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Tue, 21 Jan 2020 05:49 GMT

Black Mirror Disappoints, Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too

Media & Culture

Hannah Bardsley - 7DNews London

Fri, 07 Jun 2019 13:17 GMT

This was supposed to be an article about what the latest season of Black Mirror, and its final episode, says about the intricacies of our teenage years and the ways we react to the concept of humanity in our adolescence. 

I hadn’t seen it when I decided that, but the name Jack, Rachel and Ashley Too, and the trailer which suggested it featured the relationship between sisters struggling to fit in during their teenage years, intertwined with the troubled life of a pop star. Well I was just sure there would be some kind of discourse to be found and discussion to be had.

Miley Cyrus who plays fictional pop-star Ashley O, had spent so much time talking about how this episode really captured the dark side of the music industry that I was truly ready to be appalled and confronted.

This is Black Mirror Charlie Brooker’s remarkable creation, after all. A show famous for its sudden twists that make perfect sense. It’s gut-punch on questions of morality and ethics, and its ability to make us wonder and worry about societies, past, present, and future. How do we tell when society is too far gone, is society already too far gone? These are the questions you will often find yourself asking after an episode of the sci-fi series.

Unfortunately, Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too did not deliver. The intelligent critique on the social lives, injustices and raw humanity of our teenage years never appeared. 

Instead we were offered a two-dimensional background for each of our characters. Rachel, (Angourie Rice), is a 14/15 year old teen who does not fit in at school, also her mother is dead, and she is a superfan of pop star Ashley O. Her sister Jack (Madison Davenport) may or may not fit in at school, does not work particularly hard to get along with her sister, plays electric guitar (her mother’s guitar), and does not like Ashley O. Only the Ashley O obsession was important to the plot and character development.

Their dad is passionately developing a humane way to dispose of mice. Very passionately, it’s like watching Robin Williams in Flubber or Jeff Goldblum in Cats & Dogs. He has invented a robotic mouse to stun mice, it’s cute, and at first ominous.

As I watch the episode I am waiting for a moment when in a twist I saw coming but could have never predicted, the mouse and Ashley Too robot are connected in some way. Whether that be morally and ethically, or because the Ashley Too viciously murders the robotic mouse, that has also had the mind of a mouse downloaded into it.

The show has already explored the humanity of Artificial Intelligence several times, and so this would have been the perfect time to give a Black Mirror twist to the plot of iRobot. But this was never taken advantage of.

Instead the mouse just served as useful ex machina several times throughout the episode. Its final moment was a weapon, but even that lacked any significance.

And that was the problem with the whole episode. Nothing was ever explored as fully as it could have been. There was no punch packed, and the episode never dipped below the surface for anything. There could have been more to it, there should have been more to it because there always is. But there wasn’t.

And that was the problem with Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too. In fact, if it wasn’t for all the f-bombs it could have been easily passed off as a thriller aimed for pre-teens. Or younger, it had the same level of plot development and tension as Cats & Dogs. Which is not what we expect from an episode of Black Mirror.