BLACK MIRROR | S02 | E01 | 2013
When you were untimely left behind by your loved ones, would you settle for something less?
Martha (Hayley Atwell) is devastated by the untimely death of her partner, Ash (Domhnall Gleeson). Crippled by her grief, she chose to isolate herself in a small rural cabin. Her sympathetic friend advise her to join a new service that allows people to communicate with their deceased, loved ones. By accessing online database and records of social media activities and other online communication, the service can re-create, or rather, re-enact the person. Martha was furious when she found out her friend had sign her up when she received an e-mail from Ash. But when a new crisis arised, the troubled Martha could not help but to resort to these service and re-connects with Ash.
So the issue of online privacy and records must be a familiar subject to us who spend a considerable amount of their time on-line for internet surfing or just for 140 character social media updates. Just like credit cards trace, our online activity has become a permanent tattoo of our existence (watch TED Talks regarding the issue). I think this disturbing idea is really the base for the story of Be Right Back. By capitalizing on the online records of Ash life, the service manage to re-create an artificial intelligence of Ash that can react, act, respond, etc. Martha relies on the technology to deal with her grief. Her choice to interact with the AI shows that it’s still better than nothing at all. As time flies, her needs seems to escalate, just like our habit from social media where at one time we only use it to keep up with updates, and then we retweet and quote, and we shared our personal life to some extent (live update, picture sharing, etc). Martha initial need to the existence of ‘Ash’ escalates from written form, to oral (where she can have an actual conversation on the phone with Ash), and finally until she decided to actually duplicate ‘Ash’ by procedure similar to cloning.
Comparing Martha in the storyline to Kübler-Ross’ 5 stages of grief, i get the impression that Martha never really accept that Ash is lost forever. Instead, she stucks in denial, anger, bargaining, and depression limbo. She actively choose to cling to the memories of the relationship, of her loved one, shows her inability to move on and disability to accept reality. Instead she found sustenance from what remains of Ash’s distance, artificial, fabricated memories.
Eerie and harrowing, the twisted, dying romance in Be Right Back has an understated realism to it. It’s one of the more subtle episode of Black Mirror that i love. A tale of despair and choice between lies and truths.
BE RIGHT BACK (2013)
BLACK MIRRROR | SEASON 02 | EPISODE 01
GENRE Drama, Thriller, Science Fiction
DIRECTOR Owen Harris | CREATOR Charlie Brooker | WRITER Charlie Brooker | MUSIC Vince Pope | PRODUCTION DESIGN Joel Collins | EDITOR Ben Yates | CHANNEL Channel 4 | COUNTRY United Kingdom | BROADCAST DATE February 11, 2013
STARRING Hayley Atwell, Domhnall Gleeson.