Warning: This recap is full of spoilers. If you don’t want to know about what happens in this episode “Nosedive,” or find yourself easily affected by biting social commentary, look away now!
“Nosedive,” which was co-written by Rashida Jones as a commentary on the effect social media has on all of our psyches, opens on Lacie Pound (Bryce Dallas Howard) on a run in a perfect Stepfordian community. It’s the type of run many of us are familiar with—the kind that involves a lot of looking at one’s phone. But Lacie’s phone interaction is slightly—very slightly—different than what we’re used to. We watch as she goes through a Tinder-like feed of friends and acquaintances, giving them all ratings of between one and five stars (ratings similar to those you’d give an Uber driver).
Back at home, Lacie practices some emotional reactions in the mirror—yes, the show is called Black Mirror, let’s move on—although it’s obvious the reactions aren’t authentic. As she’s fake-laughing at the mirror, we notice something crucial about this world. Lacie and, as we’ll soon find out, everybody else have technologically advanced contact lenses (reminiscent of those in “The Entire History of You”) that can pick up on other people’s virtual profiles. The virtual profiles have little star ratings, and Lacie’s is currently a 4.2 out of 5.
Before Lacie heads off into the workaday world, which, like ours, is populated with literally everybody looking down at their phones, we meet Ryan: her current roommate and brother. The relatively grungy VR gamer is informed by his sister that they have four weeks before they need to move out of their apartment. Ryan says he’s already found a place, but Lacie, clearly anxious, is still looking.
After her interaction with her brother, we follow Lacie as she moves through a world full of people constantly rating each other’s every single action on a scale from one to five stars. Lacie posts pictures of her cappuccino and cookie (yes, you’ve done that on Instagram too) and waits for her online ratings with bated breath. She has interactions with co-workers that involve no eye contact—they’re too busy checking out each other’s online profiles—and has one encounter with Chester, a co-worker who, thanks to his low star rating, has essentially become a social leper. While at work, Lacie also essentially Facebook stalks a gorgeous woman named Naomi (Alice Eve). It immediately becomes apparent that Lacie is jealous of Naomi’s perfect, or seemingly perfect, life.
When Lacie meets with a realtor from Pelican Cove, a neighborhood made up of “fake smile jails” according to Ryan, she finds out that her dream apartment is eye-poppingly expensive. There is a caveat, however. If Lacie can get her social rating above a 4.5, she’ll get a 20% discount on the cost of rent. Unfortunately, after visiting with a consultant from “Reputelligent,” Lacie finds out that that will take 18 months. But then, out of nowhere, Lacie gets a call from the ever-popular Naomi, who saw Lacie’s recent post of her doll “Mr. Rags,” and wants Lacie to be her maid of honor at her wedding. Lacie accepts (of course, Naomi is a 4.8 after all), and realizes that if she’s liked by all of Naomi’s highly rated friends, she’ll be able to earn her 4.5 rating and thusly her Pelican Cove apartment. Again there’s a catch: Lacie’s going to need to give a speech at the wedding.
Lacie prepares herself for the wedding, practicing her speech to the point of having each tear planned out. Ryan, who’s not so enamored with the rate-everyone-on-everything culture, calls out his sister for being a phony. After a big fight between the siblings, she disregards him because of his low star status.
In order to get to Naomi’s wedding, Lacie needs to go to the airport, and it is there that the episode’s title begins to make sense. Lacie finds out that her flight has been cancelled, and in an attempt to convince an airline employee that she needs to make her flight, Lacie ends up cursing her out instead. This results in a police officer/security guard type deducting a full point from her star status for 24 hours, as well as putting her into “double damage” (meaning people’s low ratings of her will count double).
Ever determined, Lacie rents an electric car and hits the freeway. Unfortunately, Lacie’s older model rental can’t be charged, and she’s forced to hit the road as a hitchhiker. After lots of rejection from passers by, Lacie’s finally picked up by a truck driver named Susan. Susan, a lowly 1.4, informs Lacie that she used to be a 4.6. After Susan’s husband died of cancer however, she stopped caring about her status, started speaking her mind and cursing more, and encourages Lacie to do the same. Lacie, of course, disregards the advice, and continues on her mission to make it to Naomi’s wedding.
After hitching a ride in an RV full of folks who love the faux show Sea of Tranquility (they’re “tranq-heads”), Naomi calls Lacie and tells her not to come—her rating, now in the 2s, is simply too low. Lacie isn’t having that though; she’s made it this far, she’s going to Naomi’s wedding.
In an incredible display of grit, Lacie borrows an ATV from a random stranger and eventually busts her way into Naomi’s wedding (which is apparently being held in some kind of high-security resort). And it’s there, muddied, hair disheveled, mascara running down her face, that Lacie gives her maid of honor speech to Naomi. Needless to say, the speech is not rated well by the attendees—Lacie even threatens poor Mr. Rags with a knife—and Lacie is eventually captured by security guards and dragged away.
After Lacie’s arrest, she’s put into a prison cell and is finally able to take off her tacky maid of honor dress. Just after that cathartic moment, she notices a man looking at her. She quickly asks him what he’s looking it—classic fightin’ words—and very soon the two are involved in a glorious, F-bomb-filled shouting match. And it’s there, between Lacie and the other man cursing like sailors in surgery, that the episode ends; with Lacie not giving a frack about what anybody else thinks.
We’re not Lacie though, and we do care what you think! So let us know what you thought about this twisted, social media-infused episode of Black Mirror in the comments below!