Dee Discusses: Black Mirror “The Entire History of You”

Posted: January 11, 2016 by Dee in Black Mirror, Dee, General Media, Recaps, Television
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There are spoilers in this review. Duh.

I watched this episode back when I plunged through Black Mirror in one day, so I had to go back and watch it again. What a hardship! It’s not like every Black Mirror episode is fantastic and worth rewatching or anything. In any case, this was an episode where I found myself wincing a great deal. While not the most technologically interesting, it provides a very human story with enough of a twist to make it interesting. Personally, a “grain” would be terrible for me. As an obsessive person, I can easily see myself rewatching terrible moments and getting overly upset about them. I think humans in general have a tendency to agonize over times when they made mistakes, so while the concept of “we’ll just watch happy memories!” sounds good, it’s not likely to be how it ends. So let’s get to it.

The story is about Liam (Toby Kebbell) and Ffion (Jodie Whittaker), a “happily” married couple with a young baby. In this world everyone has a “grain” in their head that allows them to replay memories and moments in their life at any time. Liam is troubled by a work interview  he didn’t think went well, and he meets his wife out with their friends for a dinner. There he observes her slightly suspicious behavior with a new man, Jonas (Tom Cullen). Jonas talks about how he keeps sexy moments in his head from his exes, and he seems charming and funny. Ffion laughs at a joke of his, something that sticks with Liam later. At the dinner, one of the women there admits that she removed her grain and she feels better without it. They’re all skeptical. His suspicion increases and he keeps pressing his wife until she admits that he is an old boyfriend. She starts the lie by saying it was a fling, then a longer fling, and then an actual relationship. Each lie only drives Liam to get more over the top intense and obsessive over the things he witnessed. Unable to let it go, he confronts Jonas angrily (while drunk), and demands that he erases every memory he has of her. Jonas does so under threat of violence and Liam sees some of it.

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Liam goes back to confront his wife more, and mentions that he saw she had an affair with Jonas recently. Well not that recently, but just around the time their daughter was conceived. She swears that they used protection and the baby is his, but he demands she prove it with her memories. We know pretty much that whatever he saw didn’t please him, because in the end he’s completely alone. He forcefully removes the grain from his head, which is the smart thing to do, honestly. Clearly the grain didn’t make anyone in this feel any better. There are a lot of interesting little things about this. I like the scene where the two of them have make up sex but they’re both using the grain to imagine more passionate sex from another time. It’s clear that people have become too dependent on this piece of technology and that it isn’t really good for them. It kind of reminded me of Her a little bit, both with the technology and the destructive quality of relying too heavily on that.

This episode was good, but I’m not sure I’d put it at the top of list of Black Mirror. It almost seemed too normal? Like people don’t necessarily need grain to agonize over spouses cheating, the only “twist” of which is that his daughter isn’t his daughter. I feel like they could’ve gone to a different and more unique place with the concept, but I get that they wanted it to be more personal and average. The first episode was more modern and specific, outside of the heavy satire about the awfulness of humanity and the press. Maybe I’m spoiled because the episode before this was Fifteen Million Merits which might be one of my favorite episodes of TV ever. This one was good, but not great. Good concept and acting, but it wasn’t the most memorable. A note here that Robert Downey Jr. optioned this episode and potentially wants to make a movie out of it. I’m not sure how I feel about that, especially since I feel like there are stronger episodes. Hmmmm.

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