Black Mirror 103, “The Entire History Of You”



Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.

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14 Responses

  1. Avatar Glyph says:

    Alternate episode title: The green-grey-eyed monster.

    Having a character’s eyes change color has become sort of a genre trope on TV, generally denoting demonic possession; here, we have met the demons and as usual, they am us.

    I also noticed that the color they chose looks a lot like how pupils look when captured on infrared (that is, something commonly used for surveillance cameras) – this isn’t as noticeable, because everything else is in color, but I assume it was an intentional choice.

    This ep is devastating. Despite all of Liam’s escalating jealous rage and unforgiveable actions, the episode keeps playing with our sympathies – after all, Liam’s suspicions turn out to be correct, there was much more there than Fi(delity) was telling him, going back a ways and continuing right up to the now, and the baby might in fact not be his. Liam is also presented at the start as having a conscience, balking a bit at the law firm’s plans. So Liam may not be such a bad guy, save for his fatal flaw.

    OTOH, if he’s been this jealous all along, no wonder Fi has kept things from him. He left for several days with no contact once, following a prior row over another man (Fi of course insists there was nothing going on there either, but…) and she sought comfort in the arms of an old flame. Speaking as someone who has been in a relationship with an irrationally-jealous person, excessive irrational jealousy can tempt one to wish to have COMMITTED the infidelity – after all, if you are going to spend days and weeks fighting over it anyway, you might as well have taken the hours of pleasure up front, right? Seems only fair. So did Liam drive her to this?

    On the other other hand, well, Fi does kind of get caught in lie after escalating lie, and Liam says that it’s been like worrying at a rotten tooth all this time, but now he finally knows…

    AND THEN, the wrecking coda, with Liam going through his now-empty house, replaying moments – catching Fi lost in quiet thought with her morning coffee, a conspiratorial smile of love from her as she heads upstairs – that shows why that ambiguity is what the ep is about: I think Liam realizes too late that Fi DID love him, and that *too* was part of their “Entire Hisstory” – unfortunately Liam began to construct a narrative, and then he went and looked for and found the pieces of evidence that would make that narrative true.

    And, in a reverse-twist, it IS true – but so were those glances, the child, all of the “story” he *wasn’t* looking for, because he went looking for this one instead.

    Fi says something to the effect of “Just because something’s not true, doesn’t mean it’s a lie”, and it sounds desperate and ridiculous in the moment, and it IS, in one way, but in another…well, pick your “truth”.

    Liam did.

    EDITED TO ADD: we learn that she’s violating the law by not having a grain

    Was she violating the law, or did the police just not believe her since it is so unusual not to have one? “If you are witnessing a crime, then why didn’t you get video of it, huh?”Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Glyph says:

      Legality of no grain: It was the first response to the woman at the dinner, somehting like, “but that’s illegal,” also demonstrated by the security check at the airport/train station and the call to the police; both instances where they simply expected it to be there, and the person would be compliant sharing it. I also wondered if this might be reason for grain theft; false experiences for the guilty.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    There’s a pretty wacky movie from 1995 called “Strange Days” (warning: contains all sorts of triggers including rape) in which similar technology plays a role. You can record (and rewatch) your own (or others’) experiences (called “jacks”).

    Sure, a lot of people use it for sex (and, as such, I want to say that this movie foresaw the explosion of POV pornography) but some people use it to record exciting stuff like crimes or, and this is creepy, situations in which the person using the device dies (“blackjacks”). There’s all sorts of sordid stuff happening in the movie which might be interesting if only for its surprisingly optimistic vision of a dystopian future (n eribyhgvbanel/enccre trgf zheqrerq ol gur YNCQ naq gur cbyvpr srry gung gurl arrq gb pbire vg hc yrfg gurer or fvtavsvpnag fbpvny haerfg) but if you want to see this kinda tech explored for two whole hours (again: trigger warnings galore), it’s a movie that will get stuck in your craw.

    Also the soundtrack is freakin’ awesome.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

      Oh, forgot my point. There’s a wonderful scene in the movie where Angela Bassett tells Ralph Fiennes that “Memories are meant to fade. They’re designed that way for a reason.”

      Without getting into the whole “design” word choice thing, that was a really, really good scene that hammered home a lesson that Ralph spent the whole movie refusing to learn.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

        Glad to see I can stream on Netflix, thanks JB.

        I’ve read a lot of scifi that sorta goes in similar directions, my fav’s probably Iain M. Banks culture novels, where people have neural nets grown throughout their brains. I’ve been wondering about it with Matrix-like jacks, as well. But none of these sound quite so close, and perhaps Strange Days was an inspiration for the episode.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird says:

        Without getting into the details, have you read the Prince of Nothing books that were recommended around here some time back? Among other things, they play around with the idea of fading memory and immortality in fairly horrifying ways.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        I haven’t, but New World Of Darkness deals with what it sounds like some of the themes might be… vampires could be a thousand years old but the moment they go into torpor, they have dreams that rewrite their memories and so they cannot remember anything about their former existences (or worse, they cannot trust their former memories).

        They may have lived 2 or 3 thousand years ago, but when they wake, they’re back to being as powerful as a fledgling without the benefit of remembering what happened yesterday.

        Good stuff, if you’re into dressing in black and group storytelling.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird says:

        @jaybird If anything, it’s worse. The notion is that memories fade, but traumatic memories fade much more slowly, so someone that has lived for thousands of years will remember nothing but trauma. Worse yet, these immortals know this, and therefore seek out traumatic memories in order to avoid oblivion.Report

  3. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I just watched episode 1, in which the PM was imposed upon to do a rather disgraceful thing. The moral bleakness of that episode was so overpowering that I don’t particularly want to carry on with the series. Not the awfulness of the PM’s disgrace, for which I felt a lot of sympathy. But the heavy “YOU are responsible for even watching this!” condemnation of the public at large as being vapid, morally fickle, and senselessly prurient even after the horror was revealed to them in its utter awfulness just left me utterly clobbered, looking to maybe read a little Kirkegaard for some spiritual uplift.

    I have an appetite for darker-themed entertainment. This was too dark for me.Report