Black Mirror is one of those shows that I always welcome back with open arms. Season 5 is no different and it is now the second time we see Netflix take the helm in providing more episodes. Earlier this year we got a taste of a new style of Black Mirror which introduced the highly effective and very Meta episode “Bandersnatch”. This stand alone episode was ambitious and introduced viewers to a somewhat new medium of full motion video games. It was different and unique that it was well received. The new season of black mirror returns to conventional episode format. There are 3 new episodes this season. Yes only three. I did feel cheated out of a whole season. However, this season is different because it steps away from the traditional black mirror format. It takes a leap in tackling some hot topics that could turn some people off from black mirror. All the episodes had me at the edge of my seat. Each episode is unique and differs from anything we have seen in the past. This includes a star studded ensemble that delivers top notch acting. One episode had me crying while another one had me laughing. Like in Season 4’s review of Black Mirror, I will summarize my thoughts and feelings of each episode.
“Striking Vipers” stars Anthony Mackie, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Beharie, Pom Klementieff and Ludi Lin. The Story revolves around a new virtual reality headset that fully immerses you into the game, titled Striking Vipers. This episode is reminds me of something we have already seen in the past with “San Junipero”. However its missing that 80’s nostalgic vibe and charm. It follows the life of Anthony Mackie who is struggling to find excitement from his mundane and repetitive lifestyle. His homelife is then thrown into a spiral when his best friend introduces him to a new version of their old favorite video game. He finds that the immersion and emotions in this virtual reality game is far better than his current lifestyle. Without going into further details and spoilers; I really liked the direction they took with this episode. However, it is my least favorite episode of this season. Reason being is that it didn’t feel like there were enough consequences at stake. Some scenes lasted for a long time and felt very repetitive. Specifically the in-game sequences. We constantly kept returning to this world. I feel like his connection and what it meant to him was understood over the course of two sessions. Yet the episode kept coming back to it. They could have spent more time dealing with the issues in real life rather than the virtual. Overall this episode is very ambitious and I praise Netflix for these discussions. I just wish they pushed it a little further.
In “Smithereens” we see Chris (Andrew Scott), a driver whose life spirals out of control. He becomes obsessed with people constantly checking their phones. Lately black mirror episodes have been bringing in top notch actors. It has helped deliver powerful performances for the show. In this episode Andrew Scott is perfect for the role because he has one of those faces that makes you sympathize for the character even though he takes an irrational path. His character makes poor decisions and leads you through an emotional journey. In “Smithereens” we do not see a futuristic look at the future of tech, rather the episode stays in the present. This episode takes a deep look at how emotionally attached we are to our phones and what we could possibly lose. There are a few things in particular to mention about this episode. First being that this episode had me at the edge of my seat. As i mentioned before Andrew Scott’s performance has you crying and feeling sorry for him and the situation he puts himself in. Secondly, after finishing this episode it did feel a little on the nose. It almost felt like a very long advertisement for putting down your phones. I still enjoyed this episodes and it is probably my favorite one of this season. It had me thinking about where we would be at in society if we weren’t constantly attached to our phones. Have we become so obsessed with technology that anything we do outside of that has become boring. Do we constantly have to text or check our phones while doing other tasks? At some point we need a break from technology and we should probably follow the lead of another character shown in this episode. But even he could not avoid isolation.
Rachel, Jack and Ashley, Too
Black Mirror tends to focus on the dark and gritty side of technology. However, this episode is probably one of the funniest this season. Possibly the funniest episode to date. The seasons tend to hit hard with each episode being darker than the next. So it is definitely a breath of fresh air when they can squeeze in a comedic episode. We get introduced to a small family in which the father drives a mouse car. My first thought being Harry and Lloyd’s van in Dumb and Dumberer. The single father is raising two daughters who are distinctly different from one another. Jack is a rock chick who loves hard rock and playing her guitar. On the other hand you have Rachel who is obsessed with pop diva Ashley, played by Miley Cyrus. This episodes almost feels like 2 separate movies. One following the story of Ashley and the other the introduction of Ashley Too, an artificial robot who helps Rachel come out of her comfort zone and truly be herself to the world. What makes this episode great is that halfway through the episode it become a hilarious road trip movie that leads to some hilarious and surprisingly great voice acting from Miley Cyrus. What makes this episode great is that it delves into the hidden lifestyles of celebrities and possible hidden stories that are often kept secret by those around them. Then in the public’s eye we see the complete opposite, a joyful perspective and positive driven artist who is there to motivate and inspire her fans through Ashley Too.
Overall this season of Black Mirror has exceeded my expectations and the topics they decide to tackle are relevant to present social issues. I just wish there were more episodes to dive into. It felt cut short. The episodes were the same length as previous seasons so I felt there could have been more. I guess bringing in the star power for this new season may have cut into their budget. Overall cinematography and acting stood out for season 5. As for the cons, some episodes feel repetitive. Specifically in the “Striking Vipers” episode. In the end this season will be loved or hated. Some people will like the ambition and new direction that they decided to take. Others will find it not futuristic enough and be un-amused by the topics they dive into. In the end, I am not here to tell you what you like and dislike. Or perhaps I am and we are just stuck an episode of Black Mirror.
Edited for clarity by Michelle Noriega
Black Mirror Season 5
- some episodes feel repetitive
- OUR SCORE 0