How Black Mirror Reminded Me of Civilands: Charles Langston

Black Mirror is a TV series which always manages to make you wonder. The ‘what-if’ scenarios presented in this re-imagined Twilight Zone range from twisted to trippy to hopeful and back.

Civilands, my own dark-fiction adventure series, isn’t nearly as tech-driven and modern as this show. However, there was a parallel I couldn’t help but reflect on. What is this common bond you might ask? The characters Robert Daly (Jessie Plemons), of the episode USS Callister, and, “Mayor of Harran,” Charles Langston.

Robert Daly

Robert is a genius coder and co-founder of the game Infinity, a virtual-reality version of his favorite TV show, Star Fleet. The show (equivalent of Star Trek) involves classic space adventures which are carried over into the game. However, Daly’s role in his company is diminishing, due to his being at odds with his partner and CEO, Walton. Along with setting deadlines Robert doesn’t feel he can make, Walton also connects better with the other people in the office. Some of those employees are hardly even aware of Robert’s role as founder.

Charles Langston

As he tells the people of Harran, Charles was designated the Mayor of the small town by governing forces in the cities of Eastern Duresia. No one knows the comings and goings of Harran better than Charles. Whether it is the history, people, or environment, he’ll have an answer. He also claims to know what’s best for its future, having guided it for so many years and seeing its people grow as a community. Moving to the Murrieta Territory was the best thing he thinks ever happened to him, because of his position.

Why are they similar?

The above section is mostly from their own point of view. In reality, both characters are bastards.

  1. Anti-social – If you’re at odds with everyone, I imagine it’s probably something like 95% of the time your own fault. That’s both of these characters. At his company, no one is aware of Robert’s position because he makes no effort to make it known. Not only that, but he is also impolite and straight up steals their DNA, which is totally uncool. As for Charles it’s much the same. No one in his town respects or acknowledges his position as mayor. The problem is, he doesn’t make any effort to earn their respect either.
  2. Delusional – If these were ranked by importance to the stories, this would be #1. The opinion Robert has of himself makes me question whether new-hire, Annette Cole, is actually even saying nice things to him at the beginning. She is in awe of him and the genius of his code, but it almost feels like we’re in his own head when he reacts to it. He almost certainly tells himself these things on a daily basis. In Charles’ case, he was actually never even designated mayor. In fact, there are no formal “governing forces” in Duresia at the time of his settlement in the Murrieta, let alone ones that delegate positions in this separate territory. Since the people of Harran certainly never elected him, he truly has no claim at all to the title.

More about Black Mirror

Moving past the similarities of these two characters, I highly recommend Black Mirror for a binge-watching session. It’s not for the faint of heart or those who don’t wish to be challenged mentally while watching a TV show. The concepts are meant to make you think and typically not in a comfortable way. However, this makes for some great episodes which are also relevant to our ever-changing society.

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