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Black Mirror Season 3, Episode 3: "Shut Up & Dance"

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Photo: Laurie Sparham/Netflix.
Pictured: Jerome Flynn and Alex Lawther
Meet Kenny (Alex Lawther). He's a nice-enough British kid who works in a family restaurant, seems to have a crush on his manager, bows down to bullies, and fights with his sister. That last one is for good reason: She swiped his laptop without asking permission, and now it has malware. To solve the problem, he downloads some malware-removal software. Later, he returns to his room to jerk off in front of his laptop.

Unfortunately for Kenny, someone is watching. He's notified by an anonymous email that his masturbation session was recorded, and if he doesn't do what the cyberbullies say, the video will be sent out to all of his contacts. It's the worst thing a teen guy can imagine.

Watching Kenny try to keep up with the cyberbullies' demands is excruciating. Unflappable, he is not. He fakes illness to meet their demand to rush over to a random location. Once there, he's given a box by an anxious-looking guy on a motorbike. The man takes his photo and tells him to just do what the bullies ask, and they'll let him go.

Kenny is then ordered to deliver the box to a hotel room. He peeks inside and sees that it's a cake that reads, "I love you." The plot thickens!

The man staying in the hotel room, Hector (Jerome Flynn), is reluctant to answer the door but relents when Kenny tells him, as instructed, that it's from the woman he's waiting to meet. It soon becomes clear that said woman is a sex worker, and that the married Hector is now being blackmailed, too. He and Kenny must now obtain a car (conveniently supplied by a nervous-looking woman glimpsed at the beginning of the episode) and drive to a new location.

Hector and Kenny don't have much time, but of course they have to stop for gas, which is when they run into a mum from Hector's kid's school. The most annoying woman on the planet manages to get the anxious pair to drop her off before they complete their secret task. Next time, guys, just order her an Uber.

The next demand is far more difficult than schlepping around dessert. One of the men must be a robber, and the other a driver. Inside the cake is a pistol, and just opposite is a bank. Hector quickly claims the role of getaway driver, shaming a distraught Kenny into robbing the bank. The teen does it, but wets his pants in the process.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are now tasked with driving to a random field in the middle of nowhere. Hector must take the car and burn it. Kenny, meanwhile, must walk through the field. There he encounters another man and a drone hovering overhead. Kenny soon learns that his blackmailers aren't quite done with him. His final task? Fighting the other man in a death battle.

At a certain point, you're wondering why on earth Kenny would consider beating a man to death rather than suffer a little embarrassment by having a video of him jerking off go viral. The other man reveals his own motive: He's a paedophile, and the dirt the blackmailers have on him would ruin his life. He assumes Kenny is also a paedophile. Wait, what? Is he nodding in agreement? Or is it all a big misunderstanding?

Moments later Kenny emerges from the field, apparently having killed the other man. His phone rings as police vehicles close in on him. His tearful mother is on the line, screaming at him for his actions. The video has been released anyway, and it seems that Kenny is not the sweet boy we thought. He was masturbating to child porn. Suddenly we flash back to him being so nice to the little girl at the restaurant, and admiring a child's drawing left behind on a table.

The other blackmail victims don't get off, either. A threatening logo appears just as they realise that they've been outed. Hector's wife discovers his extramarital exploits. The woman with the car turns out to be a CEO who made racist remarks, and so on. The blackmailers weren't cyberbullies; they were vigilantes. And that, friends, is the ultimate sick Black Mirror twist we should have seen coming.


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