blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Black Mirror (2011) s01e03 – The Entire History of You

Not to get too Roman DeBeers, but The Entire History of You takes place in a universe where they create a cyborg technology to record your memories but never figure out how to get text-to-speech engines to sound better than they did in 1997. You provides an interesting finale for the first season of “Black Mirror” because it’s the only episode (of three, but still) not written or co-written by show creator Charlie Brooker. Also because it’s tripe.

Jesse Armstrong’s script is bad. Not just because it fails to make it through some general “hard sci-fi” gates. Not just because its philosophy seems to be, “Well, psychologists implanted all those memories, so we need video memory to prove men’s innocence.” #MenToo.

Barf. Especially since the episode’s about a physically abusive narcissist.

It’s simply bad on a structural basis. It starts with episode lead Toby Kebbell in a red herring job interview where they all throw out some talky-talk jargon for this universe. Basically, everyone’s got these “Re-Do” devices in their heads, and, in this future, everyone just watches their old memories. Presumably there’s a market for selling and sharing these memories, which doesn’t get discussed. Instead, Kebbell becomes irrationally jealous of wife Jodie Whittaker, and her jackass old friend, Tom Cullen.

As Kebbell becomes more and more convinced there’s something going on, he’s able to comb through his Re-Do archive to find clues. Though—and here’s where Armstrong’s bad writing comes in—there’s no discussion of his actual previous behaviors either. Apparently, Kebbell’s been super-jealous of Whittaker having sex before they were married before, and even though he’s a Chad, he doesn’t like his Stacy being with other Chads. At some point, it’s just clear Whittaker really likes abusive narcissists.

Even with a traditionally thin lady role—Armstrong follows that “Black Mirror” rule—Whittaker’s good. Cullen’s better than Kebbell, which isn’t saying much because Kebbell is awful. It’s not like there will be extended periods of the episode where it’s just Kebbell being terrible, is it? Not with lousy direction from Brian Welsh? Oh, wait, it’s almost half the episode. Bummer.

“Mirror” hasn’t been aging well ten-plus years on, but You is the first where it’s clear even on release the gimmick doesn’t work. Like what if you lose the remote control to your brain VCR?

Armstrong also seems to think Rod Serling will be narrating the episode all better.

With another lead and a slightly more intelligent script, You’d probably be okay. But with Kebbell and Armstrong?

Rewind and erase.

Leave a Reply

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: