Black Mirror: “Crocodile” Season 4 Episode 3 Review

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Where “Arkangel”‘s drama was loud and fussy, “Crocodile” takes a much quieter approach, but the result is ultimately the same. This is another episode of Black Mirror where the protagonist can’t help themselves but make dumb decisions, only this time there’s not the simple benefit of a mother’s love to draw us in.

Filmed in Iceland, director John Hillcoat (best known for The Road and Lawless) seemingly borrows his color palette from David Fincher, shooting the snow-covered country similar to how Fincher shot Sweden for The Girls With the Dragon Tattoo, while the interiors are hoisted by grey, navy, or yellow hues, depending on the time of day. All this is to say that “Crocodile” looks gorgeous throughout, and that it’s clear what kind of mood Hillcoat was trying to strike. Admittedly, it works occasionally, as tension builds in a way that is narratively satisfying. There’s just so little to care about.

Approximately fifteen years prior to the main story, Mia (Andrea Riseborough) is in the passenger seat of Rob’s (Andrew Gower) car when he hits a pedestrian in the middle of nowhere. A decade later, Rob approaches Mia, now married with children and in a stable career, with the idea of writing an anonymous letter telling the truth to the wife of the man he struck, who’s still looking for her missing husband. With the script having done so little work on Mia, she kills Rob with too little attaching us to her decision, or her life at large, to warrant an emotional response.

Upon fleeing the scene, she witnesses a man get hit by a truck. He survives, and later files for claims from his insurance company, leading an investigator names Shazia (Kiran Sonia Sawar) to question the witnesses. The slow build to their meeting is well done, and the meeting itself is bursting with tension, but afterward, the episode sort of just lets Mia go on a chilling killing spree without remorse. In the end, there’s really nothing to “Crocodile” beyond a general theme of “she’s going to do this forever” and “she’s lost her humanity.” But we didn’t really see her humanity to begin with, or her struggle with any of the initial killings, so there’s really too little to go off of here to form a rewarding narrative. So this is a case of a well-directed episode that benefits from almost nothing else. Grade: C+

By Matt Dougherty

 

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