#Blackmirror s3ep4: San Junipero

Black Mirror s3 ep4
Black Mirror s3 ep4
California, 1987: San Junipero is a fun-loving beach town synonymous with sun, surf, and sex. And for recent arrivals Yorkie and Kelly, it’s going to be a life-changer…

When I came back from a friend’s wedding in the lake district (massive congrats to them both). I decided to keep the weekend quite free before the weekend of Mozfest. As I was mainly relaxing I decided to do Black Mirror season 3 in one long evening.

I got to episode 4 and couldn’t help but be blown away. So much that it played on the mind and I had to watch it again.

Spoilers beyond this point! You were warned!

San Junipero doesn’t feel anything like a black mirror episode. First of all its set in the 80’s and on first watch I was questioning if I missed something? Maybe instead of looking at my laptop, I should rewind and watch it without it? Nope I kept going and felt a little confused when the timeline jumped forward in time. It reminded me of the start of inception when you know there’s something missing but racking your brain to understand what it could be.

The best thing about the episode is it’s a love story and really well told. It feels like a step up from most other black mirrors and shows the american influence of Netflix wasn’t all bad.

It was touching then when you realise the gravity of the situation (or even simulation) you are watching unfold, you can’t help but feel touched by what is happening in front of you.

My parents are getting older and as I watch them grow older, I do wish life could be a little easier in there later years. They sometimes cling to an older times when things were simpler in their minds. It’s nostalgia but the ability to live on forever does raise too many questions like when you finally want to leave or end it?

The parallels between the Vanilla Sky and Matrix will be made, but the love story really is so much stronger (no offense to Neo & Trinity). It’s no wonder Wired voted it the best of season 3.

This beautiful love story is brilliantly paced, mysterious, and not a total grotesque nightmare that will leave you shaking in the foetal position. It’s a clever, believable extension of the concept of virtual consciousness beyond life, and questions the concept of eternity, consciousness and the real. Gugu Mbatha-Raw gives a heart-wrenching performance (that is heightened by the great writing) with superb dramatic accentuation, and the 80s aesthetic is an interesting relief from the constant futuristic aesthetics of the series. This one sticks with you.

It certainly sticks with you and reminded me Mark Krynsky’s blog and of course some of the thoughts that we are living in a stimulation already by Elon Musk.

The decision to live in the virtual world forever is something really interesting, unlike Vanilla Sky and the Matrix. Participation in the virtual world is conscious (as such) the loving couple comment even comment on the fact they are aware (also as such) of where they are. This is something which adds to the confusion at the very start, the very first time you watch it. Theres no secret, everybody knows.

Charlie Brooker also raises a few smaller questions about the trail period nature of the virtual world. If the world you will spend the rest of your life (as such) within comes with a cost, how do you pay? What do you need to pay for it? When does it end?

Honestly the philosophical questions are vast but most of all, blackmirror season 3 episode 4 is simply beautiful.

Author: cubicgarden

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.