S2E4: White Christmas

Recap

Joe wakes up to “I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday” playing on the radio. He walks into this kitchen and sees Matt cooking Christmas dinner in the outpost where they have spent the last five years together. Matt attempts to get Joe to talk about what brought him to the hiding spot.

First, Matt tells Joe why he is there—explaining to him about his side job as a dating coach helping men find love through the use of his Z-Eye, which is an artificial reality allowing Matt to view his client Harry through a camera screen. During one of Matt’s coaching sessions, Harry gets into trouble major trouble while attempting to seduce a girl. She ends up poisoning his drink and he dies. Matt and his crew witness the event, but fail to report this murder. This results in Matt’s wife blocking him from her life. Matt’s then discusses his everyday job, which is providing people with a tool, called the Cookie, to allow people’s consciousness to digitalized. Matt’s job is helping set up the Cookie, which the audience witnesses as he sets up Greta’s consciousness’s to help her manage her life.

Joe finally starts talking. He discusses his relationship with Beth and how she blocks him from her life and her child. The blocking is a form of reducing confrontation between individuals. Joe is unable to visualize or contact Beth through the block. He is so caught up in the fact he has no interaction with his daughter that each Christmas he drives to Beth’s father’s house and watches his daughter’s blur.

When Beth dies in a rail crash the block dies with her, which enables him to now view his daughter. The Christmas after Beth passes away, he buys snow globe and writes “from Daddy” on the back. He drives to Beth’s dad’s home to finally see and meet his real daughter to find out that she is Asian. Beth’s daughter, runs and tells her grandfather they have a visitor. Joe realizes that May is not his daughter and feels betrayed. In anger, he throws the snow globe at the grandfather’s head and kills him. Joe eventually was arrested, but refused to confess until Matt uses the cookie.

After Matt draws Joe’s confession through the use of the digital cookies, he gives this confession to the police. Matt originally was arrested for not reporting the murder and made a deal with the police, but unfortunately his repercussions are being blocked—unable to communicate or visualize anyone. He literally becomes isolated from society, identified as a red figure to all those around him. The episode ends with a flashback to Joe. One of the police sets his cookie to 1000 years per minutes—this results in part of his sentence as “I Wish it Could Be Christmas Everyday” plays on repeat and Joe screams in horror having to relive the day over and over again.

Themes

  1. Social media block in today’s society vs. future –Today, every social media has a block feature that disbands anyone from viewing information about your life. It can have positive implications, such as not wanting an ex-boyfriend to know your daily lifestyle to not allowing a stalker to know about your whereabouts. White Christmas is an extreme example of literally blocking people out of your life from a social media perspective and physical perspective. It causes your being to become a white silhouette blocking you from the social and physical environment. The block offers commentary on how you can’t see the person when you are walking in the street to physically blocked out of every photo you ever took with each other.
  1. Artificial intelligence/right to privacy –With artificial intelligence becoming a popular technology, this episode points out some of the ethical and legal issues with the right to privacy. For example, the cookie demonstrates a digital copy of Joe and Greta’s conscious. Joe refuses to give a confession, and the only way he confesses is through the cookie implanted into his temple. The idea of going into a person’s consciousness to view the details of an event, which are not approved by the individual can be viewed as unethical against the will of the individual.
  1. Technology as a form of control–The cookie represents a form of control because the conscious doesn’t understand it’s being manipulated. Greta’s consciousness was controlled through the use of time and solitary confinement through Matt controlling the panel. Greta was not compliant so Matt gave her nothing to do for up to 6 months and at the end of the episode Joe is placed in solitary confinement for a thousand years a minute listening on repeat the same Christmas song. The effects of solitary confinement is a form of control that Matt uses to control Greta and Joe to manipulate them to achieve his goals. This is an example of how technology can be used in a positive or negative way to setback or enhance mankind.

Journalism 325 says…

Questions

  1. After seeing the positive and negative effects of the block feature of the Z-Eye, explain whether you think this feature would cause more or less damage if this technology was implemented into the future.
  2. Discuss the ethical or unethical implications of using the cookie or Z-Eye to find out the truth.
  3. In the end, both Matt and Joe suffer in different ways. Explain which character you sympathize with more.
  4. Would you like to see the use of the cookie in the future? Why or why not?
  5. What real-world parallels can you identify moving toward Z-Eye technologies. Do you find that the Z-Eye creepy or practical?
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