Black Mirror is currently one of my favorite shows. I have a major soft spot for anthology series. I grew up watching The Twilight Zone. The Outer Limits, and Tales from the Crypt. If it’s weird, I love it. Previously, I wrote about Black Mirror here.
If you’re not watching it, you really should! There are 4 seasons, but not many episodes (no more than 6 per season). So it’s an easy binge. The newest season released December 29th and, yes, I watched it all already. I’ll share my thoughts on the season as a whole but first, here is my ranking of every episode from season 4.
Anthologies are like buffets: everyone likes different things. So take my word with a grain of salt but do grab a plate.
#6 Metalhead (Episode 5)
A black and white film about a woman attempting to survive a dangerous land full of “dogs”.
Think Terminator meets Twilight Zone with killer robotic dogs. Honestly, I wasn’t crazy about this episode. The storyline was vague and I’m not even sure I understood the ending. It could have made for a perfectly tense episode, but it just didn’t work for me. It’s beautifully shot though!
#5 Crocodile (Episode 3)
A woman interviews various people using a device that allows her to access their memories.
This episode is about a woman going to increasingly erratic lengths to hide a dark secret from her past. Things take a dramatic turn when she meets a woman with the ability to access memories. I thought this was a solid episode. The twist ending was one of my favorites from the season. The technology aspect isn’t as present in Crocodile like I prefer but it’s a nice entry nonetheless.
#4 Black Museum (Episode 6)
An anthology of its own, a woman enters the Black Museum where the proprietor tells her stories relating to the artifacts.
This episode follows a woman through a museum of technological horrors ala Tales From the Crypt-style. It would easily be the best episode of the season – it hits all the right notes – but the other episodes are too fantastic. Each story within the story stands on its own and manages to tie into the main storyline. Black Mirror episodes can usually be watched in any order, but I do recommend watching this one last. There are little Easter eggs if you pay attention!
#3 Arkangel (Episode 2)
After nearly losing her daughter, a mother invests in a new technology that allows her to keep track of her child.
Out of the entire season, this episode best embodies what makes Black Mirror great. Technology and its unintended side effects are front and center in this story about a well-intentioned single mom who takes helicopter parenting to an entire new level. I could feel the mother’s desperation through the screen, and at times, it’s understandable. We all want to protect our children. But what if we never allowed them to make mistakes or see the ugliness of the world? Is that protecting them or making them ill-equipped at life?
#2 USS Callister (Episode 1)
A woman wakes up on a Star Trek-esque ship where the crew praise their all knowing and fearless captain.
When I started this episode, I didn’t know what the hell was going on. It was so cheesy that I thought I wouldn’t get through it. If you feel the same way, give it a moment to see what’s really taking place there. U.S.S. Callister quickly went from full-on cringe to one of my favorite Black Mirror episodes to date. There are so many layers to the episode. I felt sympathy for the bad guy and repulsed by his actions minutes later (you have to see to understand!) It was also really hilarious. Every joke hit the right chord at the right time and the ending was perfect (and relatable if you’re a gamer). I don’t think this episode is for everyone, but as someone who enjoys programming and video games, it scratched my geeky itch.
#1 Hang the DJ (Episode 4)
A new dating app hits the scene, where the matched couples are told how long their relationships will last.
I’m not a romance person at all but Black Mirror does it so well! In season 3, San Junipero is another standout. I fell in love with the leads in Hang the DJ. The actors had incredible chemistry which really sells the story. I was so excited every time they were both on the screen. Without giving too much away, there was a bit of a Matrix feel because there are people always watching and now I’m saying too much… The ending could have been potentially devastating but wound up on a super cool note. I wouldn’t mind getting a follow-up episode on these characters.
Season 4 is a solid addition to the Black Mirror universe. Technology doesn’t play as big of a role as I came to enjoy in previous seasons, but it’s still done well in episodes like Arkangel, U.S.S. Callister, and Hang the DJ. There are some hits and misses, but mainly strong points throughout the season. The series still does a good job being dark when it needs to and hitting comedic notes in between. There’s nothing quite as dark as Shut Up and Dance but there are definitely stories that will stick with you such as Hang the DJ.
I’m still a fan of the show and will anxiously await season 5. I would love it if the next season let technology take on a bigger role and not rely on as many similar concepts as they did this season. I would still recommend the show to anyone who enjoys awesome unique storytelling.