Netflix’s Black Mirror
Season 4, Episode 5: “Metalhead”
Directed by David Slade
Written by Charlie Brooker
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Hang the DJ” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 4 finale, “Black Museum” – click here
Bella (Maxine Peake), Clarke (Jake Davies), and Anthony (Clint Dyer) drive through the Scottish Moors. They chat about all sorts of things, from hating peppermint twists to what sort of animal they’d rather be, if they had to choose. They get to a deserted looking warehouse on an old dirt road. Anthony heads in slow first, checking to see if anyone’s about; no one. So, Anthony and Bella go inside, while Clarke tries wiring up the van they find out in the parking lot.
It’s clear there’s a dystopian atmosphere, of some sort. What exactly is plaguing this world?
Well, in the warehouse, Bella and Anthony come upon dog-like robots, that have guns in their legs and all types of horrors. Bella escapes after Anthony has his face blown off. Clarke makes it part of the way but soon dies, too. And real bad news: the dogbots can operate vehicles!
Almost hurtling off a cliff, Bella takes a hard smack to the head when she brakes before the drop. She’s barely hanging on, as the car starts slipping. Still behind her, the robot dog shows up, crawling into the car with her. She gets out before the car takes a tumble over the side with the dog in it. You can be sure that resilient little machine is not dead yet. It pulls part of an arm off to get free of the wreckage.
Meanwhile, Bella removes a shard of metal the dogbot hit her with in the leg. She puts it in a bottle and tosses it in the river, running off, leaving it as a decoy for her pursuer. The dog machine’s hot on her heels, though. Bella can’t reach anybody by radio, except for a faint signal someplace. They can hear her, so she explains the situation, tells them a few other things before “going dark.” In case she dies, she leaves a message for someone called Graham; she leaves him an I love you.
After walking a while more Bella sees the dog machine. It’s getting closer, closer. Eventually they’re in the forest and she gets up a tree. With its “arm fucked” it can’t climb to get her. Instead of fighting any longer, the dog curls into its metallic ball and sits there. During the night, Bella slips, and begins falling from the tree. She just barely climbs back up to her perch, the dog waking up briefly, waiting for its moment. And she waits for hers, as well. When the time is right, she takes off running.
Bella comes to a wall, stretching out on either side a long way. She searches for a place to get over, but nothing works. Then she notices a vehicle. No one’s inside. Although there’s a building close. She tries to get in, finding it locked. She tries reaching a set of keys no far from the inside of the door.
In the meantime, killer robot dog is hunting again.
Bella gets inside the a gated house, rifling through drawers to try locating a set of keys to the vehicle outside. She finds a beautiful home in there, a piano, chandelier, plenty of the finer things. Upstairs, people in bed; dead, rotting after a suicide. She has to get into their pockets to find the keys, but she does. And she walks away with a gun. Before leaving, she cleans up in the bathroom, disinfecting her thigh wound.
Right as the dogbot is letting himself into the house, his mechanical bits fine tuned to get through any locks necessary. Quietly, the machine hunts, picking up a knife to take with it from the kitchen. When it catches up with her it gets a face full of paint, blinding it, as Bella makes a run for the vehicle outdoors.
She starts the speakers playing “Golden Brown” by The Stranglers, blaring from the open doors. This attracts the dogbot. It comes for her, and finds no one. She sneaks up, shooting it in the face. It has enough energy to stab her in the knee. She shoots it once more, and before it dies, the machine pops out another little grenade, exploding shrapnel into her.
In the bathroom later, Bella tries removing the bits of metal stuck in her skin. One of the pieces flashes. Wonder how long until more killer metal dogs come in a pack to track her down. She radios back to her people, saying she won’t be back. She apologises for not getting “the replacement” they needed. Another I love you, to Graham, and to her friends. Afterwards, she goes to cut her throat.
Out in the driveway, more dogs are coming for her already. There’s no escape. They are everywhere. Every place Bella and her group have been, there are the dogs. Back in the warehouse, the box they were looking to find lays spilled, inside are teddy bears. All for teddy bears.
What an interesting episode! Love the black and white. David Slade has done lots of interesting stuff on Hannibal, no surprise he came with something fresh for Charlie Brooker and Black Mirror. So much great drone photography, too! A tense episode all around. Just bleak, action-horror science fiction mashup.
“Black Museum” is next, the final episode for Season 4. Already? Damn.