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Smithereens is the second episode of season five of Black Mirror. It was written by Charlie Brooker and aired on 5 June 2019.

Short Summary[]

A London ride share driver ignites an international crisis when he kidnaps a worker from a social media company.

Full Summary[]

In 2018, Chris (Andrew Scott) is a rideshare driver in London for the app Hitcher. He lost his fiancée in a car accident with a drunk driver three years earlier, and goes to group therapy sessions. He has a deep loathing for technology, as proven when he is in a cafe and nearly has an anxiety attack due to everyone using their devices around him. At one session he meets Hayley (Amanda Drew), who is dealing with the suicide of her daughter 18 months earlier. The two talk and end up having sex at her place. Chris discovers that on a daily basis, she attempts to log into her daughter's Persona social media account so she can access her inbox to try and get an idea as to why she killed herself. Amanda has a book full of possible passwords, however only gets three attempts a day before she is locked out entirely.

One day, Chris picks up Jaden (Damson Idris), an employee of the large social media company Smithereen. Jaden is distracted by his phone, allowing Chris to take a detour into the rural countryside, where he reveals he is abducting Jaden at gunpoint. Chris orders Jaden into the trunk of a separate car, but Jaden is claustrophobic, so Chris allows him to ride in the backseat with his wrists restrained and a bag over his head. As Chris drives down the road, two police officers (Ambreen Razia and Calum Callaghan) see the hooded Jaden, and give pursuit. In the chase, Chris veers to avoid two teenage cyclists and ends up with the car stalled in a field. As more police surround the field, Chris waves the gun to keep them at bay. The teenagers witness the unfolding drama and post to Smithereen.

Chris learns Jaden has only been an intern for a week, and has few connections at Smithereen, but he calls up the most senior person he knows there using Chris's phone. Chris demands to speak to the CEO Billy Bauer (Topher Grace). The demand soon reaches chief operating officer Penelope Wu (Ruibo Qian) in Los Gatos, California, who knows Billy is on a 10-day solitary retreat. Penelope works with the FBI and British police to learn about Chris and uses his phone to bug the car. The police visit Chris's house while Penelope's team search his social media account and learn about the car accident, which was blamed on a drunk driver (who also died) whose car collided with Chris's.

The police hear Chris tell Jaden that his gun is fake and the eavesdropping teenagers post this on social media. Chris sees this on Smithereen and fires the gun into the sky to prove them wrong. Police snipers are brought in. Penelope realises they need to bring Billy in, and sends employees to his solitary retreat. Billy is annoyed at the interruption but realises the danger of doing nothing. Eventually, Billy is put through to Chris and initially tries to follow standard negotiating tactics, but Chris is aware of these. Chris finally states the reason he wanted to reach Billy, as Chris felt he himself was at fault for the accident as he had been distracted while driving to check a Smithereen notification, but this never came out in the police investigation as all the blame was laid on the drunk driver. Chris wants affirmation that social media was designed to be as addictive as possible, to which Billy agrees: he had used this retreat to mull over leaving the company, unhappy with the direction it has taken. Chris asks Billy for a last favour as he intends to kill himself: to get him in touch with Persona's CEO. Soon, Hayley receives a call with her daughter's Persona password.

Chris goes to release Jaden, but Jaden urges Chris to reconsider, knowing from his uncle's suicide the emotional damage it can do. The two start to fight over the gun. Thinking Jaden is in trouble, the police chief gives the order to fire. During the credits, Billy, Penelope, and others around the world see a Smithereen message pop up, and after reading it and mulling over it, return to their daily routine.


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