Black Mirror: Season 2, Episode 1

Be Right Back (11 Feb. 2013)

TV Episode  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
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Martha is devastated when her partner Ash is killed in a road accident on the day they planned to move to a country cottage. At Ash's funeral, Martha's friend Sarah tells her of a new ... See full summary »



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Title: Be Right Back (11 Feb 2013)

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Episode cast overview:
Flora Nicholson ...
Glenn Hanning ...
Delivery Man
Martha's Daughter


Martha is devastated when her partner Ash is killed in a road accident on the day they planned to move to a country cottage. At Ash's funeral, Martha's friend Sarah tells her of a new service which allows people to communicate with their deceased loved ones by using all their online communications and contributions. Martha is appalled, and decides to stay in the cottage despite her sister's view she is isolating herself. One day Martha gets a message from Ash, and she realises Sarah has signed her up for the service. Initially, Martha's displeased but, on finding she's pregnant, relents and relishes their conversations. With her comfort-level growing talking with the synthetic Ash, it isn't long before 'he' tells Martha about a 'next level' of communicating - one which is...experimental. Written by don @ minifie-1 (updated by U.N. Owen)

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Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller





Release Date:

11 February 2013 (UK)  »

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2.00 : 1
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Did You Know?


Domhnall Gleeson's character's name is Ash, the same as the android's name in the original Alien. See more »


The police would not have come to her house with the vehicles lights on. See more »

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User Reviews

S2: Be Right Back: Clever and moving with strong writing from Brooker and a great performance from Atwell
31 January 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I've not seen the new Spike Jonse film "Her" but watching this episode of Black Mirror which was screened over a year before Her was released in the US does rather make one think that Charlie Brooker would have some reason to be aggrieved at a film doing so well with a similar idea at its core. In the case of Be Right Back, the plot sees Martha and Ash as a couple – with Ash being a heavy online presence via social networks and so on. When Ash dies leaving Martha alone, she turns to a piece of software which will emulate your former partner and they begin chatting online.

Although I did not think the first season of Back Mirror was perfect, I really did like that it is able to take current situations and move them a few steps down a logical or reasonable line and then see what happens in a specific situation. As with the previous season this episode very much sticks with technology as its jumping off point but it is most in common with the third episode of the first season it the way it is driven by an emotional core. The idea in this case is that, just as it is possible already to have software that can just about text you like a person, so, in theory, it should be possible to have software that builds a "you" based on all your emails, texts, Facebook posts and so on; OK it is a few steps beyond Amazon suggesting products based on your purchasing history, but it is effective because it doesn't seem too far away and thus we are not given the comfort of a future far from our own.

With small steps we get to a plot that is far-fetched while being conceivable and with this idea as the narrative device, Brooker builds a story that is emotionally engaging as we can both empathize with what Martha does while also seeing how bad a thing it is in the grand scheme of things – just like it being easy to see the faults of others from a distance while totally failing to see the same in ourselves. It is really moving and the conflict is throughout the story which means that it never stops working on the level it does at the start. The downside is that it ends in the same mould rather than having something dramatic, but still it is effective for what it does.

The direction is good and the tone matches Brooker's excellent writing. If I didn't already know this is the same sarcastic and miserable Brooker we see on Screenwipe, I never would have believed he wrote this. What really seals the deal though is the performance from Atwell, because she is amazing. She really understands her character and she convinces through the story whether she be content, grieving, denying, hurting or accepting. The story is essentially a two-hander but she is the lion's share of it and her success is the film's success. Gleeson is more of a device than character but his performance is also well pitched, convincing in how he needs to be even if Atwell gets the better of the split.

This film will be hard to watch in the wake of Her since thematically they are similar but I'm sure this is just coincidence. It is best to ignore this and focus on the film doing what it does because it is clever, engaging, convincing, moving and sobering. Hard to believe that the guy cursing at his TV would turn out to be such a good sci-fi writer or that the pretty girl from the Captain America film would have such a great performance in her, but BRB is great.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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