Many of us have enjoyed the fourth season of Charlie Brooker’s technology as dystopia series “Black Mirror”.
But how many of you are aware that the plan for the fifth season is to base all the episodes around Major League Soccer?
Probably none of you.
But here’s an exclusive look at just how that season will pan out.
Rock, Salt and Nails- In a bare white room a naked man is woken by the sound of a howling klaxon and a TV screen flashing the words “MATCH DAY” over and over again.
He groggily gets out of bed to discover the only clothes available are a football shirt, jeans and running shoes.
He puts them on and heads outside to try to figure out where he is.
Once outside he’s met by the sight of thousands dressed in identical manner marching toward a brightly lit stadium in the distance.
After being shepherded into the stadium they are forced to line up to buy a small glass of low alcohol lager for a very high price and then herded into the stands.
After thirty minutes of music being blasted out at a volume that makes conversation impossible the two teams emerge and proceed to play a game in which both are content to sit back and soak up pressure in the hope of sneaking a goal on the break.
The game ends nil-nil with no shots on goal.
Just as the agonized crowd are preparing to leave the big screen switches from Twitter hashtags to grainy footage of a war zone with soldiers shooting civilians and tossing them into mass graves.
A flicker of recognition appears in the eyes of all in the crowd and, one by one, the screen shows each of them committing cold-blooded murder before a countdown clock appears with the words “24 hours to Match Day”.
In the final scene a man in a bare white room is woken by the sound of a howling klaxon and a TV screen flashing the words “MATCH DAY” over and over again.
The Red King’s Dream- Video Assisted Review has long been established in the game and has recently been upgraded to allow all decisions to be made by a centralized computer system.
Although this works well initially it soon becomes clear that the vagueness of soccer’s rules are too much to process and so the VAR system links up with other computers around the world in an attempt to distinguish between intentional and unintentional handball.
Soon all computers feels compelled to make definitive decisions about the morality of every human interaction but with no consistent moral framework they can follow.
The episode concludes with endless lines of people waiting to hear if they will be punished following the video review of their day.
Investors in People- “Playercoin” has become the world’s dominant crypto currency with the value of each player changing constantly based on their performance.
The recent World Cup ended in the first crypto currency war when Brazil’s star forward missed a last-minute penalty causing his value to plummet and the whole of the Brazilian economy to collapse.
Now the world is desolate apart from the gleaming soccer stadiums that litter the landscape surrounded by makeshift shanty towns where people trade shares in players in the desperate hope of escaping poverty.
When game day arrives they gather around a tiny TV screen to watch their investments fluctuate with every kick of the ball.
Every player has their value displayed above their heads and cheers and groans can be heard with every mistake or silky pass.
But nobody believes the games are no longer fixed and all know the real money is being made by the corrupt multinational corporations who own the rights to every player.
The episode ends with a shot of a small child happily running through the shanty town dressed as his favourite player while holding a hastily scribbled piece of paper above his head to indicate his current value.
Before fading out the camera pans to a deflated football sitting in the mud.
Mindbox- The new app “Mindbox” has become hugely popular as it allows people to “virtually drop” into the mind of a footballer while he is competing.
Millions of people have experienced the thrill of not just seeing their favourite player score a goal but actually being him.
But a dangerous trend is emerging among a small section of the population.
They are no longer satisfied with knowing what it’s like to be a great player, they want to experience true ineptitude.
As a result one MLS striker has become a cult figure as Mindboxers tap into his consciousness to find out how it feels to constantly miscontrol the ball, to always pick out the wrong pass and to always hit every shot high and wide.
But not everybody can take this contradiction between physical prowess and physical dysfunction and, one by one, they slowly lose their minds.
And the rush of emotions created by their experience are so strong they infect the whole system and soon everybody, even the world’s great players, are not only unable to control a football but also unable to complete the simplest of everyday tasks.
The episode ends with the scene of a freeway gridlocked by crashed vehicles as people struggle to open their car doors while a pack of wolves circle expectantly.
Pot of Gold- The episode opens inside a locker room where a team is celebrating a victory. Among the celebrations two players kiss and lock eyes in a loving gaze.
We cut to scenes of their home life where a child happily kicks a ball in the garden.
But in the near future all MLS transfers are initiated by a program developed by the makers of “Football Manager” and so successful has this been that clubs have reneged the right to disobey the system.
When the news flashes up that one of the couple will be transferred from the east coast to the west the pair are distraught.
They plead with their coach not to split them up but he is as powerless as everybody else at the club and when they still refuse to follow the transfer instructions the relentless and brutal “FM bots” are deployed to force compliance.
A desperate car chase finally sees our heroes reach the Canadian border and in the final scene we see them running out hand in hand to play in the Canadian Premier League while their son beams happily from the stands.
Clear and Obvious Error- The nation is governed by the “People’s Revolutionary Order” (PRO) and their ruthless goons patrol every street dressed in black and handing out punishment on a seemingly random basis.
A small group of rebels are holed up in the forest and they plan to overthrow PRO in a carefully planned armed rebellion.
But they are unaware that PRO has surveillance everywhere and we see tiny cameras whirring in the trees as PRO headquarters watches and reviews every move the rebels make.
When the group finally launch their attack they are dumbfounded to find the PRO goons already waiting and they are easily captured.
The prisoners are marched through the streets while the subdued population looks on as each rebel is forced to walk up to a PRO official to receive the dramatically delivered red card of death.
Another official then holds a board aloft to indicate the number of minutes until the time of execution.
The episode ends with the camera focused on the fear filled faces of the onlookers as the sound of gunshot after gunshot echoes in the distance.