Black Mirror “Be Right Back”

This episode hit the Black Mirror sweet spot: it was tender and creepy at the same time.

A young couple, Martha (Hayley Atwell) and Ash (Domhnall Gleason), are moving out to a house in the country. She’s an artist of some kind. He, well, tends to update social media a lot. Sadly, Ash is killed the day after the move-in in a car accident while returning the rental van by himself.

But this is Black Mirror. How can we make it worse? Well, a friend can tell Martha that there’s this service that can replicate a dead loved one’s personality based off his or her social media output, and seeing Martha so down, she signs Martha up. Martha wants nothing to do with this, as distraught as she is, but then she realizes she’s pregnant. And when the e-mail from “Ash” comes in, she talks to him. And it sure sounds like him. It makes his sorts of jokes and all. She even talks to him by phone. She’s really missing the guy, and this seems so close.

And really, why not take it another step and order the experimental android double that you can download the AI into?

That sure seemed like a good idea, but Martha soon learns a harsh lesson: it may look almost exactly like Ash, it may speak in his voice, and it may be dynamite in the sack, but it’s still not Ash. If Ash didn’t share it online in one form or another, the android doesn’t know it. He doesn’t argue. He doesn’t react emotionally unless told to. He’s flat and lifeless, and that makes him more painful than losing Ash in the first place.

It also means Martha can’t tell Robo-Ash to destroy himself, because then he’ll do a mostly convincing begging for his life moment and she can’t bear to get rid of the thing.

What does she do? She puts it in the attic and lets her daughter, years down the road, visit Robo-Ash on weekends and her birthday. And she’ll live with that heartbreaking regret for the rest of her days.

See? Tender and creepy. And deeply, deeply sad.

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