Hi everyone and welcome back to Black Mirror. It always makes me clenchy to dive into into these murky waters, let's see if we can't find some redeeming qualities in S1:E3 The Entire History of You, rolling after the break
We open in a fancy boardroom with Liam (Toby Kemmel) in his Appraisal discussing some new areas of litigation his law firm is moving into. He's being considered for the Retrospective Parenting team, Max (David LaPaine), Robbie (Karl Collins) and Leah (Elizabeth Chan) explain. You know, suing your parents for insufficient attention leading to lack of confidence and your shit life.
Toby just want to make sure; this law firm is okay with doing that? Ethically and er, morally? YEP! Is he? Sure, yeah, he means yes.
Okay great, he'll need an exhaustive re-do then next week, and then they'll let him know. Exhaustive re-do sounds... doesn't matter, he isn't getting the job, Max "really hope to look forward to ...seeing you again."
Liam runs out and catches a cab to the airport, using a fob to pay that also is a remote control to access his memories. He goes over and over the meeting he just attended; he knows it's blown. His eyes look HELLA weird while accessing his brain, cloudy and unfocused.
He RUNS though the airport to security, where they do something a little different. He has to give them access to his last week of memories to pass screening. Is that the current equivalent of politicians checking social media before allowing people into Town Hall meetings? No dissenters allowed during our team circle jerk!
Jeff (Rashan Stone) is furious; he's showing Ffion (Jodie Whittaker from Broadchurch!! So nice to see her in a different show!) and Jonas (Tom Cullen from The Five! I'm sorry for how I wrote about The Five. You know, not sorry enough to change it, because that series was...uneven, but sorry enough to feel a bit guilty when I see the actors out and about) his memory of the frayed carpet in his posh hotel suite: he paid for a perfect trip!
That's just the beginning, however (it's like FACEBOOK!) but thankfully Liam's arrival at the party breaks that up a bit. He doesn't remember the hostess Lucy (Amy Beth Hayes) until he plays back another memory, she clearly doesn't remember him at all. He sees his wife Ffion standing too close and talking to quietly to Jonas; oh, he's back early!
Has there ever been a circumstance in the fullness of time when you want your partner to say "OH you're back early!" in an overbright tone while shifting quickly away from the person they were just talking to?
How does it work in this future with memories and spouses? Do you get full access to your partner's memories? Can you tell if they are altered? Do you just wait until they accidentally leave their phone and / or Facebook unlocked?
Because Ffion has something going on
Another guest joins the party, Colleen (Rebekah Staton) and Liam, smarting from Jonas's casual familiarity with his wife, introduces himself as an almost-unemployed / unemployable lawyer. This leads to a lively discussion of his appraisal. Jeff insists he throw it up on the TV, let's all have a look! Lucy thinks that's a great idea, they'll appraise the appraisal! Liam is getting quite flustered when Jonas jumps in and rescues him, which doesn't help.
He asks about Jonas after, oh sure, one of the old crowd, mmm hmm. The old crowd can sense uncertainty, you know, old boyfriends and girlfriends circling like sharks smelling blood in the water. Liam takes a minute to re-do his first impression of Ffion and Jonas talking when he walked in.
It's supper time and we get some Jonas backstory; he's just been through a bad breakup, just before getting married. I think that's generally a brilliant time for a breakup, but then I hate weddings. The old adage is true: the less the relationship means, the more you spend on the wedding. If I ever get married again, nobody's gonna know it until well after the fact. There is too much false status attached to "belonging" to someone.
Lucy's got him covered. She ushers in Hallam (Phoebe Fox) and introduces her directly to Jonas... then everyone else. He carries on, complaining about being bored and scrolling through to get off to past redos; that's what they call memories they make on their Grains! I've figured it out! The Grain is the memory chip implanted behind their ears which makes the redo-ing possible. Everyone clear? Good and by the way, Hallam hasn't got a Grain! She was "gouged" 12 months ago, excruciatingly painful she tells Liam, who's showing interest for the first time in anything.
Jonas makes a point of stroking her scar; Liam smirks while she explains that the police think her memory was stolen to order; none of if was encrypted so someone saw every piece of her life. She managed to keep her sight, and after a few days, she liked it. Nobody understands that.
Jonas breaks the silence; there's a whole movement, isn't there? Going Grainless? Hookers are totally into that and I GUESS SO. Colleen seems completely threatened by this talk of no redos, she tensely declares that she just couldn't do it. Paul (Jimi Mistry) thinks this is a great time to playback some redos and take the tension out of the room.
Colleen can't hold it for long, though, does Hallam know that organic memories are shite? (paraphrased) Things can be implanted, mis-remembered, there's just CHAOS. Hallam is just happier now, which seems to further unsettle Colleen.
It's like Colleen works for Twitter!
On the way home, Liam runs his Appraisal redo for Ffion, who is able to provide a little positive feedback anyway. Leah made a ticking motion!
So... see that Jonas character much? *fake nonchalant stare into the night* "No, no, not really" which means MY MOUTH IS TOO FULL FOR TALKING, LIAM. He starts in; bit of a knob, isn't he? I mean, blah blah *basic male posturing, may as well have beat his chest and hooted* Ffi wants to know why Liam invited him over, then?! There's Jonas, driving behind them, cheers!
Not many laughs in Black Mirror, I'll take it!
Liam says he knew that Ffi wanted Jonas to come over, but I'm wondering if he wants to get to the bottom of their obvious...connection. Ffi plays the invite back; if he really wants to get rid of Jonas, say it when they get there.
Liam does indeed run Jonas off, as transparently as possible with an added chest thump
It's okay, Jonas has a backup plan! Several insincere hugs later, the interloper is scared away and it's time for Happy Families. They dismiss the babysitter Gina (Mona Goodwin), settling in with nightcaps and Liam begins in earnest.
So. He knows he doesn't own her, right? And if there IS something going on with Jonas, YES, she owes him honesty due to their committed relationship but he gets that he doesn't OWN her, right?
He picks and picks and picks and finally Ffion spills: she and Jonas had a bit of a thing before. That was patently obvious, how long ago was this? And how big of a thing? Liam takes the news of her sleeping with Jonas well, chalking it up to past relationships and moving on to their current dynamic. Just kidding, he makes fun of "oily dude" Jonas as Mr. Marrakesh, who he had thought was somebody super cool and not him.
He keeps saying it's hilarious, but he's not laughing.
He's interrogating now. Was she with Jonas a week or a month? Because the first time they slept together, she said it was a week, now she's saying month. Let's roll tape!
It devolves into name-calling, ending with Liam saying "Sometimes, you're a bitch" which she redoes and redoes all the way up to bed without him.
He comes in later and apologizes; they make up in the usual way and it is SO CREEPY yet hilarious that they are both accessing Grain redos while they are humping. You know, when they aren't facing each other. I was going to gif it, then, er, maybe not. He finishes and they both snap off their remotes at the same time, so farking CREEPY.
Liam goes down for a drink and to watch the supper over and over and over again.
The next morning he's working on redos from slightly earlier, applying a lipreader to Jonas and Ffion talking before they saw him.
He sees Gina and brings her over for a second opinion; is Jonas saying he's committed to his cornflakes at dinner as funny as Ffion busting out laughing would warrant or not? Is it? Is it, Gina? JUST SAY IT, GINA, ITS NOT FUNNY!! Just a funny little game, Liam calls this. More "hilarity" I'm guessing. Wait, who wants Jonas to come back to their house more, Ffi or Jonas? WHO, GINA???
Ffi escorts Gina to the door while Liam obsesses a bit more. He's dug up a bunch of comparisons between how Ffii looks and acts around Liam as compared to Jonas, and ohhhh, in the redos that Paul was playing back last night there is Ffi and Jonas making out in the corner. Definitely NOT in Marrakesh.
So how long was it, the interrogation continues, one week, one month, Marrakesh? 6 months (which means at least twice that) and then they're into it. I kind of love her equivocation "not everything that isn't true is a lie, Liam." I'm pretty sure that's not the case, Ffion!
He drinks and drinks and drinks and DRINKS, going over the supper redo over and over until he gets in his car and drives to Jonas's house, where he talks his way in the gate.
Liam meets Jonas with a big hug and then runs into his house to grab some more booze for threatening. Hallam walks out of the bedroom and asks Liam to leave; I have a very bad feeling that Liam is going to take Jonas's Grain implant by force.
A tussle starts, Liam clocking Jonas across the head with a bottle and I really do not want to see, please.
We skip to Liam passed out behind the wheel of his car, he's hit a tree. He starts to play his redos back, man I WISH I could have done that some of those drinking all night times! That would be brilliant!
We're back at the fight; Hallam is calling the police while Liam breaks a bottle and threatens to gouge Jonas if he doesn't delete all his data on Ffi. Jonas does it, deleting everything and Liam screams "stay away from my house!!" as the redo ends.
Liam goes home.
Those memories, they're tricky, see. So when Jonas deleted all his redos on the screen, Liam had time to record them and look at them at his leisure. Including the clearly post-coital one from 18 months ago. Is he the father of Jody's baby, or is Jonas? And the sex was in that room, which is a hard touch
Liam and I agree; when you suspect something, it's always better when it turns out to be true, or you drive yourself mad.
She tries to explain, but there's not much you can say about that, can you? They had been having trouble, Liam stomping off for five days and that slip-up was on day 4, which Liam calls "heroic" again making me laugh.
As long as she's talking, she's lying, so what Liam really wanted to know is... did they use a condom? She swears yes, and we know where this is going. I would not want to see my partner putting on a condom on someone else, however much I was planning to leave.
She swears she deleted it, but she didn't and she's trying to now, but he needs to see it, Ffi and I think we're going to have to.
It didn't SOUND like there was a break for a condom..
Liam is alone.
He walks through his house, replaying redos of Ffion and baby Jody and their happy home. She did love him, so much.
He's going to gouge himself, you watch. I can't. I knew it from the second he touched his implant the first time. And with that, she's gone and we're out.
Well. I don't feel quite so shouty as usual after watching a Black Mirror episode. Have I become acclimated? No, I think this was just an episode that resonated with me less, as I have very little on social media. That was the point, I think, that we put our entire selves in the public eye, for judging, for obsessing over and for US to obsess over. Colleen, who was disturbed that someone could just use their own brain to remember stuff; that was very much like "if it wasn't posted on Facebook, did it actually happen?" I had a grown man ask me once what kind of Facebook stalking I had done on him. I just stared. But I get that lure, that wanting to slide invisibly into someone's life, someone's history. Unfortunately, there's so very little there, really, everything on social media is manipulated to appear as normal and aspirational / inspirational as possible, which is why I can only dip my toe in.
Or is it about how much your partner owns you? Do they owe you their brain, their memories, their entire self? SHOULD we give access to our deepest thought, not just to the security officers at the airport, but to our loved ones? How about having acquaintances critique a difficult appraisal? Isn't that what we do when we vague-book on social media, aren't we inviting that with our "Blue day. Send pics of kitties and / or Vincent D'Onofrio nudes." We've put so much online and out there that there isn't that line anymore, we crossed it long ago, selling our privacy and uniqueness for Likes and Hearts.
And at the base of it all: if we can't remember someone, did they exist? If we erase every single memory and artifact we have of someone, do we still know them? What it we could Unfollow someone right from our cerebral cortex, would that take away the pain of having lost them? I think I would rather take the pain, but that's probably because I've had a shite couple of months. You should hear me carefully not explain on social media.
Until next time! Cheers