"Men Against Fire" is the fifth episode of the third series of Black Mirror starring Malachi Kirby, Madeline Brewer, Ariane Labed, Sarah Snook and Michael Kelly. It was written by series creator Charlie Brooker and premiered on Netflix on 21 October 2016.
A military organization is battling a threat referred to as "roaches", mutated leftovers of a biological weapon from an unspecified war. Koinange, known as "Stripe" (Malachi Kirby), and Raiman, known as "Ray" or "Hunter" (Madeline Brewer), are part of a squad led by Medina (Sarah Snook), who use an implant called MASS to help with strategic operations. They answer the call of a village whose food supply was ransacked and tainted by these roaches. Following a lead, they head to an aging manor and interrogate its owner (Francis Magee). Medina suspects that the owner is harboring these roaches, while the others search the house. They come across and subsequently fight pale humanoids with sharp teeth and no apparent capacity for language, while the manor's owner attacks Medina. Stripe is briefly flashed by a device with a green light at the tip. The roaches are killed, except for one who flees into the woods, the owner is captured and the manor is torched.
En route to headquarters, Stripe appears to be daydreaming about a woman but she glitches out. That night he experiences the same dream but the experience is intercut with images of blood. A conversation with Raiman implies that the soldiers are fed these sexual fantasies as rewards for roach kills. Later, his interface glitches multiple times during training regimens. He brings this up with a doctor and a psychologist, Arquette (Michael Kelly), the latter of which enters commands into a computer for Stripe to receive "a good night" to thank him for reporting the glitches. When he sleeps, Stripe segues into a more intense version of his sexual fantasy, with multiple copies of the same woman.
The next day, the soldiers arrive at a compound on another hunt, and further glitches enable Stripe's sense of smell, which had previously been absent. They get ambushed by a roach sniper who kills Medina. They scour the sniper's building when Stripe encounters what Stripe sees as a human woman, who is shot by Raiman when she tries to flee. In a subsequent firefight, it is made clear that Stripe sees humans while Raiman sees roaches. Stripe knocks out Raiman but gets shot during the melee, and then escapes with the roaches, a woman (Ariane Labed) and child, who are from here on shown as humans and can be understood by Stripe.
After Stripe passes out behind the wheel, the roaches lead Stripe to their makeshift dwelling. The woman explains to Stripe that her name is Caterina and that his MASS implant has altered his vision, whereas the villagers' perception isn't altered and they simply hate the roaches due to propaganda and bigotry. Those seen by the soldiers as roaches are in fact human victims of a Holocaust-like campaign against those believed to be genetically inferior, following the outcome of a war ten years before. Meanwhile, Raiman tracks them down and ultimately slays the two roaches and knocks Stripe unconscious, returning him to headquarters to be confined.
While in confinement, Arquette explains that the green light device was an optical transmitter which infects implants with a virus. Arquette then discusses the history of warfare, reluctance to fire, and PTSD. He reveals that the implants are used to dehumanize the enemy, allowing soldiers to kill without remorse as well as improving efficiency in other ways. He confirms that Stripe has been working for a global eugenics program to "purify the bloodline" of humanity, and shows him video evidence that Stripe knowingly consented to the memory and sense altering effects of the MASS procedure.
Stripe attempts to attack Arquette, who subsequently uses the implant to blind him and then plays the actual footage of his first mission, with Stripe brutally murdering pleading "roaches" - the roach woman who escaped the fight is revealed to have been Caterina. Arquette threatens to incarcerate Stripe and loop the footage, unless he agrees to have his recent memory erased. He agrees and is then discharged, returning home to his immaculate house and dream girl as a reward. The viewer sees that in reality, he lives alone in a dilapidated house.
- Malachi Kirby - Stripe
- Madeline Brewer - Raiman
- Ariane Labed - Catarina
- Sarah Snook - Medina
- Michael Kelly - Arquette
- Kola Bokinni - Lennard
- Francis Magee - Parn Heidekker
- Aruhan Galieva - Village Mother
- Simon Connolly - Doctor
- Dean Ashton - Guard Bradley
- Kave Niku - Villager
- Thomas Thorøe - Villager #2
- Loreece Harrison - Dream Girl
- Toby Oliver - Boy Roach