Black Mirror: 3.04 San Junipero

Starring Mackenzie Davis of Halt and Catch Fire as Yorkie and Gugu Mbatha-Raw from Doctor Who as Kelly. Directed by Owen Harris another Black Mirror alumni, having previously directed season 2's successful episode Be Right Back.

It's 1987, a fact that's laid on thick with the hyper-coloured nostalgia. Kelly meets shy ingénue Yorkie in party town San Junipero. There is an instant connection between them, but Yorkie panics and bolts.

A week later they meet again, this time with Yorkie desperate to respark the connection. It doesn't take too much to convince Kelly. But at midnight, as hinted by her before, it all comes to an end.

One week later, and once again Yorkie's desperate to find Kelly. Kelly's friend suggests looking... in different years. The eighties, nineties, noughties... Suddenly the hyper-real nostalgia of this 1987 starts to make sense. And so Yorkie begins to look for Kelly across nostalgia infused segments of time, to find her again in 2002. But none of this is real. Not the time, not even Kelly's profession that she's only looking for fun. What does come across as real is what Yorkie feels for Kelly, the connection between them.
This is a virtual world, but with a real human connection. Eighty percent of the population of these worlds are 'full timers' rather than tourists; they're dead, technically. A full personality upload. But not Kelly and Yorkie. Not yet anyway. In the 'real' world, Kelly is dying and she has no interest in joining the dead in the virtual world. Her husband already passed and never wanted to do anything but for things to end.

Midnight. And now it's the real world. A world where Kelly isn't a young woman desperate for fun; she's an old woman dying. And desperate only to fulfil a promise, to see Yorkie in the real world. A woman who is also old, but to compound things is quadriplegic and has been for 40 years. The virtual world is the only life she has.

San Junipero is an immersive nostalgia therapy. A world of memories. But for Yorkie and Kelly, this isn't about nostalgia. Not any more. It's about making new memories, together. Their feelings making lie of the fact that San Junipero isn't real.

The topic of uploading consciousness, has been explored in great depth, in film, TV and philosophy. But I challenge anyone to find a more emotionally perfect love story associated with it. This fourth episode is possibly a high point of all three seasons of Black Mirror. A story of technology and society, but for a change it's one filled with hope and positivity and a pathos we've not seen in the show before.

Last updated: 26/02/2018 13:02:47

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