The Entire History of You

Last updated on 17 September 2017

"The Entire History of You" is the third and final episode of the first series of British science fiction anthology series Black Mirror. It was written by the creator of Peep Show and Fresh Meat, Jesse Armstrong, making it the only episode of the series not written or co-written by creator and showrunner Charlie Brooker. It was directed by Brian Welsh, and first aired on Channel 4 on 18 December 2011.

The episode, set in an alternative reality where most people have "grains" recording everything they do, see, or hear, and allowing them to play back their memories in front of their eyes or on a screen, tells the story of Liam (Toby Kebbell), a man who starts suspecting that his wife Ffion (Jodie Whittaker) might have had an affair.

"The Entire History of You" received positive reviews. In 2013, Robert Downey, Jr. optioned the episode to potentially be made into a film by Warner Bros. and his own production company Team Downey.[2]

Black Mirror - The Entire History of You.jpg
Black Mirror - The Entire History of You.jpg

Plot

In an alternate timeline most people have a "grain" implanted behind their ear that records everything they do, see, or hear. This allows memories to be played back either in front of the person's eyes or on a screen, a process known as a "re-do".

Liam Foxwell (Toby Kebbell), a young lawyer, attends a work appraisal which he feels did not go well. After leaving the meeting he replays his memory of it and dwells on a seemingly insincere phrase used by his employer. He arrives at a dinner party hosted by some of his wife's friends and sees his wife Ffion (Jodie Whittaker) talking to a man he doesn't recognise, whom she introduces as Jonas (Tom Cullen). Some of Ffion's friends ask how the appraisal went and suggest replaying it as a re-do, so they can all give their opinions on it, but Jonas steps in to save Liam from the embarrassment.

At dinner, Jonas speaks increasingly frankly about his personal life and talks about masturbating to re-dos of sex from his earlier relationships. Throughout the meal, Liam becomes suspicious of how fondly Ffion seems to be looking at Jonas, and he is especially suspicious when she laughs at Jonas' jokes.

One dinner guest, Hallam, says that she was attacked and had her grain violently removed, and many at the table agree that it is lucky her vision was spared. Hallam says she would rather remain "grain-free".

When Liam and Ffion return home, Liam goads Ffion to admit she had a previous relationship with Jonas many years ago, which she had mentioned to Liam but downplayed. She initially said it lasted a week, then says a month, and then admits it was six months. These initial lies make Liam even more paranoid, and he insists on replaying footage from the evening and demanding explanations for why Ffion said and did the things she did. Ffion becomes increasingly uncomfortable with his relentless questioning, and the conversation turns into a fight. Liam apologises and they have sex, but they are both watching re-dos during the act. After they finish, Liam goes back downstairs and watches re-dos of Jonas' frank confessions from the dinner party, whilst drinking excessively. He continues this all night, and the next morning argues with Ffion about her having laughed at Jonas' joke. She goes back to bed, and he drunkenly drives to Jonas' house, where he confronts him about his relationship with Ffion and violently threatens to cut Jonas' grain out of his neck if he doesn't delete all the footage of her stored on it. Jonas complies, and Liam drives away, crashes his car into a tree, and passes out.

When he wakes up in his wrecked car, Liam replays his latest memories with increasing horror both at his own behavior, and at a new discovery. He walks home to confront Ffion. As Jonas projected his footage of Ffion onto the wall screen before deleting it, Liam had noticed that there was a file proving Jonas and Ffion last had sex 18 months ago, around the time their daughter Jodie was conceived, in Liam and Ffion's bed. Ffion admits to cheating on Liam, saying that it was when Liam had temporarily walked out after a fight, but insists that she and Jonas did use a condom and that Liam is the baby's father. Liam suggests that she replay the re-do of it to prove it; Ffion claims to have deleted the video. When Liam asks her to show him the blank space where the footage was, so he can confirm that she was not saving footage of her cheating on him (eerily mirroring Jonas' earlier masturbation confession), she attempts to delete the footage, which she had indeed saved. Liam stops her, then demands she play the video, which she does, while sobbing quietly on their bed. The video heavily implies Ffion and Jonas did not use a condom.

In the closing scenes Liam's suspicion is confirmed, as he is seen wandering around his now empty house, replaying happy memories with Ffion and "his" daughter. While viewing one clip, Liam realizes the baby's eyes are a different color than either his own or Ffion's: his are brown, hers are mostly green. There are replays and closeups of both Ffion's and Jodie's eye colors, and the hint is emphasized slightly by another clip Liam replays, showing both he and his wife in front of a mirror before going out together. Ffion holds up two dresses and asks Liam, "Green or brown?" In the memory, Liam answers her; when replaying, however, he realizes the answer (to the baby's eye color) is ... neither.

The episode ends abruptly, with Liam going into the bathroom and messily cutting his grain out from behind his ear with a razor and cuticle clippers. The screen goes suddenly black, leaving uncertain whether the grain's removal caused Liam brain or vision damage.

Critical reception

The A.V. Club rated the episode an A-, concluding: "[A]s a creepy, up-to-date parable that still tells a tale as old as time, 'The Entire History Of You' is pretty outstanding. It builds to a climax the audience may well have predicted (Liam forces Ffion to show him her most recent encounter with Jonas), but we are smartly spared from seeing. Every time a character plays back something on their grain, their eyes glow dully as the images are accessed, giving them a demonic look. I'm sure that was an intentional decision."[3] Den of Geek said: "As is often the case in science fiction, 'The Entire History Of You' explores the pitfalls of future technology. Given our current appetite for sharing carefully selected chunks of our personal lives on the Internet, the idea of people in the future recording and sharing memories isn't too much of a stretch, and the way the episode depicts it is quite convincing, and extremely eerie."[4] The Daily Telegraph gave the episode 3 out of 5 stars, and wrote: "This was the least effective of the Black Mirror dramas, because the technological element wasn't so crucial to the trajectory of the story. Jealous people will always find ways to destroy their relationships without the recourse to memory databanks."[5] Metro gave the episode an A, writing: "Tonight's final episode of Black Mirror however left me sitting in front of an appropriately black screen with the expression of a man who has just witnessed the murder of an entire litter of kittens."[6]

References

  1. ^ "Review: Black Mirror: "The Entire History Of You'". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  2. ^ Child, Ben (12 February 2013). "Robert Downey Jr to turn episode of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror into film". The Guardian. London.
  3. ^ "Review: Black Mirror: "The Entire History Of You'". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  4. ^ "Black Mirror episode 3 review: The Entire History Of You". Den of Geek. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Black Mirror: The Entire History of You, Channel 4, review". Telegraph.co.uk. 18 December 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Black Mirror envisaged a world where your thoughts are not your own". Metro. Retrieved 17 October 2014.

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