Black Mirror Season 4 Review: A Melting Pot of Emotions
Ever since Black Mirror left the hands of BBC and was taken over by Netflix I was very weary about how well it would transition. Over time the episodes have had lower run times but in return have added more episodes. Has this diminished the new seasons to produce lower quality content for more episodes? In my opinion in regards with the new season; it kind of has. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For myself, both Season 3 and Season 4 have had hit and misses. I remember watching the original 2 seasons and wanting more.
In season 4 we have a total of 6 Episodes, with an exception. The last episode “Museum of the Black” has 3 smaller shorts that tie together the entire episode. I will not go into spoilers in this smaller section but if you would like to read my thoughts on each episode make sure to scroll down after the spoiler warning to see the breakdown.
Overall season 4 of Black Mirror was equally good and bad. You have memorable episodes that will stand out more than others and you have forgettable ones. By far the three that stand out are USS Callister, Hang the DJ, and Crocodile. All three have some of the longer run times. It allows for some more detailed storytelling which i feel some of the others lack in. Particulary Arkangel; in which I feel the characters aren’t fully explored which makes it hard to justify their actions. In the Metal Head episode there is hardly any backstory as to why the characters are on this mission. The story just falls apart and drags on for about 45 minutes.
The tone of the series remains dark and disturbing, per the previous seasons. However, the past 2 seasons there has been one episode that has a lighter side. As San Junipero was to season 3 Hang the DJ is the lighter episode in Season 4. This creates a nice tone change in the series that allows you to breath and not be constantly fearing our future progression of technology.
Season 4 provides a nice return for the series. It’s always nice to see it comeback and provide us a bleak look into our possible future. Hopefully, we can see the show adapt next season and perhaps ease into fewer episodes with longer run times. More Lighter episodes that provide a pleasant experience. Black Mirror Season 4 is a welcome return for the tech driven anthology.
Spoilers Below—– Episodes Breakdown
Thoughts: The events showed seemed very unrealistic. The little girl got lost one time. For me it does not justify enough convincing that she would need to have a constant vigilant chip installed. There is not enough back story on the mom to reflect her constant monitoring of her daughter. Is there a reason she has a constant fear of her daughter well being? It seems more like the mother has trusting issues but the episode doesn’t show us any of that past. Who doesn’t she trust? We are just to assume because none of it is shown on screen. It’s hard to believe that a mother has such a hard time seeing her daughter grow up and experience normal teenage behaviour. Why is the mother doing all of this for her daughter? What troubled past we don’t see causes this behaviour.
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this episode. Illegally using someone’s DNA to create a perverse world where you can manipulate people into doing the things you want. Very creative and thought provoking. Plays with ideas of free will and psychosis. Some of the things I disliked about this episode was the character of Nanette. She really didn’t have the same personality of her clone counterpart. Regular Nanette was timid and shy whereas the clone was aggressive and proactively trying to get out. I guess being in state where you are forced out of your natural habitat will do that to you. Overall great episode.
Thoughts: Unsatisfying. The premise to this story could have been really good. It had really good elements. Post Apocalyptic world, Robots, possible extinction…sound familiar? Instead you get this really terrible short that explains no background as to why the Robot dogs exist. A group of three scavengers are off trying to get what the audience is to assume is medical supplies. They are interrupted by these security dogs who start murdering the group. Not just biting them, they have a gun and blowing off their heads. Hunting each one of them. The entire time we are spent following the most un survivalist character of the group. She is constantly running but we never know to where. Who is she? Where are all the people. How come these security dogs are attacking them? At one point we almost communicate to some other folks but all that is heard is static and she talks to the mic as if we are supposed to understand that someone is listening to her. Throughout the entirety of the episode I found myself cheering for the dog to kill the lone survivor so that we could end her boring and dull personality. Thus moving on and progressing more of why everything is happening. In the End we never get that. Except you are left with this absurd ending that questions as to why you just spent 45 minutes watching this episode. Who would even agree to save a teddy bear? Why Black and white?
Thoughts: Loved it! Black Mirror episodes have often told stories on how technology can lead to a bleak and disturbing outcome. Every Once in a while you come across a light hearted episode. In Hang the DJ we meet 2 characters which are new to using a dating app. The dating app allocates a predetermined amount of time that you will be spending with this person. Anything from 12 hours to 5 years. What I love about this episode is that in a world where dating apps are currently the hot item. Would you the users of today be opposed to this kind of dating. I asked a few of my coworkers and jokingly said that they would rather self harm themselves than have to spend an entire year with someone they would hate. Do we have the attention span to actually date and get to know someone for a predetermined amount of time. The episodes spends time showing us what could have been between to characters and not be able to fall in love with a person you believe is your true love. This episode was different enough to set it apart from previous installments of Black Mirror. I loved watching the parallels between both the characters going through different moments in their relationships.
Thoughts: Really great. This episode had me at the edge of my seat the entire time. What i loved about this episode was the dual storylines that eventually crossed. It was a little predictable but seeing the lengths that character would go through just to keep her career and family together. Often times I found myself thinking will she be murdering that person. The idea of piecing memories together with a small computer was really neat. The attention to detail in this episode was really great. Pinpointing each little clue eventually uncovering a deeper darker crime. It had the hard boiled detective that is often found in noir crime dramas, with an absurd eating/drinking quirk. Overall great story and characters. Oh and the sound design in the bathtub was brutal. Definitely added to some disturbing moments.
Thoughts: Black Museum starts off feeling like a museum that holds ancient artifacts from previous old black mirror episodes. This thought through me off towards the beginning. As the story progress the caretaker of the museum starts to tell short stories from his past life and how he has come across some items from his collection. An anthology within an anthology, very meta stuff. There are three stories that he tells each one slightly different. All of the stories eventually reconnect leading to the big surprise at the end. The overall episode wasn’t terrible but it felt that the first story wasn’t connected to any of the others. Especially towards the end where they try and connect all the stories together. The ending felt a little forced trying to add all the little storylines to one character. This is where the first story felt off. Affecting the overall story. The episode wasn’t bad but it could use some work. Perhaps Splitting the stories into their own episodes rather than piecing them all together.