Dee Discusses: Black Mirror “White Christmas”

Posted: October 21, 2016 by Dee in Black Mirror, Dee, General Media, Recaps, Television
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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There are spoilers in this review. Duh.

So here’s the thing: I dislike Mad Men. I really do. I couldn’t stand that show. So I haven’t dealt with Jon Hamm very frequently, outside of a few roles here and there. And I finally understand what people were talking about. He is unbelievably charismatic in this episode. He’s despicable too, his character is not a good person, and yet he is so charming I could almost forget about it. He seduces the audience in a way, just like he’s more or less seducing the man in the room with him. Seducing him into a sense of false security, basically. This was a very strong episode and I watched it again recently. What I love is there are essentially three major storylines and they all come together by the end. It’s masterfully put together. Applause.

So there’s two men in a room, Joe and Matt. They’re at a remote outpost and Matt is very charming (Jon Hamm!) and chattery. Joe seems quieter and less interested in bonding. They’ve apparently been there for years together. Matt’s attempting to connect, it’s Christmas after all, and talks about why he took ‘the job’ of why they are there. Matt has a dark story to communicate, one of his worst moments. He used to help awkward and shy men pick up women. He’d coach them through it, which isn’t that unlike men who teach other men how to date, but he goes a little step farther by being in an ear and eye piece. He’s trying to assure nervous Harry on how to charm this dark serious girl at a holiday party. It’s not immediately questionable, this scenario, until you realize that he fully plans on watching their sex if they have it, AND there’s a whole group of men watching as well. So basically this group does sometimes have sex with women and they all get to watch without the women being aware of it. And Matt appears to be the ringleader. Unfortunately for Harry, the girl he’s picked out is schizophrenic and thinks he is too, because he’s talking to “voices” in his head. She wanted to kill herself to make it stop, and thinks that he wants to too. She poisons him and he dies while the men watch, horrified, and all try to log off and escape it. We find out later they didn’t report the murder either.

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Joe is like wow dude that’s messed up. Matt again is a very charismatic guy so you almost agree with him being like ehhhh it’s not that bad. Matt introduces the idea of being “blocked” by his wife, which means you can pick at any time to make someone near you into this blurred image. You can’t hear them and they’re shut out of your life. This will become very important later. Matt talks about his real job, which is setting up AI devices. The AI is designed to be like a real person, and they know what that person wants for their life. The AI is then supposed to do things like keep the room at a temperature, prepare coffee and breakfast, have wake up calls, prepare all the house stuff basically for the real human. The problem is the AI truly believes it is that person, and it is horrified to realize it isn’t. Matt then tortures the AI – basically that is what he does – by making it feel like it has gone months and then a year without any interaction. So it begs to be able to do anything, and gives up its attempt for self-identity for sanity. He cheerfully says it’s about breaking them out without permanently breaking them. This guy is such a sleeze, but he’s so fun to listen to, go figure.

We then get to the meat of the story. Joe finally talks about what his darkest moment was. He was in love with a woman, but he drank a lot, and she was pregnant but didn’t want it. She blocks him permanently, and he figures out she kept the baby after all. He’s forced to stay away from her by the police, but he watches the child from afar. The little girl is also a blob, as a connection of her mother. He leaves gifts for her. The mother dies, and he thinks this is his chance to finally meet his daughter. Except he sees the girl and realizes she’s half-Asian, the true daughter of one of their mutual friends, and he has a mental breakdown. He kills his ex’s father by accident, or rather in a fit of rage, and leaves the house. He admits to it, and then admits that the daughter, left in a remote location all this time, tried to get help in the snow and died as well. ¬†WOOOOOOW. It is then revealed that Matt has been doing this to get the confession out of Joe for the police, and that this Joe is actually an AI that he has been messing with the mind of to get a confession out of. Matt is set free for his own crimes, but he must be a permanent sex offender, which means permanently no one can see him. For someone as engaging and dynamic as Matt, this is probably a freaking hell on earth.

SO THIS EPISODE WAS FANTASTIC. I loved it from beginning to end. I love how there are three stories but they’re all completely connected. It sets up the world and the general themes in a really clever and engaging way. Jon Hamm was masterful in it. I found it utterly fascinating that Joe showed to have such a strong moral compass until you realize what he did, but even then it’s like … wow it’s hard to express. You can believe that he was someone who understood how wrong what Matt was doing, and still a person who lost their mind and did some really terrible things too. These are very layered characters and that’s impressive to set up in less than an hour. This show is incredible and I can’t wait to start season 3 today. If Netflix can keep up this kind of brilliant edginess, I will be completely happy.

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