April 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Black Mirror “Beyond The Sea”

Series Six, Episode Three

Well, here’s an extra-long episode with a cast made up of recognizable actors.  Set in an alternate 1969, there’s Aaron Paul and Josh Hartnett as a pair of astronauts and Kate Mara as Paul’s wife back on Earth.  Also, there’s another member of the Culkin family (Rory this time) as a murderous, Mansion family-style hippie.  You know, the worst kind of hippie.

And yes, Paul and Mara do have scenes together.

Many of the better Black Mirror episodes do this thing where the implications of what comes next is where the true horror begins.  The second series episode “Be Right Back” goes that way when a woman gets a robot that looks and sounds exactly like her late husband, but the robot can only respond with things the dead man said on social media, so as lifelike as it looks, it isn’t the real thing, and she has to basically live with this unaging reminder of a dead man in her attic even years after the fact.  That’s just one example off the top of my head.

Now consider this one here.  Two astronauts are on a deep space mission together.  They need each other to work together to survive, but they also have the ability to transfer their consciousness to these robotic replicas back on Earth so they can spend time with their wives and children.  Harnett’s David lives in a city and is a local celebrity.  Paul’s Cliff just moved the family to a remote farm.  Tragedy strikes when David goes home to find Culkin and his associates in his house where he’s seen as some sort of abomination.  They quickly subdue David and murder his wife and kids.  Lonely and miserable, David’s demeanor could mean trouble for Cliff.  As such, Cliff and his wife Lana decide to let David use Cliff’s replica to experience life on Earth as a form of therapy because, among other things, if David doesn’t get his head screwed on straight, it could just as easily be the end of Cliff out in space.

That actually means Aaron Paul ends up playing two different characters in this one.  He’s both Cliff and David-in-the-Cliff-replica.  Given how much Paul’s Jesse Pinkman was known for a lot of yelling, it’s a much more softspoken performance, but that’s usually how Black Mirror rolls anyway.  It also means I got three good actors giving good performances, even if I don’t see as much of Hartnett as I do the other two.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, this was a hell of downer ending.  Cliff and Lana realize David is falling for Lana and that’s causing problems for both Cliff and Lana.  Cliff decides he’s going to stop letting David use the replica, but David finds a way to slip down there and murders both Lana and Cliff’s son Henry with the replica body, something Cliff learns when he goes down and finds the replica hands, that look so much like his own, covered in blood.  The episode ends with David pushing a chair out for Cliff and saying, “Have a seat.”

So, to review, Cliff moved his family to a remote location.  They are on Earth while he is in space on a six year mission that requires him to keep working with the very man who murdered Lana and Henry with Cliff’s own hands (sort of).  This isn’t the sort of thing he can turn around and fly home for, and now he’s stuck with this man.  Cliff didn’t hurt David’s family, and David was stepping over a number of lines.  This one is really the sort of episode where I would want to know more, but the episode also wisely knows when to cut things off.  This is one of those episodes that really wants the audience to think about the tragic implications of how ordinary people use and misuse technology that was never one designed to do the things they ultimately use for it, but they easily can.  It’s stark, unforgiving, and cold.

It’s basically Black Mirror at its best.