We're breaking down Season 3 of Black Mirror, which is now streaming on Netflix. You can read our interview with series creator Charlie Brooker and sift through our recaps and analyses of other new episodes "Nosedive," "Shut Up and Dance," and "Men Against Fire." Here, we take a look at Episode 6, "Hatred in the Nation."
The Season 3 "finale" of Black Mirror intertwines two twisted, technological riffs into one prolonged mystery. At 89 minutes, it's reasonable to call "Hated in the Nation" the first Black Mirror movie. Creator Charlie Brooker thinks of it more as experiment in creative fusion.
"I don't tend to look at the news and go, well I've got to do something about the rise of Donald Trump, say, or Samsung just launched their new fridge-freezer that can run and take the children to school," Brooker told Thrillist. For "Hated in the Nation," the writer set out to tell a story about social media rage. When he realized Black Mirror had yet to tackle the "detective story," he found the perfect sandbox in which the concept could play. "Hated" would be a mystery without real answers.
Set in a near-future London, "Hated in the Nation" follows Karin (Kelly Macdonald), a no-bullshit police detective, and her techie trainee Blue (Faye Marsay) through the investigation of a string of unexplainable deaths. Brooker wire-walks through the procedural aspects of Karin and Blue's casework. They interview subjects, scrutinize evidence, and watch the second hand tick as they wait for autopsy reports. Without the character of similar British police stories like Happy Valley, "Hated in the Nation" often limps from reveal to reveal. But when the truth comes to light, Brooker taps a vein of inevitable future.
The Internet is freedom, freedom is expression, and expression is volatile. At any given moment, there's molten rage exploding out of a pocket of social media landscape. The venting all looks the same; a guy can call me human garbage for not naming Deadpool one of the best movies of the year, then deface the president's Facebook wall in the same breath. "Hated in the Nation" focuses on a #DeathTo hashtag, where participants grab digital pitchforks and torches to shame anyone who steps out of line. The #DeathTo "game" shocks Karin. She clearly never searched #DeathTo on Twitter, where it burned well before Black Mirror hit Netflix.
In 2013, Justine Sacco tweeted a now-infamous farewell before boarding a plane: "Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!" When she landed, she found her timeline flooded with shame, insults, and calls for punishment from Twitter users. Brooker wonders in his mystery script: If given the chance, would the righteous mob execute Sacco on the spot?
In "Hated in the Nation," words become actions and a "hivemind" takes a literal form. In 2013, researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences created a functional RoboBee, a quarter-sized robot that can fly and "see" through vision sensors. The scientists hope to see the RoboBee take over the job of pollinating crops around the world. Brooker seized the idea as the ultimate tool for online violence. In Karin and Blue's future, the "bee drones" (har har) fulfill Harvard's ecological dream. A hacker weaponizes the buggers by recalibrating their pollination targets to the names in the #DeathTo hashtag. And Sacco thought mudslinging was bad.
The road to identifying the hacker winds to a startling image: When the hacker reverses the bee code to target the hashtag users, thousands wind up dead, the bodies eventually collected in the nightmare version of the Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse. The turn should deliver a smack of introspection to anyone with a soul: What mildly incendiary comments have you left? And what would happen if we were held accountable?
That time may never come, which is how "Hated in the Nation" winds down. In the same way bureaucracy and technophobia are the ultimate triggers for the mass execution of London-based Twitter users -- never flip the kill-switch provided by the enemy, people! -- the flaring up of social media mobs can't be controlled by the people in power. Freedom requires ethical self-policing, and based on how things are going so far, the "culprits" will almost always get away.
"Hated in the Nation" ends abruptly. Karin testifies in a hearing to what happened over those three horrific days. The hacker runs loose in a foreign locale (Gran Canaria, off the coast of Spain, to be exact). Blue, rattled by the incident, fakes her own death to hunt down the perpetrator -- and actually finds him. If the actual authorities can't maneuver through their terrorist-laden world, it'll take... self-policing. We don't know if Blue catches the hacker, or what she'll do when she does. But she's not waiting for the world to take ownership of the problem, and it might be a lesson to us all.
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