Hang the DJ Recap Black Mirror: Terror Turns to Charm Season 4 Episode 4 – “Hang the DJ,” the Season 4 episode of Black Mirror, moves from curious to terrifying to charming all in the span of an hour or so.
Hang the DJ Recap Black Mirror: Terror Turns to Charm Season 4 Episode 4
It opens with what is clearly a blind date between two nervous twenty-somethings (Amy and Frank). All episodes of Black Mirror aim to explore technological advancement in some (usually dark and twisted) way, and we don’t have to wait long to find out what the technology of this particular story will be. Amy and Frank are speaking into little round devices to figure out their date protocol, and after a few minutes, viewers are introduced to the future of dating.
In this new world, dating combines scientific and psychological precision with the gamification of a Fitbit. The handheld devices that Amy and Frank both use are personal keys to unlocking a relationship with their one true love, a match the device and the program behind it guarantee with 99.8% certainty. One of the most notable features is that users, once matched for a date, can click a button and find out exactly how long, down to the second, that particular pairing will last.
Frank and Amy have obvious, adorable chemistry, so it’s disappointing for the viewer as well as the couple that they have only been paired for a matter of hours. They get to spend that time in a swank and modern condo until they are evicted when their time runs out, returning to their search for true love.
The show then separately follows Amy and Frank through a series of mismatched partners. Some last for less than a day, some last for months. Eventually, they find themselves once again paired, and this time they make a promise. They won’t check their expiration date. They’ll just enjoy every clearly blissful moment while they can because they now know how much worse it can get.
The two are obviously falling in love, and Frank can no longer resist finding out how long the love will last. He checks the expiration and sees five years left on the clock. The time immediately starts dropping, though. His betrayal of their promise to wait has caused an imbalance in the relationship. Eventually, it settles with only hours left on the countdown.
Sullen and heartbroken, he finally admits what he has done. He tries to convince Amy to run away with him, but she resists, partly because she’s so angry over his broken promise and partly because she does not believe they could escape.
This is the first overt reference to a reality that has been hinted at many times during the show. Something is amiss in Frank and Amy’s world. They aren’t just dating for fun. This world demands it. There are guards armed with stun guns on the perimeter of every first date scene. The house physically locks when their time is up. Other couples touting the benefits of the program operate with cult-like blank stares and plastered on smiles. Amy’s insistence that they can’t safely escape together finally makes it clear just how terrifying this world is.
The couple again part ways, and then we see Amy get a notification that her true match has been found. She will meet him tomorrow. Amy perks up and asks if it is someone she already knows, but when the machine tells her no, she is visibly disappointed. Then, the machine tells her that she gets a chance to say goodbye to someone from her past, and she immediately chooses Frank.
When she meets him again, he reveals that he too has been slated to meet his one true love the next day. They immediately agree to run away together, and as they dramatically turn to escape the guards in the restaurant, Amy reaches out to block the stun gun with her hand. The whole world freezes around them, and they run to the edge of the city, climbing a giant wall on a metal ladder as the world below them turns to pixels and disappears.
At this point, the show has turned from a horror film where our protagonists must escape a dystopian nightmare to a puzzling mystery. Are they unwitting actors like the character in The Truman Show? Will they be punished when they reach the top of the ladder? Is there a happily ever after waiting for them after all?
Before the viewers get answers, they must first face more questions. Amy and Frank are greeted with fanfare music and the declaration that they have won. The game has completed 1000 simulations, and Frank and Amy have chosen to rebel to be together 998 times. At this point, the Frank and Amy we’ve been watching are holding hands in amazement as they look around at a room full of other Frank and Amy simulations standing at the finish line with them.
The entire episode, then, was a simulated reality in which avatars of Frank and Amy were being tested for compatibility. When the episode ends, the real Frank and Amy get notifications that there is someone nearby who matches them with 99.8% certainty. They look up, lock eyes, and smile coyly.
With this episode, Black Mirror breaks from its usual pattern of turning every possible future technology into a monstrosity. The same technology that has been used in other episodes (even within this same season) to demonstrate the horror of having a conscious simulation of a human being trapped in a virtual world is instead replaced with an uplifting portrayal of how technology could be used to creatively explore one of the most mysterious forces of all: love. Best of all, it doesn’t take the mystery out of it. Frank and Amy’s courtship was still as messy and complicated and full of mistakes as any human journey to love can be. While the mess was virtual, the love was real.
Other episodes of Black Mirror Season 4 reviewed on TV Eskimo:
Hang the DJ Recap Black Mirror: Terror Turns to Charm Season 4 Episode 4 characters and cast include:
Amy – Georgina Campbell (Murdered by My Boyfriend, Broadchurch, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword)
Frank – Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders, Green Room, Secret in Their Eyes, Skins, The Hour)
Coach – Gina Bramhill (Sherlock, Brief Encounters, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret)
Lenny – George Blagden (Versailles, Vikings, After the Dark)
Nicola – Gwyneth Keyworth (Misfits, Bang, Hinterlands, Game of Thrones, Midsomer Murders)
Edna – Jessie Cave (Pride, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Great Expectations)