Season 4 Episode 2
Marie (Rosemarie DeWitt) is very protective of her daughter Sara and that’s putting it mildly. In the course of Sara’s young life, there have been instances that have scared Marie senseless. Her birth was complicated and at the age of three she went missing, causing the entire neighborhood to search for her until she is eventually found. In her concern and panic, Marie decides to go and have her daughter fitted with an implant from the Arkangel company.
The implant is state of the art. It can track her location, give detailed information on her vitals and even has a parental control filter that can block out sounds and images that the parent deems inappropriate or violent. It even allows Marie to see what Sara sees in real-time. Although Marie insists that these features are ones that she will never use, that quickly changes as Sara goes out into the world without her, including school. Marie isn’t completely alone in raising Sara. Her father Russ (Nicholas Campbell) helps with the child when Marie is at work and when Sara discovers her grandfather having a heart attack, Marie is able to get to him in time.
This reinforces Marie’s belief that she did the right thing and the implant and handheld unit become a part of her everyday routine. When Sara starts exhibiting strange behavior, based on the implant, Marie decides to give up using it. The implant can’t be removed, but she stops using the handheld unit and puts it away. Sara (Brenna Harding) grows up and at age 15, she starts hanging out with and having a relationship with Trick (Owen Teague). She starts lying to Marie about where she’s going and who she’s with, prompting Marie to start using the handheld again where she sees more than she wanted to. An act that leads to a potentially deadly confrontation between mother and daughter.
This was a strong episode that hit on all the best aspects of Black Mirror as a series. It touched on our obsession with and abuse of technology. It takes the concept of parental paranoia to its farthest limit. It delivered a sympathetic protagonist in Marie. She’s not a bad person. She sincerely loves her child, but she has made that child the virtual and at times literal center of her world and her actions towards Sara are made from a sense of her own insecurity rather than her daughter’s benefit. It allows Sara to grow into a complicated and all too normal teenager who makes mistakes that all teens make without the added burden of having an implant that tracks you everywhere and watches everything you do.