Somehow this episode didn’t surprise me much. Oh, it’s well-constructed and all that, but having gotten a good feel for the series so far, it didn’t surprise me much.
Let’s take a look at the episode in question: a soldier nicknamed Stripe is part of a unit that goes out into what seems to be Denmark hunting down “roaches,” later revealed to some sort of diseased humans that can’t be fixed. They’re scavengers that need to die and seem to be violent, looking like weird zombies more than anything else. To help out soldiers like Stripe, every one of them is implanted with something called MASS, a computerized thing that increases various senses and does other factors.
Now, here’s the thing: Black Mirror isn’t the sort of show to bring in super diseases that mutate people into zombies. Technology is always the problem, so finding out that, yes, the roaches were actually normal humans and the soldiers were killing people based off some sort of eugenics program designed to remove “weak” genes from the gene code, I wasn’t surprised. MASS made the soldiers see stuff, and when Stripes’ stopped working right, then yes, his would need to be “fixed” because he had a conscience of some kind.
Besides, Netflix and House of Cards has also taught me not to trust characters played by Michael Kelly.
I know there isn’t much to say here, but it is rather established that soldiers are trained to see enemy combatants as somehow deserving of death rather than empathy. The MASS implant just does that in a more literal, sci-fi manner. It’s rather clever, but not overly surprising in the grand scheme of things.