Black Mirror’s Metalhead episode is pretty straightforward. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale, told mostly from one person’s perspective. It’s a story of survival and of sheer desperation, fighting to live on no matter what the odds. But there was a revealing moment at the end of the episode that some fans are a little confused about. So we’ll explain that moment below. Don’t read on unless you’ve already seen Metalhead. This post will contain major spoilers for the Black Mirror Season 4 episode.
At the very end of the episode, the main character, Bella — played by Maxine Peake — is finally taken out by the robot. She kills the robot, but these drones are apparently designed to release a small shrapnel bomb of tracking devices when they die. She probably should have known about this, seeing as this bomb killed another one of her friends. And in this world, these dogs are well known. But she might have just not had time to hide, or just didn’t think about it in the chaos. Whatever happened, she was hit. She went back into the house, ready to dig out all the pieces just like she did before with the tracker in her leg. But one of the pieces appears to have embedded in her jugular. There’s a very real chance that when she tries to dislodge it, she’ll die in the process. But as we see at the end, when the dogs start descending on the compound, if she doesn’t try, she’ll still die.
We don’t see her fate; we’re left to guess. But it’s safe to assume that more than likely, the character died trying to remove the tracker. We certainly were led to believe, by her last radio call, that she expected to die. And then something even darker happens, as if that were possible. The camera pans across the landscape, showing just how many dogs there are all over the countryside. And then we return to the warehouse, where everything began. Where one of her companions urged her to just skip the mission, arguing that it wasn’t important enough. Where she argued that she promised her sister she’d help. That if this makes his last days easier, it will be worth it. We see the box they were trying to take, the box that the dog was hiding behind in powersave mode.
The box was full of teddy bears. She was trying to find a replacement teddy bear for someone we now know was just a little boy, likely her nephew. This last scene also illustrates just how heartless these robot dogs are. One was hiding behind a box of teddy bears, possibly because it calculated that sentimental humans would go for the box and it could wake up and kill them when they did. That’s dark.
Some people found this ending a little tough to handle. As one Redditor, Zbricer, wrote: “Craft one [teddy bear] themselves! Don’t get me wrong, I loved the episode, but it just felt weird they couldn’t take a shot at making a Mr. Rags instead of risking death.” And that’s a fair point. But the fact that they risked their lives for these bears gives us an idea of just how desperate this world is… And it also shows just how sadistic and uncaring the dog robots are. It leaves you wondering who programmed them and how they could have possibly ended up this way.
By the way, Charlie Brooker shared an interesting bit of information with EW about what we were originally going to be told about the robots: “We sort of deliberately decided not to flesh out a lot of the backstory. Originally in my first draft, we also showed a human operator operating the dog robot from across the ocean at his house. There was a bit I liked where he leaves the [control unit] while the robot is watching her while she’s up in the tree and he goes and gives his kids a bath. But it felt a bit weird and too on-the-nose. It kind of felt superfluous. We deliberately pared it back and did a very simple story.” In other words, they were in some sort of isolated park, where humans were controlling the robots that were killing them. Talk about dark. Was it like White Bear, where they had no true memory of why they were there? Were they simulations ultimately? Brooker didn’t expand on this.
What did you think of the ending? Let us know in the comments below, and let us know if you think Brooker should have kept the original idea in the episode.