Black Mirror The Entire History of You – If the past could be re-done
The Entire History of You, Black Mirror Season 1 Episode 3, written by Jesse Armstrong is a Netflix series that would make you confront the fact that what if a part of our memory could be replayed? Would it enable us to relive the beautiful moments of our lives or would it be disastrous? Would it add to our obsession with the past? Or would it add to the troubles of the present? Or does it have the potential of destroying our future?
The Netflix series Black Mirror created by Charlie Brooker has been successful in making us step into the dystopian world and encounter the traumatic effect technology can have on humans, irrespective of which episode it is. We are just awed to see when our “I wish so and so could happen” actually comes true, where exactly would we land? In this episode review of The Entire History of You, Black Mirror season 1 episode 3, we are going to see how the obsession of human beings with their good memories can take a toll on them and how technology’s advancement has only resulted in heightening this obsession.
At the dinner party
Returning from work after attending a not-so-well performance appraisal, Liam Foxwell (Toby Kebble), joins his wife Ffion (Jodie Whittaker) at her friend’s dinner party. There he encounters Jonas (Tom Cullen), an old friend with whom Ffion had a fling at some point, and Liam begins to observe Ffion’s behaviour a little too closely.
Returning from the party, Ffion and Liam redo, or re-watch, his memory of the appraisal and they scrutinize every hand gesture and facial expression and try to guess whether it will be successful or not. As they reach home, Liam begins questioning Ffion regarding Jonas and suspects she is lying about having just a fling. The argument heightens but then gets resolved for some time.
Liam spends the whole night drinking and redoing his memory of the dinner party. He tries to read Ffion’s expressions before and after his arrival, he replays those parts where Ffion is reacting to everything Jonas says, and also those parts where Jonas had spoken about his previous relationships.
His suspicion keeps rising and he finally comes to the point where he is sure about a relationship between Ffion and Jonas, much more than Ffion has told him. When Ffion refuses to speak up, he visits Jonas, beats him up and makes him delete all his memories with Ffion. Just then, when Liam redoes his memory of making Jonas delete Ffion’s, he comes across something that confirms all his suspicions.
Obsession with memories
Aren’t we getting obsessed with documenting everything? Hasn’t capturing, sharing, and re-watching our past memories become a mandatory part of our day? Do you think technology is making us this way? In a true sense, it is the human obsession that is letting technology overrule their wit. Just like, Liam, on the verge of losing his job, kept analyzing over a hand action deciding whether it is a tick or a V, instead of quitting it for then. Overruled by this obsession, he, later on, re-does the dinner scene, he replays certain parts to check when Ffion laughed, over judges, and finally ends up in a messier situation.
Watching other people’s memories is similar to taking screenshots of others’ posts. So often people were redoing the better days of their lives, so often they were giving others a chance to record everything they have witnessed and experienced in their lives. So obsessed with those better days, that they even use these memories as some sort of porn, even while having sex instead of just living the moment. Preserving better memory is probably why Ffion hasn’t deleted her memory with Jonas.
The scene where Ffion replays Liam’s calling her ‘You are a bitch’, very conveniently editing the word ‘sometimes’ is a representation of how we edit out the reality while sharing our perspective of our world on social media. It also shows the amount of subjectivity that lies in the things we project as facts. This to and fro movement in time creates claustrophobia for Liam, ultimately resulting in his losing his family.
When Hallam told everybody during dinner that she doesn’t own a grain after an attack, people were amazed. They found it interesting and brave to not have a grain. However, Hallam liked being grainless. She told them that when the grain was gouged from her behind her ear, it was total agony. In the end, after Ffion has left, Liam kept redoing his memories with her, which was so painful that he gouged his grain himself, going through that same agony. It tells how our memories and the way our brain replays them, with or without grain, suffocates us. It is always to forgive people, to move on.
However, knowing Ffion’s infidelity towards Liam is a lot different from Liam’s watching Ffion with Jonas, which perhaps had made it difficult for Liam to forgive her. Here, it makes us wonder, is it the grain that has made Liam so obsessed with the past or is it a flaw in human nature, further encouraged by technology, that heightens the obsession? Had the grain not been there, would Liam have ever known about Ffion’s infidelity? If not, would it have been fair on Liam’s part to lead a life like that?
The reality of Black Mirror
Although Black mirror season 1 episode 3 The Entire History of You is set in a dystopian world, like other Black Mirror episodes, where there are technologies that we don’t have yet, the undeniable fact is that we are edging closer to this unreal world by day. Replace the grain with smartphones and analyze how obsessed we are with social media, watching, sharing, saving, and taking screenshots of posts shared by others, how often we use those screenshots and posts as facts, not even caring to know the whole story.
Everybody’s owning a grain like that into their body is the next level to owning a smartphone. What remains the same is having a 24×7 internet connection and access to almost every piece of information available, again, with the liberty of reviewing, sharing, taking screenshots, and manipulating information.
The closeness The Entire History of You episode has with reality is what makes it believable and scary. Black Mirror series has successfully staged before its audience the terrible impact of technology on humans, a fact that we are well aware of and yet fall into the trap. We feel left out as if we are missing out on something extremely crucial if we are kept away from social media for a few days. A strong message that we get from the Black Mirror episode The Entire History Of You is to not cling to past memories but instead live the very moment.
“You know, half the organic memories you have are junk.”