True to the Code : Stories of the American Character

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Sure, this one's scary, but it's just scary. There's some "Purge"-quality social commentary here, and that's nice. But "Black Mirror" is usually smarter. This episode relies too much on typical scares to be among our favorites. The sudden turn into real-life horror is more affecting than the haunted house scenes.

This feels like the umpteenth episode of "Black Mirror" in which someone's digital soul becomes trapped outside his or her body. This time the victim is pop star Ashley Miley Cyrus! We like her , who ends up inside a robot toy owned by one of her adoring fans. A caper to reunite mind and body ensues, making this one of the funniest episodes of "Black Mirror.

We recommend this episode, and all the ones that follow, with zero reservations. This episode has the best setup of any "Black Mirror," and seems poised to launch a savage critique of over-parenting. But it doesn't escalate as much as we expected it to, and can't quite live up to its brilliant concept. We think about this episode every time we ride an exercise bike, which probably isn't often enough.

This mean little story feels all the meaner because it's so easy to imagine it happening in real life. It's a perfect first episode, because there's no better test of whether "Black Mirror" is for you. Letitia Wright and Douglas Hodge counter the ugliness with some beautiful acting. Hey, Alexa: Is this episode just a stripped-down survival story? Just asking.

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If Alfred Hitchcock had done a "Black Mirror" episode, it would go pretty much like this. A frosty blonde antihero Andrea Riseborough tries to outsmart a relentless insurance adjuster.

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A rodent gets involved. Sentiment-free, it's the most "Black Mirror" episode of "Black Mirror.

No episode of "Black Mirror" will leave you feeling worse about humanity than this one. The ultimate prank is on you. Oh, also? It could happen. Similar things have already happened. And it's one of many episodes that remind us to never let anyone make a digital copy of your soul. By far the most ambitious "Black Mirror," "Bandersnatch" does something never before attempted in serious drama, using the "Choose Your Own Adventure" format to ask provocative questions about free will and power. Part film, part video game, it's incredibly impressive, and builds a complicated, stunning alternate-reality that we're still navigating.

The one flaw is that the lack of a consistent narrative makes it hard to completely engage with the characters. This is the episode that probably hits closest to home: We think about it every time we get in a Lyft or consider writing a negative Yelp review. He's smart and strong, an introvert , but any anguish he suffers is caused by others. He has also referred to Reacher on multiple occasions as a ' knight-errant ' [10] [13] and in an interview for the Time magazine describes the character as: " He's two things in one. On the surface, he is an ex-military cop who is suddenly dumped out into the civilian world.

He doesn't fit in, and he spends his time wandering America, seeing the things that he's never had time to see before. He's trying to stay out of trouble, but masterfully once a year getting into trouble. He's also the descendant of a very ancient tradition: the noble loner, the knight errant, the mysterious stranger, who has shown up in stories forever… He is a truly universal character I'm writing the modern iteration of a character who has existed for thousands of years.

In another interview for Esquire magazine, Child further analyses the mythology of his character:. The stories that I love are basically about the knight-errant, the mysterious stranger. And the reason why people think that's an essentially American paradigm is the Westerns. The Westerns were absolutely rock solid with that stuff.

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You know, the mysterious rider comes in off the range, sorts out the problem, and rides off into the sunset. It is just such a total paradigm, but not invented in America. That was imported from the medieval tales of Europe. The knight-errant: literally a knight, somehow banished and forced to wander the land doing good deeds.

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It's part of storytelling in every culture. Japan has it with the ronin myth; every culture has this Robin Hood idea. So really, that character was forced out of Europe as Europe became more densely populated and more civilized. That character no longer had stories in Europe; it had to migrate to where the frontier was still open and dangerous, which was America, essentially. So the character, I think, is actually universal and historic, most recently, normally represented in America.

I think the Westerns saw it firmly adopted by America, so yeah, right now, we think of this as a completely American character, but really, it's more historic than that. But I'm very happy to have that reference made. Child also views Reacher as " post-feminist " stating that he does not parlay in "gender distinction Reacher likes strong, realistic women, and he treats women with respect If you're a woman, he will be your friend; but if necessary, he will kill you.

Jack Reacher was born on a military base in Berlin, on 29 October He has no middle name, and most people simply call him 'Reacher', even his family as a child.

Regular references are made to the fact that Reacher's given name is Jack, which is not a nickname for John, and that he has no middle name. His military record officially refers to him as Jack none Reacher. After being shunted around the world, growing up on U.


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After four years at West Point to Reacher achieved the ranks of 2nd lieutenant , 1st lieutenant , captain , and major , [16] including an intervening demotion from major to captain [17] in [14] during his tenure in the military police. His commanding officer, Leon Garber, promoted Reacher twice in 18 months, making him the youngest peacetime major anyone could remember.

While his Silver Star and Purple Heart are cited on his profile, all of the other medal citations involve official secrets and are therefore redacted. The short story Deep Down hints that he possibly was awarded the Legion of Merit as a result of exposing a female liaison officer who was leaking confidential information to the Soviet Union. Reacher served in the army's military police branch, resigning his commission and mustering out at the rank of major.

His unit, the fictional th Special Investigations Unit, [11] was formed to handle exceptionally tough cases. He left the armed forces in , partly due to a reduction in the forces and partly because he verbally offended a lieutenant colonel during an investigation in Mississippi, who then singled him out for discharge. After leaving the Army, Reacher became a drifter , his only baggage a folding toothbrush, [1] [7] although after the September 11 attacks , with restrictions on wire transfers in the light of fraud he is obliged to carry an ATM card [26] and photo ID in the form of a generally expired American passport.

Emily Sargent, while conducting an interview with Lee Child, describes Reacher's post-military life as follows:. You will never find Reacher going to the laundry or doing the ironing. When his clothes get dirty he simply goes to the local hardware store and buys a functional pair of chinos and a workman's shirt and stuffs the old ones in the bin. No mortgage, no wife, no ties, he is a perfectly free agent, unlimited and unbound, incapable of ever settling down.

He's an ex-military policeman, and he was demobilized in his middle thirties after having served all of his adult life in the [U. The idea was to have a character that was plausibly rootless. Most people who are wanderers do it for other reasons—they are mentally ill, or something like that. Reacher is completely competent, but he's just habituated to this fragmented life in the military, so he can't settle into civilian society.

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The idea of staying anywhere for more than a few days is anathema to him. Reacher himself expounds on a hypothesis about this vagrant life-style in Never Go Back. He states that he has a genetic disposition towards roaming about, citing the British Empire , the Vikings , and the Polynesians as groups with a similar wanderlust. While he accepts that there was an economical necessity behind their voyages, he maintains that "some of them could not stop".

He feels that long ago when humans lived in small bands , there was a risk of inbreeding as a result of which a gene developed over the course of evolution such that "every generation and every small band had at least one person who had to wander". This would lead to "mixing up of gene pools " and would be "healthier all around". Reacher concludes:. I think ninety-nine of us grow up to love the campfire, and one grows up to hate it.