Technology can fix all problems. Just give it a chance.
After San Junipero changed expectations of what we can expect from Black Mirror expectations were high to see what creator Charlie Brooker could come up with next. We’ve already given brief details about what you can expect with the new season but were forbidden from going into any great detail, until now. Now that the new season has finally been released on Netflix we can get into the details of what makes this new season of Black Mirror so great.
Before we go any further, know that this will be a no holds barred ranking of the new episodes. Secrets will be spoiled and twists will be revealed. Those familiar with Black Mirror know there are plenty of elements in each of the episodes to spoil. Given that the show is a Twilight Zone-esque tale of dangers of technology and how it affects our lives gives plenty of room for exciting reveals.
Not sure if being a fan of director John Hillcoat’s previous work is a requirement for liking this episode of Black Mirror, but it sure wouldn’t hurt. The events of the episode are far too predictable and the technology seems extremely limited to others they’ve invented thus far. Basically a chip allows authorities or in this case a insurance agent to look briefly at the events of a crime. Basically it records moments of great turmoil that the user might’ve witnessed. Andrea Riseborough plays Mia who is an accessory to a crime from years ago. While she is trying to tie up loose ends to the incident she witnesses another accident and thus comes the turmoil between Mia and the insurance agent. The two stories play at different tempos until they finally meet up and everything goes to hell. This was easily the bleakest of the new episodes because of the lengths Mia goes to protect her family. Unfortunately the big twist reveal leaves a lot to be desired. The concept is a lot stronger than the episode actually is in practice. There is nothing that really makes us root of Mia and in the end she is just a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
5. Black Museum
Black Museum was the first episode watched for review of the show and that did it a great injustice. It works similar to the Christmas anthology episode, White Christmas, that aired between season 2 and season 3. Everything that happens in the episode builds towards the ending and it includes three different stories. First, there is a doctor who is able to diagnose patients through their pain. Using an implant he is able to find out exactly what is ailing them. Sounds like a wonderful way to help patients, but he becomes obsessed with pain, leading him to self-harm and murder. The second story features a new technology that allows a woman in a coma to share the same body as her husband and experience life through his eyes. Needless to say, the husband eventually wants to move on with his life and the wife’s mind is then transferred to a teddy bear. Finally, there is an inmate on death row who signs away his digital soul. Now he is used as an attraction that allows guests to electrocute him over and over again. There is one final twist that shows just how all these events are connected and in a way, it works out pretty great. There are also some awesome references to past Black Mirror episodes in the Black Museum itself. Perhaps it was just too many interconnected stories and with any episode like this some parts are going to be stronger than others. As the previous review mentioned, Letitia Wright has a big part in the story and she’s going to be in many upcoming features including Black Panther. Definitely an actress to pay attention to.
If there was an award for the most artistic episode of the new season, Metalhead would take it home easily. The episode takes place in some post-apocalyptic future where materials and goods are sparse. The entire episode was also shot in black and white either as a concept or because of a high level of gore. A woman (Maxine Peake) and her team are trying to get a mysterious item, but they find a robot dog that is similar to a T-1000. Literally, this thing is a rabid killing machine that cannot be stopped. Thus Metalhead boils down to an epic tale of survival as one woman tries to outsmart a machine. Even though it is the shortest of the new episodes, it totally packs a punch. There are some individual great moments when the woman is trying to outsmart the robotic pooch. The only bummer is that the episode ends with a reveal that makes little sense in the grand scheme of things. It would seem that Black Mirror has a thing for teddy bears.
3. USS Callister
USS Callister is easily the most anticipated episode of the new season and for good reason. It totally has been advertised as a feature-length episode of Black Mirror with a Star Trek theme. That ends up being only half of the story. The real world features Jesse Plemons as an under-appreciated CTO of a game development studio. He has used his genius to create an alternate version of the software that allows him to input the likeness of his coworkers using their DNA. There DNA then becomes characters in a Star Trek simulation and the CTO is the captain of this ship. Thus his coworkers become his digital slaves, only existing to do his bidding. The most enjoyable elements of USS Callister is when the crew is stuck doing routines that would be commonplace in Star Trek. A lot of liberties are taken with a solution to the problem at hand, but the villains of this piece exist in a grey zone. No one is truly evil here except that they have been lead to a path they can’t veer from.
Perhaps it was the combo of Jodie Foster directing and Rosemary DeWitt starring, but Arkangel really hits a good spot. It is incredibly believable that this is a technology that would happen in the not too distant future and perhaps that’s why it works so well. As a mother who is constantly fearful for her daughter, mom (DeWitt) becomes involved in a trial run of a new technology. The technology puts a simple implant into the child but then coveys data such as heartbeat, fears, filters, GPS and others through the use of a special tablet. This sounds like a solid idea in theory until mom becomes addicted to knowing what her child is doing at all times. The episode covers different time periods in the life of the mother and her daughter and how this device blocks many life experiences from the child. Arkangel then works in some really crazy events for the daughter to get involved in that really puts the whole idea into a whirlwind. In the end, the technology only exacerbated a fear through the use of technology.
1. Hang the DJ
The episode most likely to be compared to San Junipero given the relationship drama and happy ending, Hang the DJ works on numerous levels to make it the best in this series of episodes. Presented with a world that uses a digital dating coach to match partners, two individuals meet up of their first date. As part of the dating service, they are given a specific amount of time they can see that other person then they have to move on to someone else. This could be a time of twelve hours or three years, just depends on the decision the system makes. This is all in hopes that eventually a couple will find their ultimate match. There are a lot of things that just make this episode come together but perhaps the most important is the chemistry between the two leads. Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole really make you want to root for these two to be successful at whatever cost. Of course, the music from Sigur Ros and the direction from Tim Van Patten is icing on the cake. It is just a completely satisfying episode with a fantastic twist that could very well be happening in our world today.