Hated in the Nation
|"Hated in the Nation"|
|Black Mirror episode|
|Episode no.||Series 3|
|Directed by||James Hawes|
|Written by||Charlie Brooker|
|Featured music||Original Score by|
|Original air date||21 October 2016|
|Running time||89 minutes|
"Hated in the Nation" is the sixth and final episode of the third series of British science fiction anthology series Black Mirror. Written by series creator and showrunner Charlie Brooker and directed by James Hawes, it premiered on Netflix on 21 October 2016, along with the rest of series three. It is the longest episode in the series at 89 minutes.
The episode is a murder mystery, and follows Detective Karin Parke (Kelly Macdonald) and her new partner Blu Coulson (Faye Marsay) who, together with the help of National Crime Agency officer Shaun Li (Benedict Wong), try to solve the inexplicable deaths of people who were all the target of social media.
The episode was inspired by the Nordic noir genre, and it won critical acclaim.
Detective Chief Inspector Karin Parke (Kelly Macdonald) has been summoned to a hearing. She begins speaking about Jo Powers (Elizabeth Berrington), a journalist subjected to online death threats after publicly lambasting a disability activist's recent self-immolation. Powers returns home to the delivery of a cake reading "Fucking bitch", and sees death threats and hate messages directed at her on social media; she is later found dead, and her husband injured.
Parke investigates the death, with Trainee Detective Constable Blu Coulson (Faye Marsay) as her shadow, and Nick Shelton (Joe Armstrong) also working on the case. The death is assumed to be murder by her husband, but he claims that Powers cut her own throat with a wine bottle, injuring him as he tried to stop her. Parke and Coulson visit the sender of the cake, Liza Bahar (Vinette Robinson), who had crowdfunded the money for it, and posted a message online reading "#DeathTo Jo Powers" along with Powers' image.
The following day, a rapper named Tusk (Charles Babalola), who had also become a target of online hate for insulting a young fan, has a seizure; he is hospitalised and sedated. When Tusk is put in an MRI machine, a metal object in his brain is pulled out of his head by magnetism, killing him instantly. The object is identified as an Autonomous Drone Insect, or "ADI" – artificial substitute bees developed by a company called Granular to counteract a sudden colony collapse disorder in the bee population. Parke and Coulson visit Granular's headquarters, where project leader Rasmus (Jonas Karlsson) finds that an ADI was locally hacked near Powers' house on the night she was killed.
A National Crime Agency (NCA) officer, Shaun Li (Benedict Wong), is also assigned to the case. Coulson realises that Tusk and Powers were both targeted with a social media hashtag, "#DeathTo". The tweets originating the hashtag had a video called "Game of Consequences" attached which explains that each day, the person that is subject of the most "#DeathTo" tweets will be killed. Clara Meades (Holli Dempsey), who posted a photo where she pretended to urinate on a war memorial, is currently mentioned in the most tweets; the team take her to a safe house. Rasmus attempts to catch the hackers, but fails, and a swarm of ADIs invade the safe house through keyholes, windows and other small gaps. Though Parke and Blu attempt to hide from them with Meades, she is killed by ADIs entering through an air duct.
Noticing that the ADIs attacked Meades but not herself or Parke, Coulson realises that they use a facial recognition system; Li admits that the ADIs are used for government surveillance. The news begins to report on the #DeathTo hashtag, which is rapidly growing in use. The Chancellor of the Exchequer Tom Pickering (Ben Miles) is the current target. Meanwhile, Parke interviews Tess Wallander (Georgina Rich), a former Granular employee who attempted suicide after receiving online hate, but was saved by her flatmate and work colleague Garrett Scholes (Duncan Pow).
Coulson and Li's analysis of the compromised ADIs reveal a digital manifesto written by Scholes, which is about forcing people to face consequences without hiding behind online anonymity. Coulson traces the location where a selfie in the document was taken; the police raid this location, yielding a disk drive. As Rasmus is preparing to use this to deactivate the ADI system, Coulson discovers the drive contains a list of hundreds of thousands of International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers, which can be connected to the owners' details via the government's monitoring system. They realise the list is of those who used the #DeathTo hashtag, and Parke concludes that Scholes' true plan was to use the ADIs to kill these people. However, Li ignores this and activates Rasmus' code; the system appears to be deactivated for a moment, but then the ADIs come back online and are seen targeting Bahar and Shelton, who had used the hashtag. All 387,036 people on the list are killed by the ADIs.
At the hearing, Parke explains that Blu Coulson has gone missing, presumed to have committed suicide; however, Parke later receives a text from her reading "Got him". She smiles and deletes the text. Scholes had fled abroad and changed his appearance, but Coulson has managed to locate him. The episode ends with Coulson following Scholes down an alley in an unnamed foreign country.
I’m generally against legislation against free speech but I can see it’s a massive problem when you’ve got people who are going out of their way with targeted abuse. It’s a very difficult thing to deal with. I don’t know the answer. I don’t know the answer!People should be more accountable for what they say. It’s just difficult to see how you do that without the law getting involved. I think it’s like we’ve evolved an extra limb – social media is just like we haven’t worked out how to walk with three legs yet – we just keep banging into the walls.
As of series 4, "Hated in the Nation" is the longest episode of Black Mirror at 89 minutes. In an interview in October 2016, Brooker revealed that there were characters in the episode who could recur in the series in the future.
According to Brooker, the episode was inspired by "Scandi-Noir thrillers like the TV series The Killing and Borgen". The episode is also partly inspired by Jon Ronson's book So You've Been Publicly Shamed (2015), about online shaming and its historical antecedents, and by a public backlash after Brooker wrote "Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr – where are you now that we need you?" in a satirical 2004 article about George W. Bush, in The Guardian.
When asked whether "policing Twitter is the answer" to the issues in the episode, Brooker answers "I don’t know the answer!", and comments that "I think that social media is an amazing invention and really I suspect what needs to happen is that we just as a species get better at dealing with it" and "People should be more accountable for what they say. It’s just difficult to see how you do that without the law getting involved."
References to earlier episodes
In the opening flashback sequence, Karin Parke sits down in her living room to watch the news. Scrolling below the feature about the chancellor, the news ticker clearly reads: "US military announces MASS project". This is in reference to the previous episode "Men Against Fire" where the MASS project was the featured technology for the episode. This may indicate that at the time of the flashback sequence, the events of Men Against Fire hadn't yet occurred. Later on, another news ticker displays "ECHR rules 'cookies' have human rights" which is a reference to the technology seen in the "White Christmas" episode.
When DCI Parke asks Blu Coulson why she left forensics, she reveals that she was the one who cracked Iain Rannoch's "souvenir folder" containing all the pictures and videos that had been taken by his girlfriend Victoria Skillane of the torture and murder of six-year-old Jemima Sykes. Iain Rannoch committed suicide while in custody, but the series 2 episode "White Bear" covers Victoria's punishment.
In the ending scenes, when Garrett Scholes is watching the news, the headline ticker includes "Shou Saito announces immersive new gaming system." This is a reference to the previous episode "Playtest" and indicates that the tests of Shou Saito have concluded and his new game is available to the world. Also included is "Skillane appeal thrown out of court", another reference to "White Bear".
The episode was acclaimed by critics, who praised its writing, use of Twitter, themes, acting, and final twist.
Suchandrika Chakrabarti of the Daily Mirror extolled the episode, awarding it a perfect 5 rating and calling it "a huge achievement", stating "it's an illuminating, compelling watch, as Black Mirror does what it does best: telling us about human nature through the technology we wish for, but don't deserve". Digital Spy also gave a very enthusiastic review, considering the episode "a great example of how the show at its best can merge its heady high-concepts with more traditional storytelling to effectively hold that black mirror up to our own society". They highly praised the "once downbeat and low-key, and yet expansively devastating" climax, and called the episode "a feature length story that's captivating throughout".
Adam Chitwood of Collider noted that the episode was the "most thematically relevant... of this new batch, with a direct connection to the ugly side of social media and its lack of consequences." The Telegraph called the episode "an inspired, frost-fringed police procedural" and gave it a rating of four out of five. Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B+, stating "Black Mirror ends its season with a solid but unremarkable thriller". He criticized the length of the episode, despite recognizing that "at least the story has enough complications that it never felt empty."
- Assassination market
- Unmanned aerial vehicle
- Prey (2002), a book by Michael Crichton with a similar premise
- Untraceable (2008), a film directed by Gregory Hoblit where victims are similarly murdered based on online voting results
- "No. 6" (2003), an anime with a similar concept of government-controlled parasitic wasps
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- "Hated in the Nation review: Black Mirror's finale creates a future London where everything's the same, but feels eerily different". Daily Mirror. 26 October 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
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