I loved this episode. I can understand criticisms that it didn't seem to tread new ground, that it was just about cell phone addiction, etc., but to me, that was actually the least poignant commentary the episode was trying to make. I thought it was more about the dehumanization that seems to (maybe? maybe not?) come with technology.
Here you have Chris, a man with a guilty conscience because he feels his own cell phone "addiction" led to his wife's death. Would it have made any difference if he'd not looked away from the road for those few precious seconds? Chris (and the audience) will never know, but he only blames himself- not the drunk driver. Yet for all that he now despises the addictiveness of phones and social media, he can't bring himself to open up about his guilt to anyone in real life- only a figure he has never met across the vast gulf of our telecommunications web. He can only see a way to confession via an elaborate plot to kidnap a faceless minion to put him in touch with that CEO. Ironically, though, for all that he feels his addiction caused him to lose touch with the world enough to cause him to lose the one person in it that made living worthwhile, his possibly last wish is to do something kind to help another person with their own pain. Albeit with her never knowing who helped her, or why.
Meanwhile, you have: kids on their smart devices making a tense situation worse by mindlessly tweeting/posting images and conclusions without context over social media; millions of uninvolved persons perpetuating those tweets- adding their own inane commentary, or sometimes not paying more attention than the half second it takes to acknowledge the message.
You have Corporate Honchos scrutinizing social media accounts to develop a profile of the kidnapper, in hopes of coldly concocting a method to delay him in order for the authorities to take charge. You have a hostage negotiator using same information to hastily develop his own profile of the perpetrator, possibly because he wants to put a notch in his own social status by talking the man down. You have trigger happy SWAT (or British equivalent) ready to take this guy out at the first clean shot. But nobody actually wants to talk directly to the very real human being in the middle of all of this.
(I'll add here that the hostage also seems to be almost an afterthought to everyone, save as an obstacle to work around.)
Then you have the CEO of Smithereen, by his own admission a virtual prisoner in a world he helped create but has little control over any longer. And he is- notably- on a retreat from that very same digital world; his only escape is the Catch-22 of removing himself from the rest of dehumanized humanity.
I came into this episode with my own preconceived notions and baggage which undoubtedly lead to my different perceptions of its message from those of others on here. So maybe this episode is just reverberating within my own echo chamber differently; maybe it was just the incredible performance by Andrew Scott (whose Moriarty I only loved about 1/2 the time; when he wasn't being over the top), or by Topher Grace's exasperation and panicked confession of loss of control; whatever of the above, I loved the heck out of this episode and it ranks up there among my favorite BM's to date.
(And the irony that I find myself communicating all of this information to faceless people across the digital divide is not at all lost on me. 😉)