‘Black Mirror’ Creator Breaks Down That “Hang the DJ” Ending
Major spoilers for the Black Mirror Season 4 episode “Hang the DJ” follow below.
If you’re been working your way through Black Mirror Season 4 over the long holiday break, then you may have stumbled upon the episode “Hang the DJ”, which feels something like a close companion to Season 3’s series high-mark “San Junipero.” It’s an episode that takes on romantic relationships, but it does so on a more hopeful, optimistic note than, say, leaving you shaking in disgust/shock like some other Black Mirror episodes.
To recap, “Hang the DJ” is basically Black Mirror’s take on Tinder, as it takes place in a totalitarian-like reality in which couples are paired by The System, and are told how long their relationship will last at the outset. Our heroes are Amy (Georgina Cambell) and Frank (Joe Cole), who are paired up early in the episode, part, and can’t stop thinking about one another. In the end, even though The System tells them their time is up, they rebel and run away together, opting to scale a giant wall to see what’s on the other side.
But unlike a Logan’s Run or Maze Runner-type situation, they don’t find themselves in a new world on the other side of the wall. Instead, it’s revealed that the entire episode was taking place inside a Tinder-like app, which was running simulations to see how compatible Frank and Amy are in the real world. We see that in 1,000 simulations, only two times did the pair not rebel, thus making them a 99.8% match on this dating system.
It’s a whopper of an ending that’s in lock step with Black Mirror’s specific kind of madness, but it also provides the audience with something not super common in the world of this show: a happy ending.
Black Mirror showrunner Charlie Brooker recently spoke with EW about the “Hang the DJ” episode specifically, breaking down the happiness of the ending and what director Tim Van Patten (Game of Thrones) was able to catch on the screen:
“I think it’s a very happy moment and I think Tim did a brilliant job of directing it, and Georgina and Joe did a fantastic part playing that final scene. They know they are destined to have a very serious relationship and they’re each others’ chosen ones and I think they go through a gamut of emotions. You see them finding it exciting and taking on the weight of it, and then you see Georgina quite playfully just steps toward him at the very end. I hope the takeaway is that it’s playful and hopeful. So though there’s an algorithm that brought them together, and now they’re about to take the first step on that journey together.”
Brooker also addressed those two simulations in which Frank and Amy didn’t rebel, and explained how thoroughly they worked out what was really going on here:
“Now we do see at the end, [the app] runs it 1,000 times and two didn’t rebel. So I would think they would be matched with a random other person and their world would end. We did have a lot of torturous conversations about what’s really going on. We decided it’s a cloud-based system that’s simulating 1,000 different run-throughs of yourself and a potential partner to see how many times you’d rebel against it. And it deliberately is setting a tight framework. And if they do rebel, that means they’re destined to be together. So if you don’t rebel, the system has served its purpose and your reality ends.”
While “San Junipero” is an incredibly high bar to cross (seriously, that one’s an all-timer), I think “Hang the DJ” was a smart pseudo-sequel that takes the basic idea of a hopeful romantic episode but spins it into a very different kind of story.
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