Crocodile (Black Mirror)
|Black Mirror episode|
|Episode no.||Series 4|
|Directed by||John Hillcoat|
|Written by||Charlie Brooker|
|Featured music||Original Score by|
|Original air date||29 December 2017|
|Running time||59 minutes|
"Crocodile" is the third episode of the fourth series of anthology series Black Mirror. It was written by Charlie Brooker and directed by John Hillcoat. The episode first aired on Netflix, along with the rest of series four, on 29 December 2017.
Filmed in Iceland, the episode centres on Mia (Andrea Riseborough) who is distressed about having helped her friend Rob (Andrew Gower) cover up a hit-and-run death. Fifteen years later, Rob wants to confess their crime, leading Mia to kill him and dispose of his body. Shortly after, Mia witnesses a road accident between a pedestrian and self-driving vehicle. Shazia (Kiran Sonia Sawar) meanwhile is hired to investigate the accident, and uses a Recaller device that allows her to see the recent memories of those she interviews.
Mia Nolan (Andrea Riseborough) and Rob (Andrew Gower) go to a club together. While driving home, a drunken Rob hits and kills a cyclist on a mountain road. He convinces Mia to help him cover up the death by throwing the cyclist's body and bicycle into a lake.
Fifteen years later, Mia is happily married with a son and successful career. When she goes on a business trip, Rob meets her at her hotel. He shows her a news article about the dead cyclist, whose wife believes he is alive and is still looking for him. A newly sober Rob wants to make amends by writing an anonymous letter telling the truth, but Mia is afraid the letter will be traced. An argument ensues and she kills Rob. She is further shaken upon seeing a road accident outside, where a self-driving pizza delivery truck hits a pedestrian. Mia rents a pay-per-view porn movie to provide herself with an alibi, then disposes of Rob's body.
The man who was hit by the pizza delivery truck contacts his insurance company and is visited by Shazia (Kiran Sonia Sawar), an insurance investigator. She uses a device known as a Recaller to scan a claimant's and witnesses' memories to verify the claims, despite memory being acknowledged as unreliable. Shazia follows a chain of witnesses near the accident without determining liability as none had witnessed it directly, but one witness's memories show Mia looking out of her hotel room window at the time of the accident. Shazia is hopeful that Mia's testimony will allow her to prove the case—which would also allow the insurance company to pursue a lucrative negligence suit against the owners of the pizza truck. Before Shazia sets off to test Mia, she tells her husband that she hopes Mia will submit to the test.
Mia admits to witnessing the accident, and initially refuses to let Shazia in her house, but eventually relents after Shazia tells her of a legal requirement to submit to the test. Shazia mistakes Mia's reluctance as being due to embarrassment over watching a porn movie, and assures her that she is not interested in her personal activities. Mia tries to prepare her mind to focus away from Rob's murder before Shazia uses the Recaller on her, but she cannot stop memories of the road collision and the homicide surfacing during the scan. Recognizing what she has seen, Shazia tries to leave, but Mia incapacitates her and ties her up. Shazia promises that she will delete the Recaller data and will not tell anyone what happened if Mia lets her go, but Mia believes she will be incriminated. Mia scans Shazia's memories with the Recaller to learn that her husband Anan knew Shazia was going to see Mia that day. Mia kills Shazia and drives to her home to kill Anan. Upon realising that Shazia's baby son is also in the house and has probably seen her face, Mia reluctantly kills him too.
Police investigating the murders reveal that Shazia's son was blind and would have been unable to identify the killer; they instead use the Recaller on the family guinea pig to dredge its memories for evidence. Meanwhile, Mia cries in the audience as she watches her son's school production of Bugsy Malone; the audience begins to clap. The police are seen waiting at the back of the auditorium. As the camera continues lingering on Mia, in tears, the screen abruptly cuts to black.
Some critics have suggested that the title is a reference to the metaphor "crocodile tears", a phrase that could be referring to Mia's insincere expressions of sorrow while committing a series of violent crimes. Jason Koebler of Vice notes that Mia does not read the End-User License Agreement (EULA) for the Recaller. Koebler suggests that Mia reading the EULA would have allowed her to avoid using the Recaller, and thus prevent her later murders from being necessary.
The episode was inspired by the series one episode, "The Entire History of You", which featured a personal implant that one could use privately to review their memories. For "Crocodile", they considered what the situation would be like if these memories were not private, developing a "cat-and-mouse type drama" that would highlight the importance of memories, and to what lengths one with a secret would go to hide those memories.
The episode was initially conceived as having a male protagonist with Andrea Riseborough reading the script with another part in mind. However, after Riseborough liked the journey of the protagonist and asked if the part could be rewritten as a woman, the script was altered in order to accommodate Riseborough. Both Brooker and executive producer Annabel Jones described the change as interesting, with Jones noting "How often do you see a mother reduced to this level of desperation?"
Brooker explained that the title came from an analogy he made in an earlier draft of the script. In its original form, the script had involved a woman that had seen her mother die tragically at the age of two, causing her to become anxious and fearful of the rest of the world. He had compared this to a virtual reality trip down a jungle river with random events. Someone might go down this trip without seeing a crocodile and thus see it as a calm trip, but someone else might be attacked by a crocodile early on, and for the rest of the trip, become anxious and fearful that they are experiencing a "crocodile attack simulator", the same situation as this character. While the script significantly changed over the course of production, Brooker kept this title for the episode.
The episode was shot in Iceland and includes scenes filmed in the Harpa concert hall. Brooker had originally called out for filming in Scotland in his script, but Netflix suggested Iceland as a "more stunning backdrop", according to Brooker. During filming, Iceland had its largest snowfall in forty years, which required them to add one line of dialogue to comment on the change of weather to account for the sudden snow accumulation.
In May 2017, a Reddit post unofficially announced the names and directors of the six episodes in series 4 of Black Mirror. The first trailer for the series was released by Netflix on 25 August 2017, and contained the six episode titles.
Beginning on 24 November 2017, Netflix published a series of posters and trailers for the fourth series of the show, referred to as the "13 Days of Black Mirror". On 6 December, Netflix published a trailer featuring an amalgamation of scenes from the fourth series, which announced that the series would be released on 29 December.
Rotten Tomatoes reported that 53% of critics gave the episode positive reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10, based upon a sample of 17 reviews. The cinematography of the Icelandic landscape was widely praised, along with Riseborough's and Sawar's performances. Two critics criticised the violence and described it as unnecessarily bleak.
At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in January 2018, Toyota announced its customisable self-driving delivery vehicle, the e-Palette, with one of their first partners being Pizza Hut to create a self-driving pizza delivery truck. Commentators pointed out the coincidence of this announcement shortly after the first broadcast of "Crocodile", and the official Twitter account for Black Mirror commented on the announcement, "We know how this goes."
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