Black Mirror: The Entire History of You
December 25, 2014 5:46 AM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

In the near future, everyone has access to a memory implant that records everything humans do, see and hear.
posted by oh yeah! (16 comments total)
This was one of the highlights of the series for me. I thought it got around the problem that a few others had, which was super on-the-nose moralizing, and more looked at the consequences of a piece of technology.
posted by codacorolla at 6:07 AM on December 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah, this was a superb piece of science fiction, and was especially clever in dramatizing how we search our memories like amateur forensic officers looking for clues that our lovers have betrayed us.
posted by maxsparber at 8:44 AM on December 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

I liked this one, not as much as "Five Million Merits", but I was glad this one had a different direction and tone. After this episode I remember thinking, yes please give me a show of little classic science fiction short stories, and just execute them really well, I love this.

Part of my enjoyment may be that it's just not serial TV. Maybe I'm sick of serial TV.

Someone on Twitter described Black Mirror as "Doctor Who minus the Doctor." Which is kind of a funny semi-accurate description, but now I'm also thinking of it as: yes, cutting out the Doctor does remove the thing I dislike most about Doctor Who.
posted by fleacircus at 11:26 PM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ooh, a place where I can be grumpy about Black Mirror! So, I like Charlie Brooker, I find his shows entertaining. But I find his writing in Black Mirror to reflect the worst parts of his misanthropic nature. Simply put, this episode appears to be highlighting the possible misuse of a technology, but to me just highlights that in the future, arseholes are going to be arseholes. Had the protagonist been remotely sympathetic at any point, I might have been effected by this story. As it was, I found the point rather trite. Yes, if you are a jealous idiot who obsesses over things this technology would be bad for you, but getting rid of it wouldn't solve the core problem, that being that you are a jealous idiot who obsesses over things.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:34 AM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

Just FYI, this episode was actually written by Jesse Armstrong.
posted by maxsparber at 5:15 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just FYI, this episode was actually written by Jesse Armstrong.

Ha, so I wasn't aware that others were involved in writing Black Mirror! That's interesting to note. The wikipedia article on Black Mirror tells me that this episode was optioned by Robert Downey, Jr to potentially turn into a film. I can sort of see why, even if I think the episode is executed really poorly.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 5:54 AM on December 30, 2014

Props to this episode for choosing to not put the dissenting voice too on the nose. When the pro-implant crank goes on about how inaccurate memory is the recall-luddite doesn't take that opening to opine that maybe that's best for everyone, isn't it? It's the ability to track down whether the wife says week or month that really provides a direction for the protagonist to dig.
posted by phearlez at 12:17 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I thought it got around the problem that a few others had, which was super on-the-nose moralizing, and more looked at the consequences of a piece of technology.

I disagree, actually, I thought it was the exact inverse. Where some of the earlier episodes were better on consequences of technology, this one felt like constant "This is how someone portrayed as an abusive asshole from the start manages to feed his abuse with more tools at his disposal". (In other words, Cannon Fodder's got it spot-on, for me)

Show me something more like 15 Million Merits, where the system & technology therein creates problems outside of the people involved, and I'm much more inclined to follow along with the idea that perfect recall would cause strange and unforeseen social problems. (I'm already sympathetic to that. Zima Blue recurs in my mind regularly as-is)
But when it's showing me the case of someone who was likely to be terrible anyways, it's hard to piece out "Ok, *this* part wouldn't have happened without the Grain tech", and becomes easier to write off as "terrible people would be terrible with it, they would be terrible without it, I'll go with Boulet's take on it, where there's some clear upsides as well".
posted by CrystalDave at 8:55 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Not really getting into this series; this episode started with a somewhat interesting premise but went somewhere pretty boring with it.
posted by octothorpe at 5:57 PM on January 11, 2015

But I find his writing in Black Mirror to reflect the worst parts of his misanthropic nature.

Yeah, it's pretty awesome. I can hardly believe it's actual TV.

Had the protagonist been remotely sympathetic at any point

Well he did bring up the ethical question in his interview at the beginning, which seemed to be positioned as his blowing it for a good cause, but I don't think they really established his character much before everything else started happening.
posted by rhizome at 1:54 AM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I want to like Black Mirror, but so far I've found the writing really tedious. Every bit of character development or plot is rehashed two or three times, especially in this episode, where we're often forced to watch the same scenes and lines over and over. This episode could be either cut into a perfect half-hour gem or expanded into a fantastic feature-length film, but the 45 minute format is being wasted. I've no idea why they decided to make Fifteen Million Merits fifteen minutes longer than the other episodes, since it too contains about a half-hour of gripping television diluted into something much blander than it should have been.
posted by oulipian at 3:42 PM on February 3, 2015

I liked the concept of this one, but I feel like it really fell down on the ending. The other two endings have been really impactful, but this one felt kind of meh.
posted by corb at 8:18 AM on October 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

As someone who've been cheated on, I went from "oh wow he's a downright asshole to his wife." to feeling a little sympathetic when she finally admits it. It's never a great feeling to find out you've been cheated on. Even if he's a complete prick who morally deserved it, it's still relatable.
posted by numaner at 12:58 PM on April 5, 2017

Every episode in season one turned on the sexual humiliation of a character. Is this a show about the dystopian impact of technology when it collides with our "true" nature or is it just a rehashing of sexual violence as various types of origin stories?
posted by CMcG at 6:28 PM on June 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh and just to be clear, the wife is the sexual humiliated person in this episode when her husband forces her to replay a past sexual encounter. Not the obsessive jealous dude who learns that he has been cheated on...
posted by CMcG at 6:29 PM on June 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

this was the first episode of this show that my wife and I watched (based on the recommendations of some random google searching along the lines of "where to start with black mirror" knowing we didn't want to start with the pig-fucking ep 1)

we'll give the show another shot, but damn this just felt like an interesting premise for a Philip K Dick novel or a 15-minute short instead protracted into a fairly boring and rote 45 minutes

there's just so much to explore about the premise that's interesting and revealing of a lot of the complexities and weirdness and fractured-ness of human memory and instead this to my mind does a superficial, sophomoric treatise on how jerks, given tools, will be bigger jerks -- and wants this to feel profound

a few little details stick out as intriguing/chilling in a nicely subtextual way (watching the baby's memories to watch the sitter's behavior; the notion, which is a crazy violation in a way the show doesn't explore enough, of masturbating to crystalline-clear memories of people who are no longer your lovers; attached to that the way the friends at the party have so cavalierly lost their sense of personal boundaries and privacy violations by synonymizing "memory" with "television") but these glance off the script in blinks and don't do much to redeem how disinterested I was in the central narrative and characters

ah well. perhaps the high buzz around the show and my general love of speculative fiction made my hopes too high. on to another random episode probably, hopefully with better results!
posted by Kybard at 5:45 PM on January 26, 2018

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