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Fridge / Black Mirror: Arkangel

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Black Mirror Fridge
Series Four
USS CallisterArkAngelCrocodileHang the DJMetalheadBlack Museum

  • The episode can't be set that far into the future, probably not even twenty minutes, by the style of the hospital and the kitchen at the beginning (even if you live in a crap neighbourhood, the hospital is one place you can guarantee will have taken on the Ascetic Aesthetic, and health and safety will have ruled out stoves that are that old — both are outdated even for 2017). It looks like the Aughts or the Nineties, realistically
  • Fridge Logic borders on Fridge Horror in the indiscriminate nature of the implant's blur feature. Seeing her grandfather having a stroke understandably causes Sara stress, so the program blurs him out—preventing her from hearing his cries for help or potentially instructions such as "Call 911." In this case, Sara's mother is able to get help because the tablet notifies her that Sara's stress levels are rising. But what if the person in crisis was the only caregiver? It's no wonder the things are banned, they probably got at least one person killed!
    • Additional note: remember that dog that kept growling and barking at Sara early on? The one that turned out to be pretty nice after she fed it a bit? Imagine if it wasn't so nice. Imagine it was the sort of dog that would actually maul a person to death. Now imagine someone who can only perceive it as a blur and a muffled noise. If it got free and attacked her, her odds of survival are... low. That's just one example of how it could go horribly wrong. After all, fear does serve an incredibly essential purpose in the human brain. It alerts you to danger as a self-preservation response, so that you can protect yourself. Mugger? Kills her. Speeding car? Kills her. Kidnapper? Takes her without resistance. Life? A suicide mission. Her running away was probably a best-case scenario. The implants either weren't made for long-term usage, or were developed by a madman. After watching the final episode in the season, the latter seems true.
  • At one point in the episode, we overhear Sara having a lesson in school concerning Oedipus, the famous myth of the man who killed his father and married his mother, then proceeded to blind himself. There is a bit of a parallel in how Sara attacked and somewhat 'blinded' her mother by destroying the ArkAngel tablet that let her see Sara's life, but there's another point that can be made from this mention. The fact that Sara and Marie's story, like that of Oedipus, is a tragedy because it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Marie became absolutely terrified of losing Sara again like she did when Sara was only a small child, so she began to hover, guard, and overprotect her to the point that her child couldn't stand it. Ultimately, it was Marie's own actions (beginning to spy on Sara again and sneaking her an emergency contraceptive without her knowledge when she ended up pregnant) which ended up causing Sara to attack her mother and run away from home, causing Marie to lose her daughter for good by her own hand.
  • The fact that the implant can only be accessed through the tablet even though the tablet can interface with other computers makes sense when you remember that the technology is being outlawed. Modern computers were designed to be incompatible with the implant.
  • From a legal standpoint, the footage on the tablet of Sara having sex is child porn. Even if she did go public, Sara’s mother would be in far more trouble than anyone else could be.
  • The episode specifically states that "Europe and America" have banned the ArkAngel implants — nowhere else is mentioned. Now consider what a country with an extremely conservative culture (e.g. Saudi Arabia) or a totalitarian dictatorship (e.g. North Korea) could do with such a device...
  • I don't know if you can call it an Acceptable Break from Reality with the emphasis on "acceptable", but the thing with the EC pill being treated like the abortion pill (aka RU 486, Mifepristone, Mifegyne etc.) has a lot to do with the fact that a realistic take would've forbidden the stealth element by Marie against Sara. The abortion pill would've required an actual pregnancy diagnosis and would've had to be obtained through a doctor whereas the EC pill won't need a recipe anymore and, even before, Marie could've pretended to have unprotected sex herself if she'd ever needed a recipe. And what both the abortion pill and the EC pill have in common is that one smoothie wouldn't have been enough. A drug-induced abortion needs two abortion pills with a three-day gap in between (first one for stopping embryonic development, second one to induce the miscarriage). And even the EC pill, which is about preventing pregnancy, is usually three pills taken half an hour apart from each other.
    • When Sara finds the discarded box in the trash it says something like 1 step or 1 pill on the front, so presumably this is some sort of near-future one step pill.
  • Aside from the obvious, there's another Self-Fulfilling Prophecy at play: Marie originally got the implant so she wouldn't lose track of Sara and to keep her safe, but, as other tropers have pointed out above, the implant not only prevents the child from recognizing dangerous situations (such as violent dogs or deadly emergencies), but long term usage could essentially stunt a child's independence and make them even more vulnerable to danger. It also doesn't help that, when she recognizes that Sara is doing drugs and having unprotected sex, rather than simply talking face to face like a healthy parent, Marie opts to "fix" the issue without consulting Sara at all, which means situations that should be teaching moments in Sara's development become "problems" for Marie to correct so Sara doesn't deal with any consequences. In other words, not only did Marie push away her daughter, but, in the effort to protect her, she ultimately prevented her from developing the skills to protect herself; which makes the ending where Sara hitchhikes even more terrifying.
    • Also, Marie's own parenting skills have been heavily stunted by using the implant. Because Sara is her only child (so she can't draw from experience), and she's been reliant on the implant since Sara could walk, she's never experienced a true moment where she couldn't just look to the tablet and see what her child is doing. While for a period of time Marie stops using it, Marie is visibly nervous at the idea of Sara going to hang out, and once she realizes Sara lied to her and is having sex and doing drugs, instead of the traditional Disappointed in You speech typical of parents and grounding her, Marie instead goes for the tablet, and seeks out what she sees as the source of the problem (Trick), all without ever directly confronting Sara on the issue. It's quite likely that she doesn't even know how to discipline her child in a traditional way, and when Sara breaks her trust, she opts to do the same.
  • If Sara had never found out that her mom had started spying on her again, how would an adult Sara live with the implant? Would Marie have stopped using it at some point, or would her paranoia continue and she would keep using it to spy and occasionally meddle with Sara's life without her knowledge or consent? How would that affect Sara's potential marriages and friendships, or even her jobs, if her mom goes behind her back to tie up loose ends under the idea that she's keeping her daughter "safe"?
  • While most viewers assume that there was a huge gap between when Marie used the tablet on child Sara and the final time she uses it on teenage Sara, the ease with which Marie uses the tablet raises some questions. Are we positive she hasn’t used it at all in a few years, or is the last time merely the instance where Sara finally caught on? After all, she could easily just turn off the blur filter that omits graphic content and keep spying on Sara just as easily as before…