Crocodile (Black Mirror)

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"Crocodile"
Black Mirror episode
Black Mirror S04E03 - Crocodile.png
Promotional poster
Episode no. Series 4
Episode 3
Directed by John Hillcoat
Written by Charlie Brooker
Featured music Original Score by
Atticus Ross
Leopold Ross
Claudia Sarne
Original air date 29 December 2017 (2017-12-29)
Running time 59 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Arkangel"
Next →
"Hang the DJ"
List of Black Mirror episodes

"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.

Plot[edit]

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.

Analysis[edit]

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.[1][2] 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.[3]

Production[edit]

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.[4]

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.[5] 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?" on television.[5][6]

The episode was shot in Iceland and includes scenes filmed in the Harpa concert hall.[5] 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.[7]

Marketing[edit]

In May 2017, a Reddit post unofficially announced the names and directors of the six episodes in series 4 of Black Mirror.[8] The first trailer for the series was released by Netflix on 25 August 2017, and contained the six episode titles.[9][10]

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".[11] 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.[12]

Reception[edit]

The episode received mixed reviews. The cinematography of the Icelandic landscape was widely praised, along with Riseborough's and Sawar's performances.[13] Two critics criticised the violence and described it as unnecessarily bleak.[14][15]

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",[16] and the official Twitter account for Black Mirror commented on the announcement, "We know how this goes."[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Handlen, Zack (29 December 2017). "Nothing stays forgotten on Black Mirror". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  2. ^ Fletcher, Rosie (2 January 2018). "What does title of Black Mirror's ep 'Crocodile' mean?". Digital Spy. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  3. ^ Koebler, Jason (2 January 2018). "'Black Mirror' Made a Murder Thriller About Overbearing Licensing Agreements". Motherboard. Vice. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  4. ^ Turchiano, Danielle (29 December 2017). "'Black Mirror' Co-Creator Breaks Down Season 4: 'We Want to Be Surprising and Unpredictable'". Variety. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Strause, Jackie (27 December 2017). "'Black Mirror' Delivers a Timely Female-Led Season 4". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  6. ^ Ling, Thomas (7 December 2017). "Black Mirror season 4 episode guide: Charlie Brooker reveals new plot and episode details". Radio Times. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  7. ^ Hibbard, James (2 January 2018). "Black Mirror season 4, your burning questions answered". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  8. ^ Stolworthy, Jacob (27 May 2017). "Black Mirror season 4 episode titles and directors revealed". The Independent. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  9. ^ Donnelly, Matt (25 August 2017). "'Black Mirror' Season 4: Teaser Trailer, Episode Titles, Directors and Stars Revealed (Video)". TheWrap. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  10. ^ Hooton, Christopher (25 August 2017). "Black Mirror season 4 Netflix trailer teases all six episodes and their titles". The Independent. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  11. ^ Strause, Jackie (27 November 2017). "'Black Mirror': All the Season 4 Details". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  12. ^ White, Peter (6 December 2017). "Netflix Reveals 'Black Mirror' Season 4 Release Date in New Trailer". Decider. New York Post. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  13. ^ Chakrabarti, Suchandrika (30 December 2017). "Black Mirror's Crocodile shows jaws closing upon an unlikely criminal". mirror. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  14. ^ Sims, David. "'Black Mirror:' 'Crocodile' Is a Nihilistic Nordic Noir". The Atlantic. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  15. ^ "Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 3 Review: Crocodile". Den of Geek. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  16. ^ Anderton, Joe (8 January 2018). "Pizza Hut is making Black Mirror's self-driving pizza van a reality". Digital Spy. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  17. ^ Murphy, Margi (9 January 2018). "CES 2018: Driverless Pizza Hut delivery van draws Black Mirror comparisons". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 January 2018.

External links[edit]