It continues with a different story and Season 3 Ep 2 is, in my opinion, pretty unique in its execution of storytelling. As usual, this episode is directed by a different director, with different actors casted(except for one) and also with a different story. So is Season 3 Ep 2: Playtest able to match the quality of the previous episodes? Let’s find out!
The basic premise is Cooper, an American who is travelling around the world due to some family issues and is trying to escape from it. Upon his last stop before returning, which is in London, he meets Sonja, a tech journalist. When his credit card is stolen, he uses an app that allows him to take up oddjobs for quick cash. One of these jobs is to be a volunteer for a game company. Little does Cooper know that he is into something much worse and unexpected.
The beginning of the episode represents something of a refreshing change for me. It is shown in the style of a film or some other Tv-series, which you would mistaken for other light hearted comedy shows. I can’t pinpoint the exact description, but it is quite unlike the normal opening of other Black Mirror shows, where a new technology is introduced immediately to the audience. The episode takes its time to show Cooper’s various adventure in an otherwise normal world like ours, without any futuristic technology seen in other episodes. It honestly feels like a comedy film opening with Cooper being the comedian ala Jim Carrey with his antics and behaviours. I love how it caught me off-guard when the Black Mirror technology vibe returns in the middle of the story.
Also, the characters are full of life and Cooper displays typical American optimism and proud stereotypes which makes him stand out in the British Television. With that said, the characters do not have much development and aside from Cooper, the others do not undergo any transformation or appear often enough. Most of the time, Cooper is alone and the director focuses much more on his past for us to know what his childhood or current situation is for him. Everything is pretty indirect storytelling techniques, using various cues from the things he sees and also through some cleverly hidden game references throughout the show (see if you can spot them!)
The story is not very unique and has been explored in the past. However, its execution of blending light hearted comedic character and horror in Black Mirror style technology allows it to stand out from the pack. There is an element of story that is missing from most horror genre that only focuses on giving audience a fright. It has a surprisingly deep story but its not very complex, and its ending could be improved better by showing Cooper’s final transformation and his changed feelings to his past and present.