(Some spoilers ahead for the the “Black Mirror” Season 4 episode “Black Museum”)
There’s a fun little Easter egg in the “Black Museum” episode of “Black Mirror” Season 4 that you may have missed, but which certainly made me laugh. The gag involves a minor character, a U.S. senator, referenced as having been involved in something big involving Russia, and being murdered for whatever his involvement was. My guess is it’s something to do with the 2016 United States presidential election (you know what I’m talking about).
The bit comes during the first story Rolo Haynes (Douglas Hodge) tells as he’s giving Nish (Letitia Wright) a tour of the Black Museum — the one about Dr. Dawson (Daniel Lapaine), who used a sensory implant to be able to feel what his patients feel in order to better diagnose their illnesses. The part I’m talking about is when he was hooked into someone when they died, kicking off the dark and troubling part of the story where he gets sexually aroused by pain and does all sorts of horrifying things to feel it.
So what happens is a man is brought into the hospital, a Senator Whitley (Mark Kempson). The senator is suffering some kind of debilitating illness. Dawson stays hooked in for the duration, unable to figure out what’s wrong — and the senator dies after a few minutes without any progress being made.
There was good reason for the mystery. Here’s how Rolo described the situation: “One day they brought in Senator Whitley. He’d collapsed at some fundraiser. No one could tell what in hell was wrong with him. Dawson’s hooked up, and it’s the roughest ride. Like he’s got no clue what this is. It’s a pain he’s never known.
“It turns out the senator had been poisoned. A rare poison at that, some kind of Russian s–t. He’d been into that whole thing.”
The question from there is what “whole thing” is Rolo talking about? No further context is given for the remark, indicating it was a big enough thing that Nish would have known what he was referring to.
There are two other offhand comments Rolo makes that might provide some clues, however. The first came just after Rolo and Nish first meet, when Rolo insists on searching Nish’s bag and making her go through a metal detector before entering the museum.
“Guessing you had a gut full of this security s–t at the airport,” Rolo says. “Our immigration guys are pretty tight these days.”
It’s a comment that, on its own, doesn’t really set off any red flags because American “immigration guys” have been pretty tight for a long time. So out of context that line doesn’t necessarily mean he’s talking about the Trump administration’s “immigration guys.”
However, there is a pretty explicit acknowledgement of Trump’s existence near the end of the episode, when Nish and Rolo are arguing over whether Clayton (Babs Olusanmokun) was really the “Weather Girl Murderer.”
“Wasn’t there some doubt? You know, that documentary?” Nish asks.
“Fake news,” Rolo replied, using President Trump’s catchphrase. That’s so specific a reference that it’s hard to imagine it being incidental.
And that, combined with the offhand comment about immigration and the mention of “that whole thing” with the Russians, tells me this episode might just take place in a world in which Trump is president… and in which Senator Whitley either: had some involvement in collusion between Trump’s people and the Russian government in hacking the election; had some involvement with the Russians hacking the election sans Trump (given special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is ongoing and we don’t ); was involved in the hacking and was about to turn witness; or had some involvement in investigating that whole thing with the Russians and Trump winning the election.
Whatever it was, the implication is clearly that the Russians had him killed for it. And, sure, it’s possible that Rolo is talking about something completely different. But it’s tough to imagine what else “that whole thing” could be that he could make so casual a reference without elaborating. It’s a subtle thing, but not so subtle that my mind didn’t immediately go in that direction with it.
What do you think? Is Rolo talking about Russian hacking or something else?