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Well, not to wax philosophical, but... how long can happiness realistically last, anyhow?
~ Rolo Haynes, commenting on one of his unfortunate "clients".
If it did something bad, chances are it's in here.
~ Rolo introducing the Black Museum.

Rolo Haynes is the main antagonist of the Black Mirror season 4 episode "Black Museum." The owner and curator of the eponymous Black Museum, he has made a business of collecting authentic criminological artifacts from across the world and putting them on display at his tourist trap exhibition. While he first appears to be a quirky but relatively harmless showman, it soon becomes apparent that he occasionally played a direct role in the origins of items he's collected - and that his collection isn't limited to inanimate objects, either.

He was portrayed by Douglas Hodge.

Personality

Ingratiating, morbid and thoroughly sleazy, Rolo Haynes likes to present himself as a modern-day carnie, and in many respects, his character fits the archetype appropriately: even during his days as a talent scout, he demonstrated a particular flair for storytelling and the use of morbid props - including the stuffed corpses of the lab rats used in the pain-transference experiment. As the owner of the Black Museum, Haynes acts as a Barnum-esque exhibitor of the sordid and unusual, gleefully showing guests some of the most twisted relics the criminological world has to offer, usually embellishing his displays with ridiculous voices and deliberately delaying the "best" parts of the story so as to heighten suspense. For a time, he appears more comical than anything else, too quirky to really appear malevolent and too toadying to come across as dangerous in any. However, as with the real P.T. Barnum, much of his museum is the product of a long personal history of exploitation and graft, and it's in this aspect that the more unpleasant aspects of his character are brought to light as the story continues.

At his heart, Haynes is a ruthless, greedy, dishonest and thoroughly heartless individual with zero empathy for others: even during his earliest scenes at St Junipers, he can be seen covering his face with his tablet while around sick patients, clearly disgusted to be anywhere near them. During his conversations with Dawson, he also derides the patients for problems that are not their fault, sneeringly pointing out the annoyance in diagnosing clients who are drunk, "dumb" or unable to speak English. More prominently, he has no trouble exploiting the plights of his three main clients for his own enrichment, showing little regard for their well-being and even spurring them on in situations where they might be at risk; and when everything goes wrong and his clients are left as lifeless parodies of their former selves, he shows no remorse - only disappointment that they can't be bilked any further. Thoroughly avaricious, he is prepared to go to utterly disgusting lengths in order to keep his coffers filled, and over time, he breaks what little rules he's established for himself just to keep his profit margins up (the one exception to this being his rule against masturbating over the exhibits).

However, it's not until the final chapter of his story that the lowest nadir of his personality become apparent: already established as morbid enough to enjoy collecting and exhibiting relics from crime scenes, he takes sadistic pleasure in the display of the Museum's main exhibit, chuckling over the "beautiful pain" and the "fun-sized" suffering he's able to inflict on his living artifact.

History

The Pain Junkie

Prior to opening the Black Museum, Rolo Haynes worked at St Juniper's Hospital in downtown New York, a sophisticated medical facility owned by bleeding-edge neurotech company TCKR Systems; not a doctor himself, Haynes was employed as a recruiter by the research department up on the mysterious tenth floor, offering experimentation contracts to potential test subjects on the lower floors, among the ER and other public departments. Haynes most commonly dealt with "the great unwashed," offering impoverished patients free healthcare coverage on the condition that they occasionally took part in experimental treatments. In this way, TCKR was able to perform groundbreaking research without having to abide by the expensive laws binding normal medical experimentation, creating what Haynes himself later described as "the perfect mix of business and healthcare."

From time to time, however, Haynes was sent to look for specific individuals to recruit for very specific experiments. One such experiment involved the testing process behind a method of transferring physical sensations between individuals: during an attempt to electronically convey knowledge from one lab rat to another via a headset transmitter and a receiving implant, one of the research teams on the tenth floor had discovered that the process - while useless for knowledge transference - could be used to transmit the neurological signals for pain and pleasure. So, Haynes was sent out to look for an individual who might have use for such a device.

The candidate that he eventually approached was one Dr Peter Dawson, an MD employed in St Juniper's ER. At the time, Dawson had made some very serious diagnostic errors and was in danger of being fired, allowing the oily recruiter to easily draw him in with the promise of something that could give him an advantage. After explaining the technology to him in detail, Haynes seduced the new test subject with the opportunity of making perfect diagnoses, reasoning that the ability to sense the pain of others would allow him to cut through all the issues that get in the way of effectively diagnosing a patient's condition (imprecision, incoherence, inability to speak English, unconsciousness, etc) and learn exactly what they were feeling. Suckered in, Dawson agreed to an irreversible surgical procedure in which he was outfitted with a neural implant capable of receiving sensations relayed from a transmitting headset.

Once Haynes was certain that the implant was working, Dawson was sent back to the public departments and allowed to begin using his newfound ability in earnest. For a time, the process was immensely successful: allowing multiple patients to wear the headset over time, he gradually built up an internal database of symptoms from a wide variety of causes, until he was able to recognize the condition responsible for almost given pain impulse within a matter of minutes. The system proved so accurate that Dawson often discovered potentially fatal long-term illnesses long before they would have become apparent to normal methods of diagnosis. Unfortunately, his success didn't last for long: one night, Senator Whitley was brought into the ER, and despite his best efforts, Dawson proved unable to diagnose the problem (though it was later discovered to be assassination by poisoning); seeing the pain he was in, colleagues urged Dawson to disconnect the headset, but Haynes encouraged him to continue working. A second later, Whitley flatlined - leaving the unfortunate doctor to feel the precise physical sensations of death.

Blacking out for five minutes, Dawson regained consciousness, shaken but otherwise unharmed. Once he was given a clean bill of health by the attending physicians, he went back to work... only discover that his senses had shifted polarity: now, Dawson felt pain as pleasure. Worse still, he found the process indescribably addictive, and began looking for opportunities to experience pain at any given moment of the day - even if it meant leaving his patients to suffer for progressively longer periods of time while he savored the pain. Eventually, the doctor's addiction came to a head when an elderly lady suffering a cardiac arrest was brought into the ER, only for Dawson to delay his diagnosis in the hope that she'd allow him to experience death again.

In the scandal that followed, he sought help from Haynes. However, the recruiter politely declined to remove any of the tenth floor's experts from their projects, not even to help their test subject deactivate his implant; so, until such time as a researcher was available, Haynes had Dawson suspended and sent home to wait, clearly not caring much about what he did next. Disconnected from his one reliable source of pain, Dawson took to inflicting it on himself, mutilating his own body in a desperate and ultimately futile attempt to indulge his addiction; realizing that the only way to experience the pleasure he had enjoyed was to inflict fear as well as pain, he stole the headset from the hospital and went on the prowl for victims. By the time the police caught up with him, Dawson was murdering a homeless man with a cordless electric drill, and though they were able to capture him alive, the pleasure of death once again caused him to black out - this time into a coma.

With their test subject effectively a vegetable, TCKR's researchers abandoned further developments in pain transference, later adapting the technology for use in their most famous creation, the San Junipero simulation. Meanwhile, with the old sensation-transfer tech obsolete, Haynes covertly acquired the now-useless headset as a souvenir.

Monkey Needs A Hug

Still in the employ of the tenth floor, Haynes continued searching for potential candidates to participate in the next cutting-edge experiment. Once again, the process involved transference of a sort, but this time of human consciousness: through digitization, the researchers had developed a technique in which a human mind could be transferred into a different body and even share living space with another consciousness.

For this experiment, Haynes eventually tracked down two participants: Jack and his wife Carrie. At the time, Carrie had been rendered comatose after being hit by a car and could only communicate with the world through a brain-activated yes/no indicator, so when Haynes arrived with an offer to rehouse her personality in Jack's brain, she agreed very readily. As such, Carrie took up residence in a consciousness receptor implanted in her husband's mind, allowing her to communicate directly with his consciousness, experience the world through his senses, and most importantly of all, interact with her son (albeit remotely).

Unfortunately, the joys of the new arrangement were short-lived: Jack had no sense of privacy and Carrie was effectively powerless, and as time went on, the frustrations inherent to each problem began to wear on their marriage. Eventually, Jack went to Haynes for a solution; eager to have another revolutionary piece of technology tested, the recruiter offered Jack the ability to put Carrie on "pause," effectively switching her off on occasions where privacy was required. However, the new system only put more pressure on their relationship: it wasn't long before Jack became tempted to switch his wife off for longer periods of time, and Carrie only grew more upset the longer she was left on pause.

The strained marriage reached its nadir when Jack ended up in a relationship with his next-door neighbor, Emily - much to Carrie's outrage. The arrangement proved so disharmonious that Jack once again sought out Haynes, claiming that the pause function was no longer working for them; initially, Haynes suggested just having Carrie's mind deleted, reasoning that it wouldn't legally be murder - but though Emily agreed, Jack still couldn't bring himself to effectively kill his wife. Once again, Haynes was ready with a new solution.

Acting apparently on his own, the recruiter offered the new couple a prototype body in which to house Carrie's mind: normally intended for terminally-ill parents with children they wanted to remain with after death, this "body" was actually a plush toy monkey outfitted with a consciousness receptor, cameras for eyes, haptic senses, and a "kid-friendly" voice-box. Though Jack was reluctant to accept the deal, Emily quickly talked him into it - much to Hayne's amusement. So it was that Carrie awoke to find herself implanted in the body of her son's newest toy, able to see, hear and feel, but incapable of movement and only able to speak two distinct phrases (one positive, one negative): "Monkey loves you" and "Monkey needs a hug."

Worse still, her son eventually got bored with Carrie's new body and discarded it. With Jack and Emily having completely lost interest in keeping her around the house, the monkey eventually ended up as the property of St Juniper's once again.

This time, however, Haynes soon found himself facing some very serious consequences: as uploaded consciousness became more common, the rights of digitized minds became a hot topic, especially with a number of very prominent abuses having been committed against "cookies" in the past. So, the UN eventually passed a resolution granting digital consciousnesses the same rights as ordinary human beings, and one of the more prominent rights involved the condition of what bodies these minds would inhabit: for an inhabited body to be humane, it would have to be able to express at least five emotions, making Carrie's monkey body illegal. For good measure, deleting her was now legally impossible on the grounds that it would be murder. Having proposed the transfer in the first place, the recruiter came under police scrutiny and though he was never formally charged with anything, TCKR ultimately decided that St Juniper's would be better off without Rolo Haynes' services.

Unfortunately, however, Haynes was able to leave the hospital with another grisly souvenir in tow: Carrie, still trapped in her monkey body, still pleading "monkey needs a hug."

Clayton Leigh And The Black Museum

Though now unemployed and his med-tech career left in tatters, Haynes was not inconvenienced for long. Eventually, he hit upon the idea of starting his own business - one that appealed to "the carnie in me." Drawing upon his recent experiences with mind uploading tech, he initially attempted to recruit celebrities for a program in which they would bequeath their personalities to him after their death, allowing them to live on as holograms in a "living Madame Tussaud's." However, this idea proved impractical due to the sheer volume of rights issues and lawsuits that came with exhibiting Hollywood glitterati, and Haynes abandoned his celebrity museum before it could even begin. But despite this initial failure, the concept of uploading and exhibiting a human mind remained, and before long, Haynes had a new concept to work with.

Thus, the Black Museum was born: situated on a lonely stretch of desert highway, the one-story building was intended as an exhibition of morbid criminological paraphernalia, showcasing crime-related items from all over the world. Haynes proved highly effective at acquiring artifacts that should have probably remained in police evidence lockers, and was eventually able to build up a collection that included such items as the bloodstained bathtub from Mia Nolan 's second-last murder, Robert Daly's DNA scanner, and even a disabled ADI used in Garrett Scholes ' infamous terrorist attack. For good measure, he also added Dawson's headset and Carrie's still-active body to the exhibits. But as impressive as this collection was, it was only intended to be an appetizer to the museum's main exhibit.

Though he had abandoned his idea of digitizing celebrities as practically impossible, Haynes knew that his basic concept could still be implemented, using "celebrities" that were effectively without representation issues - namely convicted murderers. At the time, Clayton Leigh was facing the death penalty for the murder of weather reporter Denise Stockley and Haynes quickly saw an opportunity to acquire a notorious personality for the Museum. Visiting Leigh in prison, he offered him the chance to live on after death as an uploaded consciousness, and though the condemned man quickly lost interest when it became clear that his technical expert wasn't going to help clear his name, the talent scout was able to lure him back with the promise of financial remunerations for his family.

Dismissing any opportunities to aid in his client's appeal, along with the evidence that suggested that Leigh might actually be innocent, Haynes poured all his efforts into preparing a cookie device for the doomed man's consciousness. On the day of the execution, Haynes placed the device on Leigh himself as he was being strapped into the electric chair, then stood back to watch as his client was electrocuted to death. The digital transfer worked perfectly, and Clayton Leigh became the first human to survive his own execution.

Once he had finished setting up a viewing chamber modeled on a jail cell at the back of the Museum, Haynes was able to reincarnate Leigh as a hologram, much to his confusion. Unfortunately, Haynes knew that allowing his customers to gawk at the imprisoned consciousness wouldn't be profitable enough, and augmented his exhibit with a program based on Dawson's pain-transferring technology: with a little modification, Haynes was able to perfectly replicate the pain of electrocution and inflict it on his hologram prisoner in the form of an interactive electric chair; thus, the draw of the exhibit was the ability to torture Leigh.

The next day, the Black Museum held its gala opening day, drawing in so many guests that Haynes had difficulty fitting them in all at once, and in the days that followed, curious tourists continued visiting in a nearly uninterrupted stream - all drawn by the prospect of torturing the "Weathergirl Killer." Customers were allowed ten seconds of electrocution each - for any longer would risk permanent damage to Leigh's consciousness and even permanent destruction. Nonetheless, the system proved immensely profitable, particularly due to the Black Museum's unique souvenir system: every time Leigh was tortured, the torturer was rewarded with a fully-sentient copy of his consciousness contained on a keychain hologram viewer, trapped forever in the moment of electrocution - "always on, always suffering."

Hayne's success didn't last forever, though. Leigh's wife Angelica protested the torture of her husband's consciousness and began a campaign to get his conviction overturned, hoping that it would be enough to get him released from captivity. Over time, the movement she created gained enough momentum to hold protests at the Black Museum itself, and though it wasn't enough to force either Haynes or the authorities to end the torture, it hurt the attendance rates; once it became clear that the state wasn't interested in clearing Leigh's name, the protesters gradually lost interest, but by then, the controversy surrounding the Museum had scared off most potential visitors.

With tourists and families no longer attending, Haynes had to admit a new and more exclusive audience of clients into the Black Museum: psychopaths, closeted racists and hard-line white supremacists who actively enjoyed torturing Leigh - to the point of literally masturbating at the sight of the hologram being electrocuted, forcing Haynes to step in before the ten-second limit was breached. However, though they payed well for the chance at pulling the lever, the smaller clientele base meant that Museum never enjoyed the same profits of its earlier heyday. Eventually, Haynes was so desperate for more money that he began allowing for longer electrocution sessions in exchange for heftier payouts, allowing the wealthiest racists to torture Leigh to the very limits of his capacity. As a result, Leigh's consciousness was permanently damaged, reducing him to near-catatonic levels - effectively destroying what little remained of the Museum's customers, for not even the most depraved psychopaths got much enjoyment out of electrocuting someone as unresponsive as Leigh.

One of the few visitors to make an appearance following this was Angelica Leigh, who was so distraught by her husband's deterioration that she committed suicide shortly after leaving the Museum. After that, the Black Museum enjoyed only sporadic visits, the building often remaining deserted for long periods of time.

Black Museum

The episode begins with an English tourist by the name of Nish unexpectedly attending the Black Museum while waiting for her car to recharge. Pleased to finally have a visitor, Haynes allows her inside and arranges for a private tour of the exhibits - though he's immediately annoyed that the Museum's digital air conditioning system appears to have broken down.

Nish's exploration of the Museum leads her to all three of Haynes' grisly collectibles, allowing the curator to explain his story and the stories of the exhibits in detail; however, even in the earliest story he demonstrates a pronounced tendency to bend the truth, for while telling the story of Dawson's gradual descent into coma, he cheekily claims that Dawson is sporting a massive erection even while comatose - though he quickly admits that he made that part up. His habit of lying continues over the course of the tour, especially once they reach the main attraction: Haynes does everything he can to portray Leigh as a psychopath who was disowned by his family, dismissing any protests of innocent made on his behalf as "virtue-signalling bullshit."

Between Dawson's story and Carrie's story, the heat of the Museum begins to wear on Haynes, and Nish offers him a drink from her bottle of water - which he completely drains without so much as apologizing. By the time they reach the final exhibit, Haynes appears to be suffering respiratory problems, and is starting to cough as he details the story behind his acquisition of Clayton Leigh's consciousness. In the end, he begins to asphyxiate and collapses into a chair - turning over narration to Nish.

It turns out that Nish has poisoned him, having sabotaged the AC just so she'd have an excuse to give him a drink. After pointing out all the details Haynes left out of his story, Nish reveals that she is actually Leigh's daughter, out for revenge for the torture of her father and the suicide of her mother. However, before Haynes can succumb to the effects of the poison, Nish places a consciousness receptor on his forehead, uploading his mind to the device as the sleazy curator finally expires.

Moments later, Haynes reawakens to find himself seeing through Leigh's eyes; as Nish explains, it's actually possible for a virtual brain to play host to a secondary consciousness in much the same way that an organic one can. However, with Leigh still effectively a vegetable, it's impossible for Haynes to communicate with the outside world, leaving him screaming impotently at Nish as she sits back with Carrie to watch "the world's first double-decker mercy-killing". By exceeding fifteen seconds of torture via the exhibit's electric chair, she finally wipes the hologram's program, putting her father out of his misery for good and giving Haynes the punishment he deserves - while also allowing Carrie to watch, eliciting an approving murmur of "Monkey loves you" from the doll.

RoloHaynesDefeated

Rolo Haynes trapped forever as a keychain on Nish's mirror

As if to add insult to injury, Nish is then provided with a souvenir keychain of her own, but this time the holographic viewer shows Haynes' face contorted with agony. Taking both Carrie and the keychain with her, she pauses just long enough to sabotage the Museum's AC one last time, causing the unit to short-circuit and burst into flames. As the Black Museum is slowly consumed by the resulting inferno, Nish drives away with Haynes' imprisoned consciousness dangling from her rear-view mirror, still screaming.

Trivia

  • Some commentators claim that Haynes may actually be a self-deprecating parody of Black Mirror showrunner Charlie Booker: both have very morbid tastes in entertainment, both enjoy telling stories that (in the most superficial interpretations) can be reduced to "technology gone wrong," and both tend to cynically dismiss virtue and optimism at the expense of telling progressively more depressing stories - until, as many critics of Black Mirror claim, nobody wants to listen to them anymore.
  • Other reviewers have noted that Haynes appears to be a Satanic Archetype: originally a representative of a higher authority, he now preys on the desperate and the morally compromised, operates through Faustian bargains in which his clients almost always end up getting screwed over in some fashion, and even owns his own private kingdom in which people are imprisoned and/or tortured for all eternity - one where even Haynes can't stand the hellish heat.
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