Here's where the Black Mirror shit kicks in: Ashley Too is an Ashley AI that engages Rachel in the conversation she is sorely lacking in her school life. As the advanced doll encourages the young girl to pursue her dreams and dance at a talent show, the situation with the real Ashley and her aunt is getting dire. Catherine drugs Ashley's food, putting her in a coma, but hooks her up to a machine that can extract notes from her brain to "write songs," ensuring that the singer can continue to be a cash cow.
Eventually, with some help from Rachel and Jack, the Ashley Too gains sentience, alerts the sisters to the situation with the real Ashley and enlists them in a heist. It's here the episode transforms from the familiar cautionary tale of modern life gone bad into slapstick comedy, introducing a mix of tones that never successfully gel. The depiction of the tech involved in the Ashley Too is frustratingly imprecise -- almost laughably so -- and the bigger picture aims never make up for that carelessness.
The danger of poptimism -- the notion that pop music, just like rock or jazz, has critical value -- seems to be a favorite topic of filmmakers recently. It was debatably the root of the conflict between the lovers in Bradley Cooper's A Star Is Born remake; in Vox Lux, starring Natalie Portman, director Brady Corbet uses a pop career to make a point about American vapidity. Here, Ashley's aunt's pernicious use of technology prevents Ashley from existing as her authentic self. The subtext: The "empowering" version of Ashley is a fake one, a product, meant to hoodwink girls like Rachel. Case in point: When Ashley's in pop-star mode, she sings a hilariously edited version of Nine Inch Nails' "Head Like A Hole," in which the chorus goes: "Hey, yeah whoa-ho, I'm on a roll, riding so high, achieving my goals" (except that first line suspiciously sounds like "hey, I'm a ho"). After Ashley breaks free from the drug-induced coma, she gets to thrash to the real version of the song, which she explains is a tune she wrote about her "shitty aunt."