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Black Museum is the sixth episode of season four of Black Mirror. It was written by Charlie Brooker and was released on December 29, 2017.

Short Summary[]

On a dusty stretch of highway, a traveler stumbles across a museum that boasts rare criminal artifacts -- and a disturbing main attraction.

Full Summary[]

Nish is driving alone through the mountains. She pulls into a run-down service station. She pulls a solar panel out of her trunk and sees that it'll take a little over three hours to charge her car. She walks to the nearby Black Museum, but the doors are locked and the door says that tours begin at 11 AM. She looks at her watch and walks around to the side, where she sees a red car. Finally, the door is unlocked and Rolo Haynes pokes his head out. He tells her that tours begin at 11 and she's first in line. When he says it could be a busy day, she points out that the road seemed pretty empty. They introduce themselves and Rolo asks if she's sure she wants to do the tour because it's not for the faint of heart. She decides she can handle it and they go inside.

Rolo has to check Nish's bag and has her go through a metal detector before she can go in. He questions her about her travels as she comes in. She's visiting her dad for his birthday. Rolo sees the AC has gone out. Nish looks around and asks what the stuff is. He says it's authentic criminological artifacts. If it did something bad, it's probably there. He tells her to look around and he can tell her all about anything that interests her. He also gestures toward a curtain that covers the main attraction, but he says they don't need to rush to get there. Nish says she's not in a rush. She notices that a lot of the stuff is technology, which Rolo says is his background. Nish asks him about what looks like an electronic hair net. Rolo says that was one of his first souvenirs. He asks if she's heard of Dr. Peter Dawson. She hasn't. The hairnet is Dawson's Symphatic Diagnoser, but Nish doesn't know what that is. Rolo used to work for St. Juniper's, a university hospital, in downtown New York. They did research up top and had an emergency room on the ground floor.

A cab honks at Rolo as he crosses the street.

Inside the hospital, Rolo avoids a coughing person.

Rolo explains that people got free healthcare in exchange for being part of experimental treatments. He worked for the guys up top, in recruitment.

Peter Dawson defibrillates a patient. It doesn't work, so he tries again. It fails.

Dawson says that if he'd known the patient was on tricyclics, he would have changed the dose. Rolo interrupts and introduces himself. He's noticed that Dawson has been having problems and he might have something that can help.

Dawson and Rolo ride the elevator together. Rolo explains the world that TCKR Systems is doing. Their biggest goal is to work on transferring knowledge. He tells Dawson how they worked on it with rodents. It failed, but through it, they realized the technology allowed one creature to feel the sensations of another, good and bad. They used that to make a neural implant for humans allowing a person to do the same thing. The hardest thing with patients is figuring out what's wrong with them. Some people can't describe their own symptoms for a variety of reasons. Imagine if he could feel what they feel without the consequences for his body.

Rolo says Dawson was happy to do it.

Dawson has surgery to implant the device.

Dawson checks out the device in a mirror. Madge asks if it hurts when she touches it and he says no. Rolo comes in to do a trial run.

Rolo says this is where the hairnet comes in.

Rolo puts the hairnet on Madge. He pokes her with a pencil and Dawson flinches. The implant works.

Dawson starts using the implant in his work.

Rolo says Dawson was able to catch things doctors didn't even look for. He saved lives. The diagnoser also came in handy in the bedroom.

Dawson and Madge have sex while Madge is wearing the diagnoser so he can feel her pleasure as well as his.

Nish realizes there must be a catch to this.

Senator Whitley is rushed into the hospital, who collapsed at a fundraiser. No one could tell what was wrong with him, so they hooked him up to Dawson. Dawson feels a pain he's never known before. And Whitley dies.

Rolo says Dawson blacked out for five minutes. The senator had been poisoned. Through him, Dawson experienced death and came out on the other side. When he came back, they ran all the tests, but he came out fine. He was back at work the next day. Nish knows something was wrong. Rolo says it messed up his implant.

Madge gets out of bed. As she goes to get water, still wearing the diagnoser, she steps on a plug and hurts her foot. Dawson gasps. He got pleasure from the sensation.

Dawson starts to enjoy his work more, as pain is now pleasurable for him.

Dawson spanks Madge as they have sex because he enjoys the feeling. She has him stop because she doesn't like it. Dawson reminds her that she said they could try. She says they did try. They also tried hair pulling and choking. She's not into it. He stops her from leaving and apologizes. He starts to pinch her arm to arouse himself until she pulls away and leaves.

Rolo compares the experience to eating chilis. The more you eat, the more you get used to the sensation and need more to get the same reaction.

Madge finds Pete at the hospital when he isn't supposed to be working. A patient comes in and Dawson follows the paramedics. He hooks up to the woman as the paramedic explains that it's a cardiac arrest. Instead of allowing them to treat the patient, he delays her care to extend his own pleasure.

Rolo says they had to pull Dawson away from her.

Rolo says they knew there would be side effects. They can try to deactivate it, but it'll take some time to figure out how. He can't pull people off other projects. Until then, Dawson can't be near patients. He tells Dawson to go home.

Dawson sits at home alone, watching the news. When he breaks a glass, he realizes his own pain can bring him the same pleasure. He starts injuring himself on purpose. He spends a whole week pushing his body to its limits, but none of it is enough because there's no fear.

Rolo explains that fear intensifies the feelings. Dawson could inflict pain on himself, but not terror. For that, he needed another person.

Dawson walks down the street. He finds an unhoused person. He tases him, then hooks him up to the diagnoser and tortures him. A cop car approaches.

Rolo says Dawson was practically coming when they found him. Nish hopes they put him in jail, but they actually sent him to the hospital because he was in a vegetative state, where he remains. They say he still has a euphoric look on his face.

Dawson is comatose in his bed with an obvious erection.

When Nish calls Rolo out, he admits that he made up the erection. It's getting hot in the museum without air conditioning, so Nish offers Rolo some water. She asks him why he didn't stay in med tech. He says he did for a while. TKCR adapted the technology Dawson used and ended up with digital consciousness transference. They call them cookies now. Nish is familiar with it. Rolo says Nish is asking more questions than most people, but she has time because her car is still charging. Next, Rolo shows Nish a stuffed monkey, which confuses her. He says it's one of the saddest items in the whole museum. He starts telling her the story of Jack and Carrie.

Carrie is at a party when someone offers her a cupcake. It's Jack.

Jack carries Carrie into a bedroom, where they have sex.

Rolo says Jack got Carrie pregnant.

Carrie has an ultrasound.

Rolo says they had a son, Parker.

Carrie, Jack, and Parker walk together. They stop so Carrie can take a picture. As she backs up to get a good frame, she gets hit by a truck.

At St. Juniper's, Carrie is unconscious. Jack sits by her bedside while a nurse rocks Parker.

Rolo says Jack visited her every week for years and talked to her, but she never woke up. But they tested the comm box on her, a device that allows comatose patients to respond to people.

Jack visits Carrie, who is using the comm box to answer yes/no questions. He shows her a video of Parker singing.

Rolo talks to Jack about Carrie. He would like to use Carrie to test a new device.

In Carrie's room, Rolo explains that they're using technology to take the consciousness out of one person's brain and housing them inside another person's brain. They could take Carrie out of her body and put her inside Jack. She'll see what he sees and feel what he feels. She can live again through him. If he hugs Parker, Carrie will feel it. Jack asks about the cost. Rolo says it won't cost anything. They'll euthanize her physical body in the process and donate her organs. Jack says he has to think about it, but Carrie says yes, she wants to do it.

Rolo retrieves Carrie's consciousness and implants it into Jack's head. Once it's done, Rolo wakes Jack.

Carrie is able to see through Jack's eyes and talk to him. She's able to feel the apple he's holding and taste it when he takes a bite. Parker comes in and Carrie is able to hug him through Jack.

Nish knows that, once again, there's a catch. Rolo questions how long happiness can realistically last.

Jack is reading a Fifteen Million Merits comic book. Carrie complains about him reading too slowly. He says he likes to take in the pictures. When he gets up to go the bathroom, Carrie says she'll never get used to that. She complains when he doesn't wash his hands afterward.

Parker is coloring while Jack watches a news report about Denise Stockley, a reported who was murdered by Clayton Leigh. Carrie wants him to turn if off because she's worried it'll disturb Parker, but Jack doesn't think Parker's listening. When Parker pushes his cup off the table, Jack snaps at him and Carrie tells him not to. Jack and Carrie fight while Parker watches, able to hear Jack but not Carrie.

Rolo says Jack had no privacy and Carrie had no agency. It was awful for both of them.

Jack threatens Carrie with eating anchovies if she won't be quiet. She keeps talking, so he starts eating.

Jack and Carrie go to see Rolo. Jack fights with Carrie, which Rolo deduces is the problem. Rolo says they need to ration their contact, but Jack says he can't do that because she's always there. Rolo says they could give Jack more control, give him the ability to put Carrie on pause sometimes. Jack tells him to do it.

Jack is in an elevator when a woman gets on with him. He starts checking her out and Carrie complains. Once the woman is gone, Jack fights with Carrie about it. He has no release because masturbating with her in his head is like trying to do it in front of a cop who is also your mom. Jack decides to put Carrie on pause over her objections.

When Jack unpauses Carrie, it's Halloween. He kept her paused for several weeks. He says he's sorry, but he got her a cupcake. She asks to see Parker. He takes her to see Parker, who is building a fire truck. Jack tells him that Carrie loves him and needs a hug.

Rolo says that because of Parker, they tried to compromise. Jack kept Carrie paused except on the weekends and then he'd take Parker out with Carrie watching and feeling everything. It worked for a while.

Jack is outside when Emily introduces herself. She's his neighbor. She meets Parker as well and says she'll see them around. Carrie sees this interaction and she and Jack fight about his attraction to Emily. He pauses Carrie.

Rolo says as time passed, he got closer to Emily and Carrie didn't take it well.

Jack fights with Carrie as he watches Emily and Parker play. Carrie's mad that he's out with Emily on the weekend. Emily comes up to Jack and tells her to stop yelling at Jack. Carrie wants Jack to tell Emily to back off.

Jack and Emily go see Rolo, who realizes the weekend arrangement isn't working. Jack says they tried limiting her to an hour, but they know she's always in there. It's frustrating for Carrie and Carrie is frustrating for them. Rolo asks if Carrie is on pause and when Jack says she is, Rolo suggests that they could delete her. Jack says that would be killing her, but Emily thinks it's more like deleting an email. Jack refuses to do it. Rolo has an idea of something else.

Rolo says they're beta testing a product for terminally ill parents, to make a souvenir for their kids. He pulls a stuffed monkey out of a drawer and says they can put Carrie inside it. It has a camera so she can see Parker and she'll be able to feel it if Parker hugs the monkey. Plus she can talk to him, but in a controlled way. Jack says he'll have to think about it, but Emily is on board.

Rolo says the transfer went quickly. Carrie wasn't even aware it was happening until she woke up.

Jack coaches Parker through opening his present. Carrie is confused as Parker unwraps the monkey. Jack explains that it's a special monkey that Mom wanted him to have. When he hugs it, Mom will feel it. Carrie begs Jack to put her back in his head, but he can't hear her.

Nish asks Rolo how Carrie spoke. Rolo says the setup was rudimentary. It was a prototype.

Carrie notices two buttons on her chair, one of a smile and one of a frown. She presses the smile.

The monkey says, "Monkey loves you."

Carrie presses the frown.

The monkey says, "Monkey needs a hug." Parker hugs it and Carrie makes the monkey say the two phrases repeatedly. Emily takes the monkey and says the monkey just needs a minute to get used to how things are going to be. She carries the monkey out of the room, pins it up against the wall, and threatens to have Carrie deleted. Carrie agrees to be a good toy.

Parker plays with the monkey while Jack and Emily watch a show together.

Rolo says Parker got tired of his new toy.

Parker drops the monkey on the floor. Emily sees it and stops kissing Jack so she can get up and close the door.

Nish remembers that it's a crime museum. She wonders where the crime in the story is. Rolo says the monkey is a crime. He opens the case and says the UN made it illegal to transfer human consciousnesses into limited formats like that. It has to be able to express at least five different emotions for it to be humane. He also reveals that Carrie is still inside the monkey because it's illegal to delete her. Rolo was fired over his decision to put Carrie in the monkey. That's why he started the museum. He hands Nish the monkey and complains about the heat in the museum. Rolo asks if Nish is ready for the prime exhibit. He leads her toward the curtain. He warns her that he's not the man he once was. When he coughs, Nish offers him more water. He says he's fine and opens the curtain. He knocks on the glass to wake up Clayton Leigh, who is in a cage. Rolo tells Nish not to feel too sorry for him because he's a convicted murderer. A picture of Denise Stockley, the woman he killed, is hanging above him. Nish looks at him and says he seems so real. Rolo says it's a fully conscious upload of him. After TCKR kicked him out, he was going to branch out into celebrity consciousnesses, but there were too many rights issues. Convicted killers are a different story.

Rolo waits at the prison. Clayton comes in and Rolo introduces himself. Clayton knows that Rolo is into technology and wants him to prove Clayton is innocent. Rolo says he could, but that's not what he's there. Clayton gets up to leave, but Rolo gets him to come back by saying he can help Clayton's family.

Nish asks how Rolo convinced him and he says Clayton didn't need much convincing.

Rolo explains that Clayton will sign over the rights to his digital self and his relatives will receive the majority of any profits, if Clayton gets executed.

Nish asks how Clayton's family felt about it and Rolo says they didn't care. They abandoned him the moment he got locked up.

Angelica tells Clayton it's his soul, but he doesn't think there is such a thing. It's just a computer simulation. Angelica wonders why Rolo needs his permission if that's true. Clayton says it won't matter if his pardon comes through. Angelica asks what if it doesn't. He says if they execute him, she'll get money for Rolo's project. It'll help her support their kids. It could be a good thing.

Nish realizes he didn't get his pardon and Rolo says no, because he was guilty. Nish asks if there wasn't some doubt. She saw the documentary. Rolo says no, it was fake news. The day Clayton got the chair was a great day for justice.

Clayton is led to the execution table. Rolo prepares to capture his consciousness.

Rolo says Clayton would be the first guy on death row to survive his own execution.

Clayton's head is covered and he's executed. Once he's gone, Rolo takes the device off his temple.

Rolo says the transfer went beautifully.

Rolo works on his computer and finally gets the virtual Clayton working. Rolo congratulates him. He tells Clayton to hang in there while he tests some things.

Rolo says he knew having Clayton walking around captive would be good, but it wasn't much of a draw. Pulling the lever yourself to execute him was an attraction.

Rolo pulls the lever and executes Clayton's hologram.

Rolo says Dawson's diagnoser paved the way for this, a recreation of the exact agony of execution. The key was never to let him exceed 15 seconds at maximum voltage. That would wipe his digital synapses out for good. Ten seconds was the optimal length, so that became the limit.

Rolo leaves Clayton to rest and get used to his room before they open tomorrow.

Tourists come in and swarm the museum.

Rolo says the problem in the early days was fitting everyone in.

Clayton begs a tourist not to do it, but she ignores him and flips the switch, as do many others.

Rolo says the souvenirs were the biggest part. Every time someone executed him, they got a keychain with a conscious, sentient snapshot of Clayton, perpetually experiencing that pain. Rolo starts to cough again. He's choking. Nish drops her British accent and tells him to take a seat if it makes it easier. She pulls over a chair. He asks who she is. She says he left out some parts of the story and she wonders why. He didn't mention the protests. Clayton's wife started a campaign that got some momentum. Nish knows it hurt his attendance. Even the protestors got bored after a while. Once it became clear the state wouldn't be clearing Clayton's name, they moved on to the next viral thing. But they did their job. After the protests, Rolo lost the tourists and the families and was left with loners and sadists.

A sadist electrocutes Clayton. When he starts to undo his belt, Rolo leads him out.

Nish says that crowd isn't big enough. They can't keep the lights on. So when someone comes in willing to pay for extra time, Rolo has to take it.

Rolo lets a rich man who paid cash to electrocute Clayton for 14 seconds.

Nish knows Clayton wasn't the same after that. He's not dead, but he's barely alive. Even the perverts aren't interested in him now. But someone came to see him.

Angelica comes to see Clayton.

Nish says Clayton was like a docile animal. Who knows if he recognized Angelica, if he recognizes Nish. Nish puts her hand on the glass. Clayton puts his hand on hers. She's his daughter and wishes him a happy birthday.

Angelica cries as she looks at Clayton.

Nish says what her mom saw that day was more than she could take. When she went home, she took a bottle of pills with a bottle of vodka. Nish found her body afterward. Rolo is still choking. Nish apologizes for it being so hot. She says digital AC is easy to hack. She warns him never to accept drinks from strangers. Her dad taught her that. She puts a device on Rolo's temple to copy his consciousness. She estimates that he has 30 seconds left to live. She sits down and tells him they'll see him on the other side. She captures his consciousness and removes the device from his body.

Rolo wakes up inside Clayton's body where Nish has uploaded his consciousness. Nish has the Carrie monkey sitting next to her. She is sure that Rolo is screaming at her, but she can't hear any of it because thanks to him, her dad can't talk. Soon, he'll be part of the first double-decker mercy killing. She took off the ten-second limit so he'd get a full hit of juice. That should be enough to set him free. On the other hand, Rolo will feel it all, every bit of the pain. And Nish will get herself a souvenir. She says goodbye to her dad and flips the switch. She watches as he's electrocuted and then the hologram disappears. She pulls out the keychain, which shows Rolo screaming.

Nish leaves, taking Carrie with her. She puts Carrie down and then pulls a cord which causes a spark in the air conditioning unit and starts a fire.

Nish takes Carrie back to her car while the museum burns. She hangs the keychain from her rearview mirror and then looks in the mirror and asks her mom how she did. Her mom says she did great. Nish drives away as the museum continues to burn.

Cast[]

Notes and Trivia[]

  • Dr. Peter Dawson's story was based on an unreleased short story by Penn Jillette.[1]
  • The Black Museum contains several artifacts from previous episodes.
  • 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 graphic novel 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 oft-seen UKN.
  • The girl having a relation with doctor Dawson shouts "Safe word: Stop!", the same safe word used by Cooper in Playtest.
  • 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.
  • The news bulletin in the teddy bear story previews the execution of Clayton Leigh and the bottom ticker recalls Metalhead. The news ticker reads, "autonomous military dog robot unveiled."
  • Joel Collins is the Production designer for Black Mirror. His mugshot can be seen in the museum right next to the malfunctioning thermostat.
  • Technology similar to The Entire History of You, and Men Against Fire is shown or referenced.
  • The only episodes that are seemingly not referenced (or yet to be found/documented) are The Waldo Moment, Nosedive, and Hang the DJ.

Production[]

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."

Gallery[]

Episode Stills[]

Trailer[]


References

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