Black Mirror season 5, episode 2 recap: Smithereens

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Photo Credit: Netflix

Andrew Scott’s Chris is a desperate man willing to go to any lengths to speak to the owner of a social media conglomerate in Black Mirror’s take on online addiction.

The second episode of Black Mirror season five is set in London, 2018, where Hitcher ridesharing driver Chris (Andrew Scott) is desperately trying to meditate, but he can’t keep unbidden thoughts at bay. He picks up a passenger from Smithereen, a Facebook-like conglomerate set up by Billy Bauer (Topher Grace). Chris has a personal connection with Smithereen, as we will find out in this episode of Black Mirror.

Chris attends a grief support group session but doesn’t speak about his own experiences. He listens intently to another member, Hayley Blackwood (Amanda Drew), talking about her daughter’s suicide, and the two of them end up going home together. While Hayley enjoys their encounter, Chris seems very distracted and not into it. His heart seemingly breaks when Hayley reveals her attempts at hacking into her daughter’s online Persona account – she wants closure and hopes to find it in her daughter’s inbox, but the company will not let her in as it’s against the policy.

Jaden’s Very Bad Day

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Photo: Black Mirror Season 5 production still / Netflix

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Chris’ cab is permanently parked outside Smithereen – he is intent on picking up a passenger who works there. Today is his lucky day, or so he thinks. Jaden (Damson Idris) is headed to the airport for his first-class flight to San Francisco and he doesn’t look up from his phone even once when he gets in the cab.

Chris makes a detour and stops at a pre-designated spot where a getaway car awaits. He’s planned this whole kidnapping to the T and Jaden has fallen straight into Chris’ trap. At gunpoint, Chris orders Jaden to bind his wrists, but then Jaden drops a bomb on him – Jaden is just an intern and this is his first week at Smithereen. He doesn’t know anything or anyone. Chris freaks out. This was not what he had in mind; an intern is apparently no use to him.

When Jaden tries to run, Chris stops him and locks him in the trunk of the getaway car. Jaden is claustrophobic and when he starts having a panic attack, Chris lets him sit in the backseat, head down and covered in a bag. As Chris drives away, leaving his cab behind, Jaden starts panicking and flailing in the backseat. While Chris tries to hide him, WPC Najma Haque (Ambreen Razia) spots Jaden and she and her partner flag down Chris’ car.

Chris fails to evade the cops, and his car gets trapped in a field. He gets out, threatening to shoot Jaden if the cops don’t back away. WPC Haque and her colleague move away from the scene, requesting backup. The two cops also try to keep bystanders out of harm’s way.

Chris attempts to calm himself down, re-thinking his plan of action. He wants to speak to Billy Bauer, and Jaden is the only way he can get Billy on the line. Jaden doesn’t have Billy’s contact number, but he can get in touch with HR at Smithereen – except, Jaden’s phone is still in Chris’ cab. This is the worst kidnapping attempt ever. Chris doesn’t give in so easily though. He Googles Smithereen’s reception desk number and they call HR. Chris demands to speak to Billy while continuing to threaten Jaden’s life.