Even through an ever changing society, the need for parents to be protective over their children is ever so present. The challenges are different – children has access to so much more due to the boom of social media. With the inclusion of technology, how does one keep their child safe without being invasive? At some point, the bird has to leave the nest. What happens when the child only knows the nest and is suddenly introduced to a world they aren’t familiar with?
“Arkangel” is the result of adding untested and non-vetted solutions before addressing why you turned to them. Single mother Marie Sambrell (Rosemarie DeWitt) has a daughter named Sara (Brenna Harding). There was an incident where Sara went missing at a playground. Marie finds her unharmed, but obviously shaken by possibilities. Given a drastic reaction, Marie then takes Sara for a controversial implant called Arkangel. It allows Marie to see what Sara sees and also censor things that are deemed adult content.
Oddly enough, there’s an overreach with the system even going far as Sara not seeing a neighborhood dog barking at her. Sara lives in this protective cocoon until she is ostracized for it. Being sheltered from what normal kids experienced begins to have an adverse effect on her. The moment that Marie relinquishes the control of Arkangel, Sara is able to have a more normal experience of being a teenager.
However, we know how addictive digital technology can be. Even though Sara thinks that the use of Arkangel has been discontinued, Marie just cannot help herself. Director Jodie Foster herself has two children. “Arkangel” had a personal imprint of a mother and the role of Rosemarie DeWitt feels like what we would consider to be a protective parent. When you have offspring, you want to protect them from every ill that the world might bestow upon them.
The focus of “Arkangel” are the dangers of over parenting, but the conclusion is a little underwhelming. In how the story progresses, you can guess how this bond between mother and daughter was going to end. Within all the places that the episode could have gone, “Arkangel” took the most obvious one. The problems have a personal face between the two characters, but there are far bigger problems at stake.
Often with Black Mirror episodes, there’s a foreshadowing of problems that could come. The problems in Arkangel are already here. Take the issue of parents making life-altering decisions for their children that will dismantle their relationships going forward. There’s a “filter” for everything, but where do you draw the line from sheltering your child of everything? You’ll find that everything doesn’t operate within the confines of control.
Where is the point where privacy-intrusion technology becomes the real villain? Marie sacrificed her daughter’s privacy for her piece of mind on something that was unregulated. We have to ask if the damages of blanket parenting are just as dire as the evils of the world. With these questions, the episode could have been really thought provoking.
Rating: 6 out of 10