Attention all binge-watchers! Netflix just released season four of the Emmy Award winning show, Black Mirror. As always, Charlie Brooker, the creator of the series, delivers Black Mirror’s special brand of reimagined and modernized Twilight Zone twists and turns, which are set inside an inhuman, technologically-induced dystopia — the kind we are inevitably headed towards. If you haven’t already devoured the fourth season along with a bag of microwave popcorn in one night over the holidays (like I have), consider yourself warned: this article contains many spoilers!
Episode 1: USS Callister
To say the very least: Wow. Black Mirror has often played with the idea of being ‘trapped in the machine’, but, in my opinion, never to this scale. “USS Callister” features the archetypal socially awkward nerd, but this time, his awkwardness is shown to a much larger scale. As a VR software developer, he uploads his hostile coworkers’ DNA into his game and carries out sick acts of torture upon them if they don’t play along to his fantasy. Did I mention that the game has a 1960’s Star Trek theme? I think this is the first time that Black Mirror has used their envisioning of advanced technology to access the past — Charlie Brooker is definitely catching onto the nostalgia that we, as a society, are being confronted with as we delve deeper into the brave new world that technology is bringing us. If you enjoyed “USS Callister” as much as I did, you’re in luck! Producers of the show have reportedly said that they plan on expanding the universe/storyline of this particular episode; I can’t wait!
As a side note, I’d like to point out that this season features a strong female protagonist in every episode. As easy a marketing ploy as this may seem, the show’s producers claim that they hadn’t even noticed the trend in their choice of casting. Personally, I was very happy to see Michaela Coel in another Netflix series! (Her hilarious show, Chewing Gum, was cancelled. If you like British humour, I highly recommend it).
Episode 2: Hang the DJ
If you’re like me, you watch Black Mirror for the shock factor, the unhappy ending — I want to feel like hiding my phone under the bed after I watch an episode. That’s why it surprised me that I enjoyed this episode so much! I find modern dating atrocious. I dislike the process of having someone “slide into your DMs” to eventually graduate to texting (an undetermined amount of time later), only to be asked to “hang out” — whatever that means — and then nothing ever really seems to go anywhere. I’ve always asked myself, “Why can’t there be a way to know who’s right for you so that we can all get out of this mess?” This episode was an answer to my question. It features a dating app that randomly pairs you with another person for a determined amount of time with the goal of eventually pairing you with your “ideal match”. It was actually a mess, and that was the moral of the story; technology cannot determine human emotion. Finding love and happiness in this vacuum is only possible when you find a person and say, “Screw it,” to the system that society imposes upon you. I don’t know if that made sense. I’m getting sappy; I’ll stop now.
Episode 3: Black Museum
The twist at the end of this episode is gobsmacking. Like in episodes from previous seasons, such as “White Christmas” where the episode contains multiple plotlines that come together to create a central meaning, “Black Museum’s” plotlines were disturbing from first to last. However, I feel like once you’ve watched all of Black Mirror from beginning to end, you begin to expect the writers’ plot twists — a phenomenon that I’ve realized this season. The audience begins to understand that every small detail in the episode is important. In fact, for this episode, I felt like the ending was predetermined; the protagonist goes to the Black Museum — a museum containing technological artifacts that were involved in crimes — and tells the creepy museum curator that she is visiting her father; ttherefore, the twist at the end could only be that her father is in the museum. That said, the fun is in the way that you get to the reveal — the stories. This season altogether was deliciously disturbing.