Dee Discusses: Black Mirror “Be Right Back”

Posted: July 28, 2016 by Dee in Black Mirror, Dee, General Media, Recaps, Television
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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There are spoilers in this review. Duh.


I’m back to Black Mirror, huzzah. With the announcement that Netflix’s new series of it will be coming in just a few months, I was like ‘whoops have to get back to this stat.’ This was the first episode of the second season. I screamed when I realized Hayley Atwell and Domhnall Gleeson were starring in it. They have some fantastic actors who show up in these. There’s no reason to do a previously on for these episodes, since each one is a story within itself, like The Twilight Zone. Like before, this touches on the concept of our obsession with technology and how it can actually not be a great thing. It also is about grief and holding on too long. I love how this show is both human and skeptical of humanity at the same time.

Martha and Ash are very much in love and live in a little cottage together. They’re happy and everything seems perfect, until Ash dies in a sudden accident. Devastated, Martha withdraws into herself and can’t seem to move on well. Her friend recommends that she try this online service that’s supposed to help people get past their grief. By gathering everything in Ash’s technology – his social media, videos of him on the internet, on his phone, on her phone, etc.  – this AI can make itself appear to be Ash. She can talk to it on the computer and it sounds exactly like he would. Has the memories he would. Martha’s weirded out at first, but she misses him so much and the program starts to become a crutch for her. When she finds out she’s pregnant, she especially needs advice on the matter, and the AI provides her with support. She decides to take it to the next step and get him a body.

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She’s disturbed by the body and how he looks like Ash, but he isn’t truly. Despite that, she starts getting used to his presence and even has sex with him. However, she starts to recognize that he is but a shadow of her love, and an AI. He obeys everything she says, he’s not truly the man she loves, and she realizes that he’s keeping her back from moving on. She’s holding on to a ghost. She orders him to jump off a cliff, angry that the real Ash never would, and he responds to that information by begging her to keep him alive. Because acting like a mortal would be helpful. She can’t bring herself to kill him and lose what she has of Ash. The episode cuts forward to see that she’s a single mother, and that the AI lives upstairs in the attic. Her daughter is allowed to bring him cake and talk to him, and while Martha cries, she joins them.

This is a simpler episode than the others and it’s more personal. It touches upon the idea of grief and how easy it would be for someone to just never give up on someone. And how unhealthy that is. While also being about AI and how they will never really be human. Basically it’s about Martha though, the AI is hardly the bad creature here, having done its duty and tried to make her happy. But there’s emptiness in their relationship and she sees that, but she also can’t let go. It’s a bittersweet episode. Or rather … there’s no sweetness. It’s flat out sad. It looks like she has no new lover and lives solely with her daughter and the AI. She’s made this non-relationship become a priority in her life along with her child. It’s haunting in a way, because it’s easy to see how someone would get lost in a life with an AI clone, anything they can get to stay close to who they love. It’s obviously incredibly well acted, those two are talented beyond belief, and the sadness stays with you. As usual, Black Mirror crushes your heart, while also making you think long after the episode is over.

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