For almost a year, since the release of season 4 of Charlie Brooker‘s anthology series Black Mirror, fans have wondered about the deeper meaning of the title of Andrew Gower‘s episode “Crocodile”. After all the episode is set and filmed in Iceland – not exactly the natural habitat of large aquatic reptiles.
Fans have theorized that the title is a reference to the large “Crocodile” tears that the main protagonist Mia sheds at the end of the episode, or her general personality as a cold-blooded and thin-skinned person.
In a recent publication, behind-the-scenes book “Inside Black Mirror“, director John Hillcoat provides his own thoughts on the title and reveals that he himself had never been given a real explanation either:
The story’s cruel logic has a deadly vice-like grip, akin to a crocodile’s jaw. […] [Mia’s] reptilian brain takes over, like a cornered lizard or snake… or crocodile!
The book also contains an interview with show creator Charlie Brooker and we are finally given a definite answer:
The genesis of the title actually relates to [a] previous incarnation of the script, about [a] person who’d witnessed their mother’s murder at the age of two. She’d grown into this very anxious person, who saw the world as incredibly threatening.
Here’s the analogy: imagine that your life is a simulated boat ride down a river. If you started playing that, as a VR experience, it could be sunny and beautiful and you love it. But if it’s scripted that occasional random events will happen, such as a crocodile attacking you, well now that’s slightly different. And if you are really unlucky, and a crocodile attacks you in the first minute of you playing that game, then you think you’re in a horror game. You think, “From that point on, I could get attacked at any moment,” and you can never relax and enjoy the rest of that boat ride, because you think it’s a crocodile attack simulator.
So that’s what Crocodile is: an analogy for somebody who’d been traumatised at an early age, and might be troubled by life forever and never able to relax. The title stuck even though the story completely changed, and then the title didn’t actually make sense. But it’s also weirdly fitting.
If you’re a fan of the show, “Inside Black Mirror” is really worth checking out as it contains lots of inside information on all episodes of Black Mirror’s first four seasons, and our Andrew Gower is also not forgotten.