic arcade game with a maddening difficulty curve. You want more… one more go. Ish.

          You can find yourself banging through them at a surprising rate because they’re delicious and enjoyable, and they arrive in perfectly sized bursts, little morsels that don’t actually add up to a full meal or drawn out game. But, although difficult, it’s not impossible to stop before the box is empty or it’s 3am and you realise you have work in the morning.

          Alcohol, cigarettes, heroin aren’t moreish, they’re addictive and habit forming.

          The jury’s out on coca-cola and coffee…

          1. “Alcohol, cigarettes, heroin aren’t moreish, they’re addictive and habit forming.”

            It’s almost like human beings undersell for humorous purposes or something.

      2. Precisely. Moreish describes, at least to my definition, umami flavours that stimulate repeated consumption of the same foods, eg., goldfish crackers or something.

        1. Wasabi peas, dry roast peanuts, twiglets… yep. Extremely moreish. And provided in just the right miniature size to provoke unwitting mass consumption.

          (But in contrast to addictive substances, you don’t wake up in the morning craving the first twiglet of the day, and don’t suffer terrible physiological withdrawal symptoms…)

    6. This episode and the previous three are all brilliant! I really hope to see more in the future. Robert Downey Jr. even bought rights to an episode http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2013/feb/12/robert-downey-jr-black-mirror

      1. Lol. Usually it’s me struggling to watch american shows in the UK. Feels good to be on the right side of the firewall for once.

        Not laughing at you: it’s just that, I feel your pain.

    7. Agree with most of the above, but I’ve found it addictive, scary AND memorable.
      Yes, yes, Series 1 Ep1 (with the pig…) was the weakest of the bunch but Series 2 Ep1 came back strongly.
      And, as Leigh has said, “The Entire History of You” (Series 1 Ep3) was/is haunting. Not many TV programmes that are still in detail in my memory many months after they aired; and no, I don’t have the technology to keep reviewing it or asking my partner to delete those bits of it.
      And so to tonight’s…

      Charlie Brooker rules!

    8. Even if it is well made, can we for once have a show where technology isn’t some violation of our sacred humanity? Where we point out how things we do normally today would be considered inhuman by earlier generations? Where we show that in all likelihood everything is going to be okay and we won’t be destroyed by terminators or too much social media?

      Oh right, positivity doesn’t sell. Well it would be nice for once if science fiction blogs such as boingboing and io9 would call them out on this for once. Then again I have noticed a lot of the technology content on boingboing is partial to the whole dystopia schtick anyway.

        1. The Star Trek TV series were quite positive and interesting in how they viewed technology, but the new movie (while entertaining) doesn’t really touch on the subject besides the positive background of humanity’s future.

        1. Or in other words, “technology is just a tool”.

          You can use a hammer to put up shelves and knock the dents out of a bicycle mudguard, or build a library … or you can use it to construct tanks and bombs, or just plain cave someone’s head in.
          GitS at the end of the day, particularly the Manga version, is far more a work of philosophy and a musing on what it means to be human, be sapient, to have “a soul” than anything much about technology itself.

          Much like Star Trek could be easily retold, with a few tweaks, as a story about a sailing ship on a grand voyage of oceanic exploration (the original remit was, after all, basically “the odyssey, In Space), you could quite easily transplant GitS and its Sufficiently Advanced Technology into a fantasy setting, with the Puppet Master being some other, magically summoned blithe spirit, and it would work as well. The tech is just there to keep the fanboys happy.

          It’s the sort of thing the Japanese do very well, having held onto a rich animistic folklore a lot longer than the monotheistic, earlier-industrialised “west”. What Measure Is A Man and all that. Or with a sidestep into, say, Princess Mononoke, What Measure Is A Wolf / Demon… despite an otherwise human exterior…?

      1. Brooker is himself something of a geek (note for a start his Gameswipe program, and the fact he’s able to go into such well-informed detail about this stuff) and seems to alternate between being full of what Eddie Izzard would call “techno joy”, and extreme paranoia over potential abuses – e.g. voicemail hacking, something he’s covered a lot in his TV shows and newspaper columns.

        It’s not so much the technology being evil that is the crux of his attention, but the possibilities it opens up for the darker side of human nature to abuse. That’s why I can’t bring myself to watch and why it sticks with people so much – there’s nothing quite so disturbing as the casual cruelty inflicted on people by other people, whether facilitated by smartphones, ubiquitous surveillance (might The History Of You or whatever it’s called be a modern homage to 1984?), a corrupt legal system, or the advantage wrought by a sword and armour vs shovels and pigskins… It’s just that this particular technology is so damned new, with such widespread cultural penetration, that not many people have integrated it into their stories or explored its possibilities yet. A lot of it WAS literally pure sci-fi ten years ago (note that the first iPhone was launched in 2007, and decently capable touch-screen mobiles of any shirt hadn’t been around for long before that), which is a short time in literary and scriptwriting circles.

        The last major work I read which largely revolved around Mans Inhumanity To Man was the Millennium trilogy. That’s roughly 10 years old now, or a little less. The most advanced technology in that is a Palm Tungsten (based off a modified MC68k CPU, IIRC), which has to be bluetoothed (very cutting edge at the time) to a separate, non-“smart” (ie no touchscreen, no apps) but otherwise sophisticated-for-the-time mobile phone in order to go online. Said online-ness involving IRC, email, a bit of FTP, and some presumably text-based or low-image web browsing, given that all you’ll get over GPRS is about 30kbit/s. And covert video surveillance involved a handycam in a sports bag. If Lisbeth Salander and co had access to iPhones and the like, and GoPros or those mini cameras that lurk in a ballpoint pen, record to a microSD card, and can be plugged directly into a USB port for downloading, the story would have come out VERY differently. A lot of it revolved around the Bad Guys being able to get away with what they did for decades precisely because of a lack of civil connectivity and ability to capture, record, share and report their doings, certainly with any kind of speed or ease or at a low cost, and by assuming a very traditional, chauvinist world would continue forever in some way – with that house of cards being, eventually, triumpantly swept off the table by a few people who were able to leverage the new technology and their access to it – particularly Lisbeth and a few bit players – in order to have them tie the noose for their own neck without even realising.

        If we fast forward the tale 20ish years so it starts with her petrol-bombing Zala’s car sometime in 2013, then instead of it being an isolated incident with a few confused eyewitnesses, and the police able to blithely ignore her protestations and appeals to go help her mother, instead whisking her off to a secure institution… we now get footage of the incident from three different angles, including the authorities’ response to it, going up on Youtube within a matter of hours, there’s a public outcry beyond anything that Sapo can cover up, and the rest of the story fizzles. So instead we have to talk about something else, something that now maybe includes said new, disruptive technologies as a potential negative, or at least something possessed both of dark and light sides, rather than being a misunderstood, civil liberty facilitating tool used only by curious and self-protective geeks.

        (Oh, and I probably should have said in case no-one noticed… Brooker is a devout misanthrope… so he’s all over this kind of storyline like a rash.)

      1. Take a look at this PC Magazine article from July 2012, which was about using a browser plugin called “FoxyProxy” to watch the Olympics.

        The directions are pretty easy to follow. And it does work, more or less, to watch shows like Black Mirror, depending on how good the proxy is.

        (Then of course there’s always a bittorrent site like The Pirate Bay, the use of which is not without some risk.)

          1. Probably not in this case, seeing as the WoM generated by those few who see the torrents could then end up being a lucrative US syndication deal… which they otherwise wouldn’t have got, and the lack of which is why it’s not licensed for worldwide distribution.

    9. Unlike many others on here I actually found the very first episode to be one of the strongest (although I’ve loved them all) – I’m not even sure what word I’d use to describe it – the actual act itself, the general ‘theme’ didn’t necessarily appeal to me, but that position of utter helplessness at such a high, public level, well acted, brilliantly written – wow, I was instantly hooked.

      How often can you simply dismiss a plot-line because of some obvious flaw or work-around? It’s common even in some of my favourite pieces of media, it’s a difficult thing to achieve – but this managed to create such an extreme, insane situation, I was left thinking, ‘well ye, he’s actually going to have to fuck that pig’.


      1. The pig episode is legendary TV imo if only for the thought of our current PM in a similar situation… :) 

        Maybe it wasn’t the best episode to launch the series, many would have turned off and missed some truly excellent scifi.

        Anyone remember ‘Tickets for the Titanic’? C4 series from twenty years ago or so, similar premise, dark tales from the near future/alternate present.

    10. We lock our phones without a concrete reason besides the fact that letting someone else pick it up and look feels violating, too-intimate. It summons a nonspecific anxiety.

      Oh gee yeah, it must be some nonspecific anxiety that leads me to safeguard my phone, not, you know, that I store personal info on it

      1. Or that your work makes you use their bs lock system instead of the one you had originally because eff you that’s why.

        (of course, this is a totally different commentary on the future)

    11. But unless you are claiming to be Humpty Dumpty, you can’t make it mean something that it doesn’t mean. Cigarettes are not more-ish. Heroin is not more-ish. Cellphones can’t be more-ish unless you are going to end up with a steadily increasing number of cellphones. Cake can be more-ish. More generally food which (a) can be had in small increments and (b) is being eaten more for pleasure than for nutrition can be more-ish. But that’s about it.

      1. Now that episode (White Bear) was seriously creepy.

        IIRC, there was an episode of Law and Order where McCoy got a wrongly convicted man out of jail by demonstrating how each day in jail was mind-numbingly just like the last. Um.

    12. Two things, firstly: 

      “In the browsing history of his iPad are several articles offering advice on overcoming jealousy of a partner’s past. He doesn’t know I’ve seen them … ”

      Oh yes he does. Secondly: 

      Moreish is not a synonym for addiction. No-one ever described getting pinned up as moreish. Except, possibly, Withnail 

    13. Those who enjoyed S2E1 may wish to check out my short story, “Wormwords,” published in COSMOS in 2007, wherein a guy named Ash is (spoiler alert?) killed in a car crash and comes back to haunt his wife after having been resurrected via his social media profile. http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/science-fiction/wormwords/

      I’m not suggesting anything with any particular certainty. Coincidences happen, COSMOS is not exactly the NEW YORKER, and “Be Right Back” is quite different from “Wormwords,” especially as the stories evolve. So think what you like; I’m still not sure what I think.

    14. i too just watched episode one today based on BB’s recommendation. yeh, the thing the PM had to do was kind of a shock but i looked past it to see what the “artist” was trying to say. hopefully, based on what others are saying here, the other episodes are better. i will give the first series a sporting chance and hopefully, it’s best two out of three.

      1. Stick with it. You need to see a couple to get the context of the whole thing. I thought episode 1 was a strange choice to start with, but the basic strengths of the series are on show: Provocative ideas about how technology is influencing our lives, with a strong focus on the human costs of this, excellent scripting and A level acting, high production values. I’ve also noticed the series carefully avoids shock for shock’s sake, and makes you uncomfortable for the right reasons.

          1. Absolutely. So much sci fi is great ideas and mediocre delivery. All facets of this series are elevated. Its gripping.

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