Smithereens was my utmost favourite episode of this season, it was tense, interesting, and left you on the edge of your seat. It also had some wonderful easter eggs that could easily be missed on first viewing.
Smithereens follows Chris a cab driver for a company like Uber who has been waiting for a Smithereen employee to request a cab for quite some time. Finally he picks up an employee and holds him hostage. Things go awol however when the police find out what he’s doing and he’s run off the road into a field. He warns the coppers of his gun and thus begins a standoff with Chris and Jaden (the hostage) in his car and the coppers surrounding him.
The reason Chris wants a Smithereens employee is so he can call the founder of the ‘like Facebook’ app and tell him a very sad story about how his fiancee died due to Chris’ need to check the app while driving. Of course negotiating etc. goes on for some time but when Chris finally gets his call listening to the man’s story is heartbreaking and does make you feel for him. He also makes Jaden empathise with him to an extent where Jaden tries to stop Chris from killing himself.
And this is the point where the police fire, everything stops, and all we see are random civilians checking their phones when they get a notification. It’s clear someone was shot, it’s clear the standoff is over, but what happened?
Well this is where Black Mirror understands human psychology because so many people, including myself, flocked to Twitter to see if we could find answers. And that’s exactly the problem. We always need to know what’s going on no matter what is happening around us. Even in such dangerous places as driving, we get a notification and we have to glance to see who it’s from or what it’s about. It’s a beautiful piece of social commentary and the ending song that plays while you check your phone to see who really died is deafening.
Can’t take my eyes off of you.
No, not your loved ones as the song intends, but your phone.
It’s heartbreaking, it’s incredibly tense and interesting, and it comments on human psychology so well without being too on the nose.
This is definitely my favourite episode of season 5. What do you think?
Until next time.