TV Reviews

Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 2: Arkangel Review

If you would like to read my review of the last episode, click here.

Synopsis: After nearly losing her daughter, a mother invests in a new technology that allows her to keep track of her. (IMDB)

Writer: Charlie Brooker

Director: Jodie Foster

Rating: TV-MA

Running Time: 52mins

While this episode wasn’t as big of a surprise as U.S.S. Callister, it was still a great episode with a more character-driven story focusing on the timely theme of helicopter parenting.

The episode was about an overprotective single mother named Marie (Rosemarie DeWitt) who to protect her young daughter Sara (Aniya Hodge), has a chip implanted in her, allowing Marie to track her and even see what she saw which was all controlled by a tablet. This allowed Marie almost complete control over most of Sara’s life but Sara was too young to fully understand what was happening. The most notable thing that Marie did was insulate Sara from the harsh realities of life by blurring her vision to hide whenever she saw anything she deemed to be harmful.

Because of Marie’s micromanaging, Marie may have felt like Sara was safe but this also hindered her development. Sara knew nothing of the real world, however, Marie was obviously not going to be able to hide it forever. As Sara (Brenna Harding) grew older, she became more and more curious and began to act out as a result. Instead of fighting the inevitable, Marie agreed to loosen her grip on Sara and allowed her to live her life though fully giving up control would prove to be easier said than done for the mother who was willing to do just about anything to keep her daughter safe.

It would’ve been nice to see how this affected Sara at a younger age but the story became much better during Sara’s teenage years. Marie wanted Sara to live her life but her insecurities would not allow her to stay away. She watched as Sara made friends, went to parties, and even had a boyfriend named Trick (Owen Teague). The more Sara was curious, the more obsessive Marie became. She tried her best to let it happen until she simply couldn’t take it anymore and took matters into her own hands, which wasn’t unbeknownst to Sara.

The episode would not have worked nearly as well if not for DeWitt’s incredible performance as Marie. Because the story focused on Marie and her insecurities involving Sara, it would not have worked if it wasn’t believable but this wasn’t the case here. Her emotional performance as the struggling Marie was very compelling to watch as it was easy to empathize with her. As much as it was easy to empathize with her, it was just as much if not more easy to empathize with Sara. She was both deprived of a proper childhood and had her privacy invaded by her mother, even more so when she was younger. This friction between Marie and Sara came to a climax near the end of the episode which was both satisfying and sad to watch thanks to the performances by DeWitt and Harding.

Overall, this was a great episode featuring a powerful de escalation of a mother-daughter relationship as a warning against the advent of intrusive technology and its impact on our everyday lives. While not as impactful as the previous episode, it it elevated by an incredible performance by Rosemarie DeWitt.

Score: 9/10

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