I LOVE Black Mirror. I could go on and on for hours about this show. I’ll start by telling you a little bit about it.
Black Mirror is a Netflix series, classified as a “British science fiction anthology”. It takes on modern society, specifically technology and takes it to the extreme, often turning it darker and placing each episode in the future. Each episode is standalone, meaning they each have completely different characters, storylines and topics. The series has four seasons but just released that there will be a fifth one in the future.
The Black Mirror is said to be based on movies like “The Twilight Zone”, but without the need for censorship. Each episode focuses on the human beings dependency on technology and what may happen if this dependency continues to grow.
The creator, Charlie Brooker explains: “If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The ‘black mirror’ of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.”
Here are my Top Five Favourite MUST WATCH Episodes (SPOILER ALERT**):
1- Hang The DJ (Episode 4- Season 4)
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Of course, this episode is about dating (cue all of you rolling your eyes), but I think it has a great story and lesson behind it (and a happy ending, which a lot of episodes don’t have). This episode takes a look at dating using technology and right away will make you think about apps like Tinder and Bumble. The two main characters, Amy and Frank, are matched together right off the bat but find out via “the Coach” they only have 12 hours to spend together. Right away, you see the two of them click, joking and laughing with each other, but after the 12 hours are up they are forced to go their separate ways. Next, you watch as the two of them are matched with different people through the system, Frank is matched with a long relationship that he noticeably despises and Amy with a string of short flicks that she quickly gets sick of. Luckily, the two of them get matched together again. This time falling head over heels for each other. Frank breaks the rules of the system, causing their predetermined long-term relationship to be cut short. Again we watch as the two of them go from relationship to relationship, clearly unhappy and thinking about each other. In the end, Amy and Frank decide to rebel and be together against the system, and the two of them are zapped from this alter universe back to the real world. Did they end up together? I guess you’ll have to watch to find out. Regardless if they did or didn’t, this episode gave me hope that love still exists, despite this crazy world of cyber dating and hook-up culture.
2- Be Right Back (Episode 1, Series 2)
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This episode is devastating (in my opinion). This one plays on the idea of technology saving the memory of a lost one, but of course, takes it to the extreme. Now a day in our world, if someone passes away, you can look back on countless photos and videos of this person keeping the memory of them alive far past their death. In the world this episode creates, you are able to literally make an actual physical replica of the person that died. You quickly learn that in doing so, problems arise and this android version of your loved one may look and sound how you remember them, but they are missing pieces to them. To me, this episode is devastating because you watch someone try and hold on so tightly on to someone they loved, instead of focusing on healing and letting go of them. I am leaving a lot out, especially the corky, kind-of twisted ending, trying to make you all go and watch it because it is definitely worth it!
3- White Bear (Episode 2, Season 2)
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Okay, let’s get into some darker episodes. I made my sister and her boyfriend at the time, watch this episode because I thought it was so good. They were both creeped out by it, so I’m not sure if that says more about me and my weird addiction to scary movies and TV shows or about the Black Mirror. This episode reminds me of “The Purge”, in a way. A women wakes-up, not knowing where she is, and quickly realizes the neighbours she’s surrounded by, are all taping and watching her. When she speaks to them, everyone ignores her and no one responds. She begins to be shot at by a gun and chased after by people called the “hunters’, which she finds out are being brainwashed by a signal. She sets out to find the transmitter of this so-called brainwashing signal but finds out the truth instead. She is trapped in the “White Bear Justice Park”, as a punishment for something she has done. Every day her memory is wiped clean and she is forced to relive this very same day, time and time again. People are able to come watch as they please, like a zoo, as this woman gets psychologically tortured. Hold on a second, before you start to feel bad for her, maybe find out what she did to get this punishment.
**Another episode that is quite similar and also worth watching is, “Shut Up and Dance”- Episode 3, Season 3. Like White Bear, this episode stays away from technology, which is sometimes refreshing when it comes to Black Mirror and focussing on the effects of blackmail.
4- Man Against Fire (Episode 5, Season 3)
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I read a lot of articles about the top Black Mirror episodes and this one was not mentioned in any of the articles I read and I was very surprised by this. I think this episode has an extremely meaningful message behind it (it is also quite frightening, which means I automatically liked it). I don’t want to give too much away, because I would love for you all to go watch this episode, but basically, it is based on the idea of soldiers fighting against mutated humans called “roaches” in a foreign country. The soldiers use implants, that enhance their senses and provides instant data to them. One soldier, Stripe, begins to have problems with his implant and starts to see the roaches, as humans. Stripe then begins to start looking for his own answers. He finds out that the implants the soldiers are given may have an alternate reasoning behind them, such as: dehumanizing the enemy. Please watch this episode to help understand all the confusing information I just gave you. I think this episode is very relatable to not only our history but our present and most like future. The ending is equally as heartbreaking as the realization of what is happening in the extermination of the roaches.
5- Play Test (Episode 1, Season 3)
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This one was hard for me to chose, because I have a few other favourites that I could have easily put in this spot, but since this episode has been talked about a lot quite recently, I thought I had to include it. This is an episode that doesn’t need violence to scare you, the fact that it is so close to reality, is scary and uncomfortable enough. Play Test takes a play on how we allow people on social media to judge and rate us. In this episode, people have a rating out of five, which allows them to do or not do certain things in society. The perfect selfie, clothing and appearance, working out, what you’re eating, who you’re dating, hanging out with or even talking to are all things that can either up your rating or decrease it. The lower the rating, the fewer friends you have, jobs you’re applicable for and nice things you can have. The scariest thing about this episode is China is starting to use a rating system very similar to the one displayed in this episode. A company in China is giving out personal credit ratings using Alipay, which is the main mobile payment form used. Users are given ratings between 350, which is considered low, and 950, which is high. If you have a high rating, you are eligible for perks and rewards such as favourable terms on loans and being showcased on dating apps. If you had a low rating, you can only book lower class seating on slow trains and you must put down deposits for things that are usually given away for free. More can be found here on this new experimental rating system.
San Junipero (Episode 4, Season 3)- This episode takes a break from technology, and takes a spin on the idea that there might be hope for people dealing with dementia or a kind of therapy for people with mental illnesses. A heaven-like world is created using your own happy thoughts and memories to help with current suffering. This one has a happy ending and is a good contrast to some of the more negative episodes.
Arkengel (Episode 2, Season 4)- This episode is based on helicopter parenting and what happens when it’s taken too far.
Crocodile (Episode 3, Season 4)- This episode is based on a troubled past of a woman, and what she’ll do to keep it hidden.