The culminating impact of the finale is expanded greatly through the framework of the episode. It’s more or less a police procedural movie (with a 90-minute runtime) that hunts down a serial killer with the requisite number of twists and turns, but it’s made vastly more interesting with a topical and exciting premise that pays perfect homage to Hitchcock’s The Birds, a terrific set of leads, and an ultimate turn of morals that point at our mob behavior like a god damn nuclear warhead.
It opens with the delightfully sassy and bitter and Scottish DCI Karin Parke (Kelly Macdonald) offering testimony before a rather large jury. What is it about? Well, we get into that very quickly. It turns out there was a murder of the much hated journalist Jo Powers (Elizabeth Berrington) just a year ago. She earned her ire by writing a scathing op-ed on a disabled activist’s suicide. Her life eventually becomes ironically enjoying the deluge of death threats on social media and drinking wine.
Her murder, however, was mostly a mystery back then. It’s almost Sherlockian in that there was no forced entry, no abnormal toxicology results, and no sign of foul play from the husband. But when another body drops, the pattern emerges that the most seriously hated person online is eventually targeted in similarly mysterious ways.
The actual answer as to how it happens is rather predictable (it almost lays it out for you in the opening moments as it plays on the technological remedy to colony collapse disorder), but the reason why is phenomenal. And it seems like an almost direct response to the vitriolic years of Twitter fueling Gamergate and the like. What makes people think it’s okay to tweet things to people you wouldn’t otherwise say to someone’s face?
That single question provokes a scarily easy descent into not necessarily justifying but certainly explaining who would do these things and why. It makes the jump from normal to sociopathic on social media too smoothly, which is part of why it’s scary. How close are we to being this world? The answer: too close.
I’m convinced the entire episode ends in a masterful stroke of villainy. We don’t really care about the actual culprit behind the murders and the future terrors, but we do care about the morals of them all. And the slow burn of the closing moments are perfectly meted out, especially as it slowly closes out on a steely cold view out onto the horizon. It does what Black Mirror does best and eschews lessons in favor of a dark introspection for the sake of introspection.