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Black Mirror Season 1 Episode 1 Recap – The National Anthem

BY Arabelle

Published 3 weeks ago

Black Mirror Season 1 Episode 1 Recap - The National Anthem

A couple is sleeping in bed. Someone is calling on the smartphone on the bedside table. It falls on the floor as it continues to vibrate. Shortly, the telephone rings, awakening them.

The call was about Princess Susannah. The guy immediately gets ready to know the details of what happened to her. The princess cries nonstop on video and begs not to kill her. A man tells her to read the statement on the screen.

Princess Susannah starts reading the statement. “I am Susannah, Duchess of Beaumont. Popularly known as Princess Susannah. I am in a place you cannot find, held by one you will not trace. Prime Minister Michael Callow, my life depends on you. If you do not do precisely as instructed, by 4 p.m. this afternoon, I will be executed.” Julian, one of his assistants, stops the video and tells him they are sure Princess Susannah is the person in the video. He adds that the car she was riding in was intercepted after midnight when she was returning from the wedding of one of her college friends.

The Prime Minister asks if Princess Susannah had security with her. Chief Walker tells him the two bodyguards escorting her were on a heavy sedative and had a single puncture wound. Prime Minister Michael Callow asks everyone what the kidnappers want. “Money? Release Jihadi? Scrap Third World debt?” Prime Minister Callow cannot understand what the kidnappers want. Alex tells him the demand is in what Susannah says next and adds that it concerns the Prime Minister directly. Julian plays the video. “There is only one demand, and it is a simple one. At 4 p.m. this afternoon, Prime Minister Michael Callow must appear on live British television on all networks, terrestrial and satellite, and have full unsimulated sexual intercourse with a pig.”

“This is a joke, right?” the Prime Minister asks. But Julian tells him it‘s real. The Prime Minister cannot believe what they want him to do. Chief Walker says they are checking on who the mastermind is. The Prime Minister tells them he is not having sex with a pig, so their demand will not happen.

The Prime Minister asks if they have established a dialogue for the situation. But Julian tells him they can‘t. There is no address, no email, or any room for negotiation. The Prime Minister tells them to focus on finding Princess Susannah. They must work discreetly, so the news won’t go nationwide. Julian tells him the video came from YouTube. The Prime Minister tells them to delete it, but it‘s too late. He asks how many people have seen the video. The current estimate is 50,000 people.

The kidnapping of Princess Susannah is already in the news nationwide. The argument is heating up in the UKN because no reporter is backing down. The pressure is weighing on them. Martin, their leader, says they are honoring the D notice, but when someone tells him the news is already on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, NHK, etc., he gives each of his reporters a specific task to handle, so their work will be easier. Tom, one of the Prime Minister‘s assistants, calls Martin. He begs him to stop spreading the news, but the person on the other line refuses to do so.

Alex tells Tom she‘s exploring contingency plans and has briefed Callet. In the studio, Noel from Blue Eye is introduced to Mr. Callett. They talk about the visuals. Callett asks Noel if he can map a different face onto a live performer. Callett tells him the deadline is at 4 p.m., so they must know if it will work by 2 p.m. Noel laughs and tells him it‘s not possible, but Callett says it has to.

The Prime Minister is getting ready when Walker approaches him and gives him the list of possible suspects for kidnapping Princess Susannah. Everyone is busy with their tasks, not stopping to find Princess Susannah. Since the news had spread, locals gave their opinion within their circles.

UKN‘s Damon Brown gives an analysis of the situation. The video has reached over 18 million views worldwide. Social networking sites are abuzz with 10,000 tweets per minute. The report shows some reactions from people. Some say they won’t be tuning in if the Prime Minister gives in to the demand. Some of them think it‘s just terrible and disgusting. Yet, for some, they think he will be a hero in the eyes of many people if he does what the kidnappers demand.

Jane Callow, the wife of the Prime Minister, sees the news about the demand from the kidnappers. She immediately goes down to her husband, but the security guarding the door stops her. She forces her way in. She asks for a minute with her husband. Everyone in the room goes out. She asks Michael questions. He lies to her that everything is under control, but Jane knows he is lying. Michael assures his wife that nothing will happen. Jane begs him not to do it because she knows how people love humiliation. Michael hugs her for comfort. Someone interrupts them, saying he has a call from the Palace — the Queen herself.

The Queen told Michael she trusts they will do everything to get Princess Susannah back. The Prime Minister knows the command of the Queen is directed towards him. Walker tells him that Jamie has been tracing the origin of the video. They thought it was untraceable, but Jamie explained everything about how she identified the origin of the video. They immediately move to catch the suspect.

The news continues about the kidnapping of Princess Susannah and the demand on Prime Minister Callow. Tom approaches Michael and tells him that the public anticipates noncompliance if Walker’s team messes up. Tom tells Michael, “If he kills her, there‘s no blood on your hands. Bottom line.” An urgent package arrives for Martin in the UKN. He opens the small box and finds a flash drive with an eyeglass case. He asks a coworker to plug the flash drive in while he opens the case. He gets shocked when he sees a piece of finger inside. He orders Jack to take it out. The flash drive has a video saying, “I gave you rules. I said no cheating. Rod Senseless? Please.” Then a video of Princess Susannah getting one of her fingers cut plays. The news escalates quickly, reaching nationwide reporters. The Prime Minister sees the video and gets frustrated. He doesn’t know what to do anymore. He almost punches Alex because of his frustration.

The public mood shifts. Before the video of Princess Susannah getting her finger cut, just 28% of the people believe the Prime Minister must comply with the demand of the kidnappers. Everyone was behind him. But after the incident, everyone asks him to do what the kidnappers want. “It will be humiliating, but nothing compared to the suffering of Princess Susannah,” someone posts on social media. People are asking Michael to do it. People also said they could get another Prime Minister, but they could not live without a princess.

After watching the news about him and 86% of the people telling him to meet the kidnappers’ demands, the Prime Minister snaps. He tells everyone and the rescue team to go in. The rescue team enters the area. But after checking the whole building, they quickly realize it‘s just a decoy. Princess Susannah is still nowhere to be found. But after a few seconds, they hear a voice coming from behind a door. Walker‘s team hurriedly run to catch the person. They shoot, so she was shot in the leg. Tom tells them the girl they shot is Malaika, a member of UKN. She was mistaken as the kidnapper because she entered the area while they were operating. Callow’s plan fails.

Alex explains to him that what the public will see is his failure for not complying with the demand of the kidnappers. The entire world will see it. She tells him that the public, the Palace, and the party insist on compliance. If he refuses to do so, they could not guarantee his physical safety.

The Prime Minister’s car is seen going west to Bankside Studios in London. Jane tries to call her husband, but he rejects the call. Alex opens the car door and tells him it‘s time to go in. But Callow sits still inside, contemplating his decision. The news continues, interrupted by an official announcement. It tells everyone that Prime Minister Michael Callow will perform an indecent act on their screens. All kinds of recording or possessing a copy of the indecent act will become illegal. All viewers are advised to turn off their televisions immediately. People inside the pub rejoices.

After the announcement, a high-pitched tone plays. Alex tells him further instructions. Callow enters the room. He sees a pig in the middle of the room, eating. In front of the camera, he says, “I trust this will bring about the safe return of Princess Susannah.” He says he loves his wife, and may God forgive him for what he will do. The public‘s reaction is mixed, but the majority is disgusted. Jane is soberly disappointed.

Princess Susannah is seen unconscious in the middle of the bridge. Soon, people passing by finds her and brings her to the hospital. Alex tells Mike that Susannah is safe — he saved her. The princess is alive. A year after the humiliating ordeal, Michael Callow is seen unconcerned with his wife, Jane. Princess Susannah makes a public appearance after announcing her pregnancy. The Prime Minister is surprisingly enjoying high ratings from the public compared to last year. But the public never sees what happens inside the Prime Minister‘s house. Michael calls on Jane, but she gives him the cold shoulder.

Our Thoughts

The Prime Minister will forever carry the humiliation of what happened. People’s sympathy is always on the side of those who they think are on the losing end. This shows how powerful the public is, amplified by technology to further their reach. We must use that power for something our country will gain.

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