Black Mirror: “Hated in the Nation” Season 3 Episode 6 (Season Finale) Review

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Having Black Mirror‘s third season bookended by “Nosedive” and “Hated in the Nation” makes the most sense from an audience perspective. They’re the best and most richly satisfying episodes of the season, while also pushing the Black Mirror envelope beyond what’s already been established. The 90-minute finale is a complex sci-fi crime thriller that, while slow to start, is as rewarding as only the best episodes of this series once it gets started.

It all starts with a murder, that of a journalist who recently came under fire for writing a column many found offensive. Before getting acclimated with our main characters, we spend intimate moments with this woman, learning the different strains mass Internet shaming has put on her life. She can’t walk down the street without random passer byers calling her a bitch. Home isn’t much better, as she gets delivered a cake that reads “Fucking Bitch” in the icing. Next thing we know, she’s dead, and Karin Parke (Boardwalk Empire‘s Kelly Macdonald) and her new partner Blue (Faye Marsay, the only true standout in the cast here) are investigating. The next day, a rapper who gave an awful interview on a talk show, causing heavy Internet hate, is mysteriously killed. The only things linking the deaths are #DeathTo with their names following trending on Twitter and the apparent use of robotic bees, which, in a very Black Mirror-esque twist, have replaced now extinct bees as a source for pollination.

The tone of “Hated in the Nation” is self-serious, which does slightly contradict the whole robot killer bees thing. But Charlie Brooker’s writing is clever, while director James Hawes finds ways to make these ridiculous enemies actually scary. As the story progresses, the UK population obviously becomes privy to the hashtag’s ties to actual deaths. From there, it’s a classic Black Mirror case of dissecting the ethics of the masses. Why do people still use the hashtag after they learn it actually works? How does the police force deal with citizens voting online for someone to die, which in a way makes them partially responsible when it actually happens? What is a suitable consequence for the voters? In its typical bleakness, Black Mirror answers that question.

But what separates the ending of “Hated in the Nation” from many of season three’s weak endings is the slight catharsis it leaves us with. The socio-political implications of this story don’t call for a rosy, happy ending, but what we get evens the score a bit. It’s a far cry from the Internet trolls in “Shut Up and Dance,” sending us back into the world after the season with at least a small sense of hope. Episode Grade: A- Season Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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