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Black Mirror Season 3, Episode 1 Recap: "Nosedive"

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Photo: Laurie Sparham/Netflix.
Pictured: Bryce Dallas Howard as Lacie.
We have seen the future and it is pastel. It's also incredibly perky, thanks to the widespread adoption of rating everyone whose path you cross on a scale of one to five stars. Did the barista screw up your latte order? Hit him with a one or two. Your roommate made lasagna? Give that girl a five!

Lacie (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a little too invested in monitoring her ranking. Every interaction gets a ping of approval, making you wonder how she's not suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Like half the people you know, she's more interested in Instagramming a photo of her cookie and coffee and getting five stars than actually enjoying the treat. When an old-school friend, the annoyingly beautiful influencer Naomi (Alice Eve), lowballs her with a sub-five rating, she's stricken.

Clearly, there's a lot at stake. The "lifestyle community" (or "fake smile jail cells," as her underachieving brother dubs them) only offers discounts to residents with a 4.5 rating or higher. Her social standing is also at stake. A colleague at work had the gall to break up with his boyfriend and is now a social pariah with a 2.4 ranking. The office won't even let him through the door.

"No one is this happy," Ryan (James Norton), her brother, insists. "A 2-year-old with a fucking balloon isn't this happy."

He may be happy to live life as a 3.7, but Lacie is determined to raise her rating. A consultant assesses her analytics and estimates it will take about 18 months to get her up to the desired 4.5. She needs higher ratings from "quality people." Quality people like Naomi.

Lacie is overjoyed, then, when Naomi calls her up and invites her to be maid of honor at her wedding to a blonde Ken doll. The guest list is made of mostly 4.7s and if Lacie can wow them with a moving speech, her rating is guaranteed to shoot through the roof. Never mind that, as Ryan reminds her, Naomi actually a mean girl who slept with Lacie's ex.

After an argument with Ryan, Lacie rushes to the airport to make the wedding. Alas, she knocks into a woman, spilling her drink. One cab driver is angry that she was late to the door. Another just finds her annoying. Her rating is taking a beating.

To make matters worse, the flight has been canceled and her plummeting rating makes it impossible for the airline employee to transfer her. Lacie gets an attitude, security is called, double damage is invoked, and she's suddenly down to a 3.1.

Apparently, the road to hell is paved with Home Improvement reruns. Lacie's crappy, 3.1-level rental car runs out of juice and she misses the rehearsal dinner. She resorts to hitchhiking, but drivers aren't looking to extend a hand to someone who's now at 2.8. She's forced to accept a ride from truck driver Susan (Cherry Jones). She has a 1.4, but explains that it's pretty much by choice.

Oh, she used to be just like Lacie. She lived for her rating. Then, her husband got pancreatic cancer and was denied crucial treatment because his rating wasn't high enough. After his death, she decided to "fuck it." Lacie gets it, but argues that she needs to establish herself socially and romantically before she can stop fretting about her rating.

After Susan drops her off, Lacie resorts to hitching a ride with a group of sci-fi fans headed to a convention. It's all for naught, though. A fuming Naomi calls to fire her as maid of honour, because her rating is too low. It turns out that Lacie was only invited in the first place because her original 4.2 seemed authentic and likely to work in Naomi's favour. An enraged Lacie tells Naomi she's still coming.

And come she does, liquored-up and covered in a muddy bridesmaid dress thanks to the dirt bike she's commandeered to the reception. To Naomi's horror, she insists on giving a speech, which includes revelations about Naomi's guy-stealing behaviour and support of Lacie's eating disorder back in school. Then she grabs a knife and a flurry of pings sends her rating to a perilous one. Security takes her away, screaming.

Whether it's because of her low rating or her wedding behaviour, Lacie is put in a jail cell. She strips off her dress and turns to engage in an expletive-laden insult match with the prisoner opposite. Is this the real Lacie? Are we all just terrible people pretending to be nice for the sake of approval? Are you ever going to look up your Uber rating again without wondering, What if?
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