So the new season of Black Mirror is finally streaming on Netflix and I went ahead and watched… in a day. Yes, I binge watched Black Mirror and that somehow feels wrong because this is a show that you must watch one episode a day while you digest whatever they threw at you.
But I watched the whole thing because a) it was only three episodes and b) IT WAS SO GOOD.
I’m going to give you a run-down of the episodes, my thoughts, and reactions.
What’s interesting about this season is that while the topic of technology is still very present, these episodes felt a lot more focused on society and what we do with technology, rather than how technology changes society. For example, in the first chapter: Striking Vipers, we are presented with the story of two friends who like to play videogames. Both of them have been very good friends since college and ten years later they meet again and have drastically different lives, starting with the fact that one of them is married. They decide to play the game Striking Vipers that have a new version that allows them to feel everything that their character feels in the game (this is also a clear throwback to the Playtest episode!) and instead of fighting in the game like they’re supposed to, these two bros decide to… Well, have sex. This particular episode leaves us the question: does that count as infidelity?
I mean, on one hand, it is virtual reality. They are using avatars and everything basically happens in their head. But, on the other hand, the sensations feel real and as the episode progresses you see how they both begin to get addicted to it, to the point where it ends up affecting their real-life relationships. The conclusion to the episode is somehow fitting for Black Mirror, while it is not overly sad or disturbing, it does leave you feeling like… Yikes.
The second episode: Smithereens. This episode was set in 2018 which already made it interesting. This is one of those episodes were everything the protagonist does sort of snowball into a bigger situation. Chris is a hitcher driver (sort of like Uber) and he elaborates a complex plan to kidnap someone from Smithereens, a social media company, to try and talk with the CEO of the company, Billy Bauer. What I enjoyed the most about the whole episode was Andrew Scott’s (Chris) acting, he did an amazing job in every scene, especially the ones were he has breakdowns. The critic is strong in this one and the message is clear: don’t text and drive. It was interesting to see the length this story went just to prove that point, but nonetheless, I truly enjoyed and thought it was perfectly done.
As for the end of the season, we have Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too. What a ride this episode was! It felt like a movie! We follow the story of Rachel, a very lonely teenager who the only friend is Ashley Too, the robot doll based on her real-life idol, Ashley O. We also get to follow the story of Ashley the idol who is being exploited by her aunt while dealing with depression. The episode takes a huge turn when Ashley O falls into a coma and Rachel and her sister Jack discover that the robotic doll actually has a copy of Ashley’s entire personality in its system (much like people did in the episode of White Christmas) and then they set out to actually wake Ashley up from her coma.
This episode felt a bit slow at first but the buildup was so worth it! The whole critic towards the entertainment industry and the pressure young artists get to be a certain way and fulfill certain expectations were showcased masterfully. Having Miley Cyrus, who was actually a teenage idol and live through that experience was also a nice casting choice. I was expecting her to be good, but I didn’t know she was going to be THIS good. This just proves that Miley’s successful career is not a luck thing. She is very talented as a singer and actress.
The end of the episode has to be one of the happiest I’ve seen in Black Mirror, if not the happiest. I really liked it, plus Miley’s cover of “Head like a hole” was a BANGER.
In general, this season was yet another masterpiece. Yes, it lacked the usual deeply disturbing storylines but the message remained clear. The subtle way each episode leads the viewer and show us what we need to see to understand through key gestures, short flashbacks and even use of color is simply one the best things of it all. The writers and producers know how to use every little resource towards good storytelling without it feeling too much. If you haven’t watched Black Mirror’s season 5, I recommend you run now and watch it! You won’t regret it.