What would you do if the life you have now is threatened by a choice that you made in the past? Would you kill to keep it? What lengths would you go to keep a secret?
“Crocodile,” the third episode in the fourth season of Black Mirror asks that very question.
As With most Black Mirror episodes, there’s an urgency within a technological danger. For this particular episode, technology is only an inhibitor to some already bad choices and anxiety.
“Crocodile” enters with characters Mia (Andrea Riseborough) and Rob (Andrew Gower) as they are coming home from a long night at a club. Rob kills a cyclist in a hit and run accident, and both Mia and Rob cover it up. Fifteenth years go by and we see that Mia has a family and a successful career. Seemingly, all is right in the world..so we think.
Two of the strongest plot pillars that occur in this episode are both random chance and anxiety induced choices. There’s a saying that your past will always catch up with you. “The past” is in the form of insurance investigator, Shazia (Kiran Sonia Sawar) and the Recaller, a device that scans the memory of a witness in order to verify a claim. With an accident that occurred with a self-driving car, Shazia is led through a trail of interviews that ends up right at Mia’s doorstep.
Once Mia kills Rob after he reveals that he is going to send an anonymous letter confessing the crime, Mia kills him to keep it secret. From there, you see how anxiety ridden she becomes in trying to tie loose ends. From an audience standpoint, you wonder how far is she willing to go to keep her perfect life from falling apart (it goes too far).
The Recaller is an interesting wrinkle here. The paths of Mia and Shazia ultimately come to a meeting point. Shazia is really just trying to do her job in wrapping up the insurance claim. In all Mia’s paranoia and hysteria, she ignores the purpose of the meeting with Shazia. It’s Shazia’s repetitive assurances that she only needs to see what happened in the accident. Also, there’s the part where Mia barely peruses through the terms of agreements. If Mia had paid more attention, maybe she wouldn’t have gone as far as she did (RIP Shazia and her family).
Technology isn’t the monster – it’s our anxiety that paves the way to not pay attention to the details. While the Recaller is reportedly law, there has to be some question of privacy when it comes to taking a stroll down people’s memories. Even with things seen, are they really a secret on scout’s honor? Will these really be erased?
Perhaps Mia’s shady past would have been kept a secret. Even through the buckets of tears, Mia’s self-inflicted circumstances drove her to becoming a monster in her own right. Morality means little when it comes to covering your own ass. Remorse is also expendable.
“Crocodile” is more about the power of choice with technology as a factor, rather it being the driving force.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
The Black Mirror episode, ‘Crocodile’ is now streaming on Netflix.