Saturday, December 31, 2016

Black Mirror: San Junipero

Hello Dwellers and Welcome to the Basement

The Countdown to 2017 continues, with my review of the episode San Junipero of Black Mirror Season 3, Episode 4

Alright, this was just a wonderful episode, a great little love story with a nice twist and a very optimistic way of presenting things. Sure Black Mirror has specialized on the bleak and dreary, but here we had a great variation on 'the afterlife' and what it could be thanks to how technology advances.  And going with a positive spin on it was a smart move, cause I recall an episode of Futurama where it is implied a more bleak perspective. The idea of a virtual reality 'nostalgia therapy' tech is something that could help people cope or give them something to look forward too beyond just starring at walls, ceiling or out a window.

Anyway, the story, a shy girl named Yorkie arrives in a town called San Junipero and is getting her bearings, she meets Kelly, a partier, and they hit it off... connecting on level Yorkie never experienced and an on a level Kelly doesn't initially want... then it turns out they are in a virtual reality world... San Junipero is where the deceased can have a heavy and those near the end can jump in for five hours of fun a week... the situation for Kelly and Yorkie also gets revealed, Yorki is someone who paralyzed at the age of 21, living for 40 years on a life support machine and is looking forward to having her 'life' in San Junipero, however Kelly's situation is more complicated due to a 49 year marraige and a losing a daughter at the age of 39 before the technology for San Junipero existed, putting in the position of does she want to be with her family in 'nothingness' of the traditional afterlife, or with Yorkie in one that she knows is real.

Trust me, the episode is a lot deeper than I'm making it, because it is a joy to watch, particularly after the tripe that was 'Shut Up and Dance'

They production crew did a great job of getting classic arcade cabinets, correct period clothing and tech (such as TVs, arcade cabinets), and the music is really spot on...and the music selections were perfect, in particular the selection of Heave is a Place on Earth.

That said, the performances of Gugo Mbatha-Raw as Kelly and  Makenzie Davis were just perfect. I'm somewhat familiar with Mbatha-Raw since she was on Doctor Who and Spooks years ago, but will admit I don't know anything about Davis, this being the first thing I've seen her in. Also a strong nod has to be given to Denis Burse who plays 'the elder' version of Kelly, who perfectly matches the portrayal of Mbatha-Raw when the character is in San Junipero, which is something that has to be appreciated because it can't be easy for two actors to get their performances in-sync to where you can believe they are playing the same character.

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