I don’t usually review Black Mirror episodes. On one hand, because I enjoy just watching them, without the pressure of having to take notes and then talk about them. And on the other hand, because they are so grim that, by the time they are done, I’m curled up on the couch rocking myself while holding my legs and staring blankly into nothing while thinking, “this is going to happen to us. It’s coming and we are doing nothing to prevent it.”
So the only reason I am reviewing this episode of the fourth season of Black Mirror is because, hey, it has a happy ending! An all-around, smiles for everyone happy ending. You don’t see that often on Black Mirror.
‘Hang the DJ‘ is the story of digital matchmaking taken to the extreme. For most of the episode, the story is grim and depressing. When we first meet our protagonists, Frank (Joe Cole, from Peaky Blinders) and Amy (Georgina Campbell), this is their first experience with the System, a dating app that matches them and even tells them how long their relationship is going to be. They sadly discover that they only have twelve hours together, and even though they are clearly into each other, they do nothing more than holding hands and accept their separation the morning after.
Even though they are still thinking of each other, the System pairs them again with others. Amy ends up for the next nine months with a handsome guy who makes a weird noise when he drinks, and Frank is forced to date a hateful girl for a whole year. After this time, the System pairs our protagonists again, but they decide not to check their expiry date.
Unfortunately, Frank can’t resist checking, and when he does, he finds out they have five years together, but because he’s checked it behind her back, the time is reduced to hours. The inevitability of fate.
Some time later, the System tells them both that their perfect matches for life have been found, so Amy decides to say goodbye to Frank before that happens. When they meet, they see they want to be together, against all odds. Amy feels something is wrong, like everyone is actively trying to push them apart. That’s when they decide to climb the wall that keeps them inside that weird utopia of a dating village. And just as they climb away, we see they are in a digital world, where other Frank/Amy pairs are too, and we realise that there have been one thousand simulations like the one we’ve just seen, and of one thousand, Frank and Amy rebelled against the System 998 times. Which means…
In the real world, the dating app has established that there is a 99.8% of compatibility between the real Frank and Amy, who meet up at a bar after the app matches them. They smile at each other. The end.
I honestly thought at some point that they’d get sucked into a void, or Frank would have been dead the whole time and this was Amy’s VR where she got to see him again. I don’t know. This was such a happy ending that I didn’t know what to do instead of curling up. It was a new feeling.
First off, the chemistry between Cole and Campbell was excellent, which helped you root for them, but the dynamics of the story, how you didn’t know if they’d get together in the end, like a futuristic rom-com, made you stand on the edge of your seat. As it always happens with Black Mirror, you wonder what is really going on, and this time, it was something good.
And thank God their digital versions weren’t sentient beings like in ‘USS Callister’. I might be having nightmares about that for months.