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S04.E05: Metalhead

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The cinematography was beautiful. Also liked the San Junipero postcard in the house. Enjoy all the tie-ins between seasons/episodes!

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I think I have seen this house before, maybe in the episode where the wife was cheating on her husband and they could see everything in the past with the eye implants? Good episode, of course they were just going out for a trivial item like a stuffed bear for a child that caused 3 people to die. That is Black Mirror to a T

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I have to confess, I skipped through most of it. A futile chase from a killing machine is not why I watch Black Mirror.

Really they went there for a Teddy? That's just dumb. Some things are going to fall by the wayside once the world gets taken over by killer robots and Teddys are one of the first.

Why would she slit her throat at the end? It doesn't seem like those robots torture you. They just pop one in your head. Quick and painless. I'd much rather have that end then slit my own throat, probably not do it right and than slowly bleed out or choke to death.

A bit of a plothole here is that if there were enough robots to wipe out most of humanity (they aren't exactly invincible so there must have been a lot), why did it take the reinforcements so long to get there? They should be all over the place. Also how do they charge? They didn't have solar panels. They should have run out of battery years ago.

Edited by Miles
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6 minutes ago, Miles said:

I have to confess, I skipped through most of it. A futile chase from a killing machine is not why I watch Black Mirror.

Why would she slit her throat at the end? It doesn't seem like those robots torture you. They just pop one in your head. Quick and painless. I'd much rather have that end then slit my own throat, probably not do it right and then slowly bleed out or choke to death.

I skipped some of it as well.  The black and white format turned me off, and the story was boring. 

When she killed the robot dog, it exploded more shrapnel/tracking devices on her.  She saw there was at least one in her face, but she also found one in her throat. 
I think she decided to kill herself so that she could end it on her terms.  Even if she could dig them out in time, she couldn't run far on her bad leg.

I think this episode was trying to show post-apocalyptic people trying to reclaim their humanity by going on a trek for a trivial item, but I didn't feel anything for the characters.

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Just now, peridot said:

I think she decided to kill herself so that she could end it on her terms.  Even if she could dig them out in time, she couldn't run far on her bad leg.

Well yeah, it was clear that she was done for, but like I said, I would chose getting killed quick and painlessly over slitting my own throat any time. What good does it me "going on my own terms" when that means I might suffer for hours until I finally die? These are not unpredictable humans. You know what you are going to get, a quick and painless death. You are also not going to demoralise them by not giving them the satisfaction or something like that. They are robots.

 

3 minutes ago, peridot said:

I think this episode was trying to show post-apocalyptic people trying to reclaim their humanity by going on a trek for a trivial item, but I didn't feel anything for the characters.

I get the intention and what emotions the author tried to illicit, but I can't get over how duuuuuuumb it was. Nobody would do that. The actual human thing is to not get yourself into life threatening situations, thus not die and be there to raise that kid. I'm sure he's real happy now that he has lost three people he loved and still doesn't have a Teddy.

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Not a bad episode, but I kind of feel like I wanted more from this. Like maybe if we saw the place where these three came from at the end. It's obviously sealed off, but how did that place get established? Are the dogs just meant to keep people there and only go after those who step outside? Why didn't she tell everyone to carry paint with them when they go out? Why go out in the first place if you're guaranteed to get killed? How are these dogs being powered? By the sun?

I get why this episode was here, but at the same time I didn't really care for it much. It was beautiful to look at though.

I read a comment that speculated that the dogs were advanced military weapons meant to take down roaches. I could see the army getting rid of humans and using this instead, as it would save them tons of money in the long run.

 

10 hours ago, Arynm said:

I think I have seen this house before, maybe in the episode where the wife was cheating on her husband and they could see everything in the past with the eye implants?

I thought the same thing. I'm not sure if it was the same house, but it definitely looked like it.

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This episode was complete "meh" for me.  Looked great, but no substance.  There wasn't enough context around the people going to the warehouse and the robot dogs killing them.  Why would they leave their safe space, possibly, to retrieve teddy bears?  Really?!?!  Life and death situations would have a person(s) leave safety to get essentials for life (food, shelter, revolt against unjust system).  NOT to get stuffed animals.  Also, this episode should have been real short.  Where were the other dogs while all this was going on?  They came out of the woodwork at the end.  Why didn't they appear during the chase, even after the one dog was damaged?

Edited by PsychoDrone
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After the 2 guys died & Bella was on her own, I turned off the sound & turned on the closed-captions.  Basically: heavy breathing.....whirring....."oh fuck"....gasping....metal clanking...."fuck no"....panting.....creaking....."no, no, no".....heavy breathing......clicking....."oh fuck"....etc, etc, etc. 

Pretty much the worse episode of all seasons combined, to me. 

I was ready for her to die due to her own stupidity.  

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I liked the ep, but I felt like I wanted to know more about this WORLD rather than the three people that they showed. It was definitely a post-apocalyptic world, but I wonder if the dogs brought that about, or if they were created after the fact? Also, did anyone else think the dogs were adorable? I kept giggling whenever it would do something silly like tip-toe around the house.

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This was an old fashioned horror movie with no real payoff at the end except that Terminator Dog won.     This was like being dropped into a war on the losing side when it was already basically over and you were watching the last man (or in this case woman) fall.  

The cinematography was beautiful though. 

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2 hours ago, Chaos Theory said:

This was like being dropped into a war on the losing side when it was already basically over and you were watching the last man (or in this case woman) fall.  

Yeah, I think that was pretty much what we were watching.  I'm surprised that I actually didn't dislike the episode.  At first, I thought that the black and white wouldn't work for me, but then I realized that it did work to impress the bleakness of the situation.  Not original, but it did get me in that everything's gone to hell mood.  I also liked watching that killer dog.  When they ran into that mass murdering mutt in the warehouse, the woman did say that it had to have been hiding or powered down or something, or it would have attacked them immediately.  So they braved the warehouse thinking there were none of them around. 

We were obviously led to believe they were looking for medicine or something extremely important.  Nope.  This was supposed to show a dangerous, actually almost suicidal mission, done for a basic human need that they still had left to acquire a teddy bear for a dying child - if I got that right. 

As far as her slitting her own throat, I can see it. At the time we didn't really know if there were many, many more of these "things" around. At least that's how I took it.  But she knew and she didn't want to go out that way.  I have to admit to not understanding at first why she felt for something in her throat. I thought the killer dog might have shot poison bullets or something.  That didn't make sense because that's all they would ever have to shoot. Yeah, I guess it was that she knew she couldn't dig out all the tracers.

I do think the teddy bears were meant to show that even if there were just a hand full of people left, they were still thinking of that simple human comfort.

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1 hour ago, AlwaysWatching said:

Yeah, I guess it was that she knew she couldn't dig out all the tracers.

I kind of thought she was about to dig them all out and then noticed the one in her throat was in her jugular vein and she realized her choice was to die digging it out or take the trackers back to her people and endanger them all.

So she chose to sacrifice herself for her people.

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When she was looking at the trackers in her face for a brief moment I wondered if she was a robot. I was waiting for that Black Mirror twist and coming up with possible scenarios and thought that maybe the robot dogs had been created to kill off humanoid robots who had gotten out of control. The story seemed lacking in this one and I found it difficult to become emotionally invested when we never saw the people that they died for. Also the twist being teddy bears just seemed silly.

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2 hours ago, Bama said:

I kind of thought she was about to dig them all out and then noticed the one in her throat was in her jugular vein and she realized her choice was to die digging it out or take the trackers back to her people and endanger them all.

So she chose to sacrifice herself for her people.

Ahh, that does sound more like it. 

 

10 minutes ago, snowwhyte said:

I was waiting for that Black Mirror twist and coming up with possible scenarios and thought that maybe the robot dogs had been created to kill off humanoid robots who had gotten out of control.

Heh, when they showed the box of bears, I thought for a second that we were going to have killer teddy bear robots. Heaven forbid.  I know I'm just guessing, but I think the bears were about humans still trying to do non-survival human things.  I do have to admit to not having seen most of the Black Mirrors.  I might not have their MO down just yet.

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On 12/30/2017 at 1:37 PM, PsychoDrone said:

 Where were the other dogs while all this was going on?  They came out of the woodwork at the end.  Why didn't they appear during the chase, even after the one dog was damaged?

It was weird because the other dogs showed up at all the event points of the initial dog -- they didn't just go to the final location at the house.

Even weirder -- is why that dog even had any power in the warehouse if it was solar-powered ?  How long had it been there ?  And why was it sitting on a high shelf next to a box of teddy bears ?

Edited by ottoDbusdriver
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I'm surprised no one noticed that this paid homage to the great Twilight Zone episode, " The Invaders".  One alone woman against a smaller threat, robots (i.e. spacemen).

Even the B&W was a great callback.

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My guess is the "death blast" of the GPS devices from the first dog coincided with a mass transmission to other dogs; a last yelp, as it were, that alerted them to come find the woman.

Not a bad episode, per se, but it didn't really feel much like a Black Mirror episode. I enjoy the thoughtful (and dark) insights into technology and the pros and cons of whether certain advances are rabbit holes mankind should be venturing down. This episode didn't really have a lot of deep moralizing involved with it, IMO.

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I liked this one a lot.  Loved the black and white and the scenery, as well as the killer Terminator dog.  Also like that they didn't try to explain how things go this way.

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3 hours ago, nottopbravo said:

I'm surprised no one noticed that this paid homage to the great Twilight Zone episode, " The Invaders".  One alone woman against a smaller threat, robots (i.e. spacemen).

Even the B&W was a great callback.

I thought much the same...got the same vibe as that TZ ep...good ep but would have liked a little more world-building to the story

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That was bleak even for this show.

I noticed the reference to a pig at the start of the episode. A callback to “National Anthem”?

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On 12/31/2017 at 6:45 PM, ottoDbusdriver said:

And why was it sitting on a high shelf next to a box of teddy bears ?

I thought it was an elaborate and flimsy joke/allusion about how each holiday season there is often a hot toy that all parents kill -- or get killed -- for.

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I think that Bella killed herself so that the tracker didn't lead the Murder Dogs to her people. It made sense to me. As much as anything in this episode did. 

This was more stylistic than the other episodes, and while it wasn't my favorite, I can appreciate the moody atmosphere and the drama of the fight against the Murder Dogs. I would have liked a bit more context, and I spent most of the episode waiting for some cool twist, like Bella and her friends were robots as well, or this is all a video game simulation, but the twist that the things they were getting was a teddy bear. I get the point (that humans in such desperate situations will still risk their lives to give comfort to a dying child) and I liked it alright, but it wasn't really super dramatic. And is kind of stupid. 

I tend to like the episodes that are more story focused, but I appreciated the cinematography and the creepy vibe throughout. 

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I liked the ep, but I felt like I wanted to know more about this WORLD rather than the three people that they showed. It was definitely a post-apocalyptic world, but I wonder if the dogs brought that about, or if they were created after the fact?

That was pretty much my reaction too. I liked it, but I feel like it left a lot on the table, more so than a typical Black Mirror episode. 

Quote

I'm surprised no one noticed that this paid homage to the great Twilight Zone episode, " The Invaders".  One alone woman against a smaller threat, robots (i.e. spacemen).

Oh, I noticed. But it didn't have the same kind of twist at the end. That might have helped. Overall, I just kind of feel like I wanted more from this one. Most episodes of Black Mirror don't leave you wondering how those people got to that point, technologically speaking. Most things seem to come about organically, as a metaphor for where we're going in our world with our technology. This one just felt like . . . whaaaaaaaat??? Happened??? In this world?

Edited by iMonrey
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I did not like this one. It was just boring to me.

The robot dogs were okay. And I didn't want them to survive but I just didn't connect with this one at all. I wasn't scared or disturbed. I didn't hate it. I was just bored.

Oh well. Can't enjoy all of them or even be disturbed by them.

On 12/30/2017 at 10:37 AM, PsychoDrone said:

Why would they leave their safe space, possibly, to retrieve teddy bears?  Really?!?! 

Taking my reply to the all season discussion

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On 12/30/2017 at 10:29 AM, CheezyXpressed said:

Why didn't she tell everyone to carry paint with them when they go out?

Or, instead of going to steal a teddy bear, go steal some paintball guns. The paint seemed like an easy fix that should have thought of a while ago. 

This was a cool concept, but I agree with the overall conclusion that it was kind of silly. I mean, I'll make a teddy bear or even a whole new line of wood fashioned toys before I'm going to risk my life for this. I think they could have selected the object with more thought that would have spoken to the larger show-universe. Like, what if was a book? Or a dictionary? I get why they're not explaining everything, but if you're not giving at least some nod to the larger universe, then why should I care? 

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So, I finally got through this episode. Not a great episode, but still better than Crocodile for me. Still, what a boring episode.

I think the concept was neat and the cinematography was cool, but the major problem they ran into was not exploring the world more. I wanted to know more about the post-apocalyptic world Bella lived in, where the robot dogs came from, etc. 

I did like some aspects. Bella grated on my nerves at times, but her hysteria does make sense. The actress did sell that these robot dogs are scary and powerful, and that the humans need to be thinking of outsmarting them long enough to kill them. Unfortunately, the end of the episode makes it seem like there are too many to get rid of, so it's all about survival.

I, too, am confused about the teddy bears. 

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3 minutes ago, Lady Calypso said:

The actress did sell that these robot dogs are scary and powerful, and that the humans need to be thinking of outsmarting them long enough to kill them.

All you have to do is dump paint on them though. I think the numbers can be dealt with if you know you have a plan to disable them. 

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5 minutes ago, ganesh said:

All you have to do is dump paint on them though. I think the numbers can be dealt with if you know you have a plan to disable them. 

True, but it seems like a lot of resources in this world are not as easy to access. Also, being able to time it right in order to block the robot dog vision. So, sure, it's simple if you have plenty of time to get these plans into motion. 

The episode at least sold the idea that it's possible to disarm the robot dogs for a while, but it's not going to be very easy. Now, people would have to find the paint and collect it. Those robot dogs moved pretty quickly. Bella was stuck in a tree for a while until she could get past the dogs. It seems like they can't outrun them on foot, and it's even tricky in a vehicle, though easier than on foot. 

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Yes, it requires planning and timing. But their weakness is a clear data point. Now you have something actionable than just these relentless killing machines. If not paint, what else could you use? Could you make tar from tree sap or something? 

Maybe it would have been a better episode if they were actually trying to steal cans of paint. 

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This was a cool concept, but I agree with the overall conclusion that it was kind of silly. I mean, I'll make a teddy bear or even a whole new line of wood fashioned toys before I'm going to risk my life for this.

I didn't really have a problem with that part of the story. The dialogue at the beginning of the episode suggested that the intended recipient of whatever they were going after was on death's door - something to the effect of "he's got a few days left at most." Which is why we assumed they were looking for some kind of medicine or pain killer. Clearly she cared enough about this person to risk her life just to make a child's last few days brighter if possible. Given how bleak and hopeless their lives seemed to be at that point, it's not so far fetched to imagine such a selfless act of courage. It's not as if they have a ton left to live for - especially if it was her own child that was dying.

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On 12/31/2017 at 1:41 PM, Bama said:

I kind of thought she was about to dig them all out and then noticed the one in her throat was in her jugular vein and she realized her choice was to die digging it out or take the trackers back to her people and endanger them all.

So she chose to sacrifice herself for her people.

This is what I thought too. 

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I enjoyed this episode although I think we needed more about the woman so we could connect with her.  The dogs seemed relentless but fairly easy to conquer for an intelligent human population.  Were we supposed to believe an apocalypse began because of marauding mechanical dogs?  

One thing about Black Mirror episodes - technology apparently will always work brilliantly and reliably in the future!!

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If the world is so post-apoplectic as most of the episode implies.... how does the house have running water??

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Humanoid terminators seem slow and clumsy in comparison.

 

"Both in style and function, [the dogs] are exceptionally well-designed — when Apple unveils its first killing machine, the iMurder will probably look a lot like this."

Typical zealots in the media trying to advertise apple at every opportunity - an apple version would be more likely to be boring grey with a big flashing apple logo built using other companies' tech, and slow down when it got the next update. They'd be more concerned about suing the company already producing more popular and well designed killing machines on the grounds of their "body with four legs" patent. And their machines certainly wouldn't be able to interoperate with the cars and house doors...

Edited by mdwh
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7 hours ago, Dae said:

If the world is so post-apoplectic as most of the episode implies.... how does the house have running water??

The builders had the foresight to use a well? I think I saw solar panels so there will also be electric power.

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Once she climbed down from the tree after getting the dog to wear down its battery, why didn't she dump it somewhere, a sewer, a river, or bury it in a hole or something? Encase it in concrete? Prevent it from recharging and even if it did wake up get it somewhere it couldn't get out. 

Or, pull off its other three legs. 

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1 hour ago, mdwh said:

Humanoid terminators seem slow and clumsy in comparison.

 

"Both in style and function, [the dogs] are exceptionally well-designed — when Apple unveils its first killing machine, the iMurder will probably look a lot like this."

Typical zealots in the media trying to advertise apple at every opportunity - an apple version would be more likely to be boring grey with a big flashing apple logo built using other companies' tech, and slow down when it got the next update. They'd be more concerned about suing the company already producing more popular and well designed killing machines on the grounds of their "body with four legs" patent. And their machines certainly wouldn't be able to interoperate with the cars and house doors...

Of course the dogs could be like the robotic Santa from Futurama -- where a company built a robot Santa complete with sleigh and robotic reindeer, but the manufacturers set the naughty or nice setting level to the very, very high end of nice such that robotic Santa considered everyone naughty and went on a killing spree every Xmas.

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On 12/30/2017 at 10:37 AM, PsychoDrone said:

This episode was complete "meh" for me.  Looked great, but no substance.  There wasn't enough context around the people going to the warehouse and the robot dogs killing them.  Why would they leave their safe space, possibly, to retrieve teddy bears?  Really?!?!  Life and death situations would have a person(s) leave safety to get essentials for life (food, shelter, revolt against unjust system).  NOT to get stuffed animals.  Also, this episode should have been real short.  Where were the other dogs while all this was going on?  They came out of the woodwork at the end.  Why didn't they appear during the chase, even after the one dog was damaged?

The other dogs didn't come before because alpha dog hadn't alerted them yet by firing all those trackers into her.  The only time one of those dogs calls the others is when they are hurt and can no longer pursue.

I know the episode gave very little context but that is standard short story format.  All you need to know is that there was some sort of apocalypse and there are survivors, and there are killer robot dogs out there.  Why?  Who knows.  Maybe a computer virus turned them against people.  Maybe an enemy country or terrorist group hacked into this country's systems to create mayhem.

They were going out for the main reason of getting the teddy bear but I'm sure they might have stocked up on some other things before the trip back.

I really liked the look of the episode and the robot dog was scary.  But given how she debilitated it, I would just go out and scavenge up some paintball guns.

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10 hours ago, Dobian said:

They were going out for the main reason of getting the teddy bear but I'm sure they might have stocked up on some other things before the trip back.

She told the guy in the back seat that there would be other things in there (the warehouse) specifically mentioning batteries.

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paint, mud, liquid chocolate, mayonnaise, and so much more could be used to "blind them"*..... I think she discovered this tactic and maybe should have mentioned it to whomever she radioed back at her base camp (I'm assuming this is something she discovered during this interaction with them....her monitoring of the robot's behavior while she was in the tree....not sure)

I've been monitoring (maybe not the best term) Boston Dynamics for awhile and find the technology fascinating.

*paints the best since it seems hard to flick off but the other stuff could interfere with it's "vision/senses"

Edited by Vicky8675309

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Can someone explain to me what exactly she was doing when she was in the tree and kept waking the robot after counting to 1000? I know she was draining the battery, or not allowing it to recharge... but why count to 1000 each time?

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8 hours ago, babs said:

Can someone explain to me what exactly she was doing when she was in the tree and kept waking the robot after counting to 1000? I know she was draining the battery, or not allowing it to recharge... but why count to 1000 each time?

I was wondering that too. I thought maybe to keep herself awake? She was counting backwards, so that would keep her mind engaged.

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This was a tense episode and interesting to watch, kept up the suspense, but not really one like the others that raise any larger social issues. 

That thing was like Robocop combined with Cujo.  Couldn't stop it. 

Also agree........doing it all for a Teddy Bear?  Pretty weak and stupid.  And wasn't there a comment that "He is going to do anyway?".  Would have thought of something else to take the chance for dying for

I didn't understand the tree part and counting either.  I guess she was just waiting for it to go to some sort of sleep mode after a certain amount of time or inactivity.  Wasn't really clear. 

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On 12/30/2017 at 5:03 AM, 17wheatthins said:

That's funny you should bring them up; Charlie Brooker cites Boston Dynamics' YouTube videos as inspiration for Metalhead:

http://ew.com/tv/2017/12/29/black-mirror-metalhead-interview/

It's not just the look, it's also functionality. When Bella shoots the head of the dog, you can see a rotating can shaped object in the head. That's LIDAR, a type of radar unit that is now being used in autonomous vehicles. And it produces images similar to what the dog "saw".

velodyne.jpg?sw=1180&cx=105&cy=0&cw=1381

They really do their tech homework on this show. 

The owners of that survivalist house put so much work into it and had a single shot shotgun? If they had upgraded to the Derya (the manufacture of the shotgun used in the show) MK 12. The ending would have been quite different.

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I just couldn't understand why they'd risk the lives of 3 people for a stuffed bear, especially when the 'dogs' were basically unstoppable.

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