March 2, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Black Mirror “Playtest”

Series Three, Episode Two.

There’s probably a lesson to this story.

Meet Cooper.  He’s an American backpacking around the world and avoiding calls from his mother.

Why is Cooper doing this?  Well, he was close to his dad and took care of the old man during his decline due to Alzheimer’s disease, and when Cooper’s dad finally died, he had to get out for a while.  He never really was close to his mother.

On the final leg of his journey, he’s in London and is a victim of identity theft.  As he has no money to get home, what is a generally genial guy like Cooper supposed to do?  Well, the girl he met in London for a one night stand that went a little further had an idea.  On his own, Cooper had an app that allowed him to look for odd jobs for quick cash, and a reclusive video game company needs a play tester.  If Cooper can send a photo of anything there for his new internet reporter girlfriend, he can make more than enough money to fly home.

Does Cooper get into the castle-looking game company?  Well, yes.  He’s kind of a doofus making Harry Potter references, but it seems British people are mostly polite.  And though his phone is confiscated before getting to the testing room, his liability waiver is missing a sheet, so he does manage to photograph…something while the company woman is out of the room.  She comes back, sticks something in the back of Cooper’s neck, and then phone goes off again as Cooper’s mom calls yet again.

The woman finds that odd.

Actually, the game is like a 3D whack-a-mole that only Cooper can see.  It’s kinda fun.  Then he’s invited to try a new horror game.  He finds himself inside a fake “room” where things gradually get creepier.  He can get out if it gets too intense.  Sure, the large spider is one thing.  The moving painting.  The creepy guy that looks like his high school bully.  The giant spider with the same guy’s face.  The girlfriend showing up and failing a Turing test before stabbing him.  Now Cooper wants out.

He can’t get out.

He can’t remember who he is.

When he snaps back to the office he started in, he’s told he was in the game for under a second.

Then he goes home to see his mom doesn’t remember him, just like his dad did once upon a time.

Oh, but then we find out that .04 seconds into the original test, when his mom called him, the signal interfered with the connection and fried Cooper’s brain.  He’s dead.  His last word was, “Mom!”

So yeah, there’s a lesson here.  Call your mom.  Talk to her when she wants to talk to you.  Or don’t engage in corporate espionage.  Or maybe follow proper smartphone rules.  They’re there for a reason.

That was creepy.