Imagine waking up and not knowing who you are, where you are, or what to order on UberEats. You open your eyes while sitting in a random chair just rocking your way back and forth into thought. What I'm trying to say is, we've all been there in some way shape or form from our early 20's. But, in the eyes of Charlie Brooker, we were living through horror alongside a strange woman who clearly looks like she needs help.
Apparently, that wasn't the case for Victoria Skillane, played by actress Lenora Crichlow, who was placed in the shittiest of situations for the next 45 minutes as I'm just sitting back eating popcorn.
The start of my last Black Mirror review on "White Christmas" really took a turn for the best. As I rewatched it more times to count, White Bear pops up as symbolism given how the main characters have been treated inside the episodes.
Hence: Simulation. Because we should know by now, this show isn't normal.
However, as mentioned earlier, Carl Tibbetts directs this dark and fucked up episode that lives within S2E2 of the series.
So, let's get into it.
In the beginning of the episode starts out with a girl with a messy ponytail waking up named Victoria. There's no background music so the scene is very in our face. She's lost, in pain and clear injuries on her wrists that are bandaged up. From first glance it could be self inflicted, but who knows. Down at her feet are a bunch of pills poured all around. Now looking like a suicide attempt, she still has the "What the fuck?" look on her face, and so do we.
A symbol pops up, which is a pretty famous symbol in the Black Mirror universe, but for educational purposes, it's known as a glyph. She grabs a picture, but glitches herself into a flashback of a 6-year-old girl of color named Jemima Skyes and a man with dark brown hair we call Ian Rannoch.
So not only does Victoria seem to have a banging headache, now she has to deal with this symbol that keeps popping up on her television. She gulps down water from a glass half full and looks at a calendar with X's crossing out the days up until the current date: October 18th.
Pondering away, she looks in the mirror, around the house, then steps out into her yard.
You can barely see it, but in the yard there's a White Teddy Bear laying there, which is the basis of the episode given what the title is called. Victoria looks around her quiet neighborhood, and she can see humans standing behind their glass windows holding up phones and recording her.
It's natual to be curious, so I ask the question...
Not only that, as she tries to get a second to breathe, some fucking dude gets out of his blue car with a shotgun. He's wearing the baclava over his head with the same glyph she's been seeing on her tv. He looks confidient wearing a red/brown fleece jacket because without question he decides to start RUNNING AT HER WHILE POINTING HIS SHOTGUN?
To me at this moment, it's a nightmare all around.
Because this girl is in a mental labriynth and it shows. And I know this because the music from composer, Jon Opstad, knew it was a really big challenge for him musically. Moreso on how to categorize between Victoria first waking up vs how she ends up in the end of the episode.
Ok, tell me right now, your ass wouldn't be shitting yourself? LOL.
As confused as she could get, the continuation to yell out loud is a thing. The dude has a fucking shotgun and wants to murder her, yet people are still filming with their phones. Who cares about recepricating any communication back, right??
This is when shit starts looking familiar. Silent tones, feared victim, the norm.
When something goes bad these days in public, there's people who would rather film instead of assert themselves into a situation. For some reason, there's a signal going into their brain where empathy doesn't exist, but angst does.
I mean, let's take a second.
We are basically robots. Why do I say that? Ok, let me ask you this:
Can you live without your smartphone?
Can you still run a business without access to wifi?
It's unreal how much technology has masked our lives through the years without even knowing it. It's all just so normal to us now. The more we use technology, it becomes an extention of ourselves and we use it as a guiding tool through life.
Sure, we could scrape the dirt off our feet all day, but living in the San Francisco Bay Area like I do, digital is life. But once it's there, sometimes our behavior dialates into a shell of a human. Maybe it's the price we pay. However in this case, either revenge is bittersweet or they're out here to ready to ruin this girl's life.
On the run, she finds more people, Jem and Damian who quickly lingers inside a gas station to hide from death while looking for supplies. Damian gets shot dead by Mr. Shotgun man we learn is named Baxter. BAXTER of all names played by Michael Smiley. Anyway, Jem portrayed by actress Tupperence Middleton tries to escape by using the fire extingusher to smash the back door. I admit, she kind of saves the moment.
Meanwhile, our leading lady Victoria, still remains scared shitless if anyone was curious. Just out here overlooking the scene with snot all over her face. It's like I get it, not a priority... but I don't know, LOL. Wipe those tears girl. It wouldn't hurt, but whatever.
Baxter busts down the door looking for them both ladies, but now more people are there recording with her phone. They're known as The Hunters.
Or just characters from the movie The Strangers with a different weapon loadout.
See what I'm saying?
Jem mentions it's the Hunters that are after them. Good thing someone has some damn information around here beause no one else was giving her anything of substance.
More madness ensues.
At this moment, we really learn that Victoria believes the girl in the flashbacks is her daughter and that she tried killing herself.
Jem mentioned there are flashing symbols that keep popping up around town. She explains it's her duty to kill the signal at the White Bear Transmitter in White Bear to stop the all the nonsense, DUH. A hero, I say.
All of the sudden a map pops up and Victoria remembers the location called White Bear so she points to it on the map, then sure enough, another glitch. OOP. So of course there's something about that name that makes her get a bit more energy enduced.
I would say this is straight out of a Shudder TV homescreen moment, but it's also Black Mirror, so I know I'm in the right place. Both ladies get welcomed by some guy with an accent, OH, could this be Baxter? Because it is. However, Victoria doesn't know anything and she's the leading protaganist, as it seems. So for the sake of the episode... do they really think they can trust strangers????
Nah. It's a no from me.
So now we're just riding in a van along with this 3's Company and to fast forward for a second, apparently the answer for the next location spot is the woods. In my world, never go into the woods because it's Black Mirror. But I'm not Victoria, so we're going to move away from that. because I have a feeling this can't be good.
However, this particular moment according to Annabel Jones, the lovely TV Producer, had the intention of this scene being even more chilling and violent than what was protrayed. We still saw Victoria get yelled at, mentally tortured while tied up to a tree, but at this rate, maybe that's ok.
Mostly because we still have no basis into why. I'm not that heartless.
Oh yeah, the people with the phones. The 4th wall has been broken a long time ago because at this rate, they've still been following and filming this whole time. Just a big ass party of confusion in the woods.
Talk about a A NEVER ENDING NIGHTMARE for Victoria, and us too.
Because we have been on this ride for some time now and for anyone, we would be the same way. I mean, what can you do? Victoria has basically been surrounded by guns and GoldenEye 007 talk about breaking down transmitters in a control room like we are back in 1997 chilling in front of our Nintendo 64. She's a woman screaming for help and people would rather take out their phones.
But this is where things start to take a turn.
With White Bear, one of the first Black Mirror episodes to bring in a twist, my brain is in shambles trying to figure out a premise to her entire situation. I mean, the majority of the episode is Victoria running around scared, soooooo... but the music just sucks you right back in.
Then we get some answers. Even though Charlie Brooker thought he was giving away just a bit more than he should with the flashbacks, it worked on us. Because we still want to know what the FUCK is going on.
It's like she's trying to figure out the puzzle at the same time that we are, as Jem is over there trying to open this crazy gate to the transmitter. I mean, do your thing, girl. LOL.
When they get in the control room, the glyph is on every tv monitor. It's as if Victoria is having a brain aneurysm at this point because, talk about an overload. Jem over there doing shit to computers, then of course The Hunters come through trying to murder scare.
Like, why wouldn't they at this point.
And then she has another flashback. This time Victoria is in a car with her fiance, Ian driving and Jemima in the back seat. She tells the little girl to lie down and duck her head as the cops where driving by. She does just that while holding her White Bear teddy that we've see in the garden earlier.
So now we know something is going on. Where are they taking Jemima in this flashback?
Back inside the control room, Jem and Victoria scuffle their way against the Hunters. As we step out of Victoria's racking brain, she picks up a shotgun and for once becomes really brave.
Victoria: "Stay back."
I was like, yes bitch. Who cares. These random ass people have been chasing you down like man. KILL THEM ALL. Maybe not like that, but who cares, maybe she deserves a little justice.
Then all of the sudden: *BANG* confetti pops all over that room. This was the moment nothing else mattered in the episode for me because I would of been SOOOOO annoyed at the entire day. Stubborn as hell.
Oh I laughed though.
All of the sudden, the back drop opens and SHE IS LIIIIIIIVE.
Look who joins her on stage, the Hunters who were trying to murder her, Jem all smiling and shit with her short as hair, OOF I would of been heaaaaaaaated. OH, and here comes Baxter, looking fresh in a new fit. Like, WOW. The joke was clearly on Victoria with this magynifyed focus.
She was sitting front and center in the chair.
Are these people in the audience the same ones that had their phones out filming? Probably. Like it's clearly nighttime, so talk about a fucking show. They were with her all damn day. Someone had to have purchased a ticket, and sure enough, they did.
I'm telling you, that was a standing ovation if I ever saw one. They were CHEERING bitch. After some time passes, it's like ok. So, what's up?
Alright, get ready *cracks knuckles*
Basically the rundown is, the dude with the tattoo of the glyph in her flashbacks is Ian, who was in custudy, but committed suicide.
They both abducted 6-year old Jemima from her home. There was a nationwide search going on and the emotional pleas in public from both parents where circulating. For months the two lovebirds disappearance has been a mystery and no one knew where they were.
The main clue is the White Bear teddy the child was holding that was discovered in a lake two miles away from the families home. From there the White Bear has become an enduring symbol for this whole child hunt. The torture and murder evidence was found on a cell phone and the aftermath of her body wrapped in a burned sleeping bag in the woods. The evidence identifies the two murderers in the video, Ian who did the labor, and Victoria who did the recording.
Victoria does confess at the time to recording Jemima's murder. She claim's she was "under his spell." I mean, I don't know about this one girl. This is some fucked up shit here.
It all makes sense now.
Given the judge wasn't even convienced by Victoria's story. He labelled her alright.
Patrick Lacy, UKN: "The judge who labelled her a uniquely wicked and poisonous individual."
OH OK. I mean, someone who watches someone murder someone else while holding a phone, is just as guilty.
Baxter: "HOW DO YOU LIKE IT?"
Audience members: "Murderer. Murderer."
Victoria gets transported into this weird van called the Wicker Van.
Even in the scene, some of the people in it were digital. You remember, the world of cookies and simulations? How else did you think the Black Mirror Universe selects its canadites?
Now as she's being exploided in this town and everyone remains filming, she's crying and still lost. Poor girl of course, but this is the true breakdown of what's really going on.
Baxter: "Take as many photographs as you want. Take as many photographs as you can. What I need from you is to shine a straight picture of the future right here."
Spectators: "Burn, Bitch... Murderer, Burn in hell!"
From this point, you start to understand the entire episode from the start. It's a true twist.
They take Victoria back to square one, the same house that started the episode.
Baxter hooks her up to a device that takes 30 minutes to wipe her memory clean. At the same time her replays videos of Ian, Jemima, and the glych symbol. From here we have learned that Victoria is apart of the ultimate experiement.
It's like shock therapy.
Then we see him and the more staff go around the house to staighten it back Victoria found it in the beginning of the episode. Baxter walks to the calendar and marks a "X" on October 18th. So this signifies that all those days, Victoria has been mentally tortured going through the same scene of crime punishment over and over.
Victoria was a spectator for someone else's death, and instead of dying on the spot, they want to keep it going for as long as they could. In a way it pays homage to the orginal idea of White Bear, which was zombies. Not hard to picture, but it's nice that Charlie Brooker decided to have us go 2/3rd's into the episode before giving us any real clues to what was happening with Victoria.
The entire episode was also inspired by the video game Manhunt. GO FIGURE.
So we can take it all the way back, but for now, I do have to ask:
Would you ever attend one of these fuctions?
Do you feel a company like this is justified?
So basically we find the truth about this place.
Baxter: "Rule number one, no talking, not just to her but each other as well. Okay, unless it's essential. What we're trying to do is to get her to believe that usual mesmerised, which is believed that often."
Baxter: "Okay. Rule number two, keep your distance, I can't stress the importance of this one enough okay. Don't forget, she's a dangerous individual."
Baxter: "Last but not least, enjoy yourselves."
So this episode was horrifying all around.
It's all about torture and humiliation, but it's only affective if the torture is for someone well deserved. The storytelling of the episode didn't give much to that in the beginning, yet when we discovered what Victoria and her fiance Ian really did, it put a whole new perspective on the situation at hand.
People were clearly taking pleasure at her demise, which makes sense. But to also have these freakshows, does that cross the line in any way? But just for a moment, Black Mirror convinced me that yeah, burn that bitch to a stake, she deserves it.
Moral of the story, don't be a dick.
Meanwhile, that photograph in the background looks highly familar... Black Museum S4E6.
See you inside the Black Mirror Universe, OH and Victoria isn't invited to the BBQ.