It ends on a super-depressing note
Seriously. I half hate it, half love it.
The entire episode feels like it wants to say something about the internet's power to dehumanize people, how the person you are behind your black mirror can become a vastly different person, or altogether creature, than the person you are in real life. Time magazine's Joel Stein recently wrote a cover story about trolling, and his article touched on this transformative phenomenon.
"If you need help improving your upload speeds, the web is eager to help with technical details," wrote Stein back in August. "But if you tell it you’re struggling with depression it will try to goad you into killing yourself. Psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. At some point, everyone, no matter how desensitized by their online experience, is liable to get freaked out by a big enough or cruel enough threat."
The problem is, Kenny never sees this threat; there's no confrontation in the traditional sense. Before "Dance" ends, he's ordered to fight another man to the death. A drone hovers by, out of reach, to watch. But we don't see anything. Instead, a super-depressing montage rolls, one that shows the hacker exposing the sins of every character we've met, just for the heck of it. All of Mindy's victims, including Kenny, receive the Trollface. All their tasks -- everything we sat through in the last 52 minutes -- were completed for nought. It's a sour punch line.
But that's kind of the point. Though we never meet Mindy, we meet several other threats: all those people who hide behind their phones and computers to fulfill their sick desires. Kenny's targeted because he's "looking at kids," as his mother puts it. Flynn's character gets caught trying to cheat on his wife with a prostitute. The troll in this episode isn't just a troll, but a radical vigilante -- an internet version of Jigsaw -- who serves the same brutal justice we see in "White Bear," and who makes us ask the same question: which characters are truly depraved?
All of them are, to a degree, because in "Shut Up and Dance," the internet's anonymity doesn't breed heroes.