TV REVIEWS: Black Mirror S3
So a while back when I was just starting out as a booklr, I had two tumblrs; a book themed blog and a television/film review blog. I used to review every single piece of media I watched and quite frankly, it was exhausting. I ditched the blog, and now I’m here, barely watching any shows/films because I’m so wrapped in books and have the attention span of a fish.
Seriously, sometimes I struggle with ten minute Youtube videos.
I’ve always been a fan of Black Mirror, from the moment Rory Kinnear had to have sex with a pig on national television. Not only does it hit close to home (the show’s premise, not the pig sex), it is also hilarious and beautiful at the same time.
Here are mini reviews of each episode of Black Mirror, season 3.
Nosedive is set in a very pink and white world where your social status can get you into the express lane for everything. You’re popular, richer, and have a better standard of living, all thanks to your online rating. Bryce Dallas Howard plays Lacie, an average rating office worker with a need to climb the social ladder, who begins to use her rich and popular old childhood friend to get there.
I found this episode a nice ease into the horrors of Black Mirror. While it seemed relatable in many aspects (Lacie takes a picture of her coffee to get likes and ratings…don’t know where Charlie Brooker got that idea from *cough*), it overall felt like a setting you can easily distance yourself from and enjoy watching without feeling like an empty paranoid shell.
Playtest is set in the present, where horror games are being developed into virtual reality experiences, using the horrors and fears in your own life to make it feel more real. While the games are only in beta, we see Cooper take advantage of an ‘odd jobs’ ad to test out the new game.
This episode was super trippy, where the question ‘is this actually happening?’ comes into play at every single turn. As someone who nopes at horror games and horror in general, I sympathized with Cooper in everything that he experiences, but I struggled to immerse myself into the episode because I was preparing for jump scares and loud noises.
Shut Up and Dance
I beg of you, right now, to not watch this one alone at night.
Shut Up and Dance would not be classed as science fiction, and it is one of the most realistic episodes to date, because it could happen now, to you.
Kenny, a shy and timid teenager, is filmed masturbating by a hacker on his laptop, and is blackmailed, along with others, to do whatever the hackers want. This episode is very similar to White Bear (from season two), where the twists are subtle and question your sympathy for the characters. White Bear, along with Shut Up and Dance, are both episodes that have made me feel shaken and frightened, especially for myself. Shut Up and Dance is about a seemingly innocent person who has to commit nasty acts (including robbing a bank and fighting to the death) for the enjoyment of others.
It’ll make you paranoid, squirm, and never want to leave the house.
This is, by far, one of the best Black Mirror episodes I’ve ever seen.
Yorkie, a shy and timid girl, walks into a club for the first time in 1987, where she meets Kelly, and outgoing and confident girl. Both continue to meet up with one another each week, where their nights end at midnight.
I can’t really explain the plot too much, because it’ll give it all away. But it’s so romantic, nostalgic, and not that scary at all. It didn’t make me question much, but made me ball my eyes out over the sheer beauty and emotion of this episode. I saw the themes as; finding love does not have a deadline and is death really the end? Go watch it. GO WATCH IT.
Men Against Fire
This episode has a very clear message about brainwashing and dehumanization and how it can be used for manipulation. Stripes, a soldier in the army, works with his regiment to scour a foreign country for ‘roaches’, a breed of monster who are terrorizing local villagers. They use tech implanted in their minds for aiming, maps, communication, and a general boost of abilities.
I liked this episode, but the message was not subtle. While I agreed with what it was criticizing, very little happened and there was a weird and unnecessary sex scene that had nothing to do with the plot. This was probably my least favourite episode.
Hated in the Nation
Another episode that is rooted in the concerns of today, however pairs it with technological advances that we could see in the future.
After a hated journalist is brutally murdered, a skeptical detective and a tech genius pair together to solve the mystery, and how social media witch hunts play a part. This episode feels very real and discusses the growing problem of mob mentality on social media. It’s something we see on Twitter all the time; how people are dragged and shamed and bullied for a comment they made or a picture they posted. Granted, these people shouldn’t be free of criticism, especially if they are spreading their own dish of hate, but what of the consequences? This is what Hated in the Nation questions; just how hateful can a person be that they would contribute to an online mob that sees their hate be executed in…well, execution, without the blood on their hands? It’s a scary and fantastic episode, shot like an actually clever police procedural.
Season 3 is currently on Netflix, and since it’s shift from Channel 4 to the show streaming giant, it has a larger budget which is clear in almost all of the episodes. It also expands from the terrors being isolated to just the U.K, and I feel that is partly because of the growing interest of an American audience, thus the inclusion of American narratives.
If you’ve only just got into Black Mirror, I’d check out seasons 1 and 2. Both terrifying, especially episodes Fifteen Million Merits and White Bear, but overall, a fantastic series that questions everything you hold dear today; your phone, your laptop, all your black mirrors.