**SPOILER ALERT!!! DO NOT WATCH IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN CROCODILE**
After an amazing season opener, it unfortunately seems that the season is getting worse and worse. Arkangel wasn’t bad per se, but when it’s compared to other Black Mirror episodes such as Shut Up and Dance and White Christmas, it’s apparent why many found it disappointing. Maybe it’s just because I went in to it with high expectations. It was one of my most anticipated episodes of this season. Going into Crocodile however, I didn’t exactly set the bar too high. I didn’t like the look of the episode from the get-go, and after watching it, I (if you hadn’t guessed already) had all my suspicions confirmed.
You’ve seen the episode already (unless you’re ignoring my spoiler warning in which case go back now!) so I’ll keep the plot summary brief. Mia is the main character, friends with a guy called Rob. When they’re teenagers, Rob runs over a cyclist while drunk driving and convinces Mia to help him dispose of the body and stay quiet. Fifteen years later, Rob wants to come clean but Mia, worried that she’ll get arrested too, kills him. Another protagonist, insurance investigator Shazia, investigates an accident that happened around the time of Rob’s murder using a memory probe device. This eventually leads to the two protagonists confronting each other forcing Mia to murder Shazia and her family to preserve her innocence. Despite her efforts, she’s caught and arrested in the end after the police use a memory probe on Shazia’s pet guinea pig.
Let me start with the good parts of this episode, because there are some good parts, and I don’t want this post to feel more rant than review. I’ll be frank, I don’t comment on an episode’s cinematography often. Hell, I barely ever notice it to begin with. But I just couldn’t ignore just how well-shot the entire episode is. “Picturesque” doesn’t even begin to describe it. The bleak, snowy environments of Iceland that are showcased throughout the episode fit perfectly with the isolated, cold and dark tone making scenes incredibly atmospheric. This episode sucked me into its world; a crappy, stupid and inconsistent world, but I’m not sure whether that makes the feat even more impressive.
As well as that, the actors for this episode did a great job of portraying their characters. Black Mirror usually has talented actors anyway, but that doesn’t make it any less commendable. I have to give respect to the actors for making their boring characters feel much more alive and interesting than they were written. Mia isn’t exactly the most relatable character, but she still has some inherently human moments and Andrea Riseborough does a great job at striking the balance between emotionless robot and shellshocked human. Kiran Sonia Sawar also plays Shazia with the perkiness and optimism of your typical heroic protagonist but still manages to portray her perfectly during the darker scenes. Now, let’s get into why exactly I disliked this episode…
The biggest problem with this Black Mirror episode is that it’s just so… not Black Mirror. For a start, the technology we saw in this episode barely played a part and felt like a gimmick at the most. Replace the technology with simple security cameras and barely anything changes. As with Arkangel, I feel they didn’t even try to delve into the potential ramifications of the technology whatsoever. This episode was shocking, but not really in the typical Black Mirror sense we’ve all come to know and love. Rather than building up to some heart-wrenching twist, the way Crocodile tries to surprise us is much more… blunt to say the least. Oh, she’s got to kill the insurance investigator now. Oh, and she has to kill her husband because he knows where she is. Oh, and she has to kill his toddler child because it saw her. But she didn’t really have to because he was blind! But they can still probe the pet guinea pig so it was all for nothing! When you hit the audience with so many hollow gut punches, one after the other without any buildup, it just loses its effect. I left this episode more annoyed and confused than anything which really shouldn’t be the case considering I witnessed a 2-3 year old and his family get murdered.
Going back to the technology, it’s riddled with more holes than a swiss cheese. First of all, they make a big deal out of the fact that memories are entirely subjective(despite the fact this never really turns into something in the episode). If that’s the case, then HOW THE FUCK can insurance investigators use memories as evidence? If the guy who got ran over saw the truck then of course it’s going to look like it’s going too fast because he truly believes it was. They stress so much how inaccurate the technology is yet we only see it used in a job where accurate facts are VITAL. As well as that, most of the murder Mia committed could have been avoided easily. Shazia herself said “private stuff is private stuff”. Why didn’t Mia just refuse to let her use the memory probe on her? Sure it may be illegal to not answer a few questions but it can’t be a legal requirement to let them probe your goddamn brain! And don’t even get me started on the whole “the guinea pig saw her!” twist. Shazia had to use smells and music and all kinds of tricks to get a few blurry, subjective seconds of an event that happened a day ago out of a human. Yet the police had no trouble whatsoever getting the memory of Mia murdering the kid out of the guinea pig? The fact the technology even works on animals is already a huge stretch.
Overall, Crocodile has to be my least favourite episode of this season by a long shot. Full of plotholes with stupid technology and dull characters, it has to be the least Black Mirror episode in possibly the entire series. There were a few things I liked about this episode such as the stunning cinematography and the great acting, but in the end, this was the most depressingly bad episode this season, and one of the worst out of the entire series. If anything, this episode does have a suitable name. It feels like there’s a much better episode, hiding just under the water, waiting to strike… but it never does. Turns out it died due to river pollution.