Black Mirror [Episode Discussion] - S03E02 - Playtest
By - SeacattleMoohawks
I totally though Sonja was real for a second and that he was going to really kill her. Also notice how he got stabbed the same place the bully stabbed him when he was a kid
And that she was trying to bite him, after she woke him up by biting after they slept together, and also the cinematography of her wielding the knife was similar to her spreading marmalade on his toast (this one is more than a reach). It's so clever.
She did stab the butter though!
With a dirty marmite knife, too. What a bitch.
Also the giant spider is from the movie he was watching on the plane. A giant spider on the empire state building king-kong style.
Nice, I didn't catch that
yeah this is really clever detailing
I'm glad I have this subreddit to tell me everything I missed.
I get to have the whole experience even without being very observant!
I loved the part when the lady talking to him through the earpiece told him that people like to hear voices so they don't feel alone. That's exactly why the simulation had her as a guide to begin with.
Actual Cooper never even played Whack a Mole. We know next to nothing about that companies tech or what Cooper was even going to be exposed to. Everything we (the viewer) saw was contained in Cooper's head for that brief moment before he checks out. We can't even know what they were having him test.
This blew my mind. I hadn't even made that connection.
They have even changed the clothes that Shou is wearing for the ending scheme. Cooper is just making assumptions of what Shou would be like when they first 'meet'. So clever.
Totally fabricated in his head though. The wack-a-mole never happened.
THIS FUCKING SHOW
In a sense she was....that warning from her was legit. I think her showing up as a real form at first was actually his own brain signaling that something was really wrong snd to get out.... even though he physically couldn't.
Theory: Considering that all the explanation for the device and it's functionality was a figment of his imagination, we can't even be sure that a horror simulator was the device's purpose. The only game he recognized of the company was a horror game, so that's why he imagined that when the device took over.
I thought the same thing. At the end, they showed on that the simulation only lasted .04 seconds. So once they inserted the device, the phone call interfered with the signal. That fried his brain. So none of the wack-a-mole game happened in reality. We never found out the true purpose of the game because it all took place within .04 seconds.
The game *within* the game also supposedly lasted a very short time in "reality". So, the haunted house part was a fraction of a fraction. Interesting to think about. Can the brain even think this fast?
It wouldn't cope if it did think that fast. He experienced all of those things in his mind within 0.4 seconds, the spooky house, the trip home etc. Afterwards Katy said something like "all of his brain synapses lit up all at once". So his brain couldn't cope with that level of experience within such a short period of time?
That, coupled with the fact that he was feeling intense emotions, severe stress response, and physical pain in less than a second is what fried him for sure IMO
The "mushroom" device and the picture of a mushroom on the wall in Shou's office reference psychedelics imo. On powerful trips you really lose your sense of time.
So in the end, his mum calling him to make sure he's ok is what kills him. That episode fucked me up.
He shoulda Called "Mom"
Holy shit I never got that part at the end where she typed "called mom" until right now. Thank you that's amazing!
I just sighed out loud "Jesus fucking christ..."
I did not realize that, before I read your post.
It only just hit me how depressing the ending is. I mean that's obvious, but it's really sunk in now.
Aside from his mother losing him and probably won't know what happened, he died in horrible fear and agony. In fact, LITERALLY living his worst nightmare. He was such a nice dude too, a bit goofy, but genuine, and he sure didn't deserve that. He died horribly, and screaming out for his mother.
... man. I'm gonna go lay down for a while.
his mom might find out, he turned his phone on in order to text Sonja, so she knows hes there. And I would bet she looks into why he disappeared after receiving the "woah medical devices, weird" text from him and then, boom nothing!
small glimmer of hope
Well, then his Mum would find out that her ill timed phonecall caused the device to malfunction horribly and fry his brain while he screamed out for her in fear. Not exactly comforting to her, but at least it'd probably shut the company down and stop it happening again (we can't trust anything that was said during the simulation, but it did sound like the mushroom had killed test subjects before).
It definitely seems like deaths are a regular occurrence as a result of the mushroom; I noticed that in the crash report, there was no entry field for the result of the crash, implying that all crashes are fatal. With that in mind, the fact there is a dedicated crash report form tells you that crashes, and deaths, happen regularly.
(If the lasting effects of crashes varied, there'd definitely be a field to describe them. And besides, the researcher noted what he screamed--which was unusual--but not his death, apparently was not.)
I just want him to keep asking how tall things are for the rest of the episode
And then finish it all off with a tall glass of alcoholic wine.
What if the entire premise of the episode was that a guy just likes to ask how tall things are? Wouldn't that be the spookiest plot of all?
How tall are you? how tall is the Arch?
I feel like if phones caused this kind of interference with this thing, they should've kept it in a safer place than two feet from him.
Wasn't it the noise of the phone that did it rather than the electronics? Either way they were all far too lax and chill about sticking shit in peoples brains and cleaning up the resulting corpses.
Interfence. Notice in the simulation at the end it was playing the same sound a speaker (especially a computer speaker) does right before your phone starts ringing.
It's a tie in with being asked to turn off his phone on the plane earlier in the episode.
I just thought the noise of phone ringing had something to do with how the nightmare ended and him dying. It didn't seem like the first body they'd seen.
No, the phone signal created interference. You can actually see that his headset got half green lights, half red lights, instead of full green lights.
They created a game in which the player DIES if a phone rings nearby. Maybe fix the interference problem before doing any more beta testing inside people's brains? Would be nice...
You reading this Samsung
Could be that the ending we see is just another layer in the "game", and that his ultimate fear is death. Maybe what we don't see is that he wakes up just fine and is paid and goes home to see is mum and lives happily ever after :)
Then he goes on to live a long healthy life. Whispers goodbye to his love ones as he drifts away at the old age of 90. Then he wakes up again.
Turns out he's actually a cookie that's been set to 1000 years a minute
Lives happily ever after? After this experience you'd have to be a wreck.
Here is my theory, warning – long
First we have to realize that we are in 2016, or the current year the episode was released. We see this throughout the episode, from the Prius Cooper leaves his mothers house in, to the phones, to the apps, and even the PS3 games on Sonja's shelf in her apartment. This is a slight divergence from the other episodes, as they all take place in a future world with much more advanced tech. But this episode makes a point to put us right in 2016 with only 2016 tech, 2016 styles, and 2016 fashion.
Also, Wyatt Russell (Cooper) is exactly 30 years old when the episode was made. He was born in 1986 and this aired in 2016. This comes up later as well.
Now the timeline of the story.
Cooper leaves his moms house, fly's around the world, ends up in London, Meets Sonja, hooks up, has his money stole, finds a company that will pay people to test their products, goes there, is hooked up, and immediately dies.
From a third party perspective, that is all that happens. Everything from the moment his phone start ringing in the testing room, until the last scene where they zip him up in the body bag, is all in his head. And according to Katie, it was only .04 seconds.
Why let us know that it was only .04 seconds?
Coopers death scene
Katie really doesn't tell Cooper anything. She is very cryptic and only says “It's like layers on top of reality”, “You might feel a slight twinge when it initializes”, “Augmented reality”, and “Commencing at 5:38” Then she starts the program. The Blue dots on Coopers headband correlate with the status bar on Katie's computer. They are only at 60% when the phone rings (6 out of 10 blue bars). This is the moment Cooper gets “shocked” due to interference from the phone. At this point the other 4 bars turn red and all the bars start blinking, Katie runs around the desk to help Cooper and she NEVER hangs up or turns off the phone. It is still ringing as he dies.
So why is this all so important to my theory? Because the program never started. Cooper was hooked up to a faulty device hooked up to a lot of electricity and he was electrocuted when it malfunctioned. The program never initialized, it never started, and if it did, it was 2016 tech and wouldn't have been anywhere near what he experienced. It was all in his mind. Cooper never entered a glitching prototype VR. He was being electrocuted and his “life passed before his eyes” as he died.
Every culture has the same folklore, that when you die your entire life flashes before your eyes in the split second you die. This is what Katie recorded in the 0.04 seconds she witnessed every part of his brain light up at once, then die.
So everything after the second you hear the phone ring in the first part of the death scene is Cooper reliving his entire life.
It starts very clean and innocent. He is in a very clean room and is experiencing something for the first time (The gopher). At first it's very pixilated, but then more clear, and even clearer after that. All the while a very soothing and comforting voice is reassuring him. He is gitty with laughter and very innocent. He is a child experiencing the world for the first time.
Then the “gopher” turns into “Whack a Mole” and he begins playing. Even stating that “I used to play that all the time”. The gopher wins and they say goodbye, Cooper says “Bye Bye” the same way a child would say goodbye and not a 30 year old adult. This is cooper around the age of 8.
Then Cooper moves into the room with Shou, where Shou and Katie say the words “Neural Net” when Cooper says “Maybe use a little work, that's a little 90's” If cooper is ~10 here it would be 1996, so they would be using 90's terms.
After they “upload” the Horror Game into his brain he is immediately taken to the “haunted house”. The house is the house form the “Hrlech Shadows” poster he is looking at when he first meets Katie. “Harlech Shadows” is the game that Cooper tells Sonja he “Would play with his buddy David when they were in 7th grade”. If Cooper is 30, and it's 2016, then 7th grade would have been 1998 making Cooper 12 years old.
Once in the house he is given an ear-bud and told that they will be watching him and in contact with him. They also let him choose a “safe word”. This is all very reassuring to Cooper and much like when you are young you have your parents watching you and coaching you along. Cooper is still young here and still very much innocent.
Cooper then finds some wine and is told that it's non-alcoholic, remember he is only 12-13 years old at this time.
Then we have the spider. A very innocent thing to be afraid of as a child, but as an adult not so much. His first fears are now being realized, and spiders are one of them.
The next thing he encounters is the changing picture, which ends up being Josh Peters, who does show up but is not real. Peters doesn't move or do anything, Earlier Cooper tells Sonja that Josh Peters is a “A High-School dick” meaning that when Peters shows up Cooper is now 14-17 years old.
Then Peters and the Spider become one in the same. Cooper just looks at it and talks about how freaky it looks and basically brushes it aside. To me, this is his passage into maturity. All of his childhood fears are now embodied in one thing and he literally just makes fun of it and walks out of the room. Cooper is now an adult and has moved past his childhood.
Now the innocence is gone. The protected time of his life is over. He is an adult now and real problems and real fear begin. Katie leaves his ear, he is not a child anymore, and all the pain that Katie could protect him from is gone. He now feels 'real' pain and feels real fear. And there is a knock at the door.
Sonja is back, and represents love and trust. This to me can be taken two ways. 1. She is the light, letting him know that he “is in real danger” and needs to “follow her”. And if he does perhaps he can be saved and walk away with only a “near death experience” and not actually die. Or 2. she is the embodiment of all of his relationships where they pretend to be there for him but only (figuratively, and literally in this case) stab him in the back once the relationship is over.
Either way, cooper is now skeptical, logical, and attempting to find reason in his situation. Another sign of maturity. I would put Cooper at 24 here.
The way he “wakes up” and realizes that there was no 'knife in his back' and that even when people harm you there is no real damage, and that the wound is only 'in your mind'. A realization many of us went through as young adults in love only to be heartbroken.
Then Katie comes back on and he is trying to explain to her that he was stabbed, that he was hurt, but she keeps telling him that he wasn't. Cooper now wants to “stop” the game. But it's too late, he is grown up, he is an adult, and even when he experiences real pain, and even with the reassurance of Katie (The maternal figure) he must keep going. Cooper is now mid 26+.
Katie tells cooper to go up the stairs and into a room at the end of the hall. He is very apprehensive as he believes his mother will be there. This is the beginning of his dealing with is fathers death. He said multiple times that “he took care of his father”, even though his mother was present. Yet he, a 27 year old was the primary caretaker.
He is now reliving this struggle to deal with an absentee mother and his sick father.
His mother was not a part of helping his father and he felt trapped, that is why the door disappeared. He felt that his mother had abandoned him, and that is why at this exact point Katie abandons him. Katie is his maternal figure. Katie is his mother.
Cooper is now 29 years old and Katie (his mother) led him into a trapped room where he would lose his mind and only want to escape. A world where she is gone and he is left to deal with the loss of his father. Cooper relives the death of his father.
Exactly at his breaking point, he is told that all hope is lost, and Cooper is swept away and given a new life. A life without his mother or father. Exactly as he did in the very first scene of the movie. Where he was lost, and just left.
He leaves Katie, and he leaves London, and gets on a plane. Just like the very beginning, or the 'very end'.
When he gets there he cannot communicate with his mother, even though she is there the whole time sitting on the bed, the same way he couldn't communicate with her the entire time he was on is 'vacation'.
Then he dies.
There was no game,
This episode is Coopers life “flashing before his eyes” in his last moment of life. A moment that took .04 seconds. In his last moment he combined his entire life experience with the last things he witnessed.
There was no game, this was just a poor kid with a hard life tragically getting electrocuted when a phone interfered with a prototype VR he agreed to test.
Moral of the story: Call your mom.
Moral of the story: Turn your phone off when the flight attendant asks you to.
He's still in the plane
Not necessarily. If it's anything like a dream, he may have only experienced vague instances, much like the quick cuts that we the viewers see. In a dream, scenarios and surroundings are constantly moving and shifting, but we don't really notice, at least not right away.
This was the Inception crew up to their old tricks.
I wanted to do it before I watched the episode to tell her I found the book she wanted for her birthday.
I just got off the phone with her. Apparently I sounded out of breath...
This episode fucked with my head. So I'm watching that one episode of Rick and Morty to get my sanity
This episode is fucked up beyond belief because it highlights what the real horrors are. For him, it was the inability to get over what Peters had done to him so long ago. It was his inability to deal with the death of his dad. It was inability to contact his mom. Yes, there were spiders and the like. But what he really feared was the Alzheimer's symptoms of forgetting himself, the one's he loved attacking him (aka his Mom being mad which was manifested by the girl stabbing him), and of being a wimp. They built up his backstory as a kind of care free, wise cracking guy. I'm starting to think that's just his way of dealing with all the shit that has happened to him. And, this stems from that initial trauma from his childhood. The real horrors are the things we face everyday. Fuck...
The moment where he says he's "trying to create memories" came back to me when he forgot everything, it was very shocking
In movies we all get scared by monsters, aliens, and such, but at the end of the day those are just puppets. What really scares us, it's the demons we bring with us, and that neural net did a terrific job figuring it out, and this is what I was kinda dreading when they introduced the game concept.
Good episode that kinda reminded me of white bear.....the first twist we see is kinda predictable, but the one where we see him basically dead in the white room is something i didn't expect....The horror and the VR way of playing games is a great concept too.
And also this episode taught me to always pick up when my mom calls me.
The exact same symbol that was on the screens and balaclavas in White Bear was also on the coasters for the whack-a-mole game.
Nice catch....i didn't notice that.
The fact that the device was called the mushroom had to be intentional.Sure, it looked a bit like a mushroom, but the whole episode was reminiscent of a really bad trip. It all happens in your head.
Thinking about the ending, the fact that he sent the message to Sonja and she knows where he went last might end up in them getting found out.
Ah yeah, nice takeaway there
What i don't understand was how a company could ever be interested in developing this kind of technology that's life treathing if there even the smallest interference happens, like a phone call. It would only kinda make sense if it was some sort of goverment mind control project that was using the game company as a proxy.
Well I think the whole body-bag-standing-by thing implies they don't have much of a moral conscience about it all.
Yeah but they switched the contract aswell, probably some clause there (not like you can sign on your death in real world but still).
You can always sue for gross negligence, can't sign that away, at least in the U.S. And if they even suspected that cell phone interference could literally kill someone during the test, it would be gross negligence to not take the phone far away.
I didn't catch that's why a page was missing, so they could switch the contract.
He also could have swiped the page himself to give him enough time to take a picture of their goodies. Notice how he confirms that the case is unlocked before mentioning the missing page.
Welp, that's enough Black Mirror for me today.
Literally me after finishing this episode. Fuck. This show is not suited for binge watching.
for some reason I skipped this one and went to 3 and then 4. I was doing fine, went back and watched this one and now I'm fucked. I still might press play on another one though.
You were fine after 3?
I watched 3 to get the taste of 2 out of my mouth. And it made it worse.
I was the exact same. Watched 'Nosedive', and thought it wasn't so bad that I couldn't continue watching, after 'Playtest', that's enough for today...
Well, if Nosedive had a happy ending, this episode is really compensating that.
I wouldn't say Nosedive had a happy ending exactly, more of a cathartic ending.
That's happy for Black Mirror
Wow, the first half of this episode *does not* prepare you for the second half. At all. But in a good way.
I can safely say I did not expect *Black Mirror* to go horror. I know, I know, every episode of *Black Mirror* is a horror movie in its own right, but I still wouldn't have guessed they'd do a genuine genre piece. This episode went full Cronenberg and I loved it.
I think it was part horror, part psychological mind fuck. I liked it. Had to stop watching for a while after the episode wrapped up, though.
I can't believe this entire episode was the set up for a punchline.
"called mom" indeed.
> I'm afraid that wine is non-alcoholic
A horror game indeed!!!!
> I'm afraid that wine is non-alcoholic
Also, STOP is kind of a terrible safe word in a horror simulation. There are reasons that you'd want to say STOP while in it, or involuntarily say it, even if you don't want to actually quit it.
Stop is a terrible safeword in almost any situation that needs a safeword. You gotta pick something random, like cabbage.
And now we know Katie's safeword.
Time dilation is truly terrifying.
Yeah, like, if a photon travels at lightspeed, does that mean that doesn't experience time?
It experiences time within its own frame of reference. Like if you rode a rocket at 99% of light speed, things would look normal but you'd get home and monkeys would rule the world actually photons don't experience anything because they are really stupid
Photons don't have their own reference frame.
Yeah "that other time dilation episode" (trying not to spoil previous episodes) probably freaked me out the most of all the episodes. Someone essentially using an iPod to adjust your experience of time trapped with just yourself or your nightmares for days, months, even thousands of years... ugh. Now this added idea of 0.4 seconds creating a nightmare scenario that ultimately kills you. They really know how to fuck with us, I'll say that much.
Something interesting to notice is that when he thinks he got back to reality the first time, the creator of the game is talking to him in English. The second time, he's talking in Japanese, since it's the only language he can fluently speak. Cooper didn't know Japanese so his brain couldn't reproduce the dialogue in Japanese the first time.
In the final clip they are in the first room so he probably never even met the creator
That was my thought. He saw his face on the cover of the magazine at the girl's house. I think his brain just took it from there so he could interact with him in the virtual reality.
Yep. Also at first the dude didn't know what the word "fun" meant, then proceeded to explain quite a bit in English.
that is my first red flag about that reality we were given
Saito also had a terrible fake Japanese accent in scene in the bedroom. A lot of thought went into the linguistics of that episode that's for sure.
I know this is old, but her Japanese was fucking atrocious, totally broken, and so was his in the first scene they were speaking, but he was perfectly fluent and she was passable in the last one. I was actually cringing like fuck at the first scene
That's a good fuckin detail
But didn't Saito speak Japanese to an interpreter in the first scene in his office, which was actually just a level of the simulation?
He did, but then switched to English.
Who even knows at this point. That episode broke my brain.
The lead actor was fantastic, at the start he was your standard cargo pants chill American dude but as the 'game' progressed he becomes a terrified traumatised wreck of a man. I loved when he said "Feel like I'm going to see Dumbledore, hope I'm in Gryffindor!" Every part of the character was perfectly expressed, from the lowkey to the intense.
I was like dude turn back!!! every step of the way. He obviously had a sense of how shady those people were as that was a part of the nightmare.
Fun fact: he's Kurt Russell's son.
the seed is strong
Gotta have sons of great actors i.e Domhnall Gleeson.
also Alice Eve is Trevor Eve's daughter and Bryce Dallas Howard is Ron Howard's daughter.
The best thing I can say about him is that there were times when I didn't think I was watching an actor. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what he did, but some of his reactions and mannerisms were uniquely real. I've never said that about an actor before.
I think it's 'cause the way he portrayed the character was appropriately 'fake' so to speak. You could tell when he was saying things such as "going to see dumbledore" or talking about final bosses that he had no real idea what he was talking about beyond buzzwords and memes, because a lot of people do the exact same thing all the time. It's smartly written, I think, in that sense - in the way that it sounds like actual unrehearsed dialogue that real people say instead of a machined script
I hope he's in more shit. I had to look him up when the episode started because I knew I seen him in something else and it was 22 jump street. Good luck to him
This was one of the best aspects of the episode to me. Totally believable character.
Did anybody else think that when Cooper read the NDA the first time and saw that it didn't have a signature page, that this was intentional on Katie/the company's part so that she could just walk out and switch it with another NDA that has all sorts of nefarious shit in it, knowing that Cooper likely wouldn't read it again and just sign it automatically?
I thought it would turn out to be on purpose to leave him alone in the room and see what he would do, some kind of psych experiment
holy fucking shit i need to talk about this with someone
"This just in, increases in therapist demand correlates with 'Black Mirror' season releases."
Not sure if the "would you kindly" from Katie was an intentional Bioshock reference, but seeing the episodes topic I wouldn't be surprised.
**EDIT:** Definitely intentional
Yup. I'm sure I missed some references, but definitely the Bioshock reference, plus the obvious Hideo Kojima/Silent Hill parallels.
And the girl has MGS V in her collection
Oh it absolutely was, especially coming just before "Katie" revealed she'd asked him to go up there to see if he would follow instructions without question. I'm guessing at least, it was Coopers own brain sneaking those sorts of references into his experience.
I paused it when Cooper was looking at Sonja's game collection early in the episode (so I could check her taste in games lmao), and BioShock 2 + Silent Hill: Homecoming are two of the games, cementing the fact that the references were intentional.
There were a lot of sequels in there, I saw Dark Souls 2 and Dead Space 2 in there as well.
I came here in the middle of watching the episode just to talk about this. I want to give money to any program that has people asked to kindly do things.
I already loved this series. But I love it way, way more already. In this episode, even before that happened, I'd commented out loud "don't trust Atlas" regarding the words in the ear from Katie.
Now there's that certified black mirror sinking feeling in my chest at the end of an episode.
I sort of love it. It leaves me with a sense of emotional wonderment. Confused, yet aware of myself. I don't know if that makes sense, but that's how I feel.
Most unrealistic part of this episode is that he was able to hookup on Tinder after one swipe
And the fact that he left-swiped. FTFY
I guess in this alternate near future English women are hella thirsty for bearded drifter American men.
Listened to an interview with Charlie Brooker today where he described this episode as a 'fun' one. Something is terribly wrong with that man.
I mean, it was fun. I mean it's dark as dicks, but I had fun while watching it and I'm guessing Brooker meant it was a fun concept and episode to shoot.
Although, to be fair, maybe there's something just as wrong as me.
"Dark as dicks" is my new favorite phrase. Thanks.
Wow. What a fantastic episode on so many levels.
One thing that really scares me is thinking about how because the interference happened so early in the uploading, we really don't know what the company's intentions were. For all we know they were just trying to make a sweet wack-a-mole game but the phone disruption initiated the fear sequence and the brain went hay wire
Seems like they were well prepared for people dropping dead in their experiments. I doubt its just for a whack a mole game.
Was the ending really the end? Or was he facing the greatest of his fears- Death.
Anyone else notice he got stabbed in the same place as his second scar the girl pointed out? We never did get an explanation for that one...
It was also a way for his brain to recreate the physical pain he felt as he had already been stabbed in that area.
I felt that was his fear of his childhood bully manifesting itself. He'd clearly not quite dealt with the trauma of that and the simulation was recalling how painful it was, physically and probably emotionally. Reopening an old wound, so to speak.
This episode should come with a therapist
honestly, this episode affected me profoundly. Wyatt Russell is an incredible actor. he was so charming and likable, watching him turn to nothing *"I don't know who I am..."* and then die, it made me want to throw up.
i felt a tiny bit better knowing that he wouldn't die in vain because he managed to send that picture out. coincidentally, it was the same reason for his death.
Anyone who watches this episode on acid is going to be scarred for life.
"Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. STOP."
That was fucking horrifying. Then he wakes up, travels home, only to realize a split second before he died, that it still was an illusion. All within .4 seconds of actual time. Fuck that.
Yeah, the casualness and lack of response was so chilling.
I noticed Saito was very interested in the fact he called out "mom". I instantly assumed that he realised he could now develop a similar product which, instead of inducing your most abhorrent fears and forcing you to relive them until you die, just tells you who's calling you.
I watched this episode on a half a tab and was really relieved that I didn't watch "Bad Trip: The Black Mirror Experience" on a higher dose. It really hits all of the scariest things you can face on a bad trip: distrusting the people around you, being afraid for your health, feeling like you're losing a grip on where and who you are, being unable to trust your senses, getting caught in a mental loop, feeling completely out of control in body and mind.
"I'm going to have to ask you to switch that off for now."
"oh ok, thanks"
"Enjoy your food"
"You too, thanks...
Not paying attention, just going to automatic polite response. Pretty realistic and subtle writing imo. I liked it.
Just an interesting moment when Cooper was 'stabbed' by the projection, Katie said he could only feel sensation in the game if his brain had previously experienced that sensation. Where the knife stabbed him was in the exact spot where he was hit with the shop tool in school (what he was telling Sonia).
Holy shit. This episode perfectly describes what it's like to have a bad acid trip. Like to a fucking CRAZY degree. That's pretty much exactly what I experienced when I had a bad trip. From the forgetting who you are to having every worry you have well up and completely consume you, it's insane. The time dilation too, where so much horror is condensed in such a little amount of time that it feels like it will never end. Scary shit.
Didn't they refer to the little chip they put in him as "the mushroom"?
>This episode perfectly describes what it's like to have a bad acid trip
I was never going to do acid before but now I'm really not ever going to do acid
Yeah, that's the first thing I thought when the episode was over. That was an almost perfect depiction of the psychological ordeal that a bad trip brings about. Being killed by something as relatively benign as a phone call from Mom just seems like a perfectly fitting parallel for how a bad trip can become entirely dominated by the slightest "bad-vibes" event.
So question, What do you guys think the "singularity" comment was there for? It seemed like a very very intentional comment without a huge amount of payoff.
Good question, I think it even made the trailer right? After he was freaking out about being stabbed, Katie tells him the game must be evolving on its own... When she tries to remove the device initially and can't, she says something about the game extending further into his nervous system than it should have. Based on "singularity" being computer outsmarting man, my guess is that it was a massive red herring to make the ending more shocking and abrupt. That was how I experienced it, anyways.
One connection that immediately occurred to me was the idea of exponential growth.. Just how quickly things would evolve and get insanely outside of our control and comprehension once that moment of *breakthrough* happened. (This also relates to psychedelic drug experience. What was the implant called again? Shroom?)
The concept of The Singularity brings with it many profound philosophical questions, one of the most obvious of which is, what happens if once artificial intelligence outdoes humankind, we quickly (as in 1 second [as in 0.04s]) discover that rather than our technology being used to provide us with beneficial insights, entertainments, and so on, it instead turns out what we've really done is place ourselves in an inescapable nightmare. Even assuming the tech is being developed in the most intelligent and compassionate fashion, expecting a machine to be able to *truly* understand human emotion and experience (and thus create an experience which provides 'catharsis, but leaves you alive afterward) might very well be foolhardy. Asimov's law flies out the window if the robot doesn't understand it's "exposure therapy" psychology session will literally traumatise the patient to death within an eensy-weensy fraction of am incredibly slight split second.. Thinking we can simply yell out a 'safe word' to pull our asses out of the flames of hell once we've played God and unleashed the Beast is as naively cocky as Cooper's behaviour is upon his entering the haunted house.
The Director of this episode also directed 10 Cloverfield Lane, which is an excellent movie that everyone should check out.
Also did that really great Portal short film which is the game at the front of the game collection.
Wow, Hideo Kojima is a total dick in this episode
Has anybody read the last page of the contract after the woman gave it to him? It's freaking scary, they deliberately wrote a message for us viewers!!
"if you have paused to read this, you will die unless you forward it onto five people within a 28 day period"
It took me a few seconds to find it, but here's a screenshot for the lazy: http://i.imgur.com/B0bnbbP.jpg
Wow this actually gives me anxiety.
Heeeey I didn't pause to read it though! You did!
What an episode, wow. I have to say that it feels different from the first two seasons. Everything takes a little more time, but i think that's not a problem.
About the episode: It plays a lot with the concept of memory and reality, i like that. It starts slowly and builds up throughout the episode with a happy ending in sight, obviously that one isn't real in the end :(
Cooper's fear to talk to his mother is also his downfall, poor guy.
Playtest is one of the best episodes of the whole show i think, if the rest of the season is as good as this, that would be incredible.
Also his greatest fear was losing his mind like his dad did, as far as the software was concerned it fulfilled his greatest fear.
Yep. It was a good idea to start watching this episode at 4 am.
The one thing that got me about this episode was that things allegedly happened in Cooper's mind that he couldn't have known:
1. He knew exactly what Saito looked and sounded like despite never seeing him. Even seeing his face on the magazine doesn't explain how Cooper predicted him perfectly.
2. Katie uses the word 'discursive' and Cooper doesn't know what it means. She has to explain it to him. This doesn't make sense if it's all generated by his mind.
Oh and I also thought the ending was a cop out. If a mobile signal can kill people wearing the mushroom, he should have been taken into a sealed room and not allowed to take his phone in. What if someone was walking past the doorway and their phone rang? Would that have killed him? The whole thing about mobile signals killing you, but them having no precautions to stop mobile signals is pretty ridiculous.
Otherwise really solid Ep.
Jesus Christ that was dark as hell.
Edit: I think that episode actually broke me. I'm sitting here with episode 3 paused because I can't even fathom watching anymore today after that. I feel empty right now. My heart is even racing. Looking at my fitbit it's telling me I'm around 100 bpm, my normal resting is between 50 and 60. This damn show has gotten to me finally.
I was planning on binge-watching a bunch of it tonight, but now I think I'm done for the evening. That might have been the most terrifying thing I've ever watched. I'm gonna play some Picross 3D and try to slow my heart rate back down.
I need to call my mom...and tell her to watch this episode.
This episode for me.
Five Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I give your comment ★★★☆☆
This wasn't a meaningful encounter. ★★☆☆☆
I'm still fucking shaking. No horror movie/show has fucked me up this badly oh my god. This almost reminds me of my sleep paralysis. One second you think you're awake but really it's just a horrifying inbetween sleep-wakefulness state filled with life-like hallucinations. You can feel and hear the hallucinations like they're physical beings and situations. And when sometimes when you wake up from one hallucination, you just go into another thinking you're back in reality. It is utterly terrifying.
Maybe shouldn't have watched this one on my Vive.
Would you kindly open the door?
Goodness. The main character looks and acts like this hipster I dated two years ago.
I hate scary movies; I will admit I put some of the scenes on mute. I hate pop up shit.
I hate that the protagonist died from phone interference. It's such bullshit. If they knew cell phones to be a deathly risk, consider saying that shit or confiscate it yards away from the game room.
Despite the BS death, this is still in the top five episode for me. I was hooked all throughout; there are some episodes where I can pause it and return an hour later, but not for this one. I had to see what was next.
Love the theme of your worst fears coming to life. And Alzheimer's is just so sad.
Unbelievably fucked up but a wonderful episode. I thought Nosedive was a bit underwhelming but I am *shook* right now.
Also- Saito should consider leaving the playtester's electronics outside if the interference can literally kill them. Or maybe him dying at the end was just another projection representing his fear of death? fuuuuuuuuuck
P.S. The Japanese entrepreneur in Inception was also named Saito. Could be coincidence but I'm going to believe it's another cool reference.
P.P.S. Despite all the simulations, the thing that ultimately killed Cooper was him being unable to conquer his fear of calling his mom in the real world. This episode has *layers* man, I love it
>P.P.S. Despite all the simulations, the thing that ultimately killed Cooper was him being unable to conquer his fear of calling his mom in the real world. This episode has layers man, I love it
Oooh, shiit! How did I not notice that? If he had only called his mother she wouldn't have called him while the upload was going on. Then again, maybe he wouldn't have taken that job in the first place.
Super fucked up episode.
As a 20 something guy with shaggy hair and a beard living in Syracuse with my grandmother who has alzheimer's, I can say this episode hit a touch too close to home. Losing your mind is 100% the scariest thing I can imagine. Thanks Black Mirror!
I believe that many (most?) people are making a crucial mistake in understanding what is "real" and what is "not real" in this episode. First of all, some definitions:
* **Virtual reality:** That which is generated by the "mushroom" device.
* **Real/Realilty:** That which occurs outside of any virtual reality as above.
* **AI upload**: The event during which a "neural net" AI is uploaded to Cooper's mushroom.
Next, some observations:
The following information was provided to Cooper **after** he was both implanted with the mushroom **and** he was given the AI upload:
1. Directions concerning the use of a **safeword**.
2. Directions concerning the ability to **leave the experience** at any time.
3. Directions concerning the **inability to suffer** physical harm.
We cannot therefore disregard the following possibilities:
1. That there was, in reality, **no safeword discussion**.
2. That there was, in reality, **no discussion** about "leaving the experience".
3. That there were, in reality, **no assurances** made about physical harm.
So, let's think of a hypothesis and then test it. Here's the hypothesis I'm drawn towards:
1. The events in the "white room" before, during and after the whack-a-mole were all **"real"**.
2. The events in the game designer's room were also **real**.
3. From the moment the AI upload occurs there is a **steady transition** between fully real and fully virtual.
4. The events in the spooky house, from the appearance of the spider through to the apparent memory deletion, were all examples of **partial reality and partial virtual reality**. The experiences in the bedroom are predominantly virtual reality, but some glimpses of reality remain.
5. The events following Cooper being dragged from the bedroom are **entirely virtual**. This would include: the experience of having the mushroom extracted in the game designer's room, the experience of travelling back to the USA, the experience of meeting his mother again and the experience of being killed by the interference generated by his mother's phone call.
To reiterate, this seems to go against the general consensus; I am suggesting that the experience of being killed by the errant phone call **was itself part of the AI's nightmare design**.
Let us examine the strength of this hypothesis:
1. Remember, all of the promises made of escape, safe words and physical safety are unreliable.
2. Before Cooper enters the bedroom, we hear him explain that he can "feel" the AI exploring his mind for his fears, and he immediately tells us what he thinks it has found. **"I can feel it digging around my head. [...] It knows, it knows. It knows I've got this thing with my mom."**
3. Cooper is then presented, not with his worst fear (that regarding his mother) but with an alternative fear: that of becoming like his father. He experiences Alzheimers-like symptoms.
4. Cooper then experiences apparent escape. He's back in the game designer's room, apparently safe.
5. Cooper then returns to the USA and has the experiences of causing his mother to suffer a total mental breakdown. This is likely a representation of the **"thing with my mom"** referred to earlier.
6. Cooper then experiences a further nightmare scenario. **That of his death being caused by his mother's anguish. That of his mother being responsible for his death.** This is, arguably, the greatest fear of all. By his own recklessness in leaving his mother alone, by recklessly turning on his phone despite instruction not to, by failing to call his mother sooner, he has created a situation in which his **grieving mother causes the death of her only remaining relative; her son**. Cooper's guilt must be outstanding. This was the final and most extreme form of nightmare generated by the AI.
This theory also explains the apparent "plot-hole" in a successful and professional organisation being so unreasonably lax about Cooper keeping his phone with him, despite the known dangers
My theory, summarised (TL;DR):
1. Everything before the AI was uploaded was **real**.
2. The bedroom scene, the mother scene and the death-by-interference scene were all nightmares **generated by the AI**. The death of Cooper, being zipped up in a body bag, is the proverbial "Game Over".
3. What we don't see is the final, missing scene: Cooper wakes up in the game designer's room, traumatised, but importantly, **"still alive"**.
4. This final scene is left absent in order to allow the audience to experience the harrowing nightmares from Cooper's perspective (and also to invite audience interpretation).
This was the wrong episode to watch before going to bed
I'd say this was one of the weaker episodes, though still overall good. I know a lot of people are saying they disliked the ending, that it felt like a cop out, but I think that the fear sensing game, the tech that seemed to be the center of the episode, wasn't the true focus at all.
The real focus of the episode was human connection. This is a guy who is going all over the world. He sees sights, takes pictures, he meets people. But he doesn't connect with them. The most intimate connection he had was with his British hook up who he only contacted again because he needed a place to stay while he sorted out his cash issue.
And all the time his mother was trying to contact him, for what specific reason we can't be sure. But he ignored it, he pushed away from that very personal connection. There can be a lot of reasons for that, but in the end it was what killed him. If he had just called her and told her what was going on, she wouldn't have been calling so much, the phone call wouldn't have come in and killed him.
To me that was the true piece of this episode, in that this guy who pushed away from his human connections was essentially killed by that pushing away.
And as a secondary, the episode's end gave us a very powerful tone on the impersonal nature of large companies and their testing. Cooper was just another subject. He came in, something went wrong and he died. Make a note of it and move on.
Over all I think this was a solid episode.
This episode completely won me over with their homage to Bioshock.
This is **classic** Twilight Zone. Absolutely fucking entertaining episode with that beautiful and frightening twist. A Grade Television
Good luck to everyone trying to binge watch this. I initially also wanted to but after watching the first episode I decided that for me Black Mirror is just not the right show for that. I need some time in between episodes to digest everthing. Maybe I'll do one a day. ^If ^I ^can ^control ^myself.
I was going to binge watch, but I can't after this one. Too disturbing.
I cannot control myself. I have a 8 am class and now moving onto episode three.
After seeing the first two spider motifs (the in-flight movie and then as a tee-shirt graphic), I paused the episode and prepared my arachnophobic ass for what I knew was to come. Kinda proud of myself for predicting correctly, kinda ashamed for being so hyper-aware of goddamn fucking spiders
"Would you kindly..."
I'm not sure why they didn't end with him coming out of the machine not dead, but with his mind fried to the point where he lost his memories. Then they just drop him off in London. While he staggers around confused he gets a call from his mom - finally picks up - has no idea who he's talking to.
The questioning of what is reality in this episode truly speaks to me; at every point in the show. Is that spider real? Is that girl real?
Is that voice in my head real?
As an audience member i constantly questioned how much of what he was hearing was truly the lady from the game company and how much of it was his own fear. (Great suspense creating device) Hence begging the question of "to what extent fear can be used to stagnate us?"
Fear of being stuck in the room? Physical stagnation.
Fear of becoming just like his dad?
Fear of not making amends with his mum?
Questioning the bounds of reality is always intriguing to me, because it's a reflection of what we perceive to be real and that's what makes up our reality.
And also how our expectations make up that reality.
The show was smart to show how images he saw before he entered the game such as the image of the old 19th century house (found within the poster he sees when first entering the techno building), acted as a form of subliminal (maybe the word is implicit) messaging, with his EXPECTATIONS then being that his experiment would take place in that house.
His expectation that the girl (sonya) would betray him as some elaborate corporate ploy, his expectation that the game would be inherently far more intricate than the creators imagined (such as the sensory sensation rather than just audio and visual), even his expectation that it would all be a "game within a game"; with him cutting through various points in reality showing how his EXPECTATION of a complex gaming system would try to trick him into believing he was feeling all those things.
Ik this a lot. And I could go on for hours but I don't have the time to write my essay on this episode. But it's in my top 5.
TLDR: Was good.
Also the fact that this entire thing happens within tenths of a second. Reminds me of White Christmas in that way. If it can do that much in less than a second, imagine what it could do with more time... could seriously fuck someone up.
That's the freaky part about technology, it's an interesting thing to add to have it happen it just 0.4 seconds because plot wise there's no reason to. They could just let time pass normally. But the fact that they did just reflects the speed of technology, like how we send IM online and they're sent in split seconds, it really speaks to the attention in detail of the show. Because a computer doesn't need to spend hours doing something, if a computer had the power it would only ever take a split second to kill you.
Cooper's biggest fear is talking to his mom.
I think that was the entire point of this episode. He didn't want to feel the pain of losing his dad anymore. By talking with his mom, they would have to mourn and have real cathartic emotions. Instead, Cooper decided to run away from everything and go travel around the world. To surround himself with superficial adventures and distractions. You can see that his character likes to ignore negativity.
Cooper always finds way to distract himself from fear/insecurity:
1) Airplane experiencing turbulence: pretend it's a roller coaster.
2) Monster movie about giant spiders: laugh it off.
3) Feeling uncomfortable about not having a relationship (when he was int he cafe watching the couple): use tinder to find a girl to have sex with.
4) Mourning the loss of a father. Creating intimacy with the mother that you were never close to: go backpack around the world.