"Black Museum" is the sixth episode of Black Mirror's fourth season. It will star Douglas Hodge, Letitia Wright, and Babs Olusanmokun.
Whilst waiting for her car to charge in a remote charging station, Nish (Letitia Wright) comes across the neighbouring Black Museum, which houses "authentic criminological artefacts". She meets the proprietor, Rolo Haynes (Douglas Hodge), and explains she is out this way as her father lives nearby and her mother suggested she stop by to surprise him. Haynes offers to give her a tour, in which he recounts the stories of the artefacts he has collected, shown in flashback during the episode.
In his past, Haynes was a neurological research recruiter for St. Juniper's, a scientific hospital which offered its patients free health care in return for being allow to test experimental treatments on them. Haynes approached Dr. Peter Dawson (Daniel Lapaine) in regards to testing an experimental neurological implant that would allow him to feel the physical sensations of others. Dawson used this to feel the pain of his patients, which allowed him to become an expert at diagnosing and treating them. Meanwhile, Dawson also used the interface to enhance sex with his girlfriend. A senator who had been poisoned was brought into the hospital one night and as he died, Dawson remained connected to him, experiencing his death via the implant. After passing out, Dawson awoke with the side effect that he now experienced pain as pleasure. He begins to use his patients' suffering for personal sexual arousal. He was removed from the hospital and, addicted to pain, began mutilating himself. Realising that he could not inflict fear (and thus, further pleasure) on himself, Dawson tasered, tortured, and killed a homeless man with a drill. By the time the police found him, the extreme sensations of pleasure had caused Dawson to fall into a coma, with a look of pure bliss on his face.
In the present, Nish offers Haynes water since the museum's air conditioning is broken and they are both sweating profusely, and Haynes tells another story about a plush toy monkey. Haynes convinced a man named Jack (Aldis Hodge) to transfer the consciousness of his comatose wife Carrie (Alexandra Roach) into his own brain. Carrie initially enjoyed sharing the sensations that Jack felt in the real world, particularly hugs with their toddler son Parker. However, shared consciousness began to take a toll on the couple, as Jack lacked privacy and Carrie had no agency in the real world. Haynes allowed Jack to put Carrie on "pause", infuriating her whenever he allowed her consciousness again. Jack met Emily (Yasha Jackson), and the two began dating, to Carrie's impotent fury. Emily pressured Jack to have Haynes transfer the consciousness of Carrie into a stuffed monkey, which was then given to Parker. The toy could only speak two phrases, "Monkey loves you" and "Monkey needs a hug". Carrie was furious, but Emily threatened her with deletion if she did not behave. Eventually, Parker grew tired of the toy and abandoned it, with Carrie trapped inside. In the present, Haynes tells Nish that the transfer of Carrie into the stuffed monkey was declared illegal and led to his firing. Haynes then reveals that Carrie is still inside the stuffed monkey in the exhibit, since it is also illegal to delete her.
Haynes and Nish move on to the main attraction of the museum: a dismal hologram projection of Clayton Leigh (Babs Olusanmokun), a convicted murderer, the details of whose crime were briefly shown in the previous segments on TVs. While Leigh was on death row, Haynes coaxed him to sign over the rights to his post-death consciousness in exchange for money to help support his family, despite the objections of his wife, who feared for his safety. After his execution, Clayton found himself reborn as a hologram inside Haynes' museum. Haynes set Leigh up in an execution display, in which visitors could pull a lever to make Clayton experience the agony of the electric chair and feel like they were electrocuting him all over again. They could then leave with a key chain souvenir containing a preserved, and fully independent, copy of Clayton eternally in agony. Each electrocution is set to last 10 seconds, as 15 seconds or more would disrupt the hologram and erase it.
In the present, Haynes begins to asphyxiate. Nish reveals herself to be Clayton's daughter: she sabotaged the museum's AC so that Haynes would become thirsty and accept her poisoned water. She asserts that her father was actually innocent, but the state never overturned the conviction. Protesters argued against the torments Haynes was subjecting Leigh's hologram to, which hurt the popularity of the museum, but not enough to shut it down. The exhibit attracted wealthy sadists and racists to torture Clayton to the limit of his virtual consciousness, turning him into an empty shell. This caused Nish's mother to take "a bottle of pills and a bottle of vodka". Haynes passes out, and Nish transfers his consciousness into Clayton's hologram. She pushes the electric chair simulation to its maximum, allowing Haynes to experience the full force of the torture and finally putting Clayton's consciousness to rest. Taking along with her the stuffed monkey and a "souvenir" of Haynes in eternal agony (thereby preserving a copy of his consciousness), and before returning to the car, Nish removes the device disabling the AC, which causes a short. Nish converses with her mother, who is revealed to share her consciousness with Nish, as Carrie did with Jack. Nish drives away, her mother shedding joyful tears as the museum is engulfed in flames.
Co-creator Annabel Jones disclosed the following information about the episode: "Black Museum is absolute popcorn. It’s three stories in one – a portmanteau-type thing – but absolutely full of ideas that whip along and before you know it you’re at the end of a 90-minute film and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, can you please stop? This is horrendous – stop throwing me these things!” It’s just unrelenting. It was the last we did in terms of shooting."
- Douglas Hodge - Rolo Haynes
- Letitia Wright - Nish
- Daniel Lapaine - Dr. Peter Dawson
- Aldis Hodge - Jack
- Alexandra Roach - Carrie
- Kyros McGee - Parker Lamasse
- Yasha Jackson - Emily
- Babs Olusanmokun - Clayton Leigh
- Amanda Warren - Angelica Leigh
- Dr. Peter Dawson's story was based on an unreleased short story by Penn Jillette.
- The Black Museum contains several artefacts from previous episodes.
- From The National Anthem, a diorama of Carlton Bloom hanging himself.
- From White Bear, Victoria Skillane can be seen on a screen at the entrance, and there is a small figurine of Baxter wearing the balaclava.
- From Playtest, a few diagrams of SaitoGemu's Mushrooms.
- From Hated in the Nation, an ADI beneath a magnifying glass.
- From USS Callister, Robert Daly's DNA replicator with Tommy's lollipop in the tray.
- From Arkangel, the cracked tablet used to monitor Sara Sambrell.
- From Crocodile, the bathtub in which Anan Akhand was murdered.
- The refueling station next to the museum is called BRB Connect, which is a likely reference to the episode Be Right Back.
- At one point Jack is seen reading the the plot of Fifteen Million Merits (here titled '15M Merits) in comic book form.
- Rolo Haynes' test rats are named Kenny and Hector, after the characters from Shut Up and Dance.
- The news network seen in this episode is USN, presumably an American counterpart to the often-seen UKN.
- Rolo Haynes mentions the elderly being downloaded into the cloud which may reference the plot of San Junipero.
- He also calls the hospital where the first two stories take place "St. Juniper", English for San Junipero, possibly the in-universe inspiration for the simulation's name.
- While discussing the monkey which houses Carrie, Haynes refers to a UN ruling regarding the humane treatment of human consciousnesses as "human rights for cookies"; this might be a reference to the cookies (simulated human personalities) featured in White Christmas.
|Episodes in "Black Mirror"|
|Season 1||• The National Anthem • Fifteen Million Merits • The Entire History of You •|
|Season 2||• Be Right Back • White Bear • The Waldo Moment •|
|Season 3||• Nosedive • Playtest • Shut Up and Dance • San Junipero • Men Against Fire • Hated in the Nation •|
|Season 4||• USS Callister • Arkangel • Crocodile • Hang the DJ • Metalhead • Black Museum •|
|Season 5||• Striking Vipers • Smithereens • Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too •|
|Specials||• White Christmas • Bandersnatch •|