Black Mirror: Men Against Fire
It's New Year's Eve, and we're up to the 5th episode of Black Mirror's third season titled 'Men Against Fire', and of course here is my review of said episode
Now here is an interesting episode in regards to making a more 'efficient military' combined with the 'eugenic warfare'... two things that don't seem like they would go hand in hand, but it in this episode it works. First in regards to making the military more efficient, more willing to 'kill', in this episode we are shown an implant called MASS that totally warps their sense of reality, making the solider see monsters instead of their true target, other human beings and to draw the comparison to World War I, World War II where the percentage of those who fired was 15%, and even then it was people intentionally missing.... then by the Vietnam War training got soldiers who fired up to 85% and then the kill rate was still low... so the MASS system is to make it a clear 100% kill rate for 100% Shots Fired while dehumanizing the enemy because humans by and large don't want to kill other humans. But it goes beyond that, 'dreams' can be programmed as well, and this perception filter can create a whole environment totally controlled by the soldier's handlers.
The other interesting aspect of this episode is the 'Eugenics Warfare', as those humans who are deemed unworthy because of genetic disposition are labeled as roaches, outcasts to be wiped out, to protect the 'bloodline', to keep things pure and so forth... down right fascist in its own way, and combine this with the MASS system that is the key tech to the episode, and you got one ugly, but fascinating concept that is down right terrifying when you realize we're probably not to far away from this type of tech becoming reality.
Which leads to the story of this episode, a soldier named Stripe has his MASS implant interfered with by what he and other soldiers are told are 'roaches', apparently mutated humans, but in fact are humans that are being wiped out for being genetically inferior. And over the course of the episode, Stripe's implant malfunctions and he ends up learning the truth, but and eventually has to make a choice, either agree to have his memory erased of what he learned, or put in prison with an endless loop of what he did under the MASS implants influence... and what he does is chooses to have his memory erase, getting the illusion of being discharged with full honors, a dream house and a gorgeous woman waiting for him... but instead it's just what he's programmed to see.
Now the problem with this episode is that like with 'Shut Up and Dance' the truth is revealed to early, and you lose any chance to sympathize with the lead character here considering when the 'propaganda and fear mongering' aspect of dealing with the 'undesirables is brought up and it's handled a little too cookie-cutter
That said, Malachi Kirby whose played Gastron in Doctor Who 'Hell Bent' last season does a great job with Stripe in conveying his gradual confusion turned to realization to coming to terms with what he willingly signed up for, and that if it wasn't for the MASS implant going hay-wire, he would've been none the wiser. Also Madeline Brewer (of Orange is the New Black, Hemlock Grove) as Rainman is so over the top its down right comical, its as if her character was lifted directly from Starship Troopers.