San Junipero: An Endless Nightmare or Unlimited Bliss? A BLACK MIRROR REVIEW
By Joloe Mojica
Black Mirror is an anthology TV series full of crazy twists and turns that leave the viewer wondering if it is technology or if it is humans that ruin our perception of reality. Even if some episodes seem absurd, some feel closer to where we are now. It is important to note that you do not need to watch the show in any particular order as the storylines are not connected and there are no recurring characters. However, there is an exception of small easter eggs from previous episodes such as “Black Museum” as it relies heavily on previous . I would advise against starting with “The National Anthem”, the first episode of the whole series, the interactive episode “Bandersnatch” or “Black Museum”. With that being said, ease into the show with either the episode I will be reviewing “San Junipero” or “Nosedive”.
*NOW ON TO THE SPOILER SECTION!
The fourth episode of season three is called “San Junipero”. The start of the episode appears to be set in the late 80s. An introverted young woman named Yorkie meets Kelly, a character that is vivacious and outgoing, in Tucker's nightclub.
San Junipero is a virtual world for elderly people where they are able to upload their consciousness to; this is also a recurring theme in a few of the Black Mirror episodes including but not limited to “White Christmas” and “USS Callister”. This futuristic technology allows digital copies of their minds to visit the place once a week for five hours if they are still alive, but if they have passed away in real life then they can choose to stay there forever.
Throughout the beginning of the episode, the characters give several hints that they are not really in San Junipero or even the era that the viewer might assume. For instance, Kelly reassures Yorkie that no one was judging the both of them for dancing and that people are not as uptight as they used to be; despite being in a time where people were not open to the idea of a relationship between two women. She was surprised that Yorkie had never danced the entire time she was alive. Also, Wes told the both of them that they only had two hours and 35 minutes left which makes the audience wonder what he meant; it soon becomes clear that they really weren’t living in the past. The next week, Wes complains to Kelly that he doesn’t want anyone else because the locals are “like dead people” when they were considerably lively.
Despite the previous surreal episodes, “San Junipero” is truly one that really resonates with the audience and tugs on their heartstrings. It is a beautiful story that incites a feeling of eternal peace yet brokenness at the same time. Furthermore, it encapsulates the emotions of losing a loved one and not being able to see them again, while also trying to move on from it to ultimately find someone new.
The budding romance between them feels pure, authentic and does not lose its spark even when Kelly left to get away from everything. Yorkie undoubtedly has feelings for her and never relents in trying to find her regardless of knowing her for less than a day. It was genuinely love at first sight.
The challenges that Yorkie and Kelly face together, albeit not in reality, strengthen their relationship and help them get closer to one another. Even though Kelly promised herself that she wouldn’t catch feelings for anyone there, she couldn’t deny that Yorkie changed her mind. It complicated things therefore, making it a powerful episode showing that people need to get through hardships in order to gain true happiness.
Although the entire episode is fascinating, one could argue that it had too much of a happy ending and that the idea of a utopia seems unsettling. But, it was sad as Yorkie was forced out of her home due to her family being severely homophobic which resulted in a car accident leaving her quadriplegic. It was also unfortunate that they had not met each other sooner outside of the digital landscape. After Yorkie was euthanized and following Kelly’s death, they made a decision to permanently become residents of the town.
Nevertheless, it lacks a true Black Mirror ending where the viewer usually reflects on what happened or spends hours on end researching what the ending could possibly mean and is not as mind-boggling as the other episodes.