We’ve all seen movies and TV shows about killer robots. But until Netflix’s new season of its future-shock anthology drama Black Mirror, never before have we seen a terrifying vision of machines run amuck that so closely resembles the design of actual real-life robots — namely, those Boston Dynamics “dogs” that have impressed the world with their remarkable balance, speed, and dexterity … yet also unavoidably make you wonder: What if one was chasing me?
Such viral videos were the inspiration for “Metalhead,” a gripping Black Mirror episode which began streaming Friday. Below, series creator Charlie Brooker answers a few of our burning questions.
The set-up: It’s a post-apocalyptic future where robot dogs are hunting human survivors, including our protagonist (Maxine Peake), who faces an unrelenting and surprisingly capable pursuer across a barren landscape. The robot is full of lethal tricks, ranging from operating a car to re-charging from the sun. Yet perhaps the eeriest moment is when the overturned robot simply pushes itself back upright to regain its footing — as that’s something we’ve actually seen robots do in Boston Dynamics online videos. It’s perhaps the most chilling vision yet of the well-worn killer robot trope since the robot’s mechanics overlay so closely with real footage we’ve seen. Adding to the tale’s mood and originality, the episode was shot entirely in black and white by director David Slade (American Gods, Hard Candy), with a soundtrack lifting orchestral cues from The Shining.