Hey folks, Jesse here again to continue my review of Black Mirror Season 4. This time around, I’m taking a look at episode 2 Arkangel. Arkangel takes a look at how far a mother (Rosemarie Dewitt) is willing to go to watch over and protect her child. This episode asks questions about what happens when protective nature becomes an invasion of privacy. When overbearing becomes an obsession.
The story opens with a woman in labor. She is having difficulty giving birth and she begins to panic. The doctors are able to deliver a baby girl but not without a brief moment of tension when the baby doesn’t begin crying. The scene fades to black and we are all left wondering the fate of the newborn baby girl.
It doesn’t take long before we are shown the baby, who is now a young girl. In a near future world, the mother has taken her daughter to a company called, Arkangel. Arkangel is a company that specializes in helping protective parents have the ability to take guardianship to the next level. Arkangel installs a device into the temple that gives a live feed of everything the child hears and sees. Everything is kept on record and parent can even censor anything that causes spikes in the child’s levels of fear. This is proven useful when going for a walk in the neighborhood they come to a loud barking dog. The mother turns on the filter and they walk by casually. Just blurry images and muffled barking.
This all seems harmless and you can easily see it’s advantages. Who wouldn’t want to protect their child from the early onset of damaging memories of seeing trauma and violence? We know these things shape the way we are as adults later on so why not use it for its advantages. Personally, there are a few things I’d be fine with never having witnessed. Everything seems to be going as planned but in Black Mirror things eventually are seen for what they really are. The first question that comes up here is, “Can you over-censor someone?”
The young girl begins school and she realizes she doesn’t know anything about the world. Not in the same way her classmates do. They tease her for being a narc. When a boy describes a violent act she tries to draw her own interpretation only to have her own artwork censored from her view. This leads to a far more dark and disturbing experiment her mother was not prepared for and realizes it’s time to make some changes.
This precipitates to the filter coming off and the girl is free to absorb all that life and internet has to offer, including it’s darkest corners. The mother decides to no longer use the monitor and allow her daughter to live without someone peeking over her shoulder.
Times passes and we meet up with the girl again. She is now a teenager (Brenna Harding) and beginning to face the set of complications that come with our early years. The mother’s protective nature once again proves to have the ability to impede her moral compass. Unable to rid her suspicions, one night she checks the monitor she put away so many years ago. She turns it on and is met with… let’s just say a parent’s worst nightmare. Regardless, the mother continues to spy, meddle and cross lines it’s safe to say no parent has crossed before.
Of course, the daughter finds out about all the deceit and damaging invasion of privacy. The final confrontation scene is shocking and full of raw emotion. The daughter’s reaction is typical of what we are capable of when we find out we are being watched without knowing it. Feelings of humiliation are dangerous in humans as they make us capable of reaching down to our darkest places to return the pain. The mother only wanted to protect her daughter from a harsh world. The only villain in the story is her love.
As a parent, I can see the benefits of being able to be with your child around the clock from the comfort of your tablet screen. I can also imagine how horrified I would be as a teenager to find out the things I had been up to was available to watch on demand. This episode was directed by Jodie Foster and I think it all came out really well. She did a great job with the interactions between the mother and daughter. They seemed genuine and makes the final scene that much harder to watch.
That’s it for my look at episode 2, next time around I will be chomping into episode 3 “Crocodile”. Get started watching Black Mirror today on Netflix.