The genius of Charlie Brooker brings a story about the very real problem of Twitter death threats into an apocalyptic Black Mirror episode like no other.
The latest series of Charlie Brooker’s collection of dystopian thrillers Black Mirror has taken audiences by storm. Its feature-length 90 minute finale, ‘Hated in the Nation’, is perhaps the most gripping and moving yet instalment to date.
Whilst keeping with its classic tone, the latest season has experimented with many different stylistic plot themes and settings. From sci-fi romance to gripping horror, Hated in the Nation initially takes on the form of a crime drama. A police squad investigate mysterious deaths of famous people, linked to threats they receive on twitter via the naïve and unfortunate trend “#DeathTo_”. Through a number of twists and turns, the threats grow into an unstoppable and mindless frenzy, endangering people across the country. Quite naturally and almost believably, the episode skilfully escalates from an ordinary-seeming television show to apocalyptic madness.
Death threats are no laughing matter, yet this kind of abuse is treated so casually and with such detachment. There have been cases of suicide directly linked to hate tweets, unfolding in a manner chillingly similar to this episode. The internet allows us to do great harm to people we have never met, without the same empathy or restraint as real-life interactions. The episode explores this idea and acts as a cautionary moral tale for the way we behave online – essentially imploring trolls to be careful what you wish for. By making death threats literal, it teaches us that sadistic online behaviour could have very real consequences – both for its victims and perpetrators.
There are plenty of other socio-political themes tapped into in this episode: the notion of privacy, the hidden power of the government, and many more. To explore them in more detail would be too spoil the episode, but all carry warnings about the state of our society. Calling it a moral tale may make it seem dry, when it is anything but. With powerful visuals, a stimulating and occasionally funny screenplay, and complex characters, it is an entertaining ride throughout. Particularly noteworthy is the relatable relationship between an experience, tech-fearing police officer (Brave‘s Kelly Macdonald) and her younger tech-savvy partner (Game of Thrones and Fresh Meat star Faye Marsay), and its development from the start to the finish of the episode. There is genuinely not a single element of this episode not deserving of the highest praise, thanks to the genius of Charlie Brooker.
Hated in the Nation, and the five other episodes of Black Mirror‘s third series, can be found on Netflix.