blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Black Mirror (2011) s02e03 – The Waldo Moment

“Black Mirror” creator and episode writer Charlie Brooker really loves mentioning Twitter in episodes. It’s practically a drinking game, and it at least makes some sense time-wise because most of this episode takes place in the present. During the end credits, just like last episode, we get a flash forward to show how our new modern age has gone awry, and Brooker starts beating each and every viewer over the head with the message.

Multiple epilogues are great if you’re good at them and have a reason for them. Brooker just uses them in a way I had to look up solipsism again. “Black Mirror” ostensibly takes place in a multiverse of endless shitty possibilities, but I’m pretty sure—at least based on a two-thirds of this season—they’re all just hard solipsists and don’t pay enough attention to anyone else to realize their perception’s whacked.


The Waldo Moment.

It’s mostly great.

It stumbles in the third act, real hard. Jason Flemyng somehow manages not to be able to play a perfectly realistic sleaze bag billionaire. It’s an incredibly easy part, but Flemyng is so absent charisma he flops. I’m not even sure Flemyng does a bad job; he’s just entirely miscast.

The episode’s already in some acting trouble thanks to lead Daniel Rigby. He’s been voicing this cartoon character Waldo on a TV show with a title seemingly spoofing “Last Week Tonight,” but it’s from a year before, so maybe “LWT” ripped off “Black Mirror.” Cool.

Rigby hates his job because no one likes him for him. They don’t like white British guys who can’t get any sun because it’s clear his skin would burn off; they like Waldo, an obscene, blue cartoon bear whose accent isn’t not Black. Waldo’s got a gold-capped tooth.


Just as Rigby’s having another crisis and being too needy with another ex-girlfriend, promising young woman Chloe Pirrie is interviewing for a position running as the Labour candidate. She’s not going to beat the slimy Tory (Tobias Menzies), but it’ll look great on her CV.

It all collides because Menzies has the dumb idea of doing an interview with Waldo, where Waldo offends Menzies, and then Menzies files a complaint. So Rigby’s producer—Christina Chong, who’s too likable to be cutthroat, so she’s utterly passive—decides they’ll take Waldo out in a van where Rigby can perform and taunt Menzies live on the campaign trail. Pretty soon, Waldo’s invited to the debate.

Oh, and Rigby seduces Pirrie.

Except politics is war, and all is fair in love and war.

After an auspicious start, which overcomes Rigby being too bland and Waldo not being a very interesting technological subject—it’s just a real-time animation thing. Like, Flash was already dying when Waldo came out. The reason there wasn’t a real Waldo Moment isn’t because the technology didn’t exist, it’s because politics was all bullshit at this point. Menzies is the soulless bullshit candidate, Pirrie is the soulful bullshit candidate, but what about Waldo….

Will billionaire Flemyng have a naughty idea? Will Rigby and Pirrie dance too close to the fire? Will there be animated bear wiener? Will any of it matter after the hard bellyflop finish?

No. It will not.

Good direction from Bryn Higgins. “Mirror” doesn’t flop because Brooker misses something with his scripts; it flops because of intentional choices. It’s obvious and craven.

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