March 2, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Black Mirror “Arkangel”

Series Four, Episode Two.

So, there’s parenting and then there’s parenting.

Here’s the thing:  what if you could implant some technology into your kid to know where they are at all times while also protecting them and monitoring their health?  Would you do it?

Well, nervous single mom Marie (Rosemarie DeWitt) will.  Marie was already somewhat jumpy when she wasn’t sure if her newborn daughter Sara was OK at birth, and then later we see her taking the now older Sara (age unknown, she looks about six but is still spoon-fed her food and rides around in a stroller) down the street and avoiding a large, barking dog.  But then Sara wanders away from a playground to follow a cat while Marie is distracted, well…

You really can’t trust cats not to cause trouble.

As such, Marie opts to give her kid an experimental tracking device from a company called “Arkangel”.  What does it do?  Well, with the use of a special tablet, Marie can monitor where her child is at all times.  She can monitor her kid’s heart rate and nutrition.  And she can even use the chip in Sara’s head to censor anything that might look or sound stressful.  Since it’s an early trial, Sara would be used in a free demo.  The system seems to work fine.

Oh, wait.  Maybe not.  Sara can’t see her grampa, the guy who watches her during the day, having a heart attack of some kind and doesn’t know to get the phone.  Fortunately, Marie sees what’s happening and calls an ambulance.

A couple years later, she can’t see the horrifying videos a classmate is showing around the playground.  That causes her to wonder what’s going on, and she can’t even see her own blood when she deliberately stabs herself in the finger.  A slap to Marie gets her taken to the doctor.  It seems keeping the stress out has stunted her emotional development.  Oh, and Arkangel is illegal in Europe and probably going to be illegal in the United States very soon.  The only thing Marie can do is turn off the monitoring system and put it away.  Sara can now see stressful stuff, like that barking dog and the horrifying videos her classmate decides to show her (which seems to consist of porn and ISIS beheadings).

Fortunately, Sara grows up to be a fairly normal 15 year old (played by an actress who is obviously older than that).  Everything seems to be going well (heck, she even befriended that barking dog) until she does a normal teenage thing and sneaks out on a date with her slightly sleazy boyfriend (he’s not that bad all things being equal), and when Marie can’t find her, well…she turns the system back on and sees Sara losing her virginity to the borfriend.

Does Marie confront her daughter then?  No.  She’s embarrassed.

When Sara tries some coke that boyfriend Trick is selling temporarily until he can get his own place?  That sends a new alert to Marie.

Oh, and Marie finds out Sara is pregnant and slips her some morning-after type drugs.  This comes after Marie told the “junky boyfriend” (who didn’t really use his own product) to stay away from Sara since Marie is always watching.

But, you know, when Sara realizes someone slipped her the abortion drug, she figures things out.  And then when she confronts her mom, tries to reset the system, but instead puts the anti-stress system back on, allowing Sara to bash her mom unconscious with the tablet before getting it back on, seeing what she did, and fleeing before Marie could wake up.  Sara hitchhikes out of town, and Marie can’t track her with a broken tablet.  It’s sad and tragic (or, you know, just another Black Mirror episode).

This one was directed by Jodie Foster.  Good work from her here.