Black Mirror: Playtest

Spoilers for Black Mirror Season 3 Episode 2 Follow

What is going on with the third season? I’ve seen three episodes now and they all seem to be about characters who lose agency and never get it back. This story, about a guy who volunteers to play test a new VR game and ends up being killed by it seems especially tired.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that just because there was a super dumb movie called Lawnmower Man thirty years ago no one can ever tell another story about virtual reality. That’s not the case at all. It’s just that when you tell a story about a subject that has been taken on so many times and in so many different ways over the decades, you really want to bring something new to the table.

There’s not even much of a story here. Guy plays a video game, there’s a SNAFU, he dies, something about his mother calling him on his cell while he was playing. Done. Just saved you an hour.

And what’s worse is, they were building a nice world at the beginning with the American tourist, his refusal to call his mother back because he doesn’t want to talk about the death of his father, the British girl he meets and beds and then gets thrown back together with after a mishap with his credit card. That was American Werewolf in London quality scaffolding upon which they could have built a really intense story.

Instead, they jettisoned that scaffolding the moment the American arrived at the software company and the rest was just Resident Evil 1 level scare tactics.

A serious disappointment.

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