Black Mirror: Shut Up And Dance
October 24, 2016 4:30 AM - Season 3, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Teenager Kenny is one of a number of people blackmailed into increasingly dangerous activity by a mysterious online force.

Possibly a spoiler: this is why you should keep your virus blocker updated.
posted by EmpressCallipygos (24 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best one of the new season, I think - some of the others get a little bogged down in awkwardly explaining How This Particular World Works, but this is allowed to unfurl beautifully, and there's a healthy dose of the black humor that's missing from the last three episodes.
posted by theodolite at 8:28 AM on October 24, 2016

One detail - how many people actually know what....the, er, picture* that got texted to everyone at the end actually means? People who spend a lot of time online would, but how many others?

* Being vague here to avoid spoilers. But I can promise the picture is not goatse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:11 AM on October 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

I spend a lot of time online, but I still wasn't sure exactly what the image meant. (I had a vague idea, which was confirmed when I looked it up later.)
posted by belladonna at 1:01 PM on October 24, 2016

I am an old, and probably the fourth most internet-savvy guy in any random group of five people, and I knew at a glance what it was.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:35 PM on October 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Interestingly, Trollface was more than likely a paid-for inclusion.

This episode is one of the most "no, it's actually going in this direction until the end" of them all. The mysteriousness between the victims was practically irrelevant, kind of like how the first season of True Detective wound up. This seemed pretty apparent once they tore into the cake.

The first third, though, I was hoping it was going to be a hacker-entrepreneur who was simply running an entire regional delivery service via internet extortion.
posted by rhizome at 8:52 PM on October 25, 2016 [13 favorites]

My husband called the pedo thing as soon as he handed the toy to the girl (he was joking at that point but totally took the credit for calling it at the end). The whole time I was thinking that robbing a bank and beating a guy to death were too much for just whacking off in a video. Great twist.

I didn't like that they targeted a teenager though. Everyone else was an adult, but he was just a kid. And his life is now ruined instead of maybe getting some help. That really bothered me.

Otherwise, I really enjoyed this episode.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:08 AM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

The thought occurred to me at the toy scene too, but somehow I forgot about it until the reveal toward the end.
posted by rhizome at 3:48 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I found this one much more compelling than Nosedive and Playtest. There was real tension and horror as the story developed, and a gut-wrenching flip away from sympathising with Kevin at the end. Reminded me a bit of the White Christmas finale.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:25 PM on October 27, 2016

The guy who plays Kenny was perfect. I'd been spoiled to the ending, but I still found him sympathetic. I think it was partly because he seemed so young, and it seems like maybe there's still hope for him, after jail and a lot of rehabilitation.
posted by daybeforetheday at 1:06 PM on October 28, 2016

The trollface meme ruined it for me. I seriously doubt anyone but the olds will remember what it is in 10-15 years.
posted by benzenedream at 8:39 AM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Agreed that the casting of Kenny was good. You could easily see how that kind of blackmail material (before we're told just how bad it is) would be devastating to him, so you don't spend too much time wondering why he chooses that path over humiliation. He's young and seems inexperienced; of course this is end-of-the-world level bad for him. But when all is revealed, it really clicks: from his interaction at the start of the ep to his seeming disinterest in his friendly shift manager.
posted by paperback version at 10:58 PM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Did anyone catch what the cake delivery guy on the moped's leaked secret was? I got the Volvo-delivery-CEO's racist email but not that one.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:37 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's really hard to make out, the only hint is a few words in the argument in the apartment and there are song lyrics over it. The shot makes it look like it's an affair being discovered.
posted by rhizome at 10:27 AM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I was underwhelmed by this one. I guessed what the reveal was early on. The moment with the toy lasted just a HAIR too long and when I saw what the kid was willing to do to cover up masterbating, I just knew. These days there is no way a teenage boy would be concerned about just a video of him whacking off unless it was to something seriously wrong. So with those two points, I knew what was coming and was kind of annoyed at how long it took to get there. I guess one of the downsides to being genre savvy.

I also think Hard Candy did a better job with the subject matter.
posted by miss-lapin at 4:05 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

i did not liek this AT ALL
deeply pedogeddon-like
so grim
sooo sooo grim
posted by lalochezia at 7:58 PM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Okay wait


The article the CEO reads about herself at the end of the episode includes a link titled

"Talent Show 15 Million Merits launches next week"

That would just be so weird as a throwaway joke, in a show this tightly art-directed. But do you think it could be meant as a literal reference to the 15MM world, as in, the two episodes' realities coexist?

At the same time as this 100% realist present-day episode, there's also an isolated slave/prisoner population in some building(s) somewhere that's clearly comfy enough with that life to have been either bred for it or memory-wiped for it? And the shows that population produces are distributed in this outside world?
posted by kalapierson at 2:06 AM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]

I assume 15MM in the Black Mirror episode is a post-apocalyptic scenario where they're continuing to make the show to entertain everyone in the nuclear bunkers, it's not happening at the same time as the current day Shut Up And Dance.

I also spotted some other references to other episodes in Hated In The Nation.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:44 AM on December 12, 2016

I definitely think 15MM's universe is not supposed to be present-day; that's why it's so odd to see that headline.
posted by kalapierson at 9:25 PM on December 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hi! I'm months late to watching this show. I liked it alright! It was very upsetting and grim though. Also I wasn't quite paying attention and wasn't sure until I read here we were supposed to understand that Kenny was looking at kiddie porn too. I thought maybe that was just an implication or a lie made up by Them, although now I realize that's the only way the story makes sense.

But really I spent most of the episode thinking that Bronn Hector was setting up Kenny, was in on it with Them. I figured it was like one of the previous episodes, that it was all going to be a Big Reveal that it was actually a gameshow or Candid Camera or something. Particularly when he gives Kenny the big speech about how his life would be ruined with a jerk-off video, that he should hang himself. I think Jerome Flynn may have overacted that a bit.
posted by Nelson at 7:34 AM on January 20, 2017

wasn't sure until I read here we were supposed to understand that Kenny was looking at kiddie porn too

I think it's made explicit right at the end when his mum calls and says something like "They're just kids, Kenny!!"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:36 AM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, it's right there in the show, I'd just spent so much of the show wondering why Kenny was such a dumb kid about a jerk-off video I didn't really believe the switcheroo at the end. Like I said, I thought maybe Them made up the lie or something. The show could have made this explicit by actually showing the kiddie porn but, of course they can't do that.

Really I thought the twist was a bit of a cheap trick. Perhaps Rod Serling was the real Trollface all along.
posted by Nelson at 7:41 AM on January 20, 2017

I know what you're saying, it was a bit of an abrupt reveal that I thought either could have been foreshadowed a bit better, or that I was too dumb to perceive. I do think it's an effective shock in the plot, that we find it out in a similar way as a family might, as simply a previously unknown fact.
posted by rhizome at 9:16 AM on January 20, 2017

I guess I'm a sucker for thinking that a teenaged(?) kid really could be shamed into all of this over a simple wanking video. Like, the bank robbery and the deathmatch showed him being coerced by other people physically with him in the scene, not just the Phone Troll. So the dramatic irony would be that the consequences of having his wanking video sent around would have been minor compared to robbing a bank and killing a man, but he was doomed to keep escalating once he started obeying the phone messages.

(Side note: Since the show is on some "everything is connected" kick now, I'm assuming the Phone Troll is also the performance artist guy from "National Anthem", right? I didn't notice any evidence of that, except that it's basically the same MO, and both that episode and this one share the same basically-present-day setting.)
posted by tobascodagama at 7:32 PM on April 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

This was my first episode and I'm sorely underwhelmed. I didn't catch the clues that Kenny was a pedophile but the entire episode was contrived.
posted by fizzix at 6:42 PM on January 1, 2018

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