When it comes to modern-day television, ‘Black Mirror’ has to be one of the most unique television series out there. In the previous three seasons, it has taken bold risks and has delivered some of the most terrifyingly realistic television episodes of all time. Now, season 4 is out on Netflix and it’s time to go ten seconds into the future.
‘Black Mirror: Season 4’ is another six-part anthology in the ‘Black Mirror’ series with creator/writer Charlie Brooker, at the helm yet again.
Following six completely different stories, ‘Black Mirror: Season 4’ shows us six different sides of technology that seem like they could easily exist in our world not long from now. It shows us how technology could turn sinister (no, not like Skynet from ‘The Terminator’, although one episode does something similar) and result in terrible consequences.
This is going to be rather difficult to review without spoilers, so I’ll try to avoid spoilers just in case you haven’t watched the season yet. It’s also going to be a different type of review since every episode is a different story.
The thing that I’ve always loved about ‘Black Mirror’ and it comes across very well in this season, is the writing by Charlie Brooker. He has managed to write some of the smartest yet bleakest television of all time and it’s simply amazing. He has said that each episode takes place a few seconds into our future and you can see why he says that. It feels like every episode (bar one) can easily happen tomorrow or within a short period of time due to where our technology is heading. He also writes relatable characters who are put into terrible situations and it makes for compelling television. It’s brilliant writing.
Now, I should go into each episode for the review starting with my favourite episodes of the season and go into my least favourite episodes. Trust me, I won’t spoil any major plot details/twists.
First of all, ‘Hang the DJ’ and ‘USS Callister’ are easily in my top five episodes of the entire series! ‘USS Callister’ was a brilliant start to the season and it was easily one of the most unique episodes of the season. Directed by Toby Haynes, ‘USS Callister’ follows a woman (Cristin Milioti) who awakes aboard a starship (It’s definitely inspired by ‘Star Trek) known as the ‘USS Callister’, where a crew praise their all-knowing and fearless captain (Jesse Plemons). It’s an episode that really caught me off guard at first with an opening sequence that is very similar to a sci-fi show from the 60s. But as the episode goes on and the sinister side of the captain is revealed, it becomes really compelling and results in one of the most enjoyable ‘Black Mirror’ episodes to date.
‘Hang the DJ’ was easily the best episode of the season and it reminded us that ‘Black Mirror’ isn’t always a grim and bleak show. Directed by Timothy Van Pattern (a veteran television director), ‘Hang the DJ’ is set in a world where a dating program that puts an expiration date on relationships is the centre of everything. Frank (Joe Cole) and Amy (Georgina Campbell) are paired up by the program and they start to question the system’s logic. It’s easily the most beautiful television episode of 2017 and one of the most bittersweet episodes of the series. It’s pure magic.
‘Black Museum’ and ‘Crocodile’ were also amazing episodes. ‘Black Museum’ was similar in structure to the season 2 episode, ‘White Christmas’ and is almost as great. Directed by Colm McCarthy, ‘Black Museum’ follows a young woman (Letitia Wright) who enters the ‘Black Museum’ and the proprietor (Douglas Hodge) tells her the dark and twisted stories behind some of the artefacts. It’s a really dark episode with one of the most violent scenes in the series.
Speaking of violence, ‘Crocodile’ is probably the darkest episode of the entire series and that is saying something. Directed by John Hillcoat, ‘Crocodile’ follows a woman (Kiran Sonia Sawar) who interviews people with a device that allows her to access their memories, with one of the people being an architect (Andrea Riseborough) with a dark secret. The thing that makes this such a dark episode is how realistic it feels. The stuff that happens in the episode feels as though this could all happen now and it is genuinely terrifying. It’s also really violent, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Now, ‘Arkangel’ and ‘Metalhead’ were my least favourite episodes of the season. ‘Arkangel’ is yet another realistic episode with technology that could easily come out tomorrow. Directed by Jodie Foster, ‘Arkangel’ follows a mother (Rosemarie DeWitt) who invests in a new technology that will help her keep track of her child. It’s a good episode, but I feel like the characters could have been better and the story was also a little too predictable.
‘Metalhead’ was easily the weakest episode of the season. Directed by David Slade, ‘Metalhead’ is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a woman (Maxine Peake) attempts to survive a land ruled by “dogs” that will kill humans on sight. It’s the only black and white episode of the series and it is beautifully made. The things that make it the weakest of the season is the run-time, which is only 40-mins (not long enough to establish the world and go in-depth) and the story. It’s basically a 40-min chase scene and for a ‘Black Mirror’ episode, it needed to be more.
Overall, ‘Black Mirror: Season 4’ was another great season in the series and it continues to show us why it’s one of the best television shows of all time. With some of the best ‘Black Mirror’ episodes yet and even more chilling ideas that will make you think long after you’ve watched the season, this is a great season that is only slightly let down by a couple of weak links.