Black Mirror is a British series with completely independent episodes – even the actors are not the same. It’s not an American Horror Story-style anthology series, but each episode is like a short film, with completely different actors, characters, and screenplays. The seasons also do not follow a specific order and do not have the same number of episodes.
Black Mirror is often quite critical of the use of new technologies. The series does this by depicting dystopian futures or extreme situations.
Black Mirror: “Be right back”
The first episode of the second season of Black Mirror is titled “Be Back in a minute.” In this episode we meet a young couple, Martha and Ash. Ash is a man who is addicted to the social media, and from the very beginning we see him exposing his whole life on the networks.
This addiction annoys Martha, because even when she talks to him or asks for help, he is only busy with his smartphone and not paying attention to her. It’s a pretty realistic picture of the way we use social networks and how sometimes, even when we’re in company, we pay more attention to our cell phone than to our friends.
At the beginning of the episode, Ash tells Martha that when his brother and father died, his mother removed all the photos from the living room and put them in the attic. Shortly after, Ash gets into a traffic accident and dies too.
Bring back to life
After Ash’s death we see an apathetic Martha, she doesn’t talk, she doesn’t cry. During the funeral, a friend starts talking to her about a strange app that will help her confront her loss. Martha reacts angrily to her boyfriend and is in a state of denial. In the end, however, she accepts her friend’s suggestion.
The app her boyfriend tells her about is capable of “bringing us back to life,” as it thoroughly searches all of our data on the web, and is even able to display our way of speaking with complete accuracy. Ash was addicted to social media, so he would be the perfect person to “save.” The more information there is, the more accurate the reproduction of his words.
Martha starts talking to “Ash” and is surprised to see that he is exactly the same as how he was. The app goes a step beyond the chat and tells her she can listen to his voice. So they start talking on the phone.
Losing a loved one is always difficult. It can be extremely difficult to accept and sometimes we have to ask for professional help. Martha denies Ash’s death and then the opportunity arises to bring Ash back. She accepts the opportunity and embarks on a very risky downward spiral.
The grieving process in Black Mirror: “Be right back”
Grieving is a slow and painful process that is very difficult for all of us. It is, of course, necessary to confront it and go through all the stages to get out of it in the best possible way. Accepting that a loved one has passed away doesn’t mean you have to forget them. Our loved ones can live on in our memories, but we must look to the future and accept the loss in order to move on.
Martha is given the opportunity not to say goodbye, and to bring Ash back from the dead, so to speak. At her weakest moment, she accepts the offer. It’s pretty chill to see it happening on screen. But I think if we were given the same opportunity, many of us would probably accept it too.
Martha cuts off from the world and even forgets that she had a date with her sister. There is a key moment when Martha has an anxiety attack when she accidentally breaks the phone she uses to talk to Ash. That’s when she feels she’s lost him and Ash has left her again. However, the app tells her that there is a next step she can take…
The next step
This next step is to buy some sort of bionic doll that will look like Ash. The doll will sound like Ash and in fact be an exact clone. However, it is still just a robot. He has no feelings and Martha is starting to get tired of it. What once seemed like a good idea, she’s now starting to reject.
During the episode, we find out that Martha is pregnant and she finds out this news after Ash’s death. This makes it even more difficult for her to accept her loss. The news of the pregnancy causes a kind of denial and Martha is incredibly sad because she can’t share these moments with Ash.
Ultimately, Martha can no longer handle Ash’s copy and realizes she will have to face the situation. Ash has died and there is no going back. Martha decides to put the bionic doll in the attic, just as Ash’s mother had done with the photos of her loved ones.
At the end of this episode of Black Mirror, we see their daughter with the robot. The girl calls him by his name. She doesn’t call him daddy, because he’s just a copy of her father. He thinks like him, he talks like him and he looks like him, but is it really him?
Black Mirror and new technologies
Black Mirror mainly focuses on the use of new technologies, but we wanted to highlight this episode because it is one of the most human and intimate. It also forces us to wonder what use social media is for us. To what extent are we protected on the internet? The app was able to accurately mimic Ash, his way of speaking, his voice, and his preferences. The app even created his physical appearance. Of course, this appearance was ideal, based on how Ash looked at his best. It’s like Ash’s copy explained to Martha: we only upload our best photos on social media.
That’s why it’s worth asking whether the pictures we put of ourselves online are real or just a mirage. We only show what we want people to see. On social media, the competition to be the best at everything is pretty obvious. And every time we share something, what we share will in some sense remain. Until the internet dies. As a result, a part of us will always remain. We could therefore say that social media is somehow a step towards a kind of immortality.
Are we protected online?
The app knows everything about Ash. The information he shared wasn’t exactly protected, something we’ve seen in a pretty public way with the recent controversies surrounding Facebook. An app over which he had no control knew everything about him. When we think about the number of people who access social media every day, we realize that this information is infinite. Do we really know to what extent this information is protected?
When Ash’s copy is made, everything takes place in a dark, cold bath. We can already sense that something will not be right, and that we will see a monster like Frankenstein’s. This “resurrection” has a dark side. A side that goes beyond the subject of overcoming the loss of a loved one. It also makes us wonder how and to what extent we are aware of the impact that social media has on our lives.