The second episode of Black Mirror season 5 is perhaps one of the tensest episodes of the Black Mirror franchise to date. Here, we’ll break down some of the themes of the episode, some discussion on the ending and go over the myriad of easter eggs littered through Smithereens.
Caution: this article is full of spoilers. Please go and watch season 5 episode 2 of Black Mirror before continuing this article. Also, check out our ending explained guide to Striking Viper too.
Season 5 Episode 2: Smithereens – Themes and Episode Discussion
The second episode probably tackles one of the biggest technology problems of our time. Social media and our addiction to it. It features a Facebook/Twitter-like platform that causes the untimely demise of Chris’s wife thanks to him being distracted on the road.
The episode also gives us a glimpse at how much data we hand over to companies. We knew the social media company over in the US had plenty of access to Chris’s life before and even after his use of the platform. With questions of privacy massively in the news right now, it’s a timely entertainment piece.
It also tackles briefly misinformation on social media too. The boys shared the fact that the police got word of the gun is a fake and it spread like wildfire. It was how Chris himself was keeping up-to-date on the situation at hand.
We also see that the CEO of the social network has effectively lost control of his creation. That is easily comparable to the beasts that are the likes of Facebook and Twitter with them constantly evolving seemingly on their own.
Of course, one of the biggest takeaways from the episode is to get off your damn phone while driving.
Black Mirror Episode 2: Smithereens Ending Explained
Hopefully, most of the episode is pretty self-explanatory but obviously, the big question at the end is whether or not the police hit or missed. If they did manage to hit a target, who did they hit?
Unfortunetely, we doubt that’ll be answered. If the boy is hit, that’ll be even more guilt added to the conscience of Chris. If Chris dies, that’s his ending achieved.
Someone on Reddit even suggested that us looking for answers shows the addictiveness of live reporting from social media. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Brooker said the following about that theory:
“That’s not necessarily the intention. But that’s a perfectly valid interpretation. Really it was about how this massive drama — this most important day in several people’s lives — was reduced to ephemeral confetti that just passes us by; just one more little crouton of a notification. So it was about the disposability of it and how it becomes just another distraction for a myriad of other people. But I almost prefer your interpretation. I should have just said, “Yes you are right.””
Black Mirror Episode 2: Smithereens Easter Eggs
Of the three new episodes, the second episode by far had the best easter eggs which connect it to the Black Mirror universe.
Let’s begin with some of the big branching easter eggs. One of the news organizations who were first on the scene and featured in one of the big feeds in the early part of the episodes. UKN was the TV news organization featured in episode 1 of season 1 where the Prime Minister was on live on TV doing unsavory things to a pig.
Here are some of the other easter eggs featured:
- We see SaitoXNetflix in the trending hashtags which is one of the games being developed by the rival game company that featured heavily in Playtest in season 3.
- #Snoutrage refers to the controversy of the events of season 1, episode 1 “The National Anthem”.
- Victoria Skillane was featured in one of the word clouds. She was the victim/subject in the White Bear.
- Chris Glihaney’s phone contacts featured some familiar names such as Carlton Bloom, Clayton Leigh (the murderer in Black Museum) and Cooper (the playtester in Play Test).