Here’s your warning: Don’t read this if you haven’t watched the episode or the show. Black Mirror is a sci-fi anthology that gives us a view of the human psyche given a piece of technology not so far from what we have now. Set in a universe where transferring your digital self-consciousness is possible or having a playback feature for all our memories can be done and shared visually, imagine the effects it could have on the things we normally go through with every day.
I am stuck in this episode. This feels like an incarnation of San Junipero in Season 3. Curse the hopeless romantic in me but twisted happy endings on brilliant shows are hard to find these days. The protagonists, Amy and Frank are in a society controlled by a dating software called “coach.” It elevates the concept of Tinder/Skout or any present day dating app as it randomly assigns “relationships” with a given expiration date. You don’t see our characters go to work or mingle with family. Our only concept of time is the expiration date given by coach. A “relationship” with a preselected partner can last from hours to years. The goal is for coach to generate enough data through the course of the different relationships it assigns so that one day it will finally give them their “ultimate match” at 99.8% compatibility rate.
Free will is definitely out of the question. Coach does not give you a bio of your potential partner. Neither can you swipe left or right to make your preference known. Once it beeps, you are off to a fancy restaurant to meet this new person. When you get there, even your food choice has been established and the waiter will serve it accordingly. Only your interaction with this assigned partner remains to be seen. Amy and Frank meets for the first time and sparks fly amidst their nervousness. This was their first coach pairing so they were still unsure of how the date would go. They decided to view their expiration date and to their suprise, they were given just 12 hours. After every date, couples are driven off to a small house where they can spend the remaining time. Sex being at the top of the list of activities to do. Amy and Frank spends the night together without doing it. There’s this awkward but sweet scene where they were laying in bed together and Amy extends her fingers as a signal for Frank to hold her hand. He does this without saying a word. They parted as friends when morning came.
Both characters get into the next relationship without much luck. Amy gets with Lenny, a handsome self absorbed prick, with an expiration date set at 9 months. Frank gets partnerned with Niccola, a nasty dictator, for a whole year. They meet again at a “pairing ceremony” where we see a couple testifying that the “system” does deliver. That these “relationships” happen for a reason because in the end it will get you to your ultimate significant other. We see a glimpse of spontaneity when Amy and Frank meet for the second time. The scene is mundane as Frank was choking and he puked on Amy’s shoes after she did the Heimlich maneuver. It’s charming but the night had to end with them going home to their respective partners. The system must have been playing a sick game when it decided to pair them together a second time. Albeit a bit desensitized by the numerous relationships that came to pass, we see their excitement at the restaurant. During sex, it was evident that there was passion. This wasn’t just a fling. There was something magical about them being together. Not looking at their expiration date was an oath they made but as time passed Frank became afraid of losing her.
From 5 years down to 20 hours as the system recalibrated when Frank alone viewed the expiration date, they were screwed. When he told Amy about what he did in addition to his crazy plan to fuck the “system,” Amy left him as defying the system meant banishment. They go through more sordid relationships, all the while thinking that they were meant for each other. This ends when finally, coach tells them of their “pairing day.” They would meet their ultimate significant other and leave the “dating world” forever. Before doing so, they were given a chance to meet just one person of their choosing and of course Amy wanted to see Frank. Upon meeting, Amy tells him that their universe is made up and that rebelling against it is the only way they can be free. He agrees with this and upon trying to escape, they get stopped at the restaurant with a waiter pointing a taser at them. Instead of getting hurt, Amy somehow knew that she could overcome it. After leaving the restaurant, we see them climbing the high wall that curtailed their world. The scene fades into black as everything around them slowly dissolved. What we see next is a virtual universe where 1,000 simulations for Amy and Frank were conducted and 998 rebellions were logged. It flows into a bar scene where “Hang the DJ” by The Smiths plays into the background and our protagonists meet the first time, in the real present day world.
Was this the ending I wanted, fuck yes. Did it make sense that they went through all that before realizing they were perfect for each other? Perhaps. This episode was emotionally raw and you could make your own conclusion as to why “everything happens for a reason.” This is the second episode that had a “happy ending” of sorts for Black Mirror. We are led back to the present where our idea of finding the “right one” is possible even if our technology is not as advanced. We could be weird, awkward, visually unappealing – regardless of all that, there is still hope that somehow our ultimate match will find us.
If you think you’re it, buy me coffee and let me know why we should go to San Junipero. I will be eternally devoted, I promise.