Last week, we shared our thoughts on Episode 1 of Black Mirror Season 4 titled ‘Black Museum’. Continuing our commentary series for the new season of Netflix’s dark anthology series, today, we are going to talk about Episode 2 of the six-part series - ‘Crocodile’
Aptly named, ‘Crocodile’ is a title written by series creator Charlie Brooker and directed by John Hillcoat (The Road, Lawless, Triple 9). The episode is filmed entirely in Iceland and it carries forward one of the main underlying themes of this season - Monitoring and manipulating the human brain using technology.
It’s 2017 and humans have already made significant strides when it comes to the brain-computer interface. We can already control music and drones using only our thoughts. In fact, Netflix itself is working on a brain wearable named Mindflix, which aims at making you lose the remote and navigate the platform using just your thoughts. In Japan, scientists have developed mind-reading technology that goes as far as guessing Japanese words and single digit numbers that someone might be thinking of. In fact, we’ve had our own brush with mind reading headsets such as the NeuroSky Mindwave, which uses Electroencephalography to detect electrical activity in the human brain, decode simple thoughts and perform subsequent actions.
‘Crocodile’ takes mind-reading tech to a whole new level and marries it with a complete loss of privacy, which is a natural outcome of any such advanced technology, if and when it comes into existence. For now, we are the generation of social media, of Google and Facebook, of cloud storage and AI, of facial recognition and fingerprint sensors. We are already putting too much of ourselves out there and our data is pricier, more valuable than any precious metal that can be found on this planet. If individual privacy is at stake right now, Black Mirror’s ‘Crocodile’ imagines a society where privacy is next to non-existent, governable, accessible and unconcealed.
Andrea Riseborough, Black Mirror Season 4
The cast of ‘Crocodile’ includes - Andrea Riseborough (Birdman, Bloodline), Andrew Gower (Outlander) and Kiran Sonia Sawar (Murdered By My Father), with stellar performances from all, especially Riseborough. The story revolves around a device which can access raw memories and what a futuristic society has made of it. As is the aim of the entire series of Black Mirror, the episode reveals the flipside of such a breakthrough invention. The lead character, played by Riseborough faces a disturbing incident in the opening minutes of the episode and the rest of the story is an outcome of that incident, made worse by the invention in question.
There are moments in the episode where writer-creator Brooker shocks you with the shallow depths of human nature, moments which are hard to watch or imagine, if one were to put themselves in the same situation. Brooker does well to create empathy towards characters by displaying their vulnerabilities and then snatches it away instantly by delving into their dark souls.
The fact that the episode was filmed in Iceland adds to its cold and calculative plot, creating a tense and gloomy, backdrop for this story of loss - loss of life, loss of liberty and loss of the ownership of one’s own memories.
So, those were our thoughts on ‘Crocodile’, Episode 2 of Netflix’s Black Mirror season 4 which premieres on December 29. It is indeed a bleak way of stepping into the New Year, but addictive nevertheless.
Stay tuned for our thoughts on the next chapter of Black Mirror season 4 - What happens when your love life is controlled by Artificial Intelligence?