Hey y'all, it's been a minute since I did a Black Mirror so I figured I'd leap into Only Four Years Behind. Roll with me on the S2:E2 White Bear recap, won't you?
Victoria Skillane (Lenora Crichlow) wakes up with a massively sore head and bandaged wrists, which seem to mystify her. There's a television across from her (LG! I strongly dislike LG products) with a weird, staticky pattern.
There are two open bottles of pills spilled on the carpet in front of her, she's looking more and more confused by the second. She walks around a bit and finds a mirror, apparently the whole shaggy sweaty headed thing is not normal either. She turns off the TV and heads downstairs, where there is another TV with that symbol, raspberry puke shag carpeting and water, blessed water.
Victoria explores a bit, noting the date: October 18 (year not given) and stops to look at some pictures. There's one of her and a man (looks hella photoshopped) and a separate pic of a smiling young girl. She stares at the girl and a flashback appears to short her melon out. She keeps the picture with her as she turns off the TV and puts on a hoodie and shoes waiting for her by the door. They fit!
Our confused person wanders around outside, calling greetings to everyone she sees in windows, but they're all videotaping her. That's a bit odd, yes? She hears a small girl taking a picture and follows her, to find...more people recording her from inside their homes. She can't remember who she is! Why is nobody talking to her?
A man with the same face as the TV comes out of nowhere with a gun
And chases her while a bunch of people follow him, STILL recording with their phones. People are wicket cold in this alternate reality.
Victoria runs down the street, it looks like the worst race ever, nobody's cheering, everyone silently recording her terror and I haven't seen not one cup of gatorade.
She makes it to a gas station where the one person willing to use her words is trying to peel out before getting shot. This is Jem (Tuppence Middleton but we know her as Riley from Sense8, don't we?!) and she's with Damien (Ian Bonar) and I FINK they're robbing that convenience store. Victoria pushes her way inside and now she has a sort of sanctuary, but is also a sitting duck. It's all glass windows!
The people have gathered at the windows to film the man shooting at Victoria, she wants to know what's wrong with these people??? "Where have you been??" demands Jem, now go get that fire extinguisher! The man in red makes it inside, poor Damien gets the lot of it but the women get away. Thanks, Damien, you were a good, if smelly-looking lad.
Damien makes his way outside, he's been gutshot and the man stops to video him along with everyone else. Victoria gets more feedback and flashes as she stares at the armed man; is he her husband and father to her child that she sees in the flashbacks? That's a warped kind of honour killing, innit?? Not that there's a NORMAL honour killing.
Jem and Victoria run, to hide again when a 4x4 pulls up and discharges some more bizarre looking people.
A carving knife? Really? They like to scare people, Jem advises, er, DUH. They run to an abandoned house and we have two groups defined now: the Hunters and the Onlookers.
Jem finally understands that Victoria has no idea what's going on, she'll explain but not just yet because there are Onlookers taking pictures of them and that's how the Hunters find victims. 9/10 people stopped caring about anything and started filming everything when that staticky symbol came on their screens.
The Hunters were normal people that figured out that they could do whatever they wanted, people would just watch and film and follow so they just did what they liked. Jem figures the signal released a part of people that was always there and once it was out...
Victoria wants to know what they are doing now? They aren't doing anything, they're heading to White Bear to take out a transmitter, which makes it safe. The mention of White Bear splits Victoria's head in two, it brings up flashes of filming the young girl. Video chatting?
Her distress leads her outside, where she chases after the two Onlookers filming them, hitting one with a can and causing him to drop his phone. She reaches for it but there's Jem with a tazer, warning her not to look. Looking at the phone causes people to change and even with threat of violence, Victoria wants more than anything to see what they're looking at and she can't help it. She looks. It's her daughter and her fella and the static grows and she drops it.
The Hunters are coming now, brought by the Onlookers and the women have to RUN. A van swerves out in front of them, it's Baxter (Michael Smiley) and Victoria does not want to go with him. He is saving them, though, the electric carving knife hits the door right after and they're away.
Victoria is having flashbacks in pieces about the woods; she's been to White Bear with her family. She just can't quite get the shape of it yet.
Baxter's suddenly chatty up in the woods where there are no bars; what's with Victoria's wrists, then? Serious mental illness? What about Jem, what's wrong with her? They must have serious weaknesses because that's what put them on the receiving end of all this. What's his then? A gun. He pulls out a motherhumping shotgun and directs them through the trees, Jem leading Victoria with her eyes covered.
He leads them to a cleared area and Victoria can now see where a number of people have been crucifed, they look really small but some look like men, so it might be perspective. Eerie little glen.
Baxter's phone rings (with no bars?) landing the ladies a short reprieve, Jem takes the opportunity to escape but Victoria is paralysed with fear. This is not just an eerie glen but rather a torture pit, with Onlookers gathering as he swings around a drill for their viewing pleasure.
A shot rings out, it's Jem and she's come back for her rucksack, killing Baxter along the way. Time to go, Victoria. Again, all the people standing around just watch, nobody intervenes and killing Baxter turned out to just be a good way to draw the Onlookers away from what they're doing.
Jem is determined to take down the transmitter, she has a whole plan involving fire and thinking it will be really easy to gain access. Victoria has a bad feeling about White Bear, it looks as though those wounds on her wrists were made by restraints, not a suicide attempt as everyone has assumed. Her unease deepens, she's been here before, watching another fire.
They make it into the control room, Jem splashing around lots of liquid and then suddenly the Hunters are there. Carving Knife gets Jem, which distracts the one with the gun, so Victoria grabs it and shoots him. With glitter.
The wall pulls apart and reveals a studio audience, they're clapping and cheering as Victoria is led to a wooden chair and put in restraints by the Hunters and Jem.
Baxter is not dead, but rather the Emcee of this shitshow, time to tell Victoria who she is! Wait, is that a mugshot? And a mugshot of her fiance? You bet your arse it is.
Victoria and her fiance Ian have just concluded their trial for the kidnapping and murder of that little girl whose picture she's been carrying around. Well, her fiance is dead, which delayed things, but before that they tortured and murdered the little girl, which Victoria recorded on her phone. The little girl had a white bear that became a symbol of justice in this case.
This is reminiscent of the horrific murders committed by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka.
Victoria scream-cries loudly while the crowd boos and calls her a murderer; how does she like it now? Having people just watch and not help her as that poor little girl's pleas were similarly ignored?
She's strapped into a dystopian PopeMobile
And then brought back to the house where she woke up. Baxter sets her in front of the TV so she can watch the video she took of the little girl they murdered as her mind is wiped clean. The symbol she saw in the screen and on hats everywhere is the negative image of her fiance's tattoo.
Baxter and the crew set up the house just as she found it, with the shoes and the water glass, all accompanied by her screaming.
We get to see the other side of the curtain fully now, this is the White Bear Justice Park and there are rules, doncha know?
This is entertainment for the masses as well as justice, of course, make sure you have fun and stay safe! And so we see another day in the life of Victoria from production's point of view, lots of safety measures just out of sight and that's why Jem threatened to taze Victoria, because she hurt a guest. Keep your distance! And we're out.
That's the beauty of Black Mirror, you can absolutely see people doing exactly this online; just looks odd in person, the chasing with phones and close proximity to danger and death. Not very different from following a Twitter feed, izzit? Or perhaps April the giraffe's long-awaited very public birth plan. Most certainly the Cleveland murder that people kept retweeting.
The twist at the end, where we find that our victim is actually the perpetrator and that we are watching justice and not vengeance, that makes it even more meta. Because we like to do THAT even more, don't we? Justice is even more fun when there is public involvement, nothing like a good old shaming to drive the point home. In this case, it's hard to argue against how Victoria is treated, because it's an apt punishment for her crime. BUT. Is public sanctioning of torture okay? Because that's what she's in Justice Jail for, right? You can almost see the popcorn stands just out of view.
That is the brilliance of Black Mirror, layers upon layers of moral dilemmas interspersed with only slightly exaggerated examples of our actual behavior.
Until next time you lot, cheers