Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Today's Review: Black Mirror: The Waldo Moment

Bet you thought I'd forgotten this one, didn't you? Actually, I just had to watch it a second time to really form my opinion on it. So yes, here we have the last episode in the second series of Black Mirror, and it seems as though Charlie Brooker has created a mirror himself thematically speaking. In the first series we had episodes about the effect of modern technology on politics, an unsettling dystopian future, and the dangers of our addiction to and excessive use of social media, respectively. This series, it was the other way round. Perhaps not intentional, but I thought it was interesting.

Anyway, The Waldo Moment stars Daniel Rigby as Jamie, a down on his luck comedian who has found relative success on a late night comedy show voicing the offensive animated bear Waldo. After an interview between Waldo and an MP up for election goes viral, Jamie's team persuade him to go after the politician some more, and to stand in the election as the vulgar blue bear in order to gain publicity. But as Jamie gets drawn more into a world he doesn't quite understand, he finds himself snapping at the other nominees, labelling them as "fake", and inadvertently sparking something of a revolution in some citizens.

Of course, it's not all that straightforward. Charlie Brooker has made very sure to explore both sides of the coin in this episode. While he clearly displays the out of touch and precision engineered methods of politicians, he also warn of the dangers of going against the established system and voting based on character alone. Waldo has nothing to offer apart from going against the status quo, and the ramifications of that are clearly outlined in a scene with a Washington agent, and the results hinted at in the closing credits.It's very cleverly done, hence why I needed to watch it a second time to really wrap my head around the message it provides.

Daniel Rigby is fantastic as the Jamie/Waldo, and the scene in which he delivers his scathing speech against politics is fantastically written and performed, almost on par with the one delivered by Bing in last series' Fifteen Million Merits. But despite the somewhat disturbing message behind the episode it just didn't seem too Black Mirror-like compared to other episodes. A clear reason for this is because it was based on a plot written for a Nathan Barley episode, but I think it could have been easily saved with less of the build up at the beginning, and more explanation of the aftermath. The end credits scenes are probably the most interesting of the episode, but they're so short that it's quite ambiguous as to what has occurred. Perhaps that's intentional, but what's made other episodes great is that you can clearly see what is happening by the end, and the realisation that it could easily happen in our society is chilling. The Waldo Moment was a good episode, well written with acknowledgement of both sides of the debate. But with a little more length and clarity, this could have been fantastic.

My rating: 4/5

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