The Waldo Moment
|"The Waldo Moment"|
|Black Mirror episode|
Jamie (Daniel Rigby) in front of a screen depicting Waldo.
|Episode no.||Series 2
|Directed by||Bryn Higgins|
|Written by||Charlie Brooker|
|Original air date||25 February 2013|
|Running time||44 minutes|
The Waldo Moment is the third episode of the second series of British science fiction anthology series Black Mirror. It was written by series creator and showrunner Charlie Brooker and directed by Bryn Higgins, and first aired on Channel 4 on 25 February 2013. The episode originated in an idea for Nathan Barley, an earlier TV show by Brooker and Chris Morris.
The episode tells the story of Jamie (Daniel Rigby) a failed comedian who is the performer of a blue cartoon bear named Waldo, who comically interviews politicians and other authority figures. Jamie's producer (Jason Flemyng) decides to make Waldo enter the ongoing election to become the town's Member of Parliament, as a way to get public attention; however, the joke takes unexpected proportions. Chloe Pirrie and Tobias Menzies co-star as the candidates representing the Labour and Conservative parties, respectively.
The episode received mostly positive reception.
Jamie Salter (Daniel Rigby) is a failed comedian who performs the voice and movements (via a remote manipulator called a Waldo) of a blue cartoon bear named Waldo, who interviews politicians and other authority figures. The interviewees are fooled into thinking the Waldo interviews are for a children's TV programme, when they're actually for a late-night, topical comedy show. Waldo the bear is extremely popular with the British public, and a pilot for his own series is commissioned. Despite the character's success, Jamie is depressed and unsatisfied with his life.
During a brainstorming session for the Waldo pilot, producer Jack Napier (Jason Flemyng), who owns the rights to Waldo, jokingly suggests that Waldo should compete against real politicians in an upcoming by-election in the town of Stentonford, so he can stand against one of his past interviewees, Conservative candidate Liam Monroe (Tobias Menzies). Jamie reluctantly agrees, worried about entering the world of politics. The production company head off on a campaign trail, projecting Waldo onto a screen on the side of a van and driving to wherever Monroe is campaigning, so Waldo can publicly humiliate him. During the campaign, Jamie meets Gwendolyn Harris (Chloe Pirrie), the by-election's Labour candidate who, despite having no chance of winning, is entering the by-election to further her own political career. Jamie and Gwendolyn sleep together, but afterwards Gwendolyn is warned by her campaign manager to keep away from Jamie during the campaign. Jamie can't understand why she is avoiding him and develops a disdain for career politicians.
Aggravated by Monroe's attempt to mock him on a TV panel, Jamie issues a rant against the artificiality of politicians, exposing Gwendolyn as a career politician in the process. This rant becomes a hit on YouTube, and Waldo gains more public support while Gwendolyn's campaign quickly falters. Both Jamie and Napier meet with Jeff Carter (David Ajala), part of an unidentified American agency who claims that, because Waldo is not a real person, he has the potential to become a popular face of otherwise unpopular global authority. Jamie resists this idea. He tries to apologise to Gwendolyn for his actions, but she angrily turns him away. On the final day of the campaign trail, he begs the public not to vote for Waldo, leaving the van and trying to smash the screen. Napier takes over Waldo's controls and asks the public to attack Jamie, offering a reward. On the day of the election, Jamie watches the results from a hospital bed; Monroe wins, with Waldo (now voiced by Napier) coming second and Gwendolyn coming third. Napier prompts the audience to riot.
During the end credits, Jamie is shown to have become homeless. Waldo is seen plastered on screens, showing the American agent's vision of a palatable face on authority has come to fruition. He tries to destroy the screen in anger, and is taken down by the police.
The episode was filmed in and around the Buckinghamshire town of High Wycombe; many of the scenes involving Waldo's van are filmed around the town centre. Brooker's sister-in-law Rupa Huq is thanked in the credits; she herself ran in the 2005 election for the nearby Chesham and Amersham constituency, a Conservative stronghold similar to the fictional safe seat shown in the programme.
The A.V. Club rated the episode a C+, concluding: "There's just not enough there to suggest that Waldo's moment would last much longer than 15 minutes, and the show doesn't help by having all of its characters agree." Den of Geek concurred, stating: "This was a lesser episode of Black Mirror, then, but that's partly because the quality of other entries has been so high. 'The Waldo Moment' was still full of keenly observed scenes (the toe-curling job interview was one highlight, and the gleeful demolition of a disgraced MP on a topical comedy feels like a pointed jab at the humour in his own current affairs show, 10 O'Clock Live". The Telegraph gave the episode 3/5 stars, and wrote: "Brooker didn't over egg it, at least not until the end, which descended into a hammy dystopian vision of Waldo becoming a means of universal mind control."
Several news reports, including one by Chris Cillizza, political reporter for The Washington Post, compared the 2016 Donald Trump political campaign to the episode; later, in September 2016, episode writer Charlie Brooker also compared the Trump campaign to "The Waldo Moment" and predicted Trump would win the 2016 election. On the night of the election, at the hour when Trump's victory was becoming clear to the nation, Black Mirror sent out a tweet proclaiming: "This isn't an episode. This isn't marketing. This is reality."
- Higgins, Bryn (2013-02-25), The Waldo Moment, retrieved 2016-10-27
- "Black Mirror: "The Waldo Moment"". AV Club. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- "Black Mirror series 2 episode 3: The Waldo Moment spoiler-filled review". Den of Geek. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- "Black Mirror: The Waldo Moment, Channel 4, review". The Telegraph. UK. 25 February 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
- Cillizza, Chris (8 September 2015). "Donald Trump’s troll game of Jeb Bush: A+". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
- O'Keefe, Meghan (7 August 2015). "Why You Must Watch Black Mirror: 'The Waldo Moment' This Weekend". Decider. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
- Yamato, Jen (13 September 2016). "‘Black Mirror’ Creator Predicts Trump Will Be President: ‘I Find It F*cking Terrifying’". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
- Wampler, Scott (13 September 2016). "Black Mirror’s Charlie Brooker Predicts Trump Will Win The Election". BirthMoviesDeath.com. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
- McDermott, Maeve (8 November 2016). "No, this election isn't a 'Black Mirror' episode, tweets 'Black Mirror'". USA Today. Retrieved 23 November 2016.