What Is B-6 In Spiderhead (& What OBDX Means)

Warning: SPOILERS about Spiderhead ahead.,Content warning: This article briefly discusses suicide.,In the Netflix movie 
Spiderhead, inmates are administered various drugs, and they know how most of these substances will change their behavior, but B-6 isn’t one that Dr. Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth) ever explains – so, here’s what it is and what its commercial name, OBDX, means. Based on George Saunders’s 
New Yorker short story “Escape from Spiderhead,” Joseph Kosinski’s drama follows inmate Jeff (Miles Teller) as he’s administered tests that Abnesti and Mark Verlaine (Mark Paguio) subject him to. More often than not, these tests involve mind-altering drugs.,Various drugs are given to Jeff and fellow inmates, such as Lizzy (
Birds of Prey’s Jurnee Smollett), and sometimes even to Abnesti himself. Some have positive effects, like N-40, which causes subjects ti to appreciate whatever is in front of them, and G-46, which gives subjects laughing fits and makes it impossible for them to feel sadness. Other drugs have negative effects, such as I-27, which makes subjects afraid, and I-16, which makes them so anxious and overwhelmed that it leads to one subject’s MobiPak device being destroyed and the inmate killing herself. The goal of the tests that the inmates are subjected to isn’t immediately clear, as Dr. Abnesti is always deliberately vague.,Related: Is Spiderhead Based On A True Story? It’s More Complicated Than You Think,One drug that is always present in every inmate’s MobiPak device is B-6, the existence of which Jeff learns about after getting access to Dr. Abnesti’s journal. Jeff’s final confrontation with Dr. Abnesti reveals what the drug is and how it is being tested on the Spiderhead Penitentiary and Research Center’s inmates. If it works, B-6 will be commercially released with the name OBDX — or Obediex, a wordplay on its effect, as it causes its subjects to obey anything that somebody asks of them, essentially eliminating free will.,The goal of OBDX is actually even more sinister than what it initially seems to attain. As B-6 is being tested on all the inmates, it does succeed a bit in making them obey what Dr. Abnesti proposes. Still, its goal isn’t just obedience. As Dr. Abnesti reveals when Jeff administers various drugs, including B-6, to him, the goal is “
absolute obedience without exceptions.” If OBDX works, it will make it impossible for anyone under its influence to disobey someone’s order, even if “
antithetical to someone’s deepest values and emotions.” The objective could be theoretically viewed as worthy — according to Chris Hemsworth’s Abnesti, it would eliminate all terrible choices that lead to violent crimes, so there would be less suffering in the world. But the opportunity to make a choice would also be eliminated. Anybody could control someone who takes OBDX, eliminating free will altogether.,Fortunately,
Spiderhead’s B-6 isn’t a drug inspired by something truly existing. Being that the drama was inspired by Saunders’s dystopian short story, though, it would make sense that
Spiderhead would explore what would happen if a drug that eliminated free will existed and was being tested on convicted criminals, whose freedoms were already restricted. Still, free will isn’t successfully restricted, making
Spiderhead’s B-6 a very frightful drug indeed, but one that fortunately doesn’t even fully work in the dystopian reality in which it exists.,Next: Spiderhead: The Movie’s Biggest Changes From The Book Explained