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I just finished watching Black Mirror season 5, episode 2, "Smithereens". I can't seem to get what is the definite ending of this episode after police officers fire second shot on Christopher.

From the expression of everyone, we get the idea that either or both of them are shot dead, but we don't see who it was. Was it just Chris, was it Jaden, or was it both?

Lastly, everyone gets a text from someone; who was it?

  1. Was it friends of the girl who commits suicide?
  2. Was it from Billy Bauer to every Smithereen user warning of something?

Any explanation will be helpful.

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From IGN:

"This was the most important day is Chris’ life, and probably Jaden’s life as well," Brooker explained. "There’s this huge drama for them and everybody in that field. And yet, for the rest of the world, it’s just one more push notification… one more thing to glance at and get on with the rest of their day. Everything is being reduced to the level of a pop-up.”

Brooker laughed when he learned that fans of the show picked up their phones after watching "Smithereens" and immediately went on social media to find out what happened to Jaden and Chris. "So maybe we’ll claim that that’s what we were trying to do there,” Brooker said jokingly.

It was left ambiguous on purpose so that we all fall for the trap which we get the warning in the episode itself.

Also, digitalspy dig more deeper with Brooker and here what they figured out:

"The problem that I came banging up against was... You can't just give a glib reason [for a character taking their own life]. It's not like you'd get in there and find out, 'Oh, she took her own life because she was upset about something.' That would feel extremely superficial and cheap, and also weirdly slightly intrusive, even though that character is not real."

Brooker eventually decided that the best way to round off this story thread in 'Smithereens' was "actually to keep it very ambiguous".

From the same interview

As for why we never learn whether Chris and Jaden survive, Brooker said, "With the fate of Andrew and Damson's characters, that was always part of it – we wanted to show that the most important day in these people's lives becomes a bit of confetti in everyone else's life. It's just a momentary distraction.

"[Ending it that way] felt thematically right. So it was always deliberate. It wasn't like there was a different ending written and then we changed it in the edit."

Executive producer Annabel Jones added of the 'cliffhanger' conclusion: "I hope it's not unsatisfying, because I don't think that's where the story really is.

"Andrew's character has already reached the end of his journey. As far as he's concerned, his life is over, so it's sort of not the point [whether or not he survived]."

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    Thank you. That does explains what notification everyone get at the end of episode. – Milan Desai Jun 7 at 8:17
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    @MilanDesai added more – Ankit Sharma Jun 7 at 9:11
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Although I think Ankit Sharma's answer is the best answer, I think the episode's ambiguous ending goes a bit deeper where Billy Bauer's reaction is concerned.

IMO Billy Bauer is actually the most complicated character to figure out, because on one hand he did the right thing and talked/listened to Chris and fulfilled Chris' request to get his girlfriend's daughter's password, but on the other hand, Billy went right back to doing what he was doing before too, as if he wasn't really affected by whatever happened to Chris & Jaden!

However, what he was trying to do was detox from the technology and human contact all together! So there's a weird catch 22 in "addiction" vs "disconnection" in terms of empathy, which are all thematic to episode, because it was Chris being addicted to social media that led to the car crash and his fiance's death. And then his later girlfriend felt that she couldn't understand why her daughter committed suicide and thought that getting into her social media account (as she was not connected to it) would help bring her some closure or understanding about why she did it.

There's just that odd juxtaposition of Billy being out there alone in the desert in peace and tranquility, being disrupted to try and help somebody, which he could only do with the technology the world currently has, but yet it's followed by the madness of not knowing if in fact any action helped anyone?!

It was good episode to contemplate the conundrum of the nature of man/the human condition vs the nature of man with certain technology vs corporate enterprise! Is humanity just naturally on the whole unsympathetic or does technology make us more so?

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    Very Detailed and explanatory answer @Darth Locke +1 I do agree that directors have left it upon viewers to justify end of Smithereens episode. I also liked your point on how character of Billy Bauer goes back to his previous state even after how all events unfolded tragically. – Milan Desai Jun 7 at 14:44
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If you look closely, although it is difficult to see because the camera only shows the eyes, the cops seem to be smiling, something that implies that only Christopher was shot. The only one who seems to express pain is Billy Bauer who is somehow connected with Christopher (and also feels guilty about the death of his girlfriend and now his own death).

  • Thank you. I might have to see episode ending again to closely see that smile. – Milan Desai Jun 7 at 8:18
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Some great answers here. I would add the following, if it helps.

The most straightforward interpretation is that the notifications at the end were "tweets" that the hostage crisis was over (and Christopher was killed). It didn't matter to the public much and they went about their daily lives except for a brief phone check - an example of modern day desensitisation and shortened attention span.

At the same time, Billy Bauer carried on with his meditation and this gave me the impression that he didn't change his ways or Smithereens. As he briefly suggested, Smithereens turned into what it was, because this was what people wanted and it wasn't his making.

Although Christopher couldn't change the world, by getting the password to Hayley, the woman who lost her daughter to suicide, he did make a difference in at least one person's life. Although it was unclear whether she opened the account, if she did, it might give her some closure and understanding.

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