Well it's been a minute since we last checked in with the prescient bastages at Black Mirror, hasn't it? I'm just passing time waiting for the news of the Irish referendum on the 8th amendment, which I am fixated on. Rolling S4:E06 Black Museum after the break!
We open with sunshine and jaunty music - wait, this is Black Mirror?? Nish (Letitia Wright from Black Panther!) sings along with Always Something There to Remind Me as she drives along a windy road before pulling over to refuel the car (with solar?). It's gonna be awhile, so she wanders a bit, looking for something to do. She spies a Black Museum but it doesn't open for tours until 11.
Not one to let signs proclaiming "Tours begin at 11" stop her, Nish pulls at the door until Rolo Haynes (Douglas Hodge from, well, bloody everything: Unforgotten, Unforgiven (I may have gotten them mixed up and recapped BOTH), The Night Manager, honestly, everything) pops out to introduce himself and ask personal questions about her heritage.
Rolo searches Nish's backpack and she has to go through a metal detector to enter? What kind of a museum is this?? For the record, he makes it hum when he goes through it.
The personal questions continue as Rolo turns down the heat and Nish explores the exhibits. If it's bad, it's there!
The first display she asks about it a glowing blue cap courtesy of Dr. Peter Dawson via downtown New York. Rolo worked at a hospital that offered free healthcare for people willing to be experimented on: he was in recruitment.
We're back in New York with Rolo showing Dr. Dawson (Daniel Lapaine) what they're doing on the tenth floor. Knowledge transfer between rats! Well, knowledge didn't transfer, but physical sensations did and that's what Rolo would like Dawson working on with people. He sells it as a diagnosis tool, but why would a doctor want to feel what a sick or hurt patient feels?
Dawson is fitted with the implant, they test it with medical assistant Madge (Emily Vere Nicoll) and we're off to the races. He does excellent work with patients in pain, especially little kids who can't always articulate how they're feeling.
And then never mind the sex! He got to experience male and female orgasms all at once!
Then a patient died while he was hooked up to Dawson. Dawson passed out for 5 minutes then came back from death. He died but didn't die and when he came out the other side...he really liked pain. Really really as in beating his girlfriend during sex and almost orgasming while in the emergency room.
He started needing more and more pain, addicted to it, waiting around the emergency room for another hit. He was removed from the hospital, how long until he goes and creates that pain?
Oh yikes. Not long, and on himself, which I hadn't expected, I thought he would go out and hurt other people. OKAY NOT WATCHING HIM MUTILATE HIMSELF.
Dawson soon found what was missing: the fear. The terror of not knowing what would happen is what jacked him up. He started attacking homeless people with a drill WHICH I AM NOT WATCHING, ending up in a vegetative state, where he remains, but not with the gigantic boner Rolo added to the story for flavour.
First story over! The museum is still extremely hot, Rolo chugs almost an entire bottle of Nish's water while she watches.
Now we're on to a stuffed animal and the story of Jack (Aldis Hodge) and Carrie (Alexandra Roach) and how they got pregnant on night one! They have a little boy and everything is great until Carrie is hit by a truck and ends up in a coma for several years.
She never wakes up, but there is a technology that allows the coma patient to indicate approval or disapproval with an exterior tool. Kinda cool! Rolo approaches Jack with an idea they've been working on: implanting Carrie's consciousness into Jack's head.
I can't even imagine wanting a lover's mind in my head. Ever. OR the other way around. Hard pass.
Jack's not sure either, but Carrie seems in favour, even though it means her current body will be no more.
The operation is a success, this is All of Me, Black Mirror style!
There's hugging of their child as promised, when do we get to the
"How long can happiness really last any how?"
Jack reads 15M Merits, hahahaha, great episode, but Carrie's not enjoying how long it takes Jack to read each page of the graphic novel. Then Carrie watches Jack pee and reminds him to wash his hands, I'd be so over all of this.
4 year old Parker gets to watch his mom and dad fight inside his dad, ending when Jack feeds himself anchovies to get Carrie to shut up. That shouldn't have been funny, but!
They go back to see Rolo to see about managing their contact; what if Jack had the ability to "pause" Carrie?
Jack doesn't waste any time pausing Carrie, waking her up months later on Halloween for their anniversary. He got her a cupcake! She wants to see Parker.
It turned into a shared custody situation, Carrie coming off Pause for weekends with Parker. "It worked okay. For awhile."
Until Emily (Yasha Jackson) moved in next door and Carrie's visitation times got cut shorter and shorter.
Jack and Emily go to see Rolo, there's always "deletion"...Emily is all the way down but Jack doesn't think it's ethically right to kill her consciousness. Rolo has a suggestion! A stuffed monkey for their son who could respond in a kid-friendly way.
What that means is Carrie can either have the monkey say "Monkey loves you" or "Monkey needs a hug". Carrie doesn't understand or appreciate her new home so Emily takes the monkey aside to explain the meaning of its new life. Emily is scary. Now I need a hug.
Back in the museum, Rolo explains that such transfers became illegal (have to be able to express at least 5 emotions) and so there is Carrie, still trapped in a stuffie in this hot little museum.
Time for the Prime Exhibit!
It's a hologram of convicted murderer Clayton (Babs Olusanmokun), why does he look like he's dying when he's not real? Rolo went into the convicted murderer consciousness game after he was run out of town after the stuffie incident.
He approached Clayton in jail to get his digital rights after death, Clayton's wife Angelica (Amanda Warren from Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri!) wasn't happy but Clayton thought he'd get a pardon. He did not get a pardon, Clayton got the chair instead and Rolo got his everlasting soul for his museum.
Oh but not just to sit there in a simulated jail cell, but rather to be executed again and again by visitors to the museum, who receive a tiny screaming image of Clayton being electrocuted as a souvenir. It's not just a picture, either, but a real piece of his tortured consciousness, saved for all time in keychain.
Rolo is really struggling now, he's very hot and out of breath, turning completely red as a cool Nish advises him to sit down "if it makes it easier."
Makes what easier?
Ohhh, Nish is Clayton's daughter and she'll tell us the rest of the story. Clayton's wife started a protest that killed most of the traffic to the Black Museum.
The remaining visitors were of the unsavory kind, one rich man paying extra to see Clayton electrocuted longer than usual, leaving Clay in the vegetative state we see now.
Rolo should not have drank that water from Nish. He has about 30 seconds to live and she's there to capture what's left.
Rolo wakes up inside Clayton, where he's about to be executed, but fully, no more Clayton there for anyone to throw the switch on. Just Rolo in a tiny souvenir, always there, always suffering.
Nish grabs Carrie the monkey and sets off, her mom in her head and the museum burning behind her. We're oot.
A couple of things I noticed: one of the paramedics was supposedly Raj Paul who is currently starring in Safe on Netflix. Check it oot! There was a note at the end that the story was based on a short story called "Pain Addict" by Penn Jillette in 1981 - I did not know he was a writer! Huh.
Anyway, a very clear layout of ideas here, not much new to dig into. If we've watched a season of Black Mirror, we've already delved into the ethics of cookies or artificial consciousness, here we're just seeing real consciousness, but is that really different? If the cookie doesn't know it's a cookie, does trapping it in an inanimate object make it less heinous?
But why was it called Black Museum? A museum of dark, as in bad things? Would regular people really get off on watching a convicted murderer be electrocuted over and over, bringing home an endlessly suffering piece of his consciousness as a souvenir? I'll revisit. Until next time!