Black Mirror – Season 6 Episode 5 “Demon 79” Recap & Review

Demon 79

Episode 5 of Black Mirror Season 6 starts with us whisked over to the north of England in 1979. Our protagonist is Nida, a simple sales assistant, and she spends her time opening up the store, helping out other customers and doing everything she can to be the best employee.

Unfortunately, Nida is pushed around by her colleague Vicky, who forces her to end her lunch break early and deal with creepy Keith Holigan, a guy who’s rumoured to have killed his wife. There are rippling currents of racism here that Nida is forced to deal with, coming from other people in the street that give her suspicious side-eyed glances and Vicky turning her nose up at Indian food.

Protests in the street are growing, while Michael Smart, a conservative MP, believes change needs to come as their streets are under threat. And when he says the word threat, he looks right at Nida. And if that wasn’t bad enough, someone spray-paints NF on her door, which stands for National Front, a radical group that believes they need to stop immigration into the UK.

Nida heads down to the basement to eat her lunch from now on, where she notices old newspaper clippings. Among them are a number of different tragedies. Nida decides to take them, and among the trinkets she finds, is a strange stone that has an engraving on the back.

That night, this strange stone seems to call out to Nida in her apartment. Holding it, a demon called Gaap speaks to her. She’s apparently anointed this talisman after smearing her blood on it, and now they’re bound together. Nida is shocked and even more so when she learns what she has to do. She needs to carry out three human sacrifices, otherwise the world is going to end.

Nida is encouraged to say yes, and when she does the demon shows up in her apartment. He’s not going away after all but he does turn into a more manageable appearance for her, coming from a singer from the Boney M group. Gaap reveals that they have until Mayday to do this, otherwise they’re in big trouble. Should she fail? Well, the whole world will be burning.

In order to stop that, they need to conduct one kill a day, and it has to be humans too, animals will not count. As Nida rushes out, in the dead of night she kills a guy under a bridge, smacking him upside the head with a brick as a result of him apparently abusing his 8 year old daughter, at least if Gaap is to be believed.

This is actually Gaap’s first assignment and he tries to encourage Nida that what she’s doing is for the good of humanity and that she’s doing herself a service.

An officer called Suzie is right on the case of Tim’s death, determined to get to the bottom of what’s happened. They do soon find Tim down under the bridge though, and realize he’s been killed.

Nida acts suspiciously though, especially when Gaap ends up following her to work and tries to egg her on to find her next victim. Nida does no such thing though, and heads home where Gaap shows off the news of nuclear tensions between Russia and the US.

Gaap encourages Nida to head out and gain some Dutch courage before doing her deed. Gaap shows off just how many secrets these different individuals in town have. The second contender though is Keith Holigan, whom Gaap confirms did actually kill his wife. Oh, and he was turned on at the time of the murder too.

Nida follows him out back of the pub, and eventually back to Keith’s place. It’s a complete state and Nida is running out of time. With only 6 minutes until midnight, Nida looks set to bash him in the head. Keith realizes what’s going to happen and claims he wasn’t a bad husband and he did love his wife. That doesn’t stop Nida bashing his brains out though. After killing him, Nida ends up fighting with Keith’s flat mate and brother, Chris, whom she ends up stabbing in the chest to avoid the evidence.

As Gaap phones through to his dimension for guidance (using the number 666 of course) he finds out that Keith’s death didn’t actually register; one can’t actually kill murderers as part of the ritual. They’re off-limits and are playing for the home team.

Nida starts to cast her gaze over the final victim, whom she’s decided should probably be Vicky, but there’s also Michael Scott, the horrible MP too. He shows up at the department store, and the boss calls out Vicky as the best worker.

At this point, Nida changes her target to Michael Scott, given he’s about to become a massive fan to those down in Hell. He’s going to cause absolute chaos, so Nida decides to kill him, given it’s not outside the rules. Gaap is worried that the other demons are not going to like this, but her target has been chosen. And in fact, she takes off with the red jacket too, exchanging it for her own and signifying that change into becoming a completely different person.

As for Suzie, she heads to the second crime scene and finds Keith and his brother. This sees the police gain ground on Nida’s link to all this. As the barmaid points out Nida was in and drunk whiskey, along with muttering to herself, it’s enough of a lead for the officer, Len, to follow up enquiries.

When the officer shows up at her door, Nida makes a good account of herself but Gaap points out afterwards, when the officer leaves, that he doesn’t believe a word of her story, and he follows her out of town.

Nida though, is a woman possessed and she follows Michael Scott out of town, determined to ram him off the road. After watching him plow into a tree, Nida follows with her hammer and starts to smash Scott across his body. That is, until Len arrives to stop her.

Nida is taken down to the police station, where she retells her entire story, which only makes her look more insane. As the minutes tick down, the time passes midnight… and air raid sirens blare outside.

As all the officers head out and rush to see what’s going on, Gaap shows back up. He’s been cast down into eternal oblivion… but he wants Nida to come with him. Nida decides to do just that, and as nuclear war hits the world, Gaap and Nida leave together into Eternal oblivion, hand in hand.


The Episode Review

While this episode errs more on the supernatural side of things too, Black Mirror’s final chapter actually does a solid job of adding commentary about rage, frustration, marginalization and being radicalized.

Nida is a hard worker. She does absolutely everything she can at the start of this episode. She’s cheerful, happy and tries her best to fit in. Unfortunately, the prejudices around her are too much and she’s deeply alone, especially given it’s been a year since her mum passed away.

One could argue over whether Gaap is actually real or not, as the grief and fear over the future could well just be a manifestation of Nida’s paranoia, used to justify killing various people she believes deserve it. This really harks back to how easy it is to radicalize lonely, frustrated people who are disillusioned at the world.

Michael Scott looking at Nida when he says the word “threat”, not to mention all those little hints that Nida isn’t of sound mind, lean into the idea of her being radicalized and disenfranchised with the world. And of course, all of this happens right at the height of the cold war, where a potential nuclear war is looming on the horizon.

Black Mirror has always made these comments about politics, and while there isn’t necessarily a tech component with this one, it does borrow ideas seen in earlier episodes like Waldo. And speaking of earlier episodes, anyone else catch the little reference to Metalhead?

Either way this is an enjoyable episode to end the season on, blending in elements of Hitchcockian horror and plenty of thematic material about rage and radicalization.

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You can read our full season review for Black Mirror season 6 here!

 

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1 thought on “Black Mirror – Season 6 Episode 5 “Demon 79” Recap & Review”

  1. Translated from French:

    THIS EPISODE MAKES ME THINK OF THE NUCLEAR RISK WITH THE WAR IN UKRAINE. “THE CLOCK OF APOCALYPSE” CURRENTLY INDICATES A TIME NEAR MIDNIGHT. PUTIN’S MADNESS AND MAYBE A FEW PEOPLE AROUND HIM (2?) COULD LEAD US TO AN APOCALYPTIC NUCLEAR WAR. WHAT IF KILLING 3 PEOPLE AT THE DAWN OF A NUCLEAR WAR COULD SAVE HUMANITY?

    French original:

    CET ÉPISODE ME FAIT PENSER AU RISQUE NUCLÉAIRE AVEC LA GUERRE EN UKRAINE. “L’HORLOGE DE L’APOCALYPSE” INDIQUE ACTUELLEMENT UNE HEURE PROCHE DE MINUIT. LA FOLIE DE POUTINE ET PEUT ÊTRE DE QUELQUES PERSONNES DE SON ENTOURAGE (2?) POURRAIT NOUS AMENER À UNE GUERRE NUCLÉAIRE APOCALYPTIQUE. ET SI TUER 3 PERSONNES À L’AUBE D’UNE GUERRE NUCLÉAIRE POUVAIT SAUVER L’HUMANITÉ ?

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