‘Black Mirror’ is one of the best modern television series of our time. It’s known as a modern day ‘Twilight Zone’ and it’s one of the darkest television series of all time. Creator/Writer Charlie Brooker has managed to create a universe that he calls our current world seconds into the future. The technology that is shown in ‘Black Mirror’ is an advanced version of many different technologies we currently have. It’s terrifyingly real and it really makes you think long after you watch an episode.
Today I’m here to rank all nineteen episodes of ‘Black Mirror’ from worst to best. To be clear, ‘Black Mirror’ isn’t fully over but it does take over a year for new episodes to come out and since season four came out recently, I thought that this is the best time to give you my ranking of every episode of ‘Black Mirror’. There may be a couple of controversial entries on this list as some may be too high or too low for some of you, but remember that this is my personal opinion. But I do think some of you will agree with my verdict on each episode and their place in this ranking.
Also, there won’t be any spoilers for those of you that haven’t watched ‘Black Mirror’ yet. So if you haven’t watched any episodes, you can still read this and I won’t spoil anything that will ruin an episode.
Now, let’s begin!
19. The Waldo Moment (S02E03)
Kicking off the list we are looking at an episode that has managed to come true in our modern society, well in the USA particularly. Now, I know for a fact that this is the least-loved episode of ‘Black Mirror’, so it isn’t a surprise to have it on the bottom spot. But there are things in it that I must give it credit for, mainly its display of how any popular figure can run for the role as a President/Prime Minister of a country. In this case, it’s a CGI, foul-mouthed bear known as Waldo. Of course, there is a reason for it taking the bottom spot and that is because it just doesn’t live up to its intriguing concept. A concept that has happened in our modern world (e.g. Donald Trump becoming President). It becomes quite tedious and every character is unlikeable, which is sad to say. It’s not a terrible episode, but for ‘Black Mirror’ it’s the worst episode.
18. Men Against Fire (S03E05)
‘Men Against Fire’ almost falls into the same category as ‘The Waldo Moment’. That being it doesn’t fully succeed at the execution of its great concept. Following a group of soldiers who have to protect a village from an infestation of vicious, feral mutants, this was an episode I was really excited for. It had a great premise and a great cast (Michael Kelly and Malachi Kirby to name a couple), but it ended up being a disappointing episode. Although it does have a solid twist and you do feel that typical sadness after watching a ‘Black Mirror’, it just didn’t have the execution to make it a great episode.
17. Metalhead (S04E05)
Being the only black-and-white episode of ‘Black Mirror’, ‘Metalhead’ is a unique episode. It’s also the only “post-apocalyptic” episode (then again, this whole series could be classified as post-apocalyptic) and the shortest of the series (only forty minutes long). It follows a small group of people who have to fight for their lives in the highlands of Scotland as robotic “dogs” chase them with a singular purpose, to kill any human in sight. The major problem I had with ‘Metalhead’ was that it was about twenty minutes too short. It didn’t have the time to expand upon this fascinating post-apocalyptic world and this did result in an episode that fell flat. Even with its beautiful production and strong performances, it was quite disappointing.
16. Arkangel (S04E02)
Keeping track of items is really common these days. You can track food that you ordered for delivery, parcels and even a basic idea of the location of your Snapchat friends. It’s an idea that is really quite terrifying when you think about it. ‘Arkangel’ took that idea a few small steps further and asked the question of what would happen if you could keep track of your children? This could have been a brilliant episode as it deals with a concept that could legit happen this year. But it does fall flat with a predictable plot and unlikeable characters (they are just plain stupid during some parts of the episode). When you think about this episode though, it really does makes you think about the sinister side of what tracking devices can do to someone.
15. Fifteen Million Merits (S01E02)
Easily one of the most depressing episodes of ‘Black Mirror’, ‘Fifteen Million Merits’ is a fascinating, satirical take on entertainment shows and our on-going thirst for distraction. Set in a world where people ride bikes all day to gain merits, Bing (Daniel Kaluuya) sets out to help a young woman (Jessica Brown Findlay) who wants to get on a singing show known as “Hot Shots.” As you would expect from ‘Black Mirror’, it’s a dark episode with a hint of hopefulness. But what ‘Fifteen Million Merits’ succeeds in is its world-building, character development and social commentary. It’s basically a satire of every entertainment type in our world, particularly reality TV, pornography and YouTube. It packs one hell of a punch by the end.
14. Hated in the Nation (S03E06)
Being the longest episode of ‘Black Mirror’, there is a lot that could have went wrong with it. But ‘Hated in the Nation’ manages to keep you compelled for its ninety-minute runtime with a cautionary tale on social media. It digs into an everyday item that over a billion people use and makes you think about the dangers of it. It also looks into a world where bees are extinct (which could happen at any time) and robotic bees are the saviours. ‘Hated in the Nation’ is a solid crime thriller that shows you how easy it is to become a cyberbully and how that can lead to devastating consequences. It’s also one of the best-acted episodes of the series (Kelly McDonald, Faye Marsay and Benedict Wong are terrific) and it’s beautifully harrowing.
13. Nosedive (S03E01)
Speaking of social media, have you ever considered how you use it every day like it’s a major part of your life. ‘Nosedive’ is easily the most I’ve ever cringed during a ‘Black Mirror’ episode but in a good way. ‘Nosedive’ is set in a world where your social status is based upon a rating out of five, with five being a “perfect” human. It’s a sharp satire on how people judge each other on social media and it also taps into an idea that is common with ‘Black Mirror’: “Technology is exciting, but people are awful.” With Bryce Dallas Howard giving a powerhouse performance as our protagonist, ‘Nosedive’ is an episode that appears to be light-hearted but it has a sinister heart.
12. White Bear (S02E02)
‘White Bear’ is a very unique episode. It doesn’t really focus on technology (one of the few episodes without a focus on technology) and more on humanity as a problem itself. I can’t go into too much detail without spoilers as the main attraction of this episode is the amazing twist. What I can say is that ‘White Bear’ has some of the best social commentary of the series by looking at how social justice can be utterly terrifying. It’s an episode that you’ll want to watch again (well, not straight after due to it being so dark) and it’s is an episode that asks you some terrifying questions.
11. Crocodile (S04E03)
Speaking of dark episodes, ‘Crocodile’ is one of the darkest (or shall I say, the most F###ed up) hours of television this decade. It follows an insurance worker (Kiran Sonia Sawar) who interviews various people using a device that allows her to access their memories. One of those people being interviewed is Mia (Andrea Riseborough), an architect with a dark secret. ‘Crocodile’ is another episode that focuses more on the flaws of humanity than technology (although the device used in this episode is really cool) and it shows us how a dark secret can truly affect a seemingly normal person. It’s an episode that is not for the faint of hearted (it may turn a lot of people away from ‘Black Mirror’ due to the realistic violence showed throughout) and it will stick with you long after the credits roll.
10. The National Anthem (S01E01)
The episode that started it all is also one of the most memorable episodes of the series. ‘The National Anthem’ has hardly anything to do with technology, but it does focus on how a terrible situation can change good people. ‘The Nation Anthem’ (also known as the infamous “pig” episode) follows Prime Minister Michael Callow (Rory Kinnear) who is forced into a terrible dilemma in order to save a much-loved member of the Royal Family. It set the stage for ‘Black Mirror’ in tone and atmosphere and it managed to show everyone that this is a show like no other. It told everyone that this could easily happen (it happened to come out before the whole pig incident with David Cameron which is one hell of a coincidence) and it made it all the more terrifying to watch.
9. Playtest (S03E02)
Virtual reality is quickly becoming a staple of technology. It’s sought after by everyone and it is pretty much revolutionary. ‘Playtest’ decides to take virtual reality one step further and looks at the possibility of living in a world of virtual reality. A world in which you could experience a horror game first hand by going to a specific house where your deepest fears will be the centre of the experience. This is the type of stuff that happens in this dark episode. It’s a mini horror movie and it makes for one hell of a terrifying ride. Also, the twist will truly haunt you.
8. Be Right Back (S02E01)
This is a prime example of beautifully harrowing television. ‘Be Right Back’ is easily the most emotionally packed episode of ‘Black Mirror’ and it asks one of the most thought-provoking questions in the series. What if you could communicate with your loved ones after they have died? It follows young couple Martha (Hayley Atwell) and Ash (Domhall Gleeson) after they move into the country. The next day, Ash dies and Martha is told by a friend of a technology that she can use to communicate with him, even though he is dead. Anchored by strong performances and a well-executed concept, ‘Be Right Back’ is an emotionally drenched tale that will make you cry.
7. Black Museum (S04E06)
The second episode of the series to be made up of different intertwining tales, ‘Black Museum’ is a strangely enjoyable ride through hell. It follows a young woman (Letitia Wright) who stumbles across a Black Museum that boasts criminal artefacts and a disturbing main attraction. The thing I really loved about this episode was how enjoyable it really was. It was a very dark episode, but it was more enjoyable compared to other episodes in the series with the same kind of darkness. There are also a lot of easter eggs from previous episodes here which will make any ‘Black Mirror’ fan happy.
6. USS Callister (S04E01)
The most sci-fi episode of the sci-fi series is also a very unique episode. It’s another episode where I can’t say too much about it because of spoilers and the first twist happens really early on. It follows a young woman (Cristin Milioti) who awakes aboard a Star Trek-esque ship where the crew praise their fearless captain (Jesse Plemons). At first, this did not seem like a typical ‘Black Mirror’ episode, but it does eventually turn into the ‘Black Mirror’ style and it even transcends upon that. It’s a darkly-fun tale that many have called a “fantastic pilot for a potential spin-off series,” which I’m definitely down for. Also, the cast is superb.
5. The Entire History of You (S01E03)
The first real masterpiece of the series, ‘The Entire History of You’ is a devastating look at paranoia and a deteriorating marriage. It’s also another episode that used a technological device that could easily come out soon, but this time it’s different. The technology shown here is both fascinating and terrifying due to the capabilities of the device. The fact that you can look into your past memories at any time is a great concept and it is pulled off masterfully. With terrific performances from lead co-stars Toby Kebbell and Jodie Whittaker and a fantastic script (the only one that wasn’t written or based off a story from Charlie Brooker), ‘The Entire History of You’ is a ‘Black Mirror’ episode that will truly make you think about what paranoia can do to someone.
4. Hang the DJ (S04E04)
Arguably one of the most beautiful episodes of the series. ‘Hang the DJ’ is a satirical look at modern-day dating and how we are supposed to find “the one” in order for us to live a fantastic life. Like an episode that I will be talking about next, the best thing about this episode is the chemistry between the two leads (Joe Cole and Georgina Campbell). They work so well together and you can easily believe their love for each other. It’s a great love story set in the ‘Black Mirror’ universe and it’s a truly remarkable episode. It’s also one of the more light-hearted episodes of the series, which makes it easier for a first timer for the series to come into. It will make you laugh, cry, gasp and in the end, you’ll love it.
3. San Junipero (S03E04)
Since I was just talking about how great chemistry between two lead co-stars can make an episode of ‘Black Mirror’ a masterpiece, ‘San Junipero’ is a perfect example of it. This 80s themed episode is the most beautiful hour of television this decade. Set in the town of San Junipero, a shy girl (Mackenzie Davis) and an out-going party girl (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) strike up a powerful bond that defies their own beliefs. To sum this episode up is really hard because of how much happens in it. It’s one of the more fast-paced episodes of the series and it changes your perspective on what ‘Black Mirror’ truly is. It changed the tone of ‘Black Mirror’ and it made for one of the greatest television episodes I’ve ever seen. Also, the chemistry between the two leads is just wonderful.
2. White Christmas (S02E04)
The first episode to be made up of intertwining stories, ‘White Christmas’ is the episode I’ve watched the most. When I think about how many times I’ve watched this episode, it makes me wonder if there is something wrong with me because this has some really dark ideas behind it. First of all, it takes the social media function of blocking in a whole new and completely disturbing direction as well as cookies. You know how cookies start to know everything you like and do on the internet and practically personalize it for you. Well, imagine if that could happen in real life. It’s extremely messed up but extremely captivating at the same time. I also feel like if Jon Hamm and Rafe Spall weren’t the leads in this dark Christmas tale, then it may not have worked out as great as it ended up being. ‘White Christmas’ is a truly terrifying tale that may become one of your Christmas staples.
1. Shut Up and Dance (S03E03)
Remember how I said that ‘Crocodile’ was one of the darkest hours of television this decade? Well, that honour goes towards my number one pick, ‘Shut Up and Dance’. This may surprise you that I picked this episode as the best ‘Black Mirror’ episode, but there are a few reasons for that. This is a f###ing fantastic episode that packs one of the greatest twists in television history. It’s a revelation that will make you rethink everything about the episode and it works so well. The performances from Alex Lawther and Jerome Flynn are fantastic (especially Alex Lawther, who is one of the most compelling protagonists in the series) and they truly feel like real people. The other thing that I really love about this episode is the technology that it focuses on. It focuses on something that almost everyone has, a laptop’s webcam and it will make you want to cover it up by the end. ‘Shut Up and Dance’ isn’t just the best episode of ‘Black Mirror’, it’s also one of the best television episodes of all time!
There you have it, my ranking of every ‘Black Mirror’ episode from worst to best. I hope you enjoyed reading it and I’d like to see if you disagree with some of my choices, so feel free to comment below. Thanks!