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David T. Cole

S02.E02: White Bear

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This one is so old school outer limits for me; I hated that it made me feel sorry for the main character once I found out what she'd done.  Which is precisely what I loved about it.  Good stuff. 

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That seems like a lot of work to punish her but I guess this isn't supposed to be "realistic". Did really like it though. I guess we are to assume human nature is static but it seems weird to believe she would do the exact same sequence of events every time. What if once she tripped and was "shot"? Or didn't fight back at the power plant? Would they just start over? I know I'm thinking too much.

 

Still, the creepiest part for me was the way the non-criminals treated it like a fun outing. Have fun, indeed. Terrible, but this and all the episodes are to me just a couple of steps removed from what our society could become. And that is scary.

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I guess we are to assume human nature is static but it seems weird to believe she would do the exact same sequence of events every time. What if once she tripped and was "shot"? Or didn't fight back at the power plant? Would they just start over? I know I'm thinking too much.

 

 

They did mention that there are times when they waste a whole day - when a spectator gets too close and might be good, for example. So I assume they'd have some contingencies built in and worse comes to worst, they'll start over.

 

Still, the creepiest part for me was the way the non-criminals treated it like a fun outing. Have fun, indeed. Terrible, but this and all the episodes are to me just a couple of steps removed from what our society could become. And that is scary.

I'm not entirely convinced we'd get this bad, actually. But what was horrific for me was that there were children in the audience. Teenagers maybe, but still children. 

 

ETA: Thinking back, there wasn't anything much for me to engage with her as well. I could understand her bewilderment and fear, but I didn't like her, to be honest. She didn't try to help that guy at the gas station and there was another time where she just ran away, so they did have a signs there that she wasn't a good person. Or at least was someone very passive and selfish looking out for herself only. 

Edited by romantic idiot
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Really good episode and I agree disturbing as hell.  I wish we could punish the worst of the worst this way but having audiences and kids there is indeed horrific.

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I think what I liked most (read: found most disturbing) about this episode was the obvious delight the onlookers took in playing their parts. Yes, they were filming her because it was what she had done to the girl, so they thought of it like "justice" to put her on the other end of the camera, but it was clear they were also enjoying documenting their fun outing, the way they would film or photograph an animal at the zoo, because they wanted to record their day. Which makes the participants actually guilty of nearly the same thing she was: Filming another person's torture, encouraging it, enjoying it, and doing nothing to stop it. Thereby creating a society that fosters and encourages behaviours that it then punishes people for committing. That justice "facilitator" (for lack of a better word) must make a fortune off of this. Makes me wonder if our criminal/victim was a visitor to parks like these before her turn as a kidnapper. 

 

And because it has not yet been said here, and it cannot be said enough, Lenora Critchlow is a freaking amazing actress.

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Yes, they were filming her because it was what she had done to the girl, so they thought of it like "justice" to put her on the other end of the camera

But that was my main problem with it. It wasn't justice if she didn't recall who she was or the part she had played. I know that her not knowing had to be there for us to be engaged, but it ruined the point for me.

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I've always said that we should inflict what violent criminals did to their victims onto them as a fitting punishment, but this episode has me rethinking that stance. In a way, I still believe in it, but not the voyeuristic practice and treating it like a fun family outing on a Saturday (there were young kids in that audience, not just teenagers). I mean, I just imagined Karla Holmolka in Victoria's position and suddenly, I don't feel so horrible.

 

It was framed that it was less punitive and done more out of vengeful anger that Jemimah's real killer escaped justice by killing himself (which is their own damn fault for not putting him on suicide watch). So Victoria is getting punished for the both of them and probably in a far harsher manner than she would have if her fiancé hadn't killed himself.

 

Although, this brings up the question of whether she's just as bad or worse than her fiancé: she didn't actively kill Jemimah, but she was complicit and didn't take any opportunity to save the child (she was recording on her phone; if she feared her fiancé as she claimed, she could have pretended to record while having the authorities on the phone and giving out the information).

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I enjoyed the twist, but I'm not sure this episode was cynical enough.  I could see White Bear being shut down at some point in the future, not over concern that it was dehumanizing, but because people became bored with it.

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So Victoria is getting punished for the both of them and probably in a far harsher manner than she would have if her fiancé hadn't killed himself.

I'm pretty sure the episode is based on both Myra Hindley (recording while partner commits assault) and Rosemary West (male partner dies, leaving woman to bear the brunt of social outrage), and the way the crime and reaction is described in the show is very much in keeping with English tabloid news treatment of both Hindley and West at the time. One thing I've seen come up in my reading is that they were both more vilified than their partners, because it was seen as a crime not just against society but against nature for them to participate in these kinds of acts. The men were merely human evil, but the women were regarded as on a whole other level of monstrousness and people reacted accordingly.

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I don't understand something - they use the phone call to distract the guy so that the woman can run off and leave Victoria alone with him.  But aren't all cell phones supposed to be affected by the signal?  If Victoria saw someone talking on a functioning phone, why wouldn't she try to grab for it?

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I thought was interesting that even when I knew what Victoria had done I still felt bad for her.  For me it reinforced that to get revenge in this way you really aren't much different that the criminal you just have the law allowing your crimes.

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Gotta wonder how long this goes on for and if they update and change scenarios when a new horrific crime comes to light. Or, perhaps, we should wonder how many other "Justice Parks" might be playing out across the country. Maybe there's a "Raped Jogger Justice Park" right down the road...

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The most disturbing episode of this show I've seen.  What is lost on these people is that psychologically torturing this woman via performance theater isn't just dehumanizing to her, they're losing a part of their own humanity in the process.  It would be interesting to see how participating in this kind of thing carries over into their own behavior in real life, how abusing someone might now feel okay to them if they think the person deserves it.  It's ironic that they are called "justice" parks because they aren't about justice, but about feeding off of people's baser instincts.

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So I just discovered Black Mirror and have been binge watching it when I finally came to this episode.

It was very disturbing and not unexpectedly I'm left thinking about the way people can be warped by revenge and by the way we can accept so many and very terrible things if we're angry or frightened enough. But I was also unnerved to feel sympathy for the woman being punished while a part of me saw the punishment as both brilliant (there's that part of many of us that responds to the 'eye for an eye' type of justice and I'm don't support that approach to justice in actuality).

Also: While I think people might get bored with a 'show' like this after awhile (especially during a particular 'run' centered around an particular criminal), I think there's be a real possibility that people would start to sympathize with the criminal and want to rescue them from the cruelty of their sentence. The conversation would definitely shift away from justice and victims' rights to one about the rights and treatment of the convicts themselves (and I would probably be one of those people. Of course, I'd want justice for the victim, but I'd also be appalled that socially we would stoop to the level of the criminal and claim it's moral to do so because they did it first (we should do better and treat each other better than the worst among us has)....

So I guess I'm left feeling like....If I just say "achieving justice is hard" it will probably come across as a little too light and trite, but that's kinda the thought I'm left with after this.

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Eh, I wimped out about halfway through this one because I couldn't take the tension anymore!  I checked the Wikipedia article on this episode to see WTF was going on and then watched the rest, knowing what Victoria was supposed to have done and still thinking her punishment was horrible.  Society is no better than the criminal it's punishing if the sentence is as or almost as terrible as the crime.  I don't like the idea of living in such a society, even if it might seem that it's too "soft" not to treat depraved murderers the same way they treated their victims.  I don't know if we're on the verge of going as far as what was shown in this episode, but something close could happen, I suppose.

All I could think was how exhausting it was for Victoria (even though she was a horrible person) to go through all that tension and fear every day and then be zapped for half an hour and sleep for a few hours sitting up in a chair and then start the whole process over again.  It's not right to do that to someone, even if they are as evil as she was supposed to be.  I did notice that she didn't help Damien in the convenience store when if she'd helped they probably could have subdued the attacker.  She was very passive and just did what everyone told her to do.

It would be like waking up out of a nightmare into another nightmare.  Wow, I just really didn't like this episode!  Although it did make me think, like most of these episodes have so far.

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I'm late to the game having just watched Black Mirror but I can't stop myself from having practical thoughts: how does she live without eating and with only a mouthful of water in a day? 

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18 minutes ago, Madding crowd said:

I'm late to the game having just watched Black Mirror but I can't stop myself from having practical thoughts: how does she live without eating and with only a mouthful of water in a day? 

Also a late watcher and I had the exact same question. Also seems like she doesn't need to use the bathroom ever either.

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So, I am surprised in my self restraint to not find out the twist while I was watching. Because of that, I ended up being curious about Victoria as a character but also highly annoyed because of her actions. I reminded myself several times that this was a confusing situation and it was alright to be confused, and hysterical, but Victoria really did nothing but cry, scream, and stumble around. Now that I finished the episode and have most of the picture, I see what they were doing. And because of it, I hate the episode less; if it had not been for the last 15 minutes, this would have immediately been put on my least favourite list. This episode also made me question my own stance on punishment for criminals, such as murderers. There were several moments that didn't showcase Victoria as a good person, mostly a rather selfish person, but she was still kind of innocent through the memory wipes. Plus, the idea of a person being treated like an animal, caged while having bystanders gawk and take pictures while enjoying the show, is highly disturbing. 

I felt minor sympathy for Victoria, even though she's still inherently a bad person. And that's what I like about this show. It's really eye opening and depicts society in a warped way, but not too far off where it's a total alternate reality. These are situations that we face, in one form or another, whether directly or indirectly. 

Of course, there were still questions that I had by the end, like what they do if Victoria does something unexpected, like save that first guy, for example, or if she takes the hunter's phone in the woods, but also how long this form of punishment goes on. It can't go on forever; people will get bored, tired, or even disturbed by the idea at some point and with there being little changes in routine, people will stop coming and then they'd have to stop for financial reasons as well. So then, what, she goes back to jail then? Because honestly, this is the worst form of punishment in a way; it's psychological torture that people probably dream of happening for the worst criminals, and this episode proved exactly why. 

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I have to think this couldn’t go on too long.  She has to eat, piss and sleep.  So much fear and adrenaline would hurt her heart too.  Plus, how many people would be really go or return.  There has to be finite length of time to administer this justice.

yes it’s revenge and it’s justice, putting her in the same position as the child.

im not sure it would occur in the US, definitely unusual punishment, if not also cruel.

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This was my least favourite episode. The theme and storyline were good but I just couldn't deal with Lenora Critchlows roaring and screaming throughout. I know it suited the situation but it gave me a headache. At one point we had to watch it on mute just to drown her out.

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On 1/4/2017 at 4:07 PM, marcee said:

Gotta wonder how long this goes on for and if they update and change scenarios when a new horrific crime comes to light. Or, perhaps, we should wonder how many other "Justice Parks" might be playing out across the country. Maybe there's a "Raped Jogger Justice Park" right down the road...

That was my idea. It's kind of like a warped version of the Hunger Games, only each "arena" is dedicated to one person who committed a notorious time.

I did think you can't do this indefinitely. But that might be the point- at the way they're running her ragged, she probably won't last a very long time.

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On 1/13/2018 at 5:15 AM, Chas411 said:

This was my least favourite episode. The theme and storyline were good but I just couldn't deal with Lenora Critchlows roaring and screaming throughout. I know it suited the situation but it gave me a headache. At one point we had to watch it on mute just to drown her out.

I had the exact same reaction. TV should be somewhat entertaining, and this was the opposite. I get more enjoyment out of going to the dentist.

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TV is / can be art and art is not always light entertainment.  Sometimes you go to the theater and see Mama Mia, but sometimes it's Angels in America.  This was supposed to disturb you and make you think about appropriate justice.  Society is supposed to be better than this.

On a very minor note - poor Leonora Critchley who spent multiple seasons of Being Human in the same gray sweats and sweater, gets another role where she wears the same clothes forever.

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It's late and my mind is not sharp but this episode took me back 50 years to something I saw on "The Prisoner".  At least it felt that way.  Except he was an innocent man and his captors were the bad guys.  Call me a skeptic, but any group of people that would play such deception might even trick the person into thinking they were a criminal when they weren't.  I wouldn't trust them that she was.  They didn't convince me.

A lot of theatrics and attention paid to one person.  Even if it was a good idea (which it is not) how could any society fund such an elaborate endeavor for all its criminals?

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5 hours ago, Yeah No said:

It's late and my mind is not sharp but this episode took me back 50 years to something I saw on "The Prisoner".  At least it felt that way.  Except he was an innocent man and his captors were the bad guys.  Call me a skeptic, but any group of people that would play such deception might even trick the person into thinking they were a criminal when they weren't.  I wouldn't trust them that she was.  They didn't convince me.

A lot of theatrics and attention paid to one person.  Even if it was a good idea (which it is not) how could any society fund such an elaborate endeavor for all its criminals?

They'd need to convince the paying public too (of her guilt); and have legal permission/encouragement - which means a trial and lots of media coverage.

 

Who said anything about doing this for all criminals? it would be just the most heinous, most well publicised, most hated criminals.

She was clearly baseed on Myra Hindley; who's crimes are still etched on the (British) public's conscience 55 years later.

 

 Since then, the only (British) criminals (that I can think of - and I can name these guys without needing google, you won't find many Brits unfamiliar with these names) that would inspire the public's need for vengence like that would be Ian Sutcliffe; Venables/Thompson and Ian Huntley - and even that quartet don't have the same visceral reaction as Hindley/Brady. We're not talking about random murderer No.4 here; we're talking about criminals who's stories are passed down through the generations.

Of course, it's all still an absolutely terrible idea; and nothing whatsoever to do with justice.

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2 hours ago, Which Tyler said:

Who said anything about doing this for all criminals? it would be just the most heinous, most well publicised, most hated criminals.

She was clearly baseed on Myra Hindley; who's crimes are still etched on the (British) public's conscience 55 years later.

I guess I think like a present day American about this.  I have no idea who those most hated British criminals are.

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Fair enough. I wouldn't known who the American counterparts would be.

Sandy hook? Columbine? Wako? Bundy? Unabomber?

The ones that will never be forgotten, are ramped up versions of the boogieman of the public imagination, with documentaries and news headlines made about them 50 years later.

For this episode specifically, I'd recommend at least looking up Hindley and Brady on wiki, you'll see a lot of similarities.

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9 hours ago, Which Tyler said:

Fair enough. I wouldn't known who the American counterparts would be.

Sandy hook? Columbine? Wako? Bundy? Unabomber?

The ones we couple possibly hate that much are usually put to death somehow, either by their own hands, the death penalty or hunted down and killed like Osama Bin Laden.  So elaborate schemes to exact revenge on similar criminals would probably not appeal to a long standing collective hatred here.  OK, perhaps I could see it with Bin Laden before they found him, since that took a while and I know people were getting upset about that.  The unabomber is still alive serving a life sentence without parole, but he is actually an exception and somehow has faded from the collective consciousness by now.  The vengeance idea Americans relate to the most is typified in the "Death Wish" movies, where a guy goes rogue and hunts down and kills criminals vigilante-style.  I remember when the first movie came out it was not well received by critics, but it hit a nerve with the public since there was such a high violent crime rate in big cities at that time (especially NY), and people were really getting upset about it.

Thanks for giving me that perspective on this episode, though as I never would have seen it from that angle!

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I honestly didn’t find this idea far fetched at all. At. All. Public executions, attended by families, some of whom took home souvenirs, happened in American history. What we have layered over it and throughout are technological advances which enhance the victimization, voyeurism, and groupthink/mob mentality. Though I’m not familiar with those British female criminals, I do know that the backlash for POC and women committing certain crimes is worse and that actress is both. 

I think its super effective that we only have parts of the story. Would it make a difference if she was also a victim or already cognitively disabled? Should it, to the degree that this justice is carried out again and again. No one speaks out against this. No one. 

And there’s always the discussion of Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a tooth. But what if it looked like this? Again? 

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1 hour ago, JessePinkman said:

Is this the most referenced episode in the series? I feel like it is.

I don’t know, but this the episode that sticks with me most. So disturbing. 

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On 8/27/2017 at 12:22 PM, Madding crowd said:

I'm late to the game having just watched Black Mirror but I can't stop myself from having practical thoughts: how does she live without eating and with only a mouthful of water in a day? 

I watched this years ago and I find this episode very disturbing.  Even though it was a black or biracial child who was murdered, I found it bothersome that Victoria was a WOC and most of the people visiting the "park" were white.  Also, these folks must live in a place where they have nothing to do.  Don't these people have the Internet, movies, TV, video games?  I mean when something terrible happens in the news, people care for awhile and then when a new story comes out they get focused on that. 

How long has this been going on?  How long will Victoria go through this?  How long will these "workers" keep doing their jobs before they get bored?  What's going to happen as Victoria ages?  What if she just drops dead of a heart attack one day?  

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Wow I didn't expect the ending! That was a brutal reveal. This was the hardest episode for me to get through because I kept trying to turn it off during the first few minutes with the lead actress crying and running around. The beginning of the episode was tedious to get through but it became one of the best episodes of the show after we gradually found out exactly why she was running and why everyone was behaving the way they did.

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