After 5 seasons, one Christmas particular and one progressive interactive film, Black Mirror has grown into one of many greatest reveals on Netflix for the reason that streaming platform nabbed the rights from UK tv community Channel 4 for season three onwards.
The present, created by Charlie Brooker and producer Annabel Jones, is a contemporary tackle traditional anthology reveals like The Twilight Zone, inspecting the unintended affect of know-how on how we dwell in Brooker’s customary darkish, playful, and typically uplifting method.
Whether or not you’ve already blasted by means of all of the episodes or are simply seeking to meet up with some traditional Black Mirror, we’ve ranked all of the episodes from the primary season to the fifth. Right here’s our definitive rating, so that you can disagree with.
23. Smithereens (Season 5, Episode 2)
Black Mirror’s tackle a British police drama. “Smithereens” tells the story of Chris (Andrew Scott)—a person who can’t assist however blame social media for probably the most tragic second in his life. And that’s it. The paper-thin plot is barely simply sufficient to maintain this episode plodding from scene to scene, and regardless of being primarily based round a hostage scenario, the stakes within the episode by no means really feel notably excessive. Assume an episode of The Invoice however with just a little little bit of “social media is dangerous” thrown in too.
22. White Bear (Season 2, Episode 2)
Half disturbing zombie thriller and half slamming indictment of society’s hankerings for public punishment, “White Bear” has probably the most unpredictable twists of any Black Mirror episode. The sparse dialog and desolate setting create an environment that displays the isolation felt by the principle character, Victoria, performed by Lenora Crichlow. For many of its operating size, this episode attracts closely on horror movies, however the first two-thirds lack the emotional punch and is admittedly only a setup for the movie’s devastating ultimate act. In the end, “White Bear” finally ends up being an imbalanced episode that has one hand to play, however does so in a ultimate burst of violent catharsis.
21. Males Towards Fireplace (Season 4, Episode 5)
Black Mirror is typically responsible of getting caught on an attention-grabbing thought or idea with out a entire story to help it. “Males Towards Fireplace” is one such episode. Its warning concerning the potential misuse of know-how in warfare is legitimate and attention-grabbing, but it surely’s arduous to cowl within the house of a 50-minute TV episode. The ultimate twist is suitably bleak, in true Black Mirror custom, however you possibly can’t assist however marvel concerning the wider context of the story and its central character.
20. The Waldo Second (Season 2, Episode 3)
As with “The Nationwide Anthem,” that is one other Black Mirror episode that took a short time for historical past to meet up with it. Set within the midst of an election, “The Waldo Second” tells the story of Jamie (Daniel Rigby), a comic behind a puerile animated bear who unexpectedly finds himself having an outsize affect on nationwide politics. Think about Bo’ Selecta’s Avid Merrion operating for election and also you gained’t be far off. On the time, this episode felt prefer it lacked a agency footing and tossed just a few too many concepts up within the air with out growing them, however with the good thing about hindsight—and the election of a sure US president—as soon as once more it’s actuality, and never Black Mirror, that has been discovered really wanting.
19. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too (Season 5, Episode 3)
Finished proper, “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” might have been one in all Black Mirror‘s greatest episodes but. Brooker took on a completely new style with this teenage-drama-tinged rumination on vapid pop music, exploitative managers, and impressionable followers. In it, Miley Cyrus performs Ashley, a pop star who, for some purpose or one other, has her character downloaded into some futuristic dolls. The episode fails to ever actually grapple with the know-how in query, nonetheless, and isn’t actually positive whether or not it is an ironic send-up of teenage movies, or only a poor simulacrum of the style, with some “pop music is dangerous” argument tacked on.
18. White Christmas (2014 particular)
Regardless of all its success, among the best issues about Black Mirror is its means to forged relative unknowns in starring roles. You’ll see loads of faces you understand, however you’re unlikely to know many names. Enter Jon Hamm. A fan of the present from the beginning, Hamm needed to congratulate Charlie Brooker in particular person. On account of the assembly, Hamm was forged within the starring position for the present’s first (and solely) Christmas particular. Merely put, Hamm is just too well-known for Black Mirror. Extra irksomely, the episode lacks a adequate thought to carry its plot collectively. Because of this, it feels disjointed and bitty. The good ultimate plot twist merely arrives too late. Although, because of this, it’s higher on a second viewing.
17. Bandersnatch (2018 interactive movie)
“Bandersnatch” is concurrently good and underwhelming. Charlie Brooker’s tackle choose-your-own journey TV has 5 endings dictated by the alternatives you make. At first, the novelty of controlling the story is thrilling and unique, particularly as—in true Black Mirror style—it takes quite a few darkish turns. The Eighties setting is pitch good, and there is the kernel of an incredible story in “Bandersnatch,” however finally that novelty overtakes the storytelling and proves why TV is a linear format to start with.
16. Placing Vipers (Season 5, Episode 1)
Most likely the raunchiest Black Mirror episode, “Placing Vipers” begins with an intriguing premise—what occurs when VR intercourse is pretty much as good as the true deal—however fails to discover the tantalizing questions this raises about human sexuality. It will get further factors for the Road Fighter-style VR world, rendered in good online game shade, but it surely falls flat after a really anticlimactic ending that locks this courageous new attractive world firmly again in its field.
15. Metalhead (Season 4, Episode 5)
That is social media’s predictable concern of these Boston Dynamics clips made actual, as “Metalhead” sees people on the run from murderous robotic canine roaming the countryside. The episode’s model and path stand out, shot in black and white and efficiently evoking traditional horror movies. It’s tense, exhilarating, and genuinely scary, however the ultimate twist relatively undercuts the episode’s menacing tone. Particular point out should be made for the second a robotic canine picks up a kitchen knife and spins it menacingly.
14. Playtest (Season 3, Episode 2)
Charlie Brooker likes video video games. And “Playtest,” because the title suggests, is all about video video games. One explicit online game, the truth is: Resident Evil. There’s the genius Japanese sport developer, the haunted home, a personality referred to as Redfield (Chris, not Claire), and even covers of Edge hidden within the background. Brooker’s familiarity with the inspiration for the episode actually reveals, with cultural nods and winks fastidiously blended right into a well-paced, ingenious plot. This can be a actual love letter to the survival horror sport style, informed with an expertly crafted dollop of Black Mirror gore and concern.
13. Cling the DJ (Season 4, Episode 4)
“Cling the DJ” is good. It drops us right into a tightly managed world the place individuals date by algorithm. You go on dates determined for you, eat meals chosen for you, and keep in relationships for a predetermined time period, which might be mere hours or years, all within the title of discovering the proper match. Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole (of Peaky Blinders fame) make for likable protagonists, however the ending is considerably telegraphed. Whereas “San Junipero” touches on the complicated morality of loss of life and consent, “Cling the DJ” is a much less difficult however finally feel-good 50 minutes.
12. Fifteen Million Deserves (Season 1, Episode 2)
Aired in 2011, at a time when The X-Issue was at its cultural peak, this tackle the grim endgame for actuality tv hasn’t aged too properly. Certain, the shrill caricature of Simon Cowell is entertaining, however the entire episode lacks the subtlety of Brooker’s greatest morality performs. Black Mirror is at its greatest once you really feel complicit within the terrible scenes unfolding earlier than you. Until you’re an enormous fan of make-it-or-break-it-style Saturday evening leisure, then the drama of “Fifteen Million Deserves” feels a bit overcooked.
11. Arkangel (Season 4, Episode 2)
The one episode of Black Mirror’s first 4 seasons to be directed by a girl (make of that what you’ll), “Arkangel” is among the least futuristic and, because of this, most hard-hitting. Directed by Jodie Foster, it tells the straightforward story of a mom (Marie) who decides to implant a monitoring system in her daughter (Sara) to observe her well being and emotional state, and likewise to censor issues she doesn’t need her younger eyes to see. Not like some episodes that take a bounding leap of religion, “Arkangel” feels prefer it might occur proper now. And that makes its grotesque conclusion all of the extra chilling.
10. The Complete Historical past of You (Season 1, Episode 3)
Maybe probably the most crushingly unfavorable of Black Mirror’s romantic tales—or, properly, tales that contain individuals in a relationship—“The Complete Historical past of You” is an actual gut-punch of an episode. As in most Black Mirror episodes, the world is recognizably our personal other than one essential element. On this case, it’s that almost all people have been implanted with a “grain” that data every part they see and permits them to play again any reminiscence at will. This doesn’t result in good issues. Written by Jesse Armstrong—the creator of Peep Present—that is the one episode of Black Mirror to not be written or cowritten by Brooker. An unrelenting examination of how know-how may also help us self-inflict injury to our fragile human egos, issues on this episode begin dangerous and find yourself a lot, a lot worse.
9. Crocodile (Season 4, Episode 3)
A good moodier tackle the Scandi noir style, “Crocodile” is ready in a world the place insurance coverage firms faucet into individuals’s recollections with a purpose to settle claims. Once more, issues begin off dangerous—with a hit-and-run accident—and spiral downwards from there. Though the unique script had a person within the lead position, Andrea Riseborough stars as Mia who finds her good life unraveling when her previous misdeeds meet up with her. Shot in Iceland, with gorgeous pictures of huge open roads and lonely properties, this is among the best-looking Black Mirror episodes, with a plot to match. The final scene, in traditional Black Mirror model, undercuts the awfulness of all of it with just a bit little bit of on-the-nose bleak comedy.
8. Shut Up and Dance (Season 3, Episode 3)
When did individuals begin masking up the webcams on their laptops? It was undoubtedly a factor earlier than “Shut up and Dance,” however this darkly cynical episode little doubt impressed many to take precautions. The setup is straightforward sufficient: An adolescent (Alex Lawler) is blackmailed by a hacker who recorded him masturbating. However his path quickly crosses with different victims of the hacker, all with their very own indiscretions to cover. Occasions develop at breakneck velocity because the more and more determined victims dance to the hacker’s tune, culminating in an ending so brutal you’ll find yourself having nightmares concerning the stuff you don’t need your family and friends to know.
7. Black Museum (Season 4, Episode 6)
This stays probably the most divisive episode within the historical past of Black Mirror. Directed by Colm McCarthy of Peaky Blinders and Sherlock fame, “Black Museum” is a visceral distillation of Brooker’s obsession with the macabre. It’s additionally the closest Brooker has gotten to The Twilight Zone and Hammer Home of Horror, each of which have been inspirations for its anthology model. And whereas it’s entertaining to look at a person ruined by know-how compelled to plunge a drill right into a homeless particular person’s cranium with a purpose to orgasm, you possibly can’t assist however really feel that is counting on shock for the sake of shock.
6. Be Proper Again (Season 2, Episode 1)
The second when Martha (Hayley Atwell) meets the android model of Ash (Domhnall Gleeson) stays probably the most profoundly unhappy and brilliantly acted within the historical past of Black Mirror. This story about grief and love makes use of a sci-fi leap of religion to wrangle with a really up to date downside: What to do with somebody’s on-line id after they die. What begins off as a touching strategy of extended grieving quickly, in fact, turns ghoulish. The one factor that lets the episode down is an ending that tries to be one twist too intelligent. Ash, in fact, ought to 100% bounce off the cliff.
5. Hated within the Nation (Season 3, Episode 6)
Though the plot of “Hated within the Nation” is straight out of sci-fi—involving rogue robotic bees that develop into embroiled in a sadistic homicide plot—the episode performs issues straight with a gripping take in your typical British crime drama. At 89 minutes it’s the longest Black Mirror episode however doesn’t really feel it, with the plot unfolding neatly and culminating in a scrumptious twist that provides a depth that some episodes miss. The inconceivable plot works within the episode’s favor, stopping it from feeling too preachy and turning it into one thing that may make individuals suppose twice earlier than piling on the hate the following time social media decides on its enemy for the day.
4. Nosedive (Season 3, Episode 1)
In one of many standout Black Mirror performances, Bryce Dallas Howard performs Lacie, a younger lady obsessed together with her score in a world the place persons are scored on a scale of 1 to five for each interplay they’ve. Set in a superficial American suburbia crammed with insipid pastel shades, though truly shot in Cape City, “Nosedive” is a good rebuttal to Black Mirror naysayers who deride the present as too bleak or miserable. Black Mirror episodes are sometimes riffs on a selected style, and that is Brooker’s spin on a street journey film, as Lacie’s spiraling score sends her on a mishap-laden journey throughout America and sees her cross paths with the wonderful Cherry Jones. The penultimate scene—whereas just a little predictable—is among the most fulfilling closers in the complete collection.
3. The Nationwide Anthem (Season 1, Episode 1)
The episode that began all of it, “The Nationwide Anthem” set the tone of the Black Mirror universe within the first 5 minutes of the movie, when the British prime minister is informed he will need to have intercourse with a pig dwell on TV, or else face the execution of a beloved kidnapped princess. On the time, the plot felt so farcical that it was arduous to see how Black Mirror would purchase its later popularity for predicting the longer term. 4 years later, when a memoir by former Tory donor Lord Ashcroft alleged that David Cameron put his penis in a useless pig’s mouth throughout a weird college ritual—one thing which Brooker insists he had no information of—the present’s future-predicting credentials have been sealed for good.
2. USS Callister (Season 4, Episode 1)
Black Mirror is usually at its greatest when it is scaring you with thought-provoking demonstrations of know-how run amok, however “USS Callister” is extra grounded in the true world than its sci-fi setting suggests. Sure, antagonist Robert Daly creates a digital world through which he imprisons and abuses avatars of colleagues who’ve slighted him, however principally he is one other offended younger man who takes his grievances to a digital house as a result of he is incapable of confronting them in the true world. The good Star Trek-inspired backdrop lends the story a grander scale, however Daly and his enterprise associate James Walton painting two sides of poisonous masculinity and its degrading outcomes. That “USS Callister” tells that story in a morbidly humorous, typically terrifying method (with nice manufacturing values) seals it as one in all Black Mirror‘s best.
1. San Junipero (Season 3, Episode 4)
Fairly just a few issues modified when Black Mirror moved to Netflix. And “San Junipero” in all probability greatest captured a subtly totally different method from the present’s creators. Right here, the grit and the (comparatively) low-budget grime of the Channel 4 days is changed by an American dream sheen. The additional funds, in fact, means extra elaborate and detailed units, but it surely additionally brings the motion nearer to Silicon Valley, from the place a lot of Black Mirror’s plots draw their inspiration. However what actually makes this episode stand out is in its ditching of the present’s trademark ghoulish farce in favor of one thing extra human. Briefly, it would make you cry with disappointment relatively than recoil with disgust.
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