‘Black Mirror’, pretty much the best slice of British sci-fi since forever, is coming back this Christmas, and to mark the quasi-occasion, I’ve decided to share the dark secret that runs through the whole series; every episode happens in the same unified universe. But how do they link together exactly?
Channel 4 confirmed earlier this year a one-off special of the Emmy award winning “comedy” series ‘Black Mirror’, has been made for Christmas, a welcome addition to the usual xmas line up that includes some of the driest TV shows ever. I’m just excited that I get another serving of this dark modern twilight zone, of which the most enjoyable thing is the fact that it’s centered mostly on our own human fallibilities not just a spectacle of tech, zombies or aliens.
The series is also brilliant because it’s a bite size anthology, no marathon watching here, but I highly suggest you do. Watching the first episode I was under the impression that it would be ‘Thick Of It’ meets ‘Dead Set’ kind of affair but I was pleasantly surprised when the next week was a complete 360 in tone and style. Each one appears as a self contained world with its own backstory but me, being the kind of guy that believes Brooker invented twitter just because of the throwaway line “twit machines” in ‘Nathan Barley’, I thought that ‘Black Mirror’ was definitely a unified universe.
And so began what I call ‘The Black Mirror Theory’, born out of an unhealthy fannish obsession and a part-time retail job that gave me enough time to link forced bestiality, Google glass and techno-fascism into a chronological timeline for no reason other than for ‘fun’.
Welcome to Waldo’s World
Year: 2011 , Series 1 Episode 1: ‘The National Anthem’
‘The National Anthem” comes first chronologically and is based in a universe pretty much like our own; the public is just as sick of politicians fresh out of the Expenses Scandal and the Prime Minister has little respect, in or out of Westminster. But following the events of the episode, he and the entire political class suddenly finds all their credibility gone forever. ‘Pigfucking’ becomes slang for politics and no one listens to them any more. TV News becomes a joke after the way it reported the events, now everyone knows twitter is the only place to get breaking news; social media is king. The decline of politics and good journalism lead to a dangerous climate where those with the loudest voices get heard which leads to…
Year: 2015-2018, Series 2 Episode 3: ‘The Waldo Moment’
…Waldo elected to the highest office in the land. With no shits to give about mainstream parties anymore, an animated avatar for hire becomes the leader in what is the UKs first “vote-4-likes” General election. As a result, actual policy means nothing but popularity means everything, and the easiest way to keep a check on what’s trending? Waldo records and monitors all social networks at all times. In fact, since Waldo became PM, more money was invested in science and communication tech, all with the sole aim of maintaining the tightest grip on internet interactions and making better, faster more ‘exciting’ ways to be ‘social’ and as a result, the economy improves massively following a glut in consumption. Thatcher looks like Tony Benn compared to Waldo, who privatizes literally everything in existence commodifiing even relationships and dreams. But there’s a more sinister side to this new world order…
Year: 2020, Series 2 Episode 2: ‘White Bear’
In an experiment in ‘interactive social jurisprudence’, Waldo creates The White Bear Justice Park, a place where filming a prisoner gone mad is a family outing. The fact that people have now better phones, that news chases ratings and iffy things like humans rights have been abolished, creates the perfect conditions for this type of punishment. People are less empathetic these days, anger over growing inequality directed to the powerless rather than the powerful, all under the pixelated eye of Waldo. White Bear was also a chance for Waldo to experiment with the human mind and the idea of selling live streams commercially. But if people we’re willing to live stream from their phones, imagine what they could do if they had cameras in their eyes…
Year: 2023, Series 1 Episode 3: ‘The Entire History Of You’
In this episode, the future isn’t that bright anymore. The rich live isolated lives from the rest of society but the one thing all have in common is The Grain, the magical piece of tech that means Waldo has direct access to everyone’s mind at any time. Revolutions end before they even begin, crime can’t happen anymore (unless its allowed) and the destitute are kept distracted by live streaming the lives of the rich and famous straight into their blank shriveled eyes, making for Waldo’s most invasive form of surveillance yet. It’s also the first time someone accidentally rebels against Waldo by removing their own Grain. If this Grainless movement catches on Waldo will lose all of his power, so he comes up with a plan…
Year: 2025-2035, Series 2 Episode 1: ‘Be Right Back’
In “Be Right Back”, chronologically the fifth episode, rather than control people directly, Waldo develops clones that control people indirectly though emotions. Essentially creating an army of cheap labor that will turn the rest of humanity into passive ‘like’ chasing, screen consuming zombies. Fortunately for Waldo, society has become so mediated by this point that death has no real meaning, so getting families and friends to ‘re-upload’ them into said clones is an easy task. Just manipulate their emotional strings and get them to believe that it’s them, not a pale echo of what once was. The system works, for Waldo at least, and that’s all that matters. That is until we start to run out of pretty important things like oil, clean water and food, so a global resource war erupts that pits clone against clone and then man against man until…
Year: 2325, Series 1 Episode 2: ‘15 Million Credits’
…Waldo rules the whole Earth, hyper-managing what’s left. The war was vicious and finally took up the last of Earths resources, to the point where there wasn’t anything left to make the clones out of in the first place. Facing the threat of extinction, Waldo creates a quasi-virtual world that satisfies its need for control and societies need for survival. It was easy really, already having trained people to constantly consume physical goods, all that was needed was to transfer the same principle to virtual goods. People are just as happy in their boxed in totalitarian state; cycling and buying and eating and sleeping and repeat. Democracy and freedom exist, but they mean radically different things to what we know today. Freedom is consumption, consumption is comfort, and comfort is freedom. By reaching near annihilation, Waldo created a system of control so perfect that they don’t even have to intervene when any element of rebellion, against all odds, finds a voice. Just give ‘em a stream, a bigger box and they’ll be happy enough to shut-up, with the added bonus that all of their viewers feel like rebels by watching rather than actually being rebels.
So there you have it. Every episode in “Black Mirror” is actually set in the same universe and are all interlinked. Only in the mind of Brooker does a Prime Minster fucking a pig end up with a cartoon character becoming a dictator of the whole world.