In this week’s issue, “Black Mirror” creator Charlie Brooker talks about bringing his cult anthology series to Netflix for it’s third season. But he also revealed the secrets behind one of his most famous episodes from Season 2. Be warned: spoilers ahead!
In the episode “White Bear,” which premiered in February of 2013, the audience is introduced to a young woman named Victoria (played by Lenora Crichlow) who awakens in an empty housing unit with no idea who she is or how she got there. A strange symbol is on the TV screen, and she will learn that this strange signal has turned most people into either murderous mobs or mindless zombies who record everything.
After making it to a gas station, Victoria teams up with others unaffected by the signal who aim to turn it off by reaching the transmitter at a place called “White Bear.” But when they reach the location, it’s all revealed to be a sham; it’s a fenced area called “White Bear Justice Park” designed to punish Victoria, who filmed her fiancé murdering a little girl. Every night her memory is wiped clean and she must endure the same day, where actors and attendees put her through the wringer. Many clues to the reveal are littered throughout: the strange symbol was a tattoo her fiancé had and the young victim was clutching a white bear as a toy when she was kidnapped.
Regarded as one of the most shocking twists on “Black Mirror,” Brooker says the big reveal wasn’t originally in the script. “It was a straightforward apocalypse story,” he notes. “It was a woman wakes up and there’s a signal going across the world affecting people. The original ending had a public crucifixion.”
Everything changed when Brooker was scouting locations on a former U.S. Air Force base. “We were looking around at what we could use,” he says. “I saw the housing, a gas station, and I saw this fence running around outside the place. I was like, ‘That’s interesting, there’s a fence. A fence. A fence!’ And the twist suddenly occurred to me. I ran off and wrote it in a couple days in a bit of a fever dream.”
Brooker adds that he’s never changed a script so dramatically that late in the production. “We were ready to go, we were scouting,” he says. “It was Darwinian in that such a better idea came along.”
“Black Mirror” Season 3 premieres Friday on Netflix.