Black Mirror Episode Two: Lenora Crichlow and Michael Smiley shine in Charlie Brooker’s ‘White Bear’

by Matt D


Sometimes I find it hard to review an episode of a drama without giving something away especially if it relies heavily on a plot twist so for that reason my summary of tonight’s Black Mirror episode will be short as to not give anything away.

This week’s instalment, entitled White Bear, focuses on Lenora Crichlow’s central characters who wakes up in abandoned living room unable to remember who she is or where she lives. All she can see is a TV showing a static screen and a picture of a young girl who she believes to be her daughter however at the same time she isn’t sure. As she leaves the house she notices that those around her aren’t answering her pleas for help but rather are simply filming her efforts on their phones. Still in a dazed state, she soon finds herself being hunted by a man in a balaclava carrying a gun who is intent on killing although she doesn’t know why.

The woman soon runs to a petrol station where she finds another two people who are attempting to evade the hunters as well with Crichlow’s character soon befriending Tuppence Middleton’s Jem who attempts to explain what is going on. Jem tells her that a while ago a simple of a white bear began appearing on TV and computer screens everywhere turning the majority of the population into spectators who follow the lives of the others rather than participating themselves. Those who weren’t affected by the White Bear symbol are now attempting to live life in the best way that they can however some took the opportunity to go outside the law and are now trying to kill the survivors who don’t want to become hunters. Jem’s plan is to try and disconnect the White Bear symbol hoping that this will return everybody to normal and stop the hunters once and for all. While the pair make their journey across country Crichlow’s character starts to see images from her former life and tries to piece these memories together. Soon the pair encounter Michael Smiley’s enigmatic stranger however it is unsure whether or not they should trust him or whether they in fact have a choice in the matter.

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Saying anything else would spoil the plot of White Bear and to me part of the joy of the episode was the final act in which we discovered exactly who Crichlow was. What I can say about this episode is that I enjoyed it a lot more than Be Right Back as the pace of the first two acts were perfectly suspenseful as Crichlow and Middleton made their way through the almost post-apocalyptic landscape in an attempt to end the hold that the White Bear had over the population. I suppose the point Charlie Brooker is trying to make here is that we’ve become a nation of people who are more interested in filming and talking about other people than we are in our own lives and this is demonstrated by the majority of the people who have simply become spectators. Cameras play a part throughout the story in White Bear and we can see how they can be used for good and evil in a lot of different ways. In terms of the performances I felt that all three leads added to the tone of the episode and played their parts well as the perceptions of their characters all changed as the drama progressed. Tuppence Middleton was perfectly cast as plucky survivalist Jem who attempted to explain what had happened to the population since the White Bear symbol had appeared on all of the screens. Crichlow was also great at portraying an unknown character who was attempting to remember her life while at the same time trying not to be killed by all the people chasing her with guns. Best of all though was Michael Smiley who is able to play both a broad comic character and a sinister villain an ability that is used to great effect throughout White Bear.

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Ultimately White Bear relies a lot less on the shock factor than Be Right Back did and I felt the final act was a lot more satisfying than last week’s one was. Brooker perfectly conveys how in modern society everyone is now on show and more and more of us are becoming spectators to life rather than simply living. I wish I could talk about every aspect of the episode but I’m simply going to let you enjoy it in the same way that I did and hope that your comments will reflect what you thought about the revelations given in the final part of the episode.

What did you think of White Bear? Did you enjoy it more than Be Right Back? Leave Your Comments Below.