The deeper, darker meanings behind Black Mirror’s “Rachel, Jack & Ashley Too”
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS WHICH FANS OF BLACK MIRROR MAY WISH TO AVOID
While Miley Cyrus’ guest slot in season 5 of Black Mirror proved polarizing to fans and critics, the episode was perhaps one of the most cohesive of the season. “Striking Vipers” and “Smithereens” were suspenseful and terrifying, however, both stories lacked a clear message, unlike previous episodes. Although “Rachel, Jack & Ashley Too” wasn’t among the most critically acclaimed episodes of Black Mirror’s five seasons, the hour-and-ten-minute long episode offers a lot for the viewer to unpack, in true Black Mirror fashion.
In “Rachel, Jack & Ashley Too,” Cyrus plays a pop star named Ashley O. Although Ashley O is world-renowned, Grammy Award-winning music sensation, topping the charts with hits like “On a Roll” (A reworked version of Nine Inch Nails’ “Head Like a Hole”), she deeply desires to break free from her contract and write songs with more emotional depth.
Meanwhile, Rachel (Angourie Rice), a 15-year-old girl, idolizes Ashley O, however, is only given a surface-level view of the pop star. “On a Roll” is a lyrically uplifting pop earworm and Ashley O, herself, often reiterates messages of positivity.
During an appearance on a talk show, Ashley O introduces an A.I. toy modeled after her called Ashley Too. Owners of the Ashley Too are able to talk to the toy, which will engage in conversations with the owner.
Rachel is gifted an Ashley Too for her birthday and Ashley Too instantly becomes Rachel’s best friend.
In the midst of the Ashley Too launch, Ashley O is restless, waking up and writing songs in the middle of the night (one of which is a reworked version of Nine inch Nails’ “Right Where it Belongs”). Catherine (Susan Pourfar), Ashley O’s aunt and manager catches her writing new lyrics, and while she understands that Ashley wants to change her material, Catherine insists that she sticks the sound and style that has proven lucrative for her.
Ashley later grows to resent Catherine and plans to expose her for giving her illegal medicines. Before she gets the chance to expose Catherine, Catherine drugs Ashley’s food, putting her into a coma.