Season 3, Episode 6
Hated In The Nation
Directed by James Hawes
Written by Charlie Brooker
One offensive act, one terrible mistake, and millions are there to take you to task. We’ve all seen some kind of abuse on social media, whether it was directed at ourselves, those around us, or the celebrities whose exploits we follow. Sometimes it comes with a vague sense of righteousness, one that gets pretty uncomfortable once the thousands telling someone to go die vastly outweigh whatever stupid thing they said in the first place. Freedom of speech and the safety of internet anonymity often gives rise to harmful behaviour in those who are otherwise decent, ethical people. It is this phenomenon that Black Mirror chooses to focus on for its final episode of season 3, one that is effectively feature-length.
For a show so firmly set in the socio-political, the choice to structure “Hated In The Nation” like a police procedural is a little surprising. I was actually excited for this episode the most, entirely because of the casting of Kelly MacDonald – a wonderful actress who seems to be incredible in everything she is in. It’s quite a shame then that she is given so little to do. She has such a great power to her speech that her DCI is best when given a sharp insult to sling, or a dry witticism – which come too infrequently. And when she’s actually given the time to react dramatically, she shows off her talents, but it feels like too little too late. Which might be an appropriate way to summarise the episode itself – which is doesn’t have enough ideas to fill its 89-minute runtime.
If this all sounds critical, it’s only because of the standard the show has set for itself. “Pretty good” feels like a huge step down from a series that has given us television like “White Bear” and “Fifteen Million Merits,” but is still worth watching. The story unfolds like a mystery that inevitably branches off into near-future science-fiction with splashes of horror. The set-up is all brilliant, and relatable to anyone who notices Twitter trends and social media outrages. The pay-off is a little drawn-out, a little meandering, but a solid closer to the story it was telling. Maybe it was just the similarities I saw between this and the very first episode of the show, or the tropes of procedural drama that were presented but never subverted. By its end, there’s no real spark that kept me thinking about the genuinely interesting debates it hosts, and no desire to spend any more time in that world. The idea of humankind as a hive that finds comfort in the ostracisation of others is a compelling one, and Black Mirror is always one to find tragedy in our species’ failures, but this is definitely a weaker example of today’s bleakest and best TV.
Featured Image: Netflix