What’s better than Christmas? Six new episodes of Black Mirror on Netflix. FINALLY.
After teasing with trailers and carrying out the subtlest of hints as to when the release date would be, Netflix gifted us with six new, disconcerting, emotional, gory and completely addictive episodes.
To help you choose which one to start with, we’ve ranked them for you (but they’re all utterly fascinating). Now the difficult part is rationing them – we tried, but like festive food over Christmas, we binged the lot in one sitting.
1. Hang the DJ
Taking Tinder to a new level, Hang the DJ follows Amy and Frank – two ‘system’ newbies looking to find their ‘perfect match’. During the pursuit of true love, Amy finds herself trapped in cyclical one-night-stands with men she doesn’t connect with. Similarly, Frank spends extended relationships with women that he struggles to experience an emotional or physical connection.
Why’s Hang the DJ our favourite? It’s the San Junipero of series four: emotive, romantic and a convincing depiction of how modern day dating is veering, although a twenty minute expiry date on an awful first meeting sounds pretty good to us. Plus we’re granted an ending that doesn’t leave us emotionally scarred or traumatised – we’re thinking of the absolute mind (or pig) f*ck debut episode, The National Anthem.
2. Black Museum
WOAH. If you weren’t sweating during this episode, why? Black Museum takes its time, slowly building conniving crook, Rolo Haynes’ previous career. Famous for creating innovative (and weird af) scientific breakthroughs, Rolo successfully destroys peoples’ lives and collects the broken pieces for his Black Museum, housing ‘authentic criminal technology’. More of a film than an episode, it’s great because you’re left in the dark until the last ten minutes. But Rolo being destroyed by his own creations is the Frankenstein-esque pay off that truly delivers. Who needs a hug now?
3. USS Callister
Don’t let the image put you off – it’s not just for ‘trekkies’. Science fiction geek and co-creator of Infinity, Robert Daly leads a pretty pathetic existence. Sick of being ignored or disobeyed by his colleagues, he creates his own virtual reality mixed with favourite retro TV show, Space Fleet. In this virtual world, he’s the dominant alpha male who demands (and receives) the utmost respect. USS Callister combines overt comedy (a rare thing in BM) and moral dilemma – who’s the baddie here?
Stealing DNA without permission is creepy af, but if they’re just ‘digital clones’ (the real life person has no idea), is Robert really harming anyone? Linking nicely to stories within Black Museum and White Christmas (throwback to 2014’s festive special), as well as mirroring today’s world (Robert gives off total Donald Trump vibes), it fits nicely within the Black Mirror family. Things this episode made us think twice about:
• leaving mugs unattended in the office
Memories are subjective, right? Unless you’re remembering the day you hit someone with a car and threw him into the ocean or the time you strangled your old boyfriend to death, of course.
For most of the episode we couldn’t help but think protagonist, Mia could have handled things slightly better (you really didn’t need to kill Shazia). But we liked the notion that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t block out all of the moments you really wish you could.
Set against the truly mesmerising Icelandic backdrop, Mia is betrayed by her own memories, has a massive meltdown and kills Shazia’s entire family, including (rather ironically) her blind child. And she would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for that pesky guinea pig… While still enjoyable, we were less interested in Mia killing everyone (how did she overpower her old boyfriend?), but more concerned with pizzabot and the predictably hilarious/weird/baffling stories Shazia probably has.
Stylistically different to any other episode (black and white throughout and relatively unsophisticated), Metalhead is set in the dystopian Scottish moors. Unaware as to what the three individuals are trying to get from the warehouse, we stick with Bella and her escape from the ‘dogs’.
With hints of Predator and 28 Days Later, Metalhead is a simple story about the breakdown of society. Not wanting what’s left of the world to become a dog-eat-dog situation, Bella sacrifices herself after being ‘tagged’ with trackers. The closing shot of the teddies suggests that there are very few comforting things left in this world and even this journey was doomed from the off. Is the fleeting feeling of comfort from an unavoidable end worth fighting for? Or should we admit defeat, remain miserable and just stay alive?
Short and stripped back, this episode feels somewhat underwhelming compared to others from series four – or maybe they’re so full of gimmicks and complexities, Metalhead will always seem lackluste?
One thing we can all agree on is Maxine Peake’s fantastic performance as defeated survivor, Bella.
Don’t get us wrong, we still enjoyed this episode, and props to Jodie Foster’s impeccable directing.
Is it just us that thought Arkangel was too safe and predictable?
When you compare episodes such as Black Museum, Shut Up and Dance and White Bear, it just doesn’t stand out.
We were frustrated at how often this episode tiptoed around potentially weird, transgressive themes, but didn’t venture far enough. Maybe we’re so used to completely crazy occurrences in BM that we’re surprised when there aren’t any. Obviously, micro-chipping your child and using remote view through their eyes is weird, but we’re given this within the first fifteen minutes and that’s it.
What would we have liked instead? We’re only shown mother, Marie watching at certain moments of her daughter, Sara’s life – falling in love, her first sexual experience, using drugs etc. But what if Marie couldn’t stop watching? What if she lived vicariously through Sara? Marie lived with her elderly father until she was in her late thirties, she didn’t have a significant other and we only see her sleep with one of her ex-patients. We gather that her life is pretty empty, as she’s doted on her only daughter ever since she was born. We’d be so interested in watching a mother/daughter relationship turn into complete manipulation for Marie’s own benefit.
Are we right? Or are we expecting too much from an episode that’s already about the breakdown of trust and, as a result, a relationship?
Do you agree with this ranking? What do you think of Black Mirror series four? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.