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Recap / Black Mirror: Nosedive

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"You've just got to play the numbers game, it's how the fucking world works."

"No one is this happy. A two-year-old with a fucking balloon isn't this happy."
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In a smiley, status-obsessed dystopian future where people rate each other on a Facebook meets TripAdvisor hybrid social media platform, an insecure office worker sees an opportunity for social advancement when an old school-friend, one of the top-rated elite, gets back in touch and invites her to her upcoming wedding.

Directed by Joe Wright, written by Michael Schur and Rashida Jones, and starring Bryce Dallas Howard (Lacie), Alice Eve (Naomi), and James Norton (Ryan).

Prospero Hall published a Card Game based on the episode called Black Mirror: NOSEDIVE in 2018.


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Tropes related to Nosedive:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Social media ratings appear to rule people's lives in everything from housing to jobs here (Charlie Brooker said, "Everyone is terrified of being marked down because the consequences of that are unpleasant. So, it's basically the world we live in."). Electric cars are the norm, with charging stations instead of gas pumps (this hurts Lacie as her rental car is an older model that won't work without an adapter).
  • Affectionate Nickname: Lacie refers to Bethany as "Bets", and to Naomi as "Nay-Nay".
  • The Alleged Car: Lacie's rented I-Cruiser 2 has the look of a 2000s beater, its voice and interface are only in Czech, and it comes with no charger adapter.
  • Alpha Bitch: Naomi is pretty, very popular, and one of the "primes", and she's also very mean and obnoxious. She used to bully Lacie when they were younger, and apparently she only kept her around to feel good about herself at Lacie's expense. She only approaches Lacie again after a long time because bringing an old contact with a low four rating as her maid of honor would play well with her guests, as it would seem like a geniune friendship, but the moment her rating begins to drop, she tries to ditch her, openly admits she only invited her because of numbers, and humiliates her once again, saying there's no way she could get the "primo votes" on her own.
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  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Played with. Lacie lives with her brother, and while he can come off as uncouth and a slacker, he genuinely seems to miss the Lacie who wasn't obsessed with ratings.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: The final line is Lacie and her prison mate yelling "Fuck you!" at each other. Subverted in that both of them are having the time of their lives yelling it, judging from the smiles on their faces.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Those rated 4.5 or higher are considered "primes" in this society, and they have access to all sorts of privileges. Bethany, an acquaintance of Lacie's, is one of them, and so are Naomi, her fiancé Paul, and all of the wedding guests. Lacie's goal is to become one of them.
  • Becoming the Mask: Everyone in this society wears "friendly" masks in order to thrive in the ranking system. Even though it's clear that Lacie is also playing along, as she is shown practicing her smiles and laughs at the mirror at the beginning of the episode, it's implied she was a pretty normal person up to that point, at least with her brother Ryan. However, as she tries to adapt her lifestyle to pander to Naomi and the other high fours, it ends up affecting her own personality, much to the chagrin of Ryan, who barely even recognizes her anymore. Every time he calls her out on it, she gets geniunely mad and responds in denial, as if she had really assimilated her new persona.
  • Be Yourself: The Reputelligent guy's advice to Lacie is just to be herself and use authentic gestures, as the high fours can easily notice when someone is trying too hard (which happens when Bethany rates Lacie just three starts after she's exaggeratedly nice in their second interaction). Ironically, if you're too authentic, you'll end up pissing everyone off and your score will easily plummet, as explained by Susan, something Lacie learns the hard way.
  • Bittersweet Ending: After finding out that Naomi was never her friend in the first place, Lacie has lost all of her social standing and is ultimately arrested after a nothing-to-lose wedding visit. Not only that but she's now separated from her brother Ryan who was probably the only person who actually cared about her. But this winds up being an extreme personal liberation for her. She's happy to be out of the system and has real interactions with fellow prisoners. Also, she wanted to get into the Lifestyle Community to find someone, and the prisoner with whom she interacts looks like the man in the hologram and advertising. It's also implied that they might become a couple.
  • The Board Game: An officially licensed smart phone enabled card game based on the social mechanics of the episode was released in November 2018.
  • Brick Joke: As Ryan lists the mean things Naomi used to do to Lacie, he mentions "she fucked Greg", which she denies. However, by the end of the episode, she brings it up in her wedding speech:
    Lacie: She fucked Greg! I know she did! I know you did! Don't even try to deny-
  • Broken Ace: While Lacie technically wasn't an "ace", she was a 4.2, which is a pretty respectable score, and, according to the Reputelligent advisor, she would probably naturally reach 4.5 in about a year and a half. However, as she feels pressured to move to a better place, she gets desperate to hit 4.5 as fast as possible. This leads to her making a series of mistakes, which, coupled with a string of bad luck, result in her score sliding all the way down to below 1, and in her ending up in prison.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    • As discussed by Susan, honesty doesn't really fly very well in this world.
      Susan: It turned out a lot of my "friends" didn't care for honesty. Treated me like I had taken a shit at their breakfast table. But Jesus Christ it felt good, sheddin' those fuckers. It was like takin' off tight shoes.
    • This trait of Susan is made clear in her interactions with Lacie. When Lacie asks if she wants to hear her speech, Susan replies with a blunt "no". When Lacie says she's sorry for her husband's death, Susan unceremoniously says that, since she doesn't know her, she's not really sorry, just awkward cause she "sprung some cancer talk" at her.
    • Ryan is also very blunt with Lacie. He is straighforward about how shallow the system is, how her personality has changed, and how Naomi used to be a jerk to her in every way. She is very pissed about it and takes his honesty as aggression.
    • Once Lacie's score drops, Naomi reveals her true colors. She demands Lacie not to come to the wedding, and blatantly says she only wanted her because bringing a 4.2 as maid of honor would play well with the guests, while slamming in her face that it was all about numbers for both of them, since Lacie obviously just wanted to be upvoted by all the high fours.
    • Lacie becomes brutally honest herself as she gets fed up with everything after Naomi ditches her. She openly tells the Trankheads that she has never seen their "stupid fucking show", and, when she invades Naomi's wedding, she gives a speech that is pretty much a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Butt-Monkey: From the middle of the episode onwards, everything goes terribly wrong for Lacie.
  • Call-Back: Lacie meets up with fans of a sci-fi show called Sea of Tranquility, which was also mentioned in "The National Anthem".
  • Capitalism Is Bad: In this world your social media rating dictates nearly every aspect of your life from where you can live or work to your priority for cancer treatment. All social interaction is reduced to a vacuous game where people exchange numbers and it makes them think and behave like petty, shallow sociopaths with no concept of true friendship or empathy or decency.
  • Central Theme: How people become obsessed with social media status, how this affects people in their daily lives, and how exchanging internet points is destroying real notions of friendship and human decency. People in this world are all too afraid to say anything honest or controversial because they are constantly being judged by everyone else and their jobs and housing are on the line.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: As Lacie leaves the airport, already on double damage, the stewardess dings her and opens a huge smile when Lacie looks back.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Lacie and the other prisoner are gleeful to be able to swear freely at last.
  • Continuity Nod: At the office, a post by Michael Callow, the Prime Minister from "The National Anthem", can be seen as a top trending post in Lacie's computer.
  • Cool Old Lady: Susan is blunt, but she's friendly, genuine, and thick-skinned enough to not care what other people think of her. She even gives Lacie some booze for courage.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Everything seems made of light pastels and happy smiles, but it's a pretty horrible world to live in where everyone constantly judges your every move.
  • Cry Laughing: Lacie simultaneously cries and laughs at her wedding speech. Overlaps with Laughing at Your Own Jokes and Laughing Mad.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Overlaps with Bright Is Not Good. The only person who wears black in the episode is the Tall, Dark, and Handsome prisoner in the cell opposite Lacie's. Susan also wears dark gray. Given everyone else in the show is absorbed into the horrifically shallow and status-obsessed society and wears bright pastel colours, dark colours might be a thematic shorthand for truth and reality. To add to the theme, Lacie has black mascara "tears" running down her face during her wedding breakdown, representing her realisation about society.
  • Disaster Dominoes: This seems in-built into the system, where small decreases to one's rating breed further decreases.
    • Lacie's nosedive starts with causing someone minor inconvenience, dropping her rating down just enough to make her miss her flight and kicks everything off. On the other hand, Lacie's behavior in response to her setbacks, while human and understandable, don't exactly help her case.
    • Lacie's coworker can be seen getting ganged-up upon by his ex's friends for dumping his partner, reducing his score to the point that he can't get into work. Presumably he will lose that job and see further drops to his score for being jobless or homeless.
    • Another of Lacie's already-unpopular coworkers apparently has an argument with a more popular one, and everyone else plays politics and sides with the higher-rated friend, implying that the less-popular are always at risk of going even further down for the smallest infractions.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The rating system seems to breed these. People get downvoted for the tiniest of slights, which then has serious real-world consequences.
    • One of Lacie's colleagues did nothing more than break up with his partner, but most of their mutual friends turn on him and downvote him so badly he can't get into his own office building, and presumably loses his job.
    • Lacie gets one-starred by passerby Tamara for accidentally bumping into her and spilling her drink on her, and by the taxi driver just for taking a little too long to get in the cab, and because we has annoyed by her conversation with Naomi (even worse considering she had given him five stars just before).
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The ending of this episode is basically a comment-section flame war.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: When Lacie is arrested, Mister Rags is shown being apprehended by the police. Not only does it symbolize Lacie's depressing situation, but it also represents that any remainder of the friendship between the two little girls who made the doll together is now completely gone.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Lacie stands in front of the mirror, patiently practising trying to laugh in a nonchalant fashion.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Lacie happens to be using the stall the exact moment two Trankheads who are also using the restroom mention they're going to a convention in Port Mary.
  • Failed Dramatic Exit: Lacie leaves her brother behind in the flat with a snarky comment, but then has to return to fetch Mister Rags.
  • False Friend: Naomi is a false friend to Lacie. She used to bully her when they were younger and at some point she slept with her boyfriend, but pretends to miss her and still like her when she needs a low four to be her maid of honor. After Lacie's score drops to below 3, Naomi reveals the truth, and accuses Lacie of being a false friend herself, since she obviously accepted the invitation because she was interested in the upvotes from the high fours at the wedding.
  • Fan Community Nicknames: In-universe. The fans of Sea of Tranquility call themselves "Trankheads". Lacie not knowing what the term means is one of the things that makes the Trankheads suspect she's lying about being a fan of the show. Lacie tries to brush it off, saying they're called "Tranksters" where she's from.
  • Feedback Rule: Downplayed at first, when there is a slight feedback when Lacie grabs the microphone at the wedding. Later on, as she keeps yelling, the feedback gets louder, which visibly bothers the guests.
  • Flowery Insults: Lacie and her prison mate trade some pretty elaborate and specific insults.
  • Flying Under the Gaydar: Naomi's husband and his best man. Their relationship seems a tiny bit closer than just Heterosexual Life-Partners and Naomi herself reacts with disdain to it.
  • For the Evulz: when a 2.8 Lacie asks for a ride, the driver one-stars her just because of her low score. Another driver passes by and also dings her, even though she literally did nothing. There's also the charge station guy, who one-stars her simply because it "wasn't a meaningful encounter", even though she had just given him five starts. While "evil" might be a harsh word, considering how having a low rating has devastating effects on people's lives in this society, it's a very mean thing to do, especially towards someone whose score is already low.
  • From Bad to Worse: The whole premise of the episode.
  • Future Slang: The characters use several slangs that have to do with the rating system: "[number]-starring" means rating someone a certain number of points, "dinging" means giving one star, and "primes" are people who are 4.5 and above.
  • The Ghost: Greg, Lacie's old love interest with whom Naomi apparently slept with, is unseen.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Naomi helped Lacie make Mister Rags, which Lacie is genuinely attached to. Lacie plans on exploiting this at her speech, since bringing it with her to the wedding is clearly a tactical move.
  • Glassy Prison: Lacie ends up in a glassy jail cell.
  • Good Colours, Evil Colours: Deconstructed. The Beautiful Elite wear colours that correspond to "good" or "preppy bitch" colours, demonstrating their allegiance both with social superiority and superficiality. The trucker who picks up Lacie, Susan, however, is genuinely good but wears black, in response to her pariah social status. Lacie's dropout brother also wears grey.
  • Gray Is Useless: As part of the deconstruction of Good Colours, Evil Colours, Ryan, who is portrayed as lazy, and Susan, who is a 1.4, both wear gray, contrasting with the bright pastel colors of the setting and the clothes worn by most characters.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: ... because if your bad mood makes other people sad, you'll be ranked badly.
  • Hope Spot: When Lacie receives a call from Naomi after the airport incident, she says that she lost the flight, she's driving, and she won't make it to the rehearsal dinner, which clearly makes Naomi mad. After Naomi hangs up, Lacie five-stars her and gets anxious about whether she'll five-star her back... which she does, leaving her briefly relieved. But it doesn't last long, as soon afterwards the car's battery runs dry, and her downfall continues.
  • If It Was Funny the First Time...: In-universe. When Lacie says "fuck the planet!" for the first time, one of the wedding guests laughs at it. This prompts her to say it again twice, while pretty much explaining she's trying to sound funny, and causing loud feedback the third time. No one finds it funny anymore.
  • In Vino Veritas: The truck driver gives a thermos full of whiskey to Lacie as an "escape hatch". She downs it with pleasure and is thus dangerously/hilariously sincere upon her arrival at the wedding.
  • Jerkass: Naomi states outright that the only reason she wanted Lacie to be her maid-of-honor was for purely unsentimental reasons: a 4.8 giving such an opportunity to a "mere" 4.2 would be seen by everyone as Naomi being supremely kind and generous to her less-fortunate friend, netting her a glut of fives. Naturally, Lacie is dumped as soon as her rating drops too low.
    • The nature of the ratings system seems to encourage extreme narcissism, Lack of Empathy and bullying behaviour in most people.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Ryan gives some scathing commentary on the shallowness of the system and her frustrating, unfulfilling obsession with it. He also sneers at his sister's rediscovered fondness for Naomi, a former "friend" who mocked and bullied her (and apparently fucked a guy she was into). He lays this on Lacie with the tenderness of a fist to the gut, but she knows it's true.
    • The dour gas station attendant gives a robotic but pretty fair justification for dinking Lacie with a 2. Instead of sprinkling five stars on everyone he looks at and hoping for reciprocation, he's one of the few characters actually scoring people by a more sensible metric: the more meaningful the encounter, the higher the score; a minute-long conversation with a helpless customer oozing fake niceness is hardly a meaningful encounter.
    • Naomi points out, correctly, that Lacie only took up the offer to be her maid of honor to raise her own rating.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Ryan might come off as a bit of a jerk, especially for how blunt he is to Lacie, but he geniunely cares about his sister. He's very upset she's not her true self anymore, he's worried about her impulsively making the deposit for Pelican Cove and asks if it's refundable in case the wedding speech thing doesn't work (and he turns out to be right), and he's visibly devastated after Lacie drops a "The Reason You Suck" Speech on him, and even more so after she one-stars him.
    • Similarly, Susan's Brutal Honesty is not well-received in this world, and while her bluntness can also sound jerkish, she's one of the nicest characters in the episode. She's the only person who offers Lacie a ride, after other drivers not only refused to but even dinged her. Even after Lacie calls her old, she doesn't vote her down, while many other people dinged her for very petty reasons. While she forthrightly tells Lacie she doesn't want to hear her wedding speech, she wishes her good luck on it as they part ways.
  • Kafka Komedy: Lacie's humiliating journey to the wedding is played as Black Comedy.
  • Language Barrier: Lacie has trouble using the rental car because the voice and the interface are only in Czech.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Lacie acts like a jerk towards her brother Ryan when he tries to snap her back into herself, calling him "Mister Three Point Fuck", and she even rates him one star before leaving the flat. He rates her one star in return, kickstarting her downfall, which results in her ending up as a "Zero Point Fuck" herself. Also, she yells at him for borrowing her phone charger, but later on she ends up having to ask around the charging station for an adapter for her rental car, and fails to get one.
  • Laughing at Your Own Jokes: Lacie laughs at her own "jokes" during the wedding speech.
  • Laughing Mad: At the peak of her Sanity Slippage, Lacie madly laughs during the wedding speech.
  • Lighter and Softer: With its pastel colors, comedic elements and lack of bleakness and horror in general, Nosedive represents a significant shift in tone and aesthetic in Black Mirror, something observed in several episodes since the transition to Netflix. Downplayed, since at the end of the day the "sweetness" of the episode is a tool to make the setting feel like Crapsaccharine World, the ending is bittersweet at best, and it's not uplifting like subsequent episodes, such as "San Junipero" and "Hang the DJ".
  • Madden Into Misanthropy: The truck driver Lacie meets during her journey to the wedding suffered from this: after her husband died for being denied medical care over someone with better rank than him, she said "fuck it all" and decided to leave outside what society and its ranking system expects from her. Something similar happens with Lacie at the very end of the episode as well.
  • Ms. Fanservice: In-universe, Naomi clearly plays up her looks at every opportunity to maintain her social status. Every time she's on a video chat, she just happens to be in revealing swimwear or doing yoga.
  • No Fame, No Wealth, No Service: Taken to its logical extreme. All of society is based on this principle.
  • Non-Human Non-Binary: Implied to be the case of Lieutenant Duster, a fictional character from Sea of Tranquility, who has no fixed gender. When one of the Trankheads asks Lacie who her favorite character is, she refers to them as "she" and then "he", prompting the Trankheads to suspect she's lying about being a fan of the show.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Deconstructed. In this universe, everyone pretends to be nice to the waiter lest they risk a downvote. One of Lacie's first interactions in the episode involves a mutual five-starring between her and the clerk from the coffee place; in fact, the Reputelligent advisor notes that a large portion of Lacie's interactions are "reciprocal five stars from service industry workers". Later on, Lacie is nice to the agent at the airport at first to keep her from being rated down and so the agent makes an exception for her, but yells and curses at the agent when it's clear that the agent can't, or won't, give her a spot in the plane. Those behind her in line immediately give her a poor rating as soon as she gets frustrated. Following that incident, Lacie tries to be extremely nice to the workers she interacts with, but sadly it doesn't help her cause.
  • Only Sane Man
    • Susan, the truck driver. After she lost her husband to being denied medical care over someone with a slightly higher rank, she became one of the few characters who doesn't give a damn about ratings if it means giving up her honesty and principles.
    • Lacie's brother, while a slacker, cares very little about the ratings and is satisfied with his lot in life, seeing deliberately aiming for ratings to be empty.
  • Order Is Not Good: Society is highly regulated, regimented, and actually gorgeous. It's also a completely hellish nightmare for anyone whose life doesn't follow these patterns, such as Susan or Lacie.
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Downplayed. Lacie initially feels bad for Ches' breakup and for his score falling to 3.1, but as her coworker tells her everyone is on his ex's side, she immediately agrees. Later in the episode, Lacie dismisses Ches, whose score had dipped to 2.4, when he's begging for stars, though she seems to feel bad about it (and she mostly ignored him because the Reputelligent advisor said her interactions with "mid to low range folks" were holding back her rating).
  • Percussive Therapy: When she can't find an adapter, Lacie takes out her anger on the car's bumper.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Firmly invoked. The bridesmaid dresses are pink at Naomi's insistence. Lacie also wears a lot of pink and other similar colours (pale blue, lavender, mint green).
  • Planes, Trains, and Imbeciles: Lacie has to face various unhelpful travel employees such as the airport worker and the car hire worker.
  • Pride Before a Fall: Lacie touts her mid-four status for some time before taking a nosedive.
  • Princess in Rags: Almost literal, as the only thing still in good shape in/about Lacie once she gets to the wedding is the dress.
  • Profanity Police: The airport stewardess repeatedly asks Lacie to "moderate her language" because they're "zero tolerance on profanity" after she curses. Soon afterwards, it's shown that profanity is actually considered an offense there: the stewardess calls a security guard and accuses Lacie of "intimidation and profanity", and he imposes sanctions on her rating for it.
  • Proper Lady: All the highly-ranked women are ladylike, dainty, and hyper-feminine. It's even commented on that Naomi wouldn't dare to have her bridesmaids' dresses in any color other than pink. The low-ranked truck driver, on the other hand, dresses far differently.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Lacie drops on one Ryan before leaving to Port Mary, leaving him visibly devastated.
    • Lacie pretty much delivers another one to Naomi at her wedding, shaped as a maid of honor speech.
  • Road Trip Plot: After Lacie is kicked off her flight to Naomi's wedding, she's forced to drive and then hitchhike.
  • Sanity Slippage: Lacie suffers from this during her trip and makes it manifest at the ceremony itself.
  • Show Within a Show: Lacie pretends to be a fan of the sci-fi show Sea of Tranquility in order to get a ride from fans of it who are headed to a convention in Port Mary. The show had already been mentioned in "The National Anthem", and is referenced again in "Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too".
  • Small Role, Big Impact:
    • The unseen taxi driver who cancels Lacie's first ride, Tamara (the 4.8 woman Lacie accidentally bumps into and spills her drink on), and the second taxi driver all one-star Lacie in a row (along with Ryan), making her score drop to just below 4.2. Consequently, she no longer qualifies for the Prime Flight Programme. While every single minor character who dings Lacie has a small contribution to her demise, those three are crucial, as they are the ones who start it all.
    • After Lacie repeatedly swears at Hannah, the airport stewardess, she calls a security guard, who deducts a full point from Lacie's ranking and puts her on double damage. Those two characters are the ones who do the most harm to Lacie, as it's from that point onwards that her downfall truly begins.
  • Social Climber: Lacie's goal is to become a high four. Justified, as those with higher rankings get better housing, jobs, and immediate preference in everything from airline seats to medical care.
  • Social Media Is Bad: Lacie's entire society lives and dies on people "rating" their physical and virtual interactions with each other, Uber-style, on a fictional social network. Those with higher ratings get more perks. Unsurprisingly, this creates a society comprised entirely of plastic Stepford Smilers.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Ches' exasperated "FUCK!" at falling to a 2.4 is barely obscured by a glass door slamming in his face.
  • Stepford Smiler: Lacie pretends to live a perfect life so others will rate her higher. One of the only times she seems genuinely happy is the last scene, where she can freely curse and insult others with no fear of repercussions. This is true of most of the people we see (see Stepford Suburbia, below).
  • Stepford Suburbia: The world in which Lacie lives is scarily perfect, though it becomes clear fairly quickly that everything is just a façade with almost everyone trying to keep up with the same smiley, ratings-obsessed spell. Public outrages are seen as felonies, people buy coffee just to photograph it, and you must disregard certain acts — such as being kind to service workers and colleagues — to keep those precious stars intact. There's even a ratings expert that Lacie visits who is similar to a psychiatrist or a counselor in the real world. It's easy to see why she ends up snapping halfway through the episode.
  • Super Breeding Program: The "lifestyle community" for the top-rated people. Lacie's brother lampshades it as a "eugenics program".
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Name-checked in-universe by Lacie's brother on the Crapsaccharine World to which she wants to move.
    Ryan: There's sugary and then there's fucking diabetes!
  • Technobabble:
    • Downplayed with the Reputelligent advisor, who uses a bunch of technical terms that only make sense in the context of the episode's fictional rating system, but it's pretty easy to get what he means.
    • Played straight when Naomi reveals her true colors and explains why having a 4.2 as maid of honor would be advantageous for her:
    Naomi: When I asked you to speak, you were a 4.2, okay? And the authenticity of a vintage bond low four at a gathering of this calibre played fantastically on all the simulations we ran. Forecast was a prestige bounce of 0.2 minimum. But now, you're a sub three!
  • Too Much Information:
    • Naomi asks Lacie to remove the part where Naomi helps her with her eating disorder from the wedding speech, as it's "a little oversharing". She ends up mentioning it, in detail, during her drunken speech:
    Lacie: And she was there for me. Holding my hair back as I knelt, vomiting, in front of the crapper. Thank you for that, Naomi.
    • In the speech, Lacie also talks about how the guys liked Naomi because "she had this tight ass, like two fists", and tells everyone "she fucked Greg".
  • The Topic of Cancer: Part of the truck driver's backstory, whose husband was denied potentially lifesaving medical care because his rank wasn't high enough. She's understandably bitter but refreshingly frank about it.
    Lacie: I'm so sorry.
    Susan: You don't know me, so you're not really sorry... you're just... mainly awkward 'cos I've sprung some cancer talk at ya.
  • Trick Dialogue: When we first see Lacie deliver her speech, the camera cuts away after some time to reveal that she was only rehearsing it in front of her brother.
  • Undisclosed Funds: The weekly fee for the Pelican Cove occupancy is shown directly to Lacie and not revealed to the audience, but it's high enough to shock Lacie.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Downplayed with Bethany, who subtly shames Lacie for still living in Hoddicker. While moving to a better place was already in Lacie's plans before their conversation, it probably made her feel more pressured to do it, fueling her desperation to move to Pelican Cove and, as a consequence, to reach 4.5, which ends up destroying her life.
    • It happens again twice, with two people who are genuinely kind to Lacie (Susan and her brother). Her brother gives her the first one star in petty sibling rivalry; it starts a nightmarish free fall of her score. Susan also gives Lacie a ride and is extremely supportive of her... but she also gives Lacie alcohol, which results in her losing what little is left of her dignity by that point.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Non video game example. It's repeatedly shown that while high ratings don't always lead to more 5-star ratings, they definitely help, while low ratings inevitably engender more low ratings. Some drivers even ding a hitchhiking Lacie just for having a low score, putting her further into the pit.
  • Urban Segregation: Your score pretty much determines in what areas you can live.
  • Volleying Insults: The episode ends with Lacie engaging in a snark duel with a fellow prisoner.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Lacie and the unnamed prisoner positively sprint into this trope in the final reel with some gleefully baroque insults.
  • Weight Woe: Lacie had an eating disorder while growing up and took a bite out of her cookie for a social media post without eating it at the beginning of the episode. Bryce Dallas Howard even gained thirty pounds for the role to look like somebody concerned with her self-image.
  • Wham Line: When Naomi is about to reveal her true self:
    Naomi: Don't come.
  • Your Makeup Is Running: Lacie, by the time she gets to the wedding, as the image at the top shows. Though if anything, she looks better that way. The effect was caused by Lacie falling into a bog on her way in to the wedding rather than crying. However, because the mascara runs down her face while she loudly tears into Naomi with a speech, they look like tears of resentment. It's a very powerful effect.

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