What happens when an anthology series does an anthology episode? The result is “Black Museum,” the season 4 finale, which features three seemingly separate stories being told, only to culminate in a powerful twist. The installment is also noteworthy for creator Charlie Brooker hinting that for the first time, there’s a reference to every previous episode. Did you spot them all? Because I’m going to be honest and admit that I didn’t — I kept just hoping for a big white bear to walk across the screen.
“Black Museum” begins with a young British girl named Nish (Letitia Wright) taking a scenic route through the mountains. She makes a stop at an abandoned gas station; with an estimated three hours to charge her car, she decides to take a look at a nearby building called “Rolo Haynes’ Black Museum.” The door is locked, so she takes a look around the side. A man eventually opens up, introducing himself as Rolo Haynes (Douglas Hodge), the museum’s owner. He invites her in, checking her bag and making her walk through a metal detector. They make small talk, as she says she’s “sort of” on vacation to surprise her dad for his birthday.
It’s now time to start the tour. As they walk into a room that houses “authentic criminal artifacts,” Haynes notices that the air conditioning isn’t working. “If it did something bad, chances are it’s in here,” he shares. He doesn’t want to rush ahead to the main attraction, so he starts things off with a story about Dr. Peter Dawson.
Before Haynes opened this crime museum, he worked in medical technology at hospital in New York City. His job was to recruit people for experimental treatments. One day, Haynes notices Dawson get frustrated over losing a patient, so he approaches him with a proposition. They’ve been developing a way to transfer knowledge from one brain to another. Experiments on mice and a maze failed, but it helped them accidentally discover that physical sensations can be shared, leading to the creation of a neural implant prototype that will help doctors diagnosis patients by feeling what they feel.
Dawson is all in on the idea and goes through with the irreversible procedure. The item on display in the museum is the device that gets placed on the patient’s head to send the sensation to Dawson. It’s immediately successful and Dawson’s riding high off of it, even using the system for sex, which allows him to simultaneously have both male and female orgasms. “But,” interrupts Nish. “Dawson’s having a great time, there’s got to be a but.” This girl knows what she’s talking about, because being hooked up to a poisoned senator results in Dawson blacking out. “Dawson had experienced death and come out the other side,” says Haynes, revealing that this forever changed the doctor. “The more pain he felt, the more pleasure he got.”
After trying to hurt his girlfriend in order to experience the discomfort and having to be pulled off of a patient, Dawson is no longer allowed at work. Stuck by himself at home, the pain addict begins hurting himself (I have to admit that I could barely watch as he pulled his own teeth out). “But it was never enough,” reveals Haynes. “When he was working on himself, there was a crucial element missing — fear.” Dawson ends up going hunting for prey, settling on a homeless man. The cops interrupt, but not before the doctor begins using a drill on his victim.
Dawson has been in a vegetated state ever since. “They say he still has that look on his face,” says Haynes. “Still riding that high.” We see Dawson lying in a hospital bed with a big smile and a big erection. “You’re f—ing with me, right?” asks Nish, forcing Haynes to admit he made up the latter part.
The air conditioning not working has started to have an effect on Haynes. Thankfully, Nish is nice enough to offer him some of her water. He’s hydrated up, so let’s move on to the next criminal object, which happens to be an adorable stuffed monkey. “Actually, one of the saddest things in the whole place,” declares Haynes. “You ever had one of those relationships where you just can’t get someone out of your head?” We’re introduced to Carrie and Jack (Aldis Hodge, a.k.a. Voodoo Tatum). It’s the classic tale of boy meets girl, boy impregnates girl, girl gives birth, girl gets hit by a van. Carrie ends up in a coma for years, but Jack continues to visit her religiously and she’s able to communicate through an intercom system. Once again, Haynes roams the hallways of the hospital looking for prospective test subjects. “She can live again,” he pitches to Jack. “She can hug your son via you.” Well, who could say no to that? (Recap continues on page 2)