Anyone else still thinking about that Black Mirror guinea pig?

A Black Mirror Fan Theory

This post is part of Fan Theory Fridays, in which we share and explore a new fan theory about a film, television series, book, or other fictional narrative.

Like a lot of people, I like the show Black Mirror. I enjoy watching it, even when it’s overly dark or predictable or not quite as smart as it thinks it is.

But if there’s one episode of Black Mirror that I have a particularly hard time with, it’s the fourth season’s “Crocodile”. My frustration is not over the bleakness of the episode, nor the the violence.

crocodile
This episode.

Sure, it’s a bleak and brutal episode: by the end of it, central character has murdered four people, including a child. But that’s okay. It’s Black Mirror and Black Mirror is a brutal, unapologetic show. At least half the episodes end with an escalation into hopelessness, fueled by technology and desperation.

The real issue with “Crocodile”

Again, this desperation and cynicism is not what frustrates me about the episode “Crocodile”. If I wanted optimism and reassurance, I wouldn’t be watching Black Mirror.

What frustrates me is the suspension of disbelief required for me to take the episode seriously. “Crocodile” is built around the idea that society can now mine memories for purposes varying from committing crime to verifying insurance claims.

crocodile-tech
This murky new technology in action.

If you do not recall, the plot is basically:

  1. A man and a woman kill a guy by mistake
  2. Years later, the woman murders the man. While she murders the man, a car accident occurs nearby
  3. Unaware of the murder, a woman who works for an insurance company comes to interview the murderer to see if she can gather info about the unrelated car accident
  4. The murderer murders the insurance company employee
  5. Then the murderer murders the insurance company employee’s family to cover her tracks, to ensure that their memories don’t give her away
  6. The police mine a guinea pig’s memory to determine who the murderer was
  7. The murderer gets arrested because the police got the info they needed from the guinea pig’s memory
guinea-pig
Guinea pigs are cute but this is dumb.

Obviously, this is all really stupid and barely requires a fan theory to justify any of it. More than any other Black Mirror episode, it has the distinct vibe of “let’s get really dark at the cost of realism”.

The part that really bothers me

Why didn’t they just check her GPS? Like, everyone is driving smart cars and carrying phones around… what are they doing interrogating a guinea pig?

Seriously, that’s how they’re using their government funds? Their first instinct after any murder is to see if any household pets might have witnessed it? Instead of, you know, checking to see where the murder victim’s cell phone and car were earlier that day and if it might connect to a potential murderer?

It would be so simple. Just, you know, check where they were driving. Look through phone records. Much simpler than using some bizarre nascent technology to pry into the mind of a domesticated rodent. Just because you have what EW describes as a “device that can visually reveal a subject’s memories if they’re properly recalled” doesn’t mean you have to use it. What’s wrong with just tracking data?

Also, what’s she doing driving to a house to murder more people? We know she has a smartcar. Why create that digital trail of murder?

The only explanation requires a fan theory

The only way I can think of to explain this is that it’s set in a society where surveillance, data tracking, and GPS tracking has all been outlawed to protect citizens. All of those historical and contemporary forms of law enforcement are outmoded, forcing the police into a scenario where they say: “Good news: a guinea pig saw the baby get murdered.”

I propose this simple fan theory to explain the episode: most surveillance technology has been outlawed, resulting in new, creative ways to convict people. Like turning memories into the breadcrumbs used for criminal investigations.

It’s not an involved fan theory, but it’s one I had to share, because this one detail of the episode has bothered me since it came out.

And because I can’t stop thinking about that damn guinea pig.

Enjoy this? Read more D. F. Lovett’s Why Your Westworld Fan Theory Is Not a Fan Theory

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