Posted on November 4, 2016
Spoilers for Black Mirror Season 3 Episode 6 follow
Hated in the Nation covers a bit of the same ground as Nosedive in that it posits the question of what mass justice looks like when the Internet of Things is turned against us. In Nosedive, it’s the ubiquitous Yelp app in which everyone rates everyone else and in Hated it’s Twitter trends selecting out victims for actual, physical violence.
I can’t help but compare Hated in the Nation to my favorite Black Mirror episode of all: White Bear. But White Bear asks a more fundamental question: “How much vengeance is enough?”
It’s also drenched in classic Black Mirror stylishness. The story begins in medias res, we have as little idea what’s going on as the main character does, it moves at breakneck speed toward a surprising conclusion and leaves us feeling disturbed by what we’ve seen and how we feel about it.
Hated In The Nation feels more like an episode of BBC’s Sherlock. It’s essentially a murder mystery with the added twist of some faceless hacker using a nationwide network of artificial honeybees to murder people identified on Twitter with a specific hashtag.
Probably the one Black Mirror thing about the episode is the twist in the end when the system is turned on all the people who voted up the hashtag so that the judges become the judged. Unfortunately, this point takes a back seat to the search for the murderer and the inexplicable reemergence of a central character in the very last scene that feels like it’s part of a different episode.
It’s not that the other episodes of this season of Black Mirror are bad television. They’re exceptionally good television, in fact, it’s just that they aren’t quite up there with the first two seasons. Even National Anthem, which I’ve long felt was the weakest of the first two seasons, had a disorienting effect that I associate with Black Mirror.
Fifteen Million Merits was so profoundly disturbing that I quit watching the series for a while. The Entire History of You asked questions I had never even thought of before about the ability to completely and exactly recall every moment of your life and what that might do to you. What would you do if you couldn’t escape the past by forgetting the inconvenient parts of your own narrative?
Be Right Back, which is not a fan favorite, I found to be engaging and profoundly sad. San Junipero, another of my favorites, reminded of me this episode a great deal.
White Bear, I’ve talked about already, The Waldo Moment is a terrifying premonition about modern Trump-style politics and White Christmas has a cold water in the bowels feeling at the end that is very Black Mirror.
Hated in the Nation has the topic and the thematic content but it’s all text and what makes Black Mirror so good is the subtext that gets under your skin.