The episode opens with Liam Foxwell at a work appraisal. When he leaves, he is able to watch the appraisal on a screen in taxicab, analyzing the interaction and coming to the conclusion that it did not go well, focusing specifically on the phrase “we hope to look forward to seeing you.”
At some point in the future, most of society has a “grain” implanted in their head, which records everything the person does, sees and hears. Users can then replay memories either on their eyes or on a screen. They call this a “re-do.”
At a dinner party with his wife Fi, Liam meets Jonas. Jonas speaks frankly about his recent engagement that has been called off and talks about masturbating to re-dos of sex in his earlier relationships. Meanwhile, Liam becomes increasingly suspicious of Fi’s relationship with Jonas.
Liam and Fi return home, and Liam starts to question who Jonas is and what Fi’s relationship is to him. She says she dated him for a month (previously in their relationship, Fi had said it was week, and later she admits it was six months). Liam plays re-dos of Fi and Jonas at the party, becoming obsessed with Fi’s body language and way she interacts with Jonas as opposed to the way she interacts with him. This turns into a fight, but Liam later apologizes and they have sex, which they both watch re-dos during. After they finish, Liam stays up and continues to watch re-dos of Fi’s interactions with Jonas, drinking heavily.
Fi and drunk Liam fight again the next morning. Liam drives to Jonas’s house and demands he delete all the footage he has of Fi, threatening to violently cut out his grain if he doesn’t comply. Jonas deletes the footage, and Liam leaves. He crashes his car into a tree and passes out. When he wakes up, he watches a re-do of his interaction with Jonas.
Before Jonas deleted the files of Fi, Liam noticed a file from 18 months earlier, in his bedroom, around the time his child was conceived. Fi admits to cheating on Liam, but insists they used a condom. Liam demands a re-do, and it’s implied that Jonas and Fi did not use a condom.
The episode ends with Liam wandering around his empty house, replaying memories of Fi and “his” daughter. Liam messily cuts out the grain from his neck in the bathroom.
- Documentation – Grain technology records everything the user sees, hears and does. The people in this episode need to document every part of their lives, and they have access to that documentation should they ever need it, whether it be to analyze a work appraisal or for proof in later argument. This is not such a foreign concept in today’s society, either. People record their daily lives on snapchat, screenshot and store text messages to use against people later, and work out of the cloud. People like to have things documented because they’re afraid of forgetting and they need to have proof.
- Obsession – In this episode, Liam becomes obsessed with his wife’s past relationship with Jonas. He uses the grain to analyze their interactions, zooming in and using a lip reading technology. He was already uneasy with Fi’s behavior towards Jonas just from initial observation. The grain and its features allows him to pick up on details he wouldn’t have otherwise, leading to obsession and further analyzing of past memories. The technology fuels his obsession and is the catalyst for Liam’s downward spiral.
- Trust – In this world, you don’t have to trust people when you can ask them to prove themselves and know that they have the means to prove it. Liam doesn’t trust Fi as soon as he realizes that she lied about her relationship with Jonas. He catches her in her lie by a re-do of a time earlier in their relationship when she vaguely refers to the relationship (not naming Jonas) and says it lasted a week, but it was actually six months. This leads him to question everything and asking for re-dos from Fi to prove her loyalty to him.
JOUR 325 says…
- What kinds of technology exist in our society today that mirror the way the characters in this episode use their grain technology?
- There are many downsides to the technology in this episode, and the writers make those clear. However, there are also benefits to being able to record everything you do, see, and hear. What are those benefits, and is it possible that they outweigh the negative side effects?
- Hallam is a guest at the dinner party who has decided to stay “grainless” after being gauged. She says she’s happier now. Would you choose to be grainless? Another guest says she “couldn’t do it.” Alternatively, if you already had the technology, would you be able to let go of it?
- Fi watches footage from the baby’s grain to check up on the babysitter after returning home from the party. How do you feel about an infant having this technology and parents being able to access their children’s grain? What if Jody had been a teenager and her parents were checking up on her? Is this ethical?
- What does deleting a memory from the grain accomplish?