Black Mirror is back, and arguably at its best. Charlie Brooker’s most talked-about series is as surreal, yet scarily relevant, as ever. The newest season re-visits the futuristic possibilities of social media, technology, and life in general. Exploring topics such as growing old, humanity vs propaganda, virtual reality, and the impact that social media could, and does often have on all of our lives. This season has been anticipated for quite some time, and Brooker and his massive cohort of guest directors/producers have done their best not to fail us.
This time, Black Mirror has been released on Netflix, as opposed to its former host, Channel 4. There is also a major change in the episode format, insofar as there are 6 roughly one-hour long episodes, rather than the previous 3 forty-five minute long episodes shown on Channel 4. The new host has allowed Brooker and his team to work without “a set run-time, or content restrictions”. Brooker himself says about this season:
“We wanted more variance in tone…. We didn’t necessarily want every single episode to be just unrelentingly bleak.”
While there are elements of the aforementioned unrelenting bleakness, the new season also features various lighthearted moments, adding an optimism similar to Ten Million Points (season one) while at the same time delivering harrowing “behind your hands” watching akin to White Bear (season two). The messages delivered in this season of Black Mirror are more of an in-your-face, ‘beware of what may be happening to you’ kind, while managing not to come across overly preachy at the same time. For someone who is very much a social media-enthusiast, this was a big deal.
Initially, there was scepticism towards the technology-based episodes. The typical thoughts of “oh leave it off, social media isn’t that bad” crossed my mind. By the end of these adventures, my mindset was a bit frazzled. This is mostly thanks to Brooker and co. – their incredible use of imagery, soundtracks, and the superb acting ability of every cast member.
Overall, this season should live up to every expectation you have. The acting is phenomenal, featuring known names such as Alice Eve, Kelly MacDonald, and Michael Kelly, among many others. With nearly every episode you have no idea where the storyline is going, or where it will go. There are one or two moments where it seems blatantly obvious what the message is, and you may be right. All I can offer by way of advice is: keep your mind open. Do not judge an episode by its cover, and do not look away for an instant. These episodes might just predict the next (alleged) Hameron.