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Black Mirror: White Bear


Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror has returned for a second series of three episodes, and White Bear (the second episode) is, to put it mildly, quite a romp.

English: Charlie Brooker at the RTS awards.

English: Charlie Brooker at the RTS awards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whenever you read any reviews of Brooker’s work in this area you’ll frequently see it described as satirical, morally ambiguous, noir, black humour. Undoubtedly all are probably true to one extent or another.


If you’ve never caught this or any of his other episodes or shows they’re all Channel 4 On Demand in the UK.




White Bear starts as a modern horror where a young woman awakes with no memory of who she is. Slowly she pieces together clues from her surroundings, finding pills around her (suicide?) and a photograph of a young girl (daughter?) as well as a strange icon showing on her TV screen.


Soon she notices that the people around her are all filming her with their mobile phones and any attempt to communicate with these voyeurs is to no avail.

Then the terror is ramped a notch for this poor victim when a crazed shotgun-wielding balaclava-headed man appears and stalks her right towards a petrol station.

Here she meets up with another survivor and slowly discovers that society seems to have collapsed with the public brainwashed into being mindless thrill seekers, some watching, some taking a far more hands on approach.

So far, so zombie flick, comment on mindless media consumption, comment on  reality TV.

Then the story is turned on it’s head and frankly leaves a horrible taste in this viewers mouth.

You see, she is actually a child murderer (or at least, accomplice) who filmed the death of a little girl her fiance murdered. She is living through her sentence, in a unique correctional facility that is part game show, part mob rule.

Each day she is tortured in this way, waking, her memories wiped, and playing through the scenario that is already written. And each night, after a final humiliating parade past those who scream and shout (there’s a lot of that in this episode) “Child murderer! Killer! Rot in hell!”

Very morally ambiguous. Very dark, and you’ll be left with the uncomfortable feeling that even someone as heinous as this doesn’t deserve such punishment.