“I can’t remember who I am?”
Immediately assuming you have a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion on your hands it would have been easy to disregard ‘White Bear’ as just another fatalistic scenario played out through a future version of our society. Half expecting Derren Brown to pop up in his leather gloves – once again Black Mirror episode 2 was as enthralling as the 1st.
The episode opens with a woman (Lenora Crichlow) waking up in front of a television set with a headache and no memory of who she is or how she got there. Her surroundings are unsettling and she soon realises that something sinister has taken over the population. She is then chased by a balaclava clad, shotgun-wielding maniac while bystanders look on, smiling, not helping her and filming the event on their smartphones. Encountering the seemingly normal rebels Jem (Tuppence Middleton) and Baxter (Michael Smiley) everything soon becomes even more chaotic. Has society become drastically skewed? When will it end? Or can they save the population from the evil White Bear Transmitter?
White Bear does not have the intense heartstrings tug of episode 1 Be Right Back but there is no opportunity to become relaxed or bored watching this story unfold. The setting is grey, grim and artificial, it indicates strongly that all is not as it seems. The narrative doesn’t take a second to inhale or exhale, the fear and terror played out in real-time through the characters as they experience events. Which means the characters aren’t as complex to understand and you feel as exhausted and confused as they do.
Of course the conclusion is twistingly dark, pushed to the extreme and brutal, by definition Black Mirror fulfills its brief, distorted – yes, but the strong human elements that are explored by Charlie Brooker makes the emotional responses all the more poignant, encouraging us to ponder aswell as respond. Lenora Crichlow provides first class screaming, crying and hysteria, which adds to the manic confusion of uncomfortable viewing. Wonderful performances from everyone in the cast makes the entire package compelling.
In questioning how possible and true these scenarios could be to us in our future generations, the apparent view being that if you don’t understand the layers of the message, you yourself are part of the problem. The biggest disappointment is that next week will be the final installment in the series.