If technology is a drug, then what, precisely, are the side-effects?
Live More. Connect More. Travel More. Share More. Smile More. Buy More. Consume More. Think More. Experience More. Remember More. See More. Share More. Remember More. Learn More. Make More. Play More. Make More. Connect More. MORE.MORE.M--MORE.more. more.Be Yourself. No More. The Future Is Broken.
British Brevity: There is a grand total of six episodes over two series, both lasting three episodes each. Justified in that the first season was only meant to be a mini-series, but it proved to be so successful that the show was commissioned for another one.
An Aesop: A rare in-universe example. The kidnapper actually releases the Princess half an hour before the 4pm deadline into an empty London when everybody is too busy watching the Prime Minister fucking a pig on television, solely to prove a point.
Actor Allusion: One of the talking heads on TV is described as "an actress from Downton Abbey who knows the princess." Allen Leech (Branson in Downton Abbey) and Jessica Brown Findlay (Sybil from Downton Abbey) are both in Black Mirror, although Leech is in this episode while Findlay is in the succeeding episode "15 Million Merits".
Black Comedy: Blacker than black. You will laugh after the ransom demand is first read out; from thereon in it gets a lot blacker and much less comedic as the full implications of the kidnapping and its ransom start to play out.
Black Comedy Rape: Having sex with an animal is pretty much by definition raping it, and the Prime Minister being effectively forced to have sex against his will would in itself be rape, yet soon as the video of the demand is posted on YouTube, people are leaving comments mocking the Prime Minster for what he has to do. Everyone in the country is tuning in to the broadcast of the act and looking forward to it with a sort of horrible glee. This lasts for about a second once it has begun and then practically everyone is shaking their heads in horror. They keep watching though. YMMV, though, but this could also be Rape as Drama as the act is presented as awful and traumatic for the PM, and Charlie Brooker is using it as a fairly obvious An Aesop about new media. Also used in-universe: part of the whole point is to show the initial belief of Black Comedy Rape and then move to Rape as Drama.
Dogme 95: Two characters discuss whether the list of demands about the filming of the video - meant to make it as hard as possible to fake - are references to the movement.
Downer Ending: The Prime Minister does...it, saves the princess and even boosts his political career after the act. The ending shows that he's been pretty much destroyed as a person anyway, traumatised and with an utterly destroyed marriage. And it turns out he didn't even need to go through with it in the first place.
Finger in the Mail: The kidnapper mails the Princess' finger to the press after it is revealed that the PM is using a body double in a sex tape. However, forensic examination shows it's NOT the Princess's finger. In an appallingly extreme bluff, it's the kidnapper's.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: In between a faceless and ill-informed mob loudly braying for the Prime Minister's actions on social networking sites and watching a man who's been compelled to have sex with a pig live on national television with horrified fascination, self-serving politicians and media cynically attempting to twist the issue to their advantage while putting on an air of 'above-it-all' self-righteousness and self-importance all throughout out and the kidnapper who put everything into motion in the first place solely to prove a point and create a twisted art performance, humanity as a whole doesn't exactly come out of this one well.
Mad Artist: Who is also revealed at the end to be a Turner Prize winner in a rather blunt Take That against the modern art world. The whole sequence of events is even described, a year later, as "The First Great Artwork of the 21st century" by a controversial critic.
New Media Are Evil: While shaping up to be an overarching theme in the series, it's presence here is overt nonetheless.
Old Media Are Evil: That said, however, from what we see of the traditional forms of media they don't exactly escape unscathed either.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Princess Susannah is basically a cross between Princess Diana - widely popular among the public and a campaigner for good causes - and Kate Middleton - a fashionable recent university graduate, only recently married.
Michael Callow is fairly clearly intended to be at least reminiscent of David Cameron (who, incidentally, episode writer Charlie Brooker has an intense hatred of).
However, Brooker has denied that Callow is based on Cameron, and notes that in any case the Prime Minister is probably the most sympathetic character in the episode.
Pass the Popcorn: During one of the news reports discussing the reactions on YouTube and Twitter a message to this effect is briefly shown.
Shaggy Dog Story: As if the Prime Minister actually giving in to the kidnapper's demands wasn't bad enough, a scene shortly afterwards reveals that he didn't have to go through with it. The Princess was released a few minutes before the deed was done, but with everyone else glued to their screens in morbid anticipation, she walked across a bridge unnoticed.
Shout-Out: The special effects guru they hire to fake the sex-scene won an award for the effects in “that space cowboy thing" to which he looks annoyed that they can't remember what that space cowboy thing was called and tells them "Tranquillity". Brooker, by the way, has gone on record as loving Joss Whedon in general and Firefly in particular many times in the past.
Take That, David Cameron!: Although played with; while the Callow/Cameron links are there, and Callow isn't exactly a paragon of humanity himself, he is ultimately sympathetic and his experiences are ultimately not something to be laughed at or dismissed.
15 Million Merits
The only distraction in a Dystopian life of endless physical toil is a series of tedious games and TV talent shows on every screen, which people can enter at the cost of work tokens. This episode's premiere screening was deliberately scheduled to begin on Channel 4 immediately after the 2011 final of The X Factor ended over on ITV(1). Trailer here.
Tropes related to 15 Million Merits
Advert Overloaded Future: Adverts aren't just omnipresent - viewers are forced to look at them, and fined for skipping them.
An Aesop: Several. Chiefly that our current state of affairs is soul-destroying - of doing pointless work to buy pointless items and with the carrot of celebrity dangled as the only way out. That people will subject themselves to ever greater indignities to escape this prison, but that in reality find that it's just another prison. That real talent and real spirit is being filtered out in favour of homogenous slop, as helped along by the former. That Simon Cowell is a prick.
Animal Motifs: Abi's is a penguin - she makes origami ones out of packaging, one is seen waddling around on a screen in her cell and Bing has a wooden one in his Gilded Cage as a reminder. There may also be a bit of subtext in Bing sitting and pulling apart one of the origami penguins after he inadvertently leads her into life as a porn star.
Not to mention the replacement of the paper penguin with a wooden one later, as Bing realises he's only succeeded in swapping one fake and unfulfilling existence for another, slightly more expensive one.
Apathetic Citizens: A whole society content to ride exercise bikes; the only available way to express themselves is to buy pre-approved items for their virtual avatar.
And produced by a subsidiary of Endemol, the producers of Big Brother.
Bread and Circuses: Food provided, at a price. Shelter given, but with a catch. Entertainment and hope supplied, to keep you content. Seeing as we never see who is in charge though, we're not really sure what is really going on.
Break the Cutie: Abi, intending to be a singer, winds up going into pornography, more or less forced into that position through public humiliation and harassment on Hot Shot.
The compliance serum probably had something to do that too, to be fair.
Chekhov's Gun: The empty Cuppliance carton which Bing hangs onto after Abi's audition, as well as a shard of the screen he breaks while desperately trying to tune out Abi's porn video.
Curse Cut Short: The Scouse Hot Shot hopeful to the judges: "This is my destiny- and I can sing! F-"
Downer Ending: Our hero gets to be part of the entertainment he hates while looking at trees he'll never touch, while Abi is doped out her mind, exploited, and filmed for the pleasure of thousands... if not millions.
Dystopia: In a very thinly veiled metaphor, everyday people are made to cycle on exercise bikes all day (the bikes are connected to generators which supply all of the country's electrical power) to earn money (the "merits" of the title), with the only escape being through a nakedly manipulative and psychopathic talent show. Some are then demoted further to being cleaners ("lemons", due to their yellow uniforms), and thus subject to mockery from everyone else (including a video game where they get blown to pieces).
Fat Slob: How the media portray overweight people, and how the citizens are encouraged to see them, especially with the games Botherguts and Fattax, not to mention the one where they get to shoot overweight cleaners.
Foreshadowing: Bing is trying to talk with Abi but is interrupted a couple of times by the ads for the porn programme "Wraith Babes". It seems a funny Running Gag at the beginning, but it's really not.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: Media gossip is very briefly visible scrolling along the top of Bing's mirror.
The vending machine has its own recommendations section: "People who liked [apple] also liked [banana]"
Future Slang: A few examples, such as the nickname for the avatars ("Doppels").
Gilded Cage: Bing's new home is more of a plasma-screen cage, but as we leave him gazing upon the simulated forest we can see he'd rather be free to explore a real one.
Hopeless Auditionees: The silver-haired Scouse woman plays this role. The show keeps her waiting for what must be months before letting her on, just to tell her to go home.
Ironic Echo: Bing holds a shard of glass to his throat and gives a heartfelt rant about how people waste their lives consuming and criticizing others, how television is completely synthetic and that everyone will do anything for money. The next time Bing is seen, he now owns an expensive apartment, and spends his time holding the same glass shard to his throat while criticizing consumers and giving manufactured speeches he doesn't believe for money. Also, the "Bing Shard" even becomes a popular object for the avatars to have.
Jerk Jock: Dustin liked Botherguts"... and when he's not busy laughing at fat people he can be found abusing the cleaners and leering at violent porn.
Manipulative Editing: Parodied with the Hot Shot producer who makes Abi record a pre-prepared soundbyte ahead of her audition.
Shaggy Dog Story: Not only has Bing chosen to buy into the celebrity status his rant gave him instead of actually making a moral stand, it's even possible that he's decided to do so of his own free will. Abi drank from the Cuppliance and succumbed to the pressure of being forced to go into porn, whereas Bing snuck into the auditions without partaking of it and yet metaphorically followed the same path to fame as she did.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Used to great effect with Anyone Who Knows What Love Is - Abi sings a cover on Hot Shot and Irma Thomas's original version plays over the credits. While the schmaltzy version of I Have A Dream is very fitting as we're introduced to this made-up world, a sweet song about experiencing love as something real sounds depressingly ironic as we leave it.
It also plays during Abi's porn.
Stepford Smiler: The female judge is hinted as being this. Despite playing along, some of her actions and expressions seem to indicate that she is physically uncomfortable with what happens on her show.
Amoral Attorney: At the very beginning of the drama the main character has a job review at a Law firm. The interviewing panel mention a new initiative to allow adults to retroactively sue their parents for not paying enough attention to them as children/infants - using the drama's 'Grain' technology (lifetime memory recorder) to elicit evidence. The main character briefly questions the ethics and morality of this.
Downer Ending: Completing the set, this ending sees Liam without a job and without his family, cutting out his grain which risks leaving him blind.
Enhance Button: Regardless of the distance or clarity of an event, the "grain" can zoom close enough to read lips and examine facial expressions, even if the event was across the room. Taken to the extreme when Liam loads a memory where he briefly looked indirectly at a TV, before zooming so far into the said TV that he can clearly see what the people in the background of the footage are doing.
Not entirely without merit as an idea. If the grain can record and retrieve stored visual information from the brain, remember that the human eye captures incredibly high-resolution images at very fast rates.
Ish. The retina is ~80 megapixels, but the optic nerve has only ~10 megabits/second of bandwidth. If you want speed of update, it can only be for a small region of interest... your brain fills in the gaps as best it can. The area of maximum visual acuity on the retina (the fovea) is pretty small, too.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: In-universe. Memories can be paused, rewound and manipulated to zoom in and analyse faces or even read lips. Given how it's used throughout the episode, it probably doesn't feel like a "bonus" to the characters, though.
The Glomp: Much to Liam's surprise, he gets to do his own as a joke later too.
Grievous Bottley Harm: Subverted. When Liam hits Jonas with a liquor bottle, it simply thuds and injurs him rather than shattering. Even kept realistic when Liam forcibly smashes it off the ground, as only the neck doesn't shatter.
Little White Lie: A fib about the length of a relationship with an old boyfriend kicks off the drama.
Longing Look: Perceived by Liam, and with the beauty of replay you can search for every instance, and watch it; over and over again.
Love Makes You Crazy: Well, maybe not as much as the luxury of reviewing your past and that of your partner's.
Mental Affair: It's a subtle one, but in the scene where Ffion and Liam are having sex whilst replaying their memories, the memory Ffion is playing back isn't Liam.
No Ending: The ending, while giving a satisfying close, leaves a great deal hanging and ends rather abruptly.Liam makes Ffion leave with Jodie, and the episode ends right as he removes his grain implant; what happens to the characters is then left entirely to speculation.
Prophet Eyes: Inverted. The grain gives the same effect when a person replays memories in their head, but provides sight into the past instead.
Transferable Memory: The "grain" that almost everybody has implanted in their skulls. Used to play back memories on any TV complete with zoom, crop and reconstruction technology. Is also used in security checks when boarding planes. Oh and it's implied there is a black market for memories, as one character had hers forcibly removed.
Big NO: Martha near the very end of the episode atop a cliff realising she cannot bring herself to get rid of the Ash copy.
Big "Shut Up!": Counts as a Rule of Three, when her friend Fiona tells her of the service which can bring Ash "back to life" as software based on his online persona.
Bittersweet Ending: Martha doesn't kill herself, and couldn't bring herself to make Ash's replica do it. She lives with their young daughter, keeps Ash locked in the loft, and it's heavily implied Martha is no closer to coping with Ash's death.
The only thing that keeps it from being a complete Downer Ending is that Martha has her daughter and has a healthy relationship with her.
Brick Joke: A Black Comedy version: In the beginning of the episode, Ash and Martha argue over the music in the tape. Ash mentions that he find The Bee Gees acceptable, but Martha doesn't think he genuinely likes them. When Martha decides to get rid of the Ash copy, the same Bee Gees single "If I Can't Live Without You" plays, and it mentions that the song is "cheesy". Turns out Martha was right, though (given what she already went through) she's not exactly pleased to find that out.
Came Back Wrong: Averted physically, but played straight psychologically. The false Ash is identical to his deceased counterpart, but reverts to a Soulless Shell whenever a gap in data exists. Naturally, it soon starts to upset Martha when her returned partner occasionally questions how to be himself.
Cloning Blues: It's ambiguous whether it affects the false Ash, but it certainly doesn't help Martha.
Dramatic Irony/Harsher in Hindsight: The episode has Martha and Ash singing "If I Can't Have You" together, and after a lighthearted argument in the van about The Bee Gees, Martha jokingly threatens to crash on purpose. Anyone who has seen the trailers (or is re-watching the episode) knows Ash will soon die in a car crash, leaving Martha struggling to live without him.
Empty Shell: What the replacement Ash is behind the all the information that had been shared online.
Everything Is Online: Ash has his entire personality and being rebuilt simply from his online details and information. We later find out it's only most of, or a large part of his personality.
Expendable Clone: It'd be easy enough for Martha to dispose of her Ash replacement, if she could bring herself to do it. The person who introduced her to the idea in the first place told her that it was just something to get her through the grieving process, implying that once it's served this purpose, it's up to the user whether to discontinue the service or not.
Freak Out: Martha effectively has this at the end when after asking the Ash replicant to leap off a cliff, her emotional tirade at it not showing a fear of dying as the real Ash would, makes it mimic that, begging her not to kill him.
Genre Savvy: When Fake!Ash's voice starts cutting out, he desperately warns Martha not to look in the bathroom while his physical self constructs; surprisingly, she actually heeds his warning and doesn't open the door.
Good People Have Good Sex: Subverted, as an exhausted Ash gives up on sex, leaving a humble Martha stating it was fine to stop. Later played straight when his physical copy is willing to partake in sex whenever she wants, and can immediately learn what it needs to know by consulting the Internet.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Martha, unable to live with the Fake!Ash, commands it to kill itself, and it provides little argument for it's life; when Martha affirms it has to die (as the real Ash would beg for his life) she tells the machine it nothing more than a cheap imitation of him. As the machine constantly calibrates its actions to match its human counterpart, it hears this as a command, resulting in Fake!Ash breaking down and leaving Martha unable to kill it.
I Need a Freaking Drink: Martha after "Ash" appears in a replica body of the original. She's also pregnant, and the Ash replicant warns her about drinking while carrying a child.
No Antagonist: Martha struggles with the fake Ash, but it's clear what she's really struggling with is her own loss.
Power Perversion Potential: When Martha is in the mood for sex, she learns that the artificial Ash can't respond to her advances, since its only source of information is Ash's social media footprint, and there's no record of their sexual activity there. (For some bizarre reason, he can, however, simulate arousal by having an erection at will.) Later, Martha finally does have sex with him, during which he says that he learned how from the Internet.
Three Laws Compliant: Implied, as Ash is critical Martha's drinking while she's pregnant and his robot form insists on picking up broken glass for her and refuses to hit her when she asks him to, both of which protect her and the baby (in keeping with the first law). The second and third arise when she commands Ash's replica to kill itself despite it stating it has no reason to do so.
Transferable Memory: The artificial Ash is rebuilt from bits and pieces of text, speech and video collected from his social media accounts. Unfortunately, this quickly results in technological snags whenever certain traits and memories are discussed.
Turing Test: At its heart the new technology is just an advancement of programs like Cleverbot and coupled with the ability to learn, it passes the test flawlessly until it runs into gaps in the data.
After the End: All media now displays a symbol that turns 90% of people into zombies, resulting in them filming anything interesting. Those who aren't affected either run to survive or hunt those who run. It turns out that's a lie - those people are ordinary people.
Ambiguous Ending: Does Victoria ever get out of the amnesia-induced torture loop? Is she stuck there till she dies? Or is she eventually executed and put out of her misery? Or do human rights activists have her freed and instead put in a maximum security prison? The possibilities are endless.
Arc Symbol: A lambda (λ) type symbol frequently appears on pieces of technology and the pursuer's mask.
Author Tract: The episode's uncomfortable ending, wherein we learn that the general public now takes part in the punishment of some criminals via a kind of interactive, voyeuristic theme park, echoes Charlie Brooker's criticisms of the 24-hour news cycle and its constant exploitation of tragedy. (For an example, see his recent commentary on the Oscar Pistorius murder case.)
Both Sides Have a Point: There's lots of evidence that can be used to support whether Victoria should be kept in the ironic hell or not.
Black and Grey Morality: ¾ of the way in, it becomes clear that there are no decent characters in the whole episode.
Book Ends: The protagonist is punished, has everything explained to her, and then has her memory wiped to do it again tomorrow. It's also at least the 18th time it's happened.
Brainwashed: Nine out of ten people have been, according to Jem.
Big Damn Heroes: Jem comes back to help Victoria after escaping Baxter in the forest.
Bystander Syndrome: Passing people not only ignore the protagonist's cries for help, they simply start recording the events on their phone. Turns out the reason is far more insidious than initially thought.
Chekhov's Gun: Several, especially the ones that resurface in the protagonist's memory.
White Bear holds a negative significance for the protagonist: it was the type of teddy the little girl had, and was a symbol of the search for her.
The symbol that brainwashes the public: it was her boyfriend's tattoo.
The little girl: was actually her victim.
Her wrist bindings: used to protect her from the metal wrist-locks when strapped into the chair.
The calendar with crosses: is keeping track of how many times she's relived the day.
Cold-Blooded Torture: Supposedly performed by the Hunters. Later turns out that the whole experience is a particularly inventive kind.
Come to Gawk: That's all the "normal" people (called "Observers" by the other survivors) do throughout the episode. And played more straight at the end when they jeer and throw stuff at her as she's paraded through the streets.
Conditioned to Accept Horror: The Observers. Originally portrayed as brainwashing, later shown to be just as accepting without any apparent coercion.
Cosy Catastrophe: Deconstructed. The breakdown of law and order is fun for the Hunters, not so much for the other survivors.
Darker and Edgier: The entire series is pretty bleak and harrowing, but this episode really cranked it up a few notches, to the point where it stops being a "satirical dystopian" show and feels more like a simple horror movie.
Driven to Suicide: We open up on a failed attempt, hence the amnesia. It turns out the suicide wasn't actually attempted, though Victoria begs to be killed every single night after remembers.
Victoria's boyfriend (the one that actually killed the girl) did hang himself in prison.
The Ending Changes Everything: About ⅔ into the plot it's revealed that the entirety of the episode was a setup; Victoria's fiancee abducted and burned alive a six year old girl, while she stood and filmed it. After they were caught, the boyfriend committed suicide in his cell, leading to her sentence to be centered around not letting Victoria escape justice.
Fate Worse Than Death: At the end of each Victoria begs to be killed, but White Bear Justice Park don't seem to be in any hurry to do that. And who knows how long this punishment will last.
It's the whole point of her sentence. People think her fiancee got off easy when he killed himself in prison.
Most notable is when the protagonist picks up the dropped phone and the other survivor points a taser at her claiming she'll go mad if she looks at it; it's later revealed that the protagonist would have seen it was all a setup, and the tasers are used for days when things don't go according to plan.
Here We Go Again: It is revealed that post-apocalypse was a complete ruse so that Victoria can be horribly frightened and emotionally tortured, before she is told the truth and forced to do it again after having her memory wiped.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: Jem suggested that the onlookers of them being chased are that way because the White Bear signal really brought out what was beneath the surface. Then it gets turned very straight as the truth about the protagonist is revealed, with the whole thing being a ruse designed to make sure she "doesn't escape justice" like her boyfriend, as she is chased, brought to the place with a braying crowd watching her, watches the clip she filmed of the little girl's last moments, while she's mind-wiped, every day.
Ironic Hell: As punishment for watching and recording while her boyfriend terrified, tortured and murdered a little girl, Victoria now lives her life being constantly terrified and helpless while people just record and watch.
Mind Rape: The memory eraser appears to be this, if the days' events weren't horrible enough.
The Mole: Baxter was one of the Hunters all along, and he and Jem turn out to both be park employees manipulating Victoria.
No Name Given: No introductions are given, so character names are reserved for the credits or brief mentions. For clarification: Victoria is the protagonist with memory loss, Jem and Damien are the survivors she meets at the start, and Baxter is the survivor with the van.
Shout-Out: The murder is meant to be a nod to the infamous Moors murders which, even now, still haunt the British public consciousness. Victoria shares a few traits with Myra Hindley - her remorse is genuine too.
The lambda is the symbol for the whole Half-Life series.
One of the hunter resembles John DeFoe from the Chzo Mythos, with its apron and welder mask.
You Are What You Hate: The White Bear Park visitors are effectively doing to Victoria what she did to Jemima.
The Waldo Moment
Following great public popularity, Jamie Salter is widely requested to run in a by-election as Waldo, the fictional animated character he plays. If isn't bad enough with several parties being outraged (who consider it unfunny and facetious), the animator soon finds himself being used to ridiculous lengths and things start to get out of hand.Trailer here.
Tropes related to The Waldo Moment
Actor Allusion: In his speech at the debate, Monroe refers to Jamie's most famous role as a "corn on the cob in a high-interest personal loan commercial." The actor who plays Jamie also plays Simon, a computer-savvy student in a series of adverts for BT internet.
All Elections Are Serious Business: Despite being only a by-election for MP, the response to Waldo is so massive it spreads to the internet and then internationally. It even goes abroad in the epilogue.
Anarchy Is Chaos: Subverted. The idea behind the neutral Waldo party is that he is merely a figurehead, and that in a parliament without political authority public vote alone determines laws.
At Least I Admit It: Waldo may be a fictional character who doesn't stand for anything, but encourages people to vote for him because at least he's honest about being a fictional character who doesn't stand for anything. This particular mindset is deconstructed, however, in that the fact that he admits he doesn't stand for anything doesn't change the fact that he still doesn't stand for anything — which means that he's open to the potential for all sorts of nasty things to happen through him under the guise of populist cynicism and apathy.
The Atoner: Jamie tries to be this, but unfortunately his crusade is stopped short by being beaten up.
The Bad Guy Wins: Everyone loses in some way, especially Jamie. Waldo and his creators, however, continue despite losing the election and manage to go international.
Broken Aesop: Jamie tries to make amends for smearing the reputation of the main parties by speaking out as Waldo and trying to convince everyone otherwise. This being Black Mirror, he is rewarded with getting a beating and being replaced as Waldo, leaving him homeless and probably an alcoholic.
Butt Monkey: Liam Monroe gets a boot to the face, is humiliated live on TV twice and stalked by a van which follows him around to demean him in front of possible voters.
Catchphrase: Jack-as-Waldo has one, apparently: "500 quid for anyone who (insert random demand here)!"
Democracy Is Flawed: Specifically, politicians are typically manipulative frauds and people are stupid enough to waste votes. Jamie's manager even proposes using public wi-fi to give Waldo downloads at polling stations in a desperate attempt to get people to vote.
Downer Ending: Jamie loses everything, Labour and the Liberal Democrats lose, even the winning Conservatives receive backlash (with its representative even getting a boot to the face) and the Waldo movement spreads worldwide.
Foreshadowing: When asked about going to South America next, Waldo's team is asked if they speak fluent Spanish, to which Jamie's manager cuts in by doing so. Guess who replaces him when they do go international.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: The ticker at the bottom of the screen showing the election result includes a line about a controversial art exhibition being withdrawn from the Tate - just like in S1E1. Suggesting at least some of the Black Mirrors take place in the same universe.
Monroe both in his comment towards the end how the system may indeed be "absurd" but "it built these roads". And even his Reason You Suck Speech towards Jamie in the debate is especially cutting because of the cold fact there is truth in it.
Waldo's campaign is built on this.
Landslide Election: Waldo entering politics is taken seriously mainly because of the sheer popularity of the idea. He even comes second in the poll and goes international.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Waldo was originally intended as mere comic relief for the elections. Once Jamie's frustrations started leaking into the character, it took on a life of its own.
Not So Different: Waldo compares himself to the politicians, claiming they're also made-up characters with nothing to say and teams feeding them information; he's just up front about it.
The Other Darrin: In-universe. Jamie's manager immediately replaces him as Waldo when he calls it quits.
Poor Communication Kills: Jamie ruins Gwendolyn's political career as he thinks she's ignoring him after their one-night-stand. When he eventually apologizes to her for his mistake, Gwendolyn clarifies that she would have called him after the election. If she only bothered to send even just one text...
Monroe delivers one to Jamie directly as he participates as Waldo in a debate.
Waldo and Jamie respond with their own passionate one against Monroe, Gwendolyn and politicians as a whole.
Gwendolyn gives one back to Jamie, after he tries to apologise for his earlier actions above, for potentially destroying her career; ensuring that Monroe will, in fact, win the by-election in spite of his rant; and that he has made a mockery of process through by not actually standing for anything or advocating any policies.
Rebellious Rebel: Jamie morphs into this eventually... though no one listens to him once he isn't a turquoise bear.
Sturgeon's Law: Mentioned on a political scale; specifically, almost all politicians exist only as a fake public reputation who sympathise to get what they want.
Take That: Pretty much every political party. More specifically, "a character from a late-night satire show who wins votes by being the funny one" could apply to Waldo or Boris Johnson.
And to Charlie Brooker, oddly enough: the show Waldo comes from is reminiscent of 10 O'Clock Live. A theme of the episode is that it's a lot easier to complain about the system than suggest any ways to fix it.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Waldo initially starts out mocking politicians, and chewing them out for being false. When he gets a new voice, he starts getting the public to act violently against those he doesn't like.
Viewers Are Morons: So much so, thousands of people would consider voting their favourite fictional character from a late night TV show as a political leader.