The finale of Black Mirror’s fourth season was a hell of a ride. “Black Museum” has quickly become a fan favorite, largely because of the flawless interweaving of the episode’s three flashback stories and clever callbacks to previous Black Mirror episodes, including “White Bear” and “San Junipero.” It is arguably the best episode of the season, if not the entire series.
Although Black Mirror as a series is often regarded as a dark satire on modern technology, it is more so a commentary on human behavior, political systems, and the potential dangers of technological advancements. Every episode has deep meanings behind them, and “Black Museum” was no exception.
While fans of Black Mirror love the show’s suspenseful entertainment, it is important that viewers don’t ignore the message behind each episode. In the case of “Black Museum,” there are many.
SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT CONTINUE READING IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED “BLACK MUSEUM.”
Healthcare systems often exploit the poor. – Upon arriving at the titular Black Museum, Nish (Letitia Wright) is greeted by the museum’s curator, Rolo Haynes (Douglas Hodge). Haynes explained that he previously worked in healthcare. He developed medical technologies and would provide people with free healthcare in exchange for consent to experiment on them. In the cases of Dr. Peter Dawson (Daniel Lapaine), whose experiment allowed him to feel the pain of others experiencing medical issues, and Carrie Lamasse (Alexandra Roach), whose experiment allowed her to experiment consciousness via surrogate, the technologies proved more damaging than revolutionary. Although most medical experiments aren’t as extreme as the ones portrayed in “Black Museum,” it is symbolic of how far some will go in order to afford healthcare.
The grief of POC is often overlooked or seen as entertainment. – One of the pieces in Haynes’s museum is a hologram-like figure of a man named Clayton Leeds (Babs Olusanmokun), who was wrongfully convicted of the murder of an anchorwoman. After Leeds’s physical execution, his consciousness was transferred over to the hologram-like figure, and the figure was placed in an electric chair. Visitors to the museum were allowed to simulate Leeds’s execution, with Leeds’s consciousness being able to feel the shocks each time. This particular exhibited attracted white supremacists, which gave the museum a bad rap, causing attendance to the museum to decline. It is later revealed that Leeds is Nish’s father and that Nish did not come to the museum as a tourist, but rather, to exact revenge on Haynes. The episode came shortly before the death of Erica Garner, who was said to die from the subsequent trauma following the killing of her father, Eric Garner. Following the death of Eric Garner, the NYPD police department wore t-shirts reading “I CAN BREATHE,” mocking his last word’s, which were “I can’t breathe.”
With tragedies occurring so frequently, people often lose interest in one as they move onto another. – In a social media era, we are able to stay up to date on tragedies as soon as they happen. Movements like #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and #NoDAPL heavily rely on Twitter to get their messages across, as they often go overlooked by mainstream media. In regards to her father, Nish said to Haynes, “as soon as it was clear the state wouldn’t do a damn thing about clearing him, [the protesters and activists] just moved onto the next viral miscarriage of justice they can hang a hashtag off of.” This quote rang true for me, as it is not hard to forget about tragedies For example, when it was revealed that the water Nish gave Haynes was poisoned, I was instantly reminded that Flint, Michigan has been without clean water for over three years. Granted, I’m not sure if the poisoned water was meant to represent that of Flint, however, as a society, we move on from mourning one tragedy to another so quickly that we forget that some tragedies still have yet to see relief.
Although the mood is dark throughout the entire course of “Black Museum,” it does end on a happy note. Nish transfers Haynes’s consciousness to a hologram-like figure, shocks him to “death,” frees Carrie, whose consciousness is still stored in the plush monkey, and sets fire to the museum. Justice is served as Nish and her mother, whose consciousness is stored inside Nish’s brain, drive off into the sunset.