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Black Mirror Season 1 Episode 2 Recap – Fifteen Million Merits

BY Arabelle

Published 3 weeks ago

Black Mirror Season 1 Episode 2 Recap - Fifteen Million Merits

A man is peacefully sleeping. Slowly, his background changes into something bright, with a rooster waking him up. Television screens surround him. Once he sits down, he automatically signs in. His avatar appears beside a figure: 15,002,944. Then, he controls everything with the flick of his hand. Everything is advanced and controlled. It‘s like he‘s living inside the technology, where everything he wants to do is given through a simple gesture. He starts his routine by washing his face. He brushes his teeth. The toothpaste comes out when he gestures to squeeze a toothpaste tube. The figure earlier has increased but gets immediately reduced as he gets toothpaste. He opens a case containing his earpieces. He wears the earpieces, and a song immediately plays.

He rides an elevator. The elevator stops on the floor where everyone is on a stationary bike, pedaling and entertained by their chosen show on the screen in front of them. The man sits on his bike station and starts to pedal. He selects the game Rolling Road. After exercising, he goes to the cafeteria to buy drinks and food. His food gets stuck inside the automatic vending machine, and he doesn’t know how to get it. A girl approaches him and helps him get his food. He thanks her, leaves, and sits at the table before her.

Everyone is back to pedaling. The girl who helped him plays the violin while the guy beside him watches some nasty stuff from Wraith Babes. The nasty guy gets frustrated at the plump lady wearing yellow overalls who appears on the reflection of his screen. He calls her names and throws his trash at her. He talks to “Mr. Rolling Road” beside him, but he just looks at him. A plump guy coughs, seemingly tired of pedaling. Our main guy gets back to his room and plays a game. His game gets interrupted by an advertisement for “Hot Shot.” Wraith Babes plays again, so he suddenly loses interest. He covers his face with his hand, and everything turns red. The monitor asks him if he wants to resume viewing while a high-pitched tone plays, eventually annoying him to give in.

Another day starts. A girl rides the same elevator with our main guy and the others. He finds her attractive because he can’t stop staring at her. At the bike area, he immediately notices that the guy coughing yesterday is not there anymore. The girl who helped him tells him they didn’t let him sign in anymore. Bingham starts pedaling. The nasty guy beside Bingham sees the guy not allowed to sign in behind him and bullies him. He‘s already wearing the same yellow overalls.

While peeing, Bingham hears someone singing. He listens and gets amazed by the sound of her voice. The girl gets out of the cubicle, and he sees the same girl in the elevator he kept staring at. The girl sees him staring at her while drying his hands. He tells her to have fun on the pedal when the system suddenly plays Wraith Babes while staring at the girl, so he quickly flicks it out with a gesture.

He continues to ride his pedal. She sees the girl enter the area, and he can‘t stop looking at her. The girl who helped with his food the other day sees him staring at the girl with a beautiful voice. She gets jealous. He is in his room singing when the system automatically starts. He chooses to ignore and mute them because he is in deep thoughts, singing.

The girl with a beautiful voice is stuck in front of the vending machine. It‘s the apple once again. It won’t come out. He approaches her and helps her get her apple. He tells her his name: Bing Madsen, short for Bingham. She also tells him her name: Abi Khan. He talks to her and asks her if she’s new because he has not seen her before. The girl tells him she just turned 21 last week. She tells Bingham she wants to go to air down because her sister is there, but apparently, it‘s full. Bingham gives some tips to Abi on how she can earn some money while pedaling. Abi tells him she prefers using the CBT app. Bingham is unfamiliar with it, so he asks Abi what it is? Abi explains what the CBT app is.

Bingham tells Abi he likes her singing. Abi tells him she‘s trying to sing so no one can hear her peeing. He insists she has a phenomenal voice, the most beautiful voice he has heard. Abi laughs at him and thanks him even if she doesn’t believe what he‘s telling her. Bingham asks her if she wants to try out for Hot Shot. Abi enumerates to him the reasons why she cannot join. Bingham tells her he will gift the whole 12 million merits to her. Bingham says his brother left it to him when he died.

Abi tells him not to be ridiculous, She suggests he should spend it for himself, but Bingham tells her he doesn’t need it. Bingham believes in Abi and tells her she has something real in her. Abi tells him she‘ll mess up. Bingham says she won’t, but he doesn’t care if she does. Bingham pleads for Abi to try it once, so he gets a yes. Bingham buys the ticket for Abi, but it already costs 15 million merits. He buys it anyway and gifts it to Abi. Abi receives the gift.

Bingham and Abi are in the elevator going up to the Hot Shot area. Abi will try her luck and sing a song, but she can’t believe she‘s doing it. She goes back and forth on whether to do it or not and asks Bingham if they can refund the ticket. Bingham tells her it‘s not possible. She doesn’t want Bingham to think she is ungrateful, but she feels a lot of pressure. Bingham stops her and tells her she‘s babbling. Abi gives Bingham an origami she made. Bingham slowly reaches for Abi’s hand, and she holds Bingham‘s hand as well.

They reach the Hot Shot floor. Abi is asked immediately to do the face screen. They enter the room where everyone is practicing their pieces, getting ready for their cue. After standing for just a few seconds, one of the assistants tells Abi they want to preview her. A lady with white hair sees it and thinks it‘s not fair. She has been waiting for a week, but Abi gets hers immediately. The assistant pushes her aside while she shouts, “It‘s not fair!”

They enter another room. A girl asks her to look at the camera and say her piece in a sentence. She says, “I guess I‘d like to be as big as Selma one day.” She‘s told to proceed on stage. While walking to the stage, a girl meets them and gives her a compliance drink. Abi declines, but the woman says it‘s compulsory for all contestants. Abi drinks it and immediately feels slightly off and dizzy, but she tells Bingham she’s fine. The woman tells Abi she‘s on.

Abi feels a bit uncomfortable and shy. The judges tell her to come closer. Judge Hope asks her what she‘ll do. Abi tells them she will sing. Judge Wraith harasses her by telling her to lift her top to see her boobs. The virtual crowd cheers, but Abi doesn’t react. Judge Charity tells her to sing already. While singing, Abi looks at Bingham and smiles at him. Judge Hope stops Abi from singing. He tells her that, without a doubt, her performance is the best they had for the whole season—the crowd cheers. But not later, he also tells her that he agrees with Judge Wraith. He pictures her doing an erotic scenario on Wraith‘s channel. Bingham tries to go on stage to save Abi, but security stops him and gets him out. The judges pressure her to decide. The audience also joins in, telling her to do it until she has no choice but to do what they ask.

Bingham is lying on his bed, holding the origami Abi gave him. He hides it under his bed. Abi is on the screen telling the story about her new lifestyle: how she meets many new hot guys and how she‘s well taken care of by Wraith. But her face shows she‘s not happy. Bingham is playing in his room when the advertisement for Abi‘s erotic debut plays. He tries to skip it, but he doesn‘t have sufficient funds. The video continues to play. He covers his face, but the screen just plays a high-pitched, annoying tone. Bingham cannot do anything. He tries to go out, but the door is disabled. He smashes and breaks a part of the TV screen, crying for what Abi has become. Bingham sees a broken mirror from the screen and tries to remove the star etched on him. He gets an idea of what to do next: join Hot Shot.

Bingham does his best to earn back the 15 million merits; the merits he needs to buy another ticket for Hot Shot. He gets thrifty: uses a bit of toothpaste, eats only the leftovers of others, etc. He does these while practicing the dance he will perform. He finally reaches 15 million merits again, so he buys the entry ticket. His points go down to zero, but he doesn‘t care. He takes the broken glass with him.

Bingham‘s the first one to enter the Hot Shot. The lady with the white hair follows immediately. After a while, the waiting area gets filled with hopefuls. Bingham gets to be previewed when they asked for someone exotic. He follows the guy in, tells the camera he‘s an entertainer, shows the woman an empty carton of compliance drink, and goes center stage.

Bingham performs. In the middle of his dancing, he stops, brings out the broken glass, and holds it to his neck. He wants to say something. The security tries to come in to stop him, but he threatens the security to stop or he‘ll kill himself. Judge Wraith tells him just to kill himself, but Judge Charity says they should let him speak. Bingham starts telling them his piece. Everyone is quiet for a moment after his speech. But Judge Hope breaks the silence by telling him the usual words, “That was, without a doubt, the most heartfelt thing I‘ve seen on this stage since Hot Shot began!” The virtual crowd cheers in excitement. Judge Hope tells him he understands Bingham‘s stuff. Bingham tells him it‘s not stuff but the truth. Still, Judge Hope agrees. He offers Bingham a slot in his stream: 30 minutes, twice a week. The audience urges him to accept the proposal. Judge Charity says it‘s better than the bike. Judge Hope agrees.

Everything goes back to pedaling. Bingham accepts the offer. He delivers his piece connected to advertising new items in the avatar shop. The guy with auburn hair enjoys it. He seemingly will kill himself in the stream until he says, “Till the same time next week.” He‘s still in a “box” filled with technology. He takes his props of broken glass to its container, pours himself a glass of orange juice, and stares at a vast forest shown on large screens.

Our Thoughts

Everyone has their bike to pedal. Add constant technology consumerism and ambitious dreams, and we could have a recipe for predators to take advantage of. It takes an authentic outlier to see through the shenanigans. But do these “authentic outliers” really know the way out of an already established brand of screen consumerism? Something the majority of us also enjoy?

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