In this episode, Black Mirror tackles the consequences of getting hacked, although it wouldn’t be Black Mirror if those consequences weren’t the most extreme ones imaginable.
“Shut Up and Dance” opens with a short scene: A woman parks a car in a garage, nervously sends a text, and walks away. But she’ll be back before the end.
Next, we meet Kenny (Alex Lawther), who has a virus on his computer. He downloads a program from the Internet to get rid of it, but doesn’t seem to consider the consequences of trusting some random program. Minutes after masturbating to Internet porn, he gets an alarming email saying “WE SAW WHAT YOU DID” with a video attached. He gets a second email demanding his phone number or else the video will be leaked. He complies and receives a series of rapid texts ordering him to keep his location services on and telling him, “WHEN TIME COMES YOU WILL BE ACTIVATED.”
The next day, the hacker(s) order him to go to a location at a certain time. Another victim, a man on a motorcycle, delivers a box to him and documents it with a photo. When Kenny questions him, he says that once he does what they tell him, he’s off the hook. How can this man know for sure if he’s still a pawn in the game?
Now Kenny must deliver the box to a hotel room. He opens it to find a seemingly innocuous cake that reads “I Love You.” The man in the room, Hector (Game of Thrones‘ Jerome Flynn), doesn’t know who sent it, but then gets a series of texts and runs into the bathroom. His communication with the hackers has begun. Kenny asks the hackers if he can go. There’s a close-up of the three dots of the typing indicator as he waits anxiously for the response. “TAKE HIS PHOTO,” reads the new text.
Hector and Kenny must head to a new location with the cake. They go to an assigned car, the same one we saw the woman leave at the beginning of the episode. Hector reveals what the hackers have on him: He’s a married man who was at the hotel to meet a prostitute he found online. This fake escort website is how the hackers found him, and they have the nude pictures he sent. When they arrive, they are instructed to rob a bank with a gun that is hidden in the cake.
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Kenny successfully robs the bank, and the two are instructed to split up: Hector must destroy the car and Kenny must bring the money into the woods. There, he meets another victim. “What they got you for?” he asks Kenny. “I just looked at some photos,” he replies. “Yeah, I just looked at pictures, too. How young were they, in the pictures?” says his companion, revealing that he’s being blackmailed for child pornography. For an answer, Kenny just shakes his head.
NEXT: Kenny receives his next task