Hi guys! I'm in a bit of a slump; there is nothing better to snap me out of it than Black Mirror, so let's roll S2:E3 The Waldo Moment. Because politics is SO TOPICAL as always because la plus ca change, correct?
We open with a nervous but tidy young woman waiting in a fancy hallway; this is Gwendolyn Harris (Chloe Pirrie) and she's throwing herself into the ring as a candidate (presumably Labour) to replace the previous MP who is leaving for reasons we'll find out shortly. She's interviewed by a panel who don't think she's funny (a years-long murder spree WOULD be just the sort of thing that would make you ineligible for a life of public service, you'd think) but appear to like her honesty regarding treating this position as a stepping stone. They'll be in touch.
Over at a political funny show Tonight For One Week Only (think The Jon Stewart Show but sliiiightly less cerebral); showrunner Tamsin (Christina Chong) is reviewing the news of Tory politician Jason Gladwell's fall from grace due to inappropriate "correspondence" with a 15 year old girl, THAT'S why Gwen's getting a shot, maybe. Tamsin pushes that story to the top of the show and goes looking for Jamie Salter (Daniel Rigby) but he can't talk, he's busy crying on the phone to his ex Rachel. It's not HIM that's big, it's WALDO.
It's showtime! Host of Tonight For One Week Only Conor Simpson (James Lance) is really hammering the Gladwell revelations but I'll do my best not to be pedantic, even though being disgusting with a 15 year old girl isn't pedophilia, it's Ephebophilia so I guess I didn't try too hard, did I?
It's time for Waldo! Which means Jamie's gotta warm up for his piss-taking
And show off his interview with Tory candidate Liam Monroe (Tobias Menzies!! From Game of Thrones and The Night Manager - is it his face that keeps getting him cast as a tweasel, do you think? I love him anyway, isn't that the best name?) wherein the interviewee clearly doesn't know he's on a show about piss-taking.
Politicians try to make the world a fairer place? I bet it starts out like that for most. I LOVE YOU PETER RUSSO, HOUSE OF CARDS SEASON ONE FOR LYFE.
At the after party, a still-morose Jamie is being wrangled by Tamsim, the station manager Jack (Jason Flemyng!! From Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and The Red Violin!!) wants Jamie to talk to Jim (Kenneth Collard) from The Channel. Jamie is all trepidation but it's good news: Liam Monroe has lodged a complaint and they want to ride that publicity wave by creating a standalone Waldo show.
Jamie is not as excited as he should be, amirite? This is a big break, he's acting like he's been diagnosed with something you can't talk about among polite company.
Gwendolyn got the job too!
His attitude isn't much different at the pilot planning session; he's acting as though someone has a gun to his head to do this show. The team all wants to hammer Monroe some more, but Jamie's been there and done that already!
It goes off the rails just then, somehow Waldo will now be running as a candidate in that by-election completely against his will, with a side of harassing Monroe.
Jamie and Tamsin pull up outside a Monroe campaign stop; his giant projected cartoon body entertaining the crowd with his lowbrow humour.
I'm just going to say this: Ed the Sock was crude af but sometimes redeemably brilliant.
Waldo's next Monroe attack takes place at a formal campaign stop; did I call Waldo's humour lowbrow? I can't decide if that sufficiently covers a cartoon faux-wanking all over someone in front of a crowd. I'll get back to you. Monroe tries to make the point that Waldo doesn't actually exist, but I don't think that landed.
Now the gang is traveling; Jamie gets an eyeful of Gwendolyn Harris, whom he doesn't recognise as the Labour candidate even though Tamsin totally gave him a dossier.
Jamie makes his move; sliding over and introducing himself as soon as Gwendolyn's campaign leader leaves: he outs himself as Waldo immediately, which I thought was odd. She agrees to have one drink with him.
Several alcoholic bevvies later; he's asking why she doesn't just tell people what she thinks: there is no way she'll win anyway! Why not go full Bullworth?
Never go full Bullworth.
They end up humping like very polite bunnies; he cries after, he hasn't been happy for a long time and this is nice. Can he have her number? HAHAHAHAHA she and I both laugh and he gets the digits.
He's texting already the next morning but she can't talk while she's door to door campaigning; in fact once her campaign manager Roy (Michael Shaeffer) gets wind that she's been talking to rival candidate Waldo, he forbids her to see him. If she told Waldo about their campaign, which she sort of sees as a joke because she knows the odds, he could use that against her next, when he gets tired of mocking Monroe.
She holds the party line, surprisingly, telling Jamie she can't see him while all this is on; ah his poor face.
Good thing they don't have an important Question Time panel debate to do that night.
At the panel; Waldo does his usual thing and everyone laughs and claps but Liam Monroe carefully takes apart Jamie, piece by piece. He exposes Jamie's career (or lack thereof) and bereft personal life and challenges him for not engaging as himself, just behind this cartoon bear.
Waldo is silent and I'm surprised Tamsin doesn't jump in at some point to pat him down or something, but what comes out after that is all Jamie. He talks about the hypocrisy of politicians and those in the business; didn't they all know Jason Gladwell? Why didn't anyone say anything?
Gwendolyn is asked a question next and hooo, now we're really at it. Jamie as Waldo tells everyone she's just there to build a show reel so she can get on TV; there she is: on TV. He challenges Monroe one more time before storming out: WHAT ARE YOU FOR??
Jamie is a deeply unhappy man.
Jack's there for a meeting, you can't avoid it! Jack's ecstatic with Waldo and Jamie's latest exploit; they've been invited on Consensus with the pitbull Philip Crane (Pip Torrens) and he wants Jamie to knock it out of the park.
Y'see, people are really responding to an "honest" and "open speaker" running for political office; none of that slick politician shite for the proletariat! They want an outsider to lead them the way with uncomfortable truths mixed liberally with fart jokes, live tweeting and reality show production quality.
HOW'S THAT WORKING OUT FOR YOU SO FAR, AMERICA? EH?
Jamie wants no part of being made to look like an arse on the national stage, even if he is in third place right now. He keeps telling everyone: Waldo isn't real! He isn't! He's a blue bear who talks about his wang a lot but young people are responding to him because they're tired of the Establishment. Voting for Waldo=Damn The Man.
Jack actually has a plan, though, get Waldo elected and then have everyone vote on policy using their phones to Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down ideas.
I was just thinking that only someone who's never read a YouTube comment section would think any of that was a good idea.
TANGENT: Don't read if you don't like personal expositions that have only tenuous connections to the show at hand! I once used to visit a website daily (FAR too much on the daily, to be honest) and there was a rumble of epic proportion with other commenters that would take far too long to explain (and I'd probably try to make myself look good beyond what I should) but ended with the owner of the website posting a "Who's Your Favourite Commentor" Contest because they liked to stir up shit. I was among the top (really, I'm hilarious, you should read me) but so were two people using troll personas. One was just sort of lame, but the other was an extremely aggressive insult-comic-dog type commentor who liked to splash around misogyny and extremely graphic sexual imagery whenever possible. He was SUPER popular, and I think it's as like here: people like to be entertained during their entertainment and most don't like to think too much. It's exciting to hear someone loudly take the piss out of established ideas plus swear a lot so you know they don't think of themselves as better than anyone else. So while I would sooner push a nail slowly into my eyeball than assume an obnoxious personality to spout anything other than what I actually think: there is definitely a market. TANGENT OVER
ANYWAY, Jack's not taking Jamie's no for an answer: guess who owns Waldo? And guess who's going on that show as Waldo whether Jamie likes it or not?
That threat is enough to bring Jamie 'round. He might be frustrated that people keep treating this blue bear as a legit person, but that's HIS illegitimate blue bear!
Consensus goes well, Philip Crane is less of a pitbull than a pushover, with Waldo running wild. Afterward, Jack and Jamie meet with Jeff Carter (David Ajala) of The Agency. Jamie and I: what Agency??
Jeff thinks Waldo, "the bear everyone likes" is exactly what's needed for a political figurehead right now. And with a "targeted hopeful message" that they will provide (of course), Waldo could be THE "global political entertainment product." Today England, tomorrow Spain! Jack is all the way on board and rigging up sails, but Jamie looks flabbergasted that his profane bear is being touted as The Next Big Thing.
I should probably mention, all the way through there have been references to a Waldo app; it may come up trumps in the end.
Gwendolyn's campaign is essentially over; the Labour party leader won't be seen with her; there goes her show reel. Liam is similarly haunted by his cartoon nemesis.
It's difficult to feel sorry for either Liam Monroe or Gwendolyn Harris; he expects the seat as his due and she doesn't care at all about the seat, only where it could take her. So you can see where a third candidate that doesn't take themselves too seriously would be attractive to the youngs, yes?
Monroe can't believe a cartoon bear is about to become the official opposition; that makes the whole system look absurd. "And maybe it is, but it built these roads." True story. We hate the cronyism and backslapping and corruption that politics seems steeped in, but does anarchy keep the trains running on time?
Jamie apologizes to Gwendolyn, but she's not having it. Everything he's done has strengthened Monroe's position (has it?) and at least she's trying to..what? Finish that sentence Gwennie, you're no better than he, at least he's honest about it. She presses him hard: what are he and Waldo FOR? Not just what they're against, but what are they FOR?
Final push for the campaign; Jamie's had enough. He starts screaming at the crowd to not vote for him; Roy from Labour throws food at the van as Jamie cheers him on. He bursts out of the van, but Jack steps into Waldo and eggs the crowd on to attack him; Jamie is not Waldo: Waldo is bigger than anyone. He's a social construct.
Jamie watches the election results from a hospital bed; Waldo came second and Liam Monroe took the seat. Jack as Waldo offers 500 quid to the first one to throw a shoe; Monroe is hit square in the face.
The credits roll as we see the future; Jamie homeless, sleeping under a tunnel and being rousted by police in scary riot gear. His attention is caught by a nearby screen, Waldo is everywhere. This seemed apt.
We're out, now that Waldo has become the international symbol of such non-specific messages of HOPE and BELIEVE. In schools, even!
The ending shows us why people stay in corrupt systems: there's a hope you can affect it, direct it, make a difference while maybe enjoying all that power. Once you're on the outside, you can't do ANYTHING, except maybe vote for a cartoon bear as a giant eff you to a system that builds the sidewalks you spit on.
I really want to believe in politicians, truly. I am one of those people who volunteers a lot because I think community service is important (even when not mandated by the court) but we set these people up for failure from the get-go. We want politicians to be perfect, but OUR kind of perfect based on our individual beliefs because that's totally possible.
Something that today's democracy does NOT address is the lack of faith people have in the process at all, having to choose between Unlikeable and Apparently Not Unelectable No Matter How Odious. I'm referring to the US but the UK has also had a banner year for impossible political results, it's chaos. And from what I can tell, there is no meaningful discourse on either side: you're either a supporter of murdery Nazis determined to kill millions with a reprehensible health care bill or you're a special snowflake cuck that should stop crying while the real leaders make the country solvent again. There seems to be no middle ground whatsoever. But like Jamie, I am neither clever or dumb enough to talk politics on a extended basis, mainly because I only end up asking questions. And people don't typically LIKE questions, they like shouting, quick quips, made up stats, funny signs and internet avatars you can't look at directly.
Until next time!