I review a whole season rather than individual episodes, so there is a chance of spoilers. If you haven’t watched the whole season yet, stop reading now!
Black Mirror has an uncanny ability to force you into thinking about the way you either live your life or could live your life. The first season introduced itself with a silly, shock-value episode but ended with an interesting, chilling but brilliant look at memories and trust. It demonstrated the potential but also huge negatives of our increase in technology and what it can do, a running theme throughout Black Mirror (which refers to the reflection on the screen of a tv, laptop or even phone).
The season is divided into three, stand-alone, single story episodes which all have technology of some kind at the center. This season, much more than the last, makes you think about how you use technology, especially social networks, as well as challenging your moral outlook and how you may react to certain events or situations. Its entertaining on the shallow-level but go deeper and it can put some major, current topics into sharp context.
The first episode deals with how much of ourselves we put on social networks. It gives a woman a chance to “speak” to her dead boyfriend using a personality devised entirely from his social network and internet use and history. It creates a “personality” for him that she can use and interact with. It is a great concept and doesn’t feel too “science-fiction” considering how much we use social media today. Although the episode does become silly and too far-fetched towards the end, it never loses that central theme and will make you wonder whether such an invention is a good idea, whether you would use it and what your “online personality” would be.
The second episode plays more like a horror story, with a woman waking up, disoriented, unsure of where she is and then being relentlessly attacked. The only people around are either trying to kill her or just unflinchingly filming the events on their mobile phones. It is very chilling and confusing throughout until the fantastic reveal at the end. This episode also becomes very far-fetched but its the message and moral implications that it arises that will stay with you, long after the initial story has ended.
Finally, the season ends with a much more comical but no less chilling story about the British political system and the influence of the internet and social crazes. It sees a cartoon character becoming a genuine contender in a British bi-election. It’s the least “science-fiction” of the three but is probably the closest to what could actually occur, if someone had the right character and platform. It feels like a criticism of our political system, the frivolity of the British public and the dangerous effects that this kind of “light-hearted” stunt could potentially have.
All three stories are brilliantly written, well paced and the actors chosen are also fantastic. Its quality television and although some of the stories do become quite silly and outrageous towards the end, the central message of each is one to take away and think about. Black Mirror is the perfect example of how to deliver cautionary tales on our reliance and the evolution of technology today. They can each be viewed as just entertaining, far-fetched stories or as something much more chilling and in some cases, frightening and disturbing.
Overall, Black Mirror is a showcase for how to write brilliant stories, well-acted and delivered in almost movie like fashion. Each has a message to deliver and a serious story to tell. The season will make you wonder about how you use technology, how you would react in a key situations and even how you would vote if certain opportunities presented themselves. Not bad for a tv drama.
Best Episode – White Bear: The second episode in the season is a scary and entertaining episode but add the reveal at the end and you get something much deeper and thought-provoking.
Best performance – Lenora Crichlow as Victoria Skillane
Should there be another season? – Yes, there is so much potential for many more of these technology themed stories, especially with how much our world is becoming technologically reliant.
Season Rating – 4.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)