Top 10 Best Episodes of 'Black Mirror' Everyone Should Watch
What Are The Best Black Mirror Episodes?
The Netflix original movie, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, shocked the world by releasing the first ever interactive movie where the viewers could decide the fate of the characters by choosing between different alternatives. What some fans may not know, however, is that this psychological thriller was already a popular show, boasting four seasons before finally appearing on the big screen.
The concept of Black Mirror revolves around the misuse of technological advancements, leading to a dystopian future. Every episode takes a simple concept and twists the idea in a way that makes the viewers paranoid for days. The unique storytelling ability of the show has led to the creation of its own genre.
It makes the viewers question the consequences of their own choices as they try figuring out if the episode resembles something in the real world. The other unusual thing about Black Mirror is that each episode is standalone and doesn’t affect the others.
The more you watch, the more you start to realize its similarities with the current world scenario, which isn't far away from becoming one of its episodes. Although I will recommend you to watch this gem of a show from start to finish, not missing a single episode, not everyone has the time to binge through everything.
With that in mind, I listed some of the best episodes of Black Mirror nobody should miss out on.
Best Episodes of Black Mirror
- S1 E1: The National Anthem
- S1 E3: The Entire History of You
- S4 E4: Hang The Dj
- S3 E1: Nosedive
- S1 E2: Fifteen Million Merits
- S4 E1: Uss Callister
- S2 E1: Be Right Back
- S3 E5: Men Against Fire
- S3 E3: Shut up and Dance
- S3 E4: San Junipero
1. S1 E1: The National Anthem
The first episode that started it all was a little mild compared to the upcoming subject matters but had a grim premise nonetheless. The prime minister of the UK wakes up to find his daughter kidnapped by an unknown individual who is demanding a ransom. The abductor has posted an online video for the entire world to see where the price for releasing her requires the minister to have sexual intercourse with a pig, live on TV with the entire population of UK watching.
The storyline challenges people to take a side, which is divided into two groups. Some think the PM should do it to save a life while the others sympathize with him, but it’s of no use since none of them have to do it for themselves. We can clearly see people start wearing down the confused PM, never ordering him to it directly but setting their judging eyes upon him.
The episode supposedly took some inspiration from the actual prime minister, David Cameron’s pig gate scandal. Though it's not as polished and in-your-face like other Black Mirror episodes, The National Anthem still ranks as one of the best Black Mirror episodes to this date. It's unflinchingly dark and cruel - an indigestible cocktail, but a masterpiece nonetheless.
2. S1 E3: The Entire History of You
The Entire History of You is the final episode of the first season and considered by some to be one of the best storylines told. Everyone has surgically implanted a device that records everything they see and makes it possible to rewind these memories at will.
This makes a lot of things easier, like retracing your steps or re-watching your memories, but everything comes at a cost. People have become highly dependent on these things, just like our generation with smartphones. They keep checking the unchangeable past and constantly avoid the present, making their lives a hollow shell of who they really are.
It already ruins the intimacy between a couple but after the husband starts suspecting his wife of cheating, it leads him into a paranoid spiral, eventually causing him to make unwanted decisions, which changes his life forever.
It makes you wonder that if given the choice, would you would have implanted the device? We may not like admitting it but our generation’s fascination with smart devices has already created a social barrier with the outside world and forced us to close ourselves, be it not to that degree. If you think about it, we might be closer to this depiction of grim future than we would like.
3. S4 E4: Hang The Dj
An advanced system promises to fix you up with the person who’s supposed to be perfect for you, so naturally, we have a lot of volunteers for the program. We are introduced to the two lead characters who are set up on a random date in order to check their chemistry, but as things unfold, the system decides it’s over for them.
We as viewers, however, can’t help but feel a quirky connection between the pair. The two go on dates with other people, some of whom are downright rejected while others keep them happy for some time. Whatever the case, you’re forced to stay with the assigned people until the AI decides otherwise.
They keep meeting each other casually and start to question if the machine can be really trusted or if they should make this decision for themselves. This leads them to question their own realities and the authenticity of the system.
Even if AI reaches a stage someday when it starts to understand human emotions better than us, should we let it decide our fate, even if it means that it will make most of our decisions? Or should we listen to the un-scientific calling of our hearts and take the leap of faith? Watch Hang The Dj, one of the best Black Mirror episodes, as the characters try to find the answer to these questions.
4. S3 E1: Nosedive
Perhaps one of the closest ones resembling the wave of digital change we’re facing currently, Nosedive is based on the concept of giving points to every person you interact with. It is a currency substitute since your points decide the type of lifestyles and jobs you can have.
The aim of this project might have good intentions behind them, but the forced social exchange causes people to keep their real thoughts hidden - something that can later explode into a mental breakdown.
The ones who are true to themselves and others are looked down upon, and only the superficially pleasant people are revered, much like the popularity of some social media stars.
Bending to the ways of society takes a literal turn as people who wish to have a comfortable life must do things inside a confined set of social rules. After a certain time, you’re not sure if you can trust anyone, even doubting the ones closest to you.
5. S1 E2: Fifteen Million Merits
Another tale of a dystopian future, this one is about a society where people earn merits by cycling on stationary bikes to produce energy for a system. These merits are a currency substitute that allows you to buy everything to make ends meet, but that’s about it. You can’t buy anything genuine and your life becomes a cycle of consuming and producing, like a machine.
If you earn 15 million merits, you get the opportunity to be free of this factory that has turned humans into mindless robots, by getting a chance to be on a talent show.
The lead character understands the pain of a routine lifestyle, so he selflessly offers his merits to a girl he barely knows in a bid to help her escape the system with her singing talents.
Black Mirror hides simple real-life metaphors inside its complex plots and this episode is no different. It briallintly showcases harsh realities of the present world where everyone’s turned into modern-day slaves to serve the higher authorities.
It’s easy to judge other people for the choices they make but when you’re the one making decisions, you realize the hypocrisy of your beliefs. The only way anyone can even hope of escaping this prison is by winning a grand competition, which is only available for a few, before eventually being turned into another part of the system.
6. S4 E1: Uss Callister
On this sci-fi episode of Black Mirror, a man has created a virtual gaming world that lets people escape the stress of reality. He has created a separate sector of this game, which is accessible only to him and is filled with his fantasies.
Even though he is the creator of a famous game, his social life is a staggering mess; his colleagues don’t think much of him and he has no friends outside of work. He sees a chance at a relationship after the arrival of a new employee but that too is quickly shut down. Inside his virtual world, however, he is free from all these rejections and has made himself a commanding captain of a starship crew.
Disturbingly, his virtual world is filled with digital copies of his employees that have the same consciousness as their real-life counterparts. He releases his frustration from work by subjecting them to cruelty. After his latest addition of a fellow coder to the already accomplished crew, he has met his match, as these people combine their wits in an attempt to escape this prison.
Living in virtual reality and working as a space crew seems like a dream come true, but these guys are living a perpetual nightmare. Will their plight ever end?
7. S2 E1: Be Right Back
Coping with the death of a loved one may be the hardest thing to do. The idea of never getting to see someone again can drive us insane. In this seemingly utopian society, a company promises to bring back your loved ones in the form of an AI, which has been programmed to mimic the person you’ve lost using their online activities.
After a pregnant woman suddenly loses her husband, she decides to take this offer to help her grieve. It starts with a simple app that lets her talk to her technologically revived partner but soon takes on a life-sized form, making it almost impossible to distinguish from the real one.
With its help, she finds it easy to cope initially, but as time goes on, we can’t help but feel sorry for the woman who can’t decide the morality of her actions. The AI has the same traits as her husband but she understands very well that it’ll never replace the real one.
With the current technology growing at a pace like never before, we may be given options to download our virtual selves into a computer, making us immortal in a way. This may help us prevent the most elusive mystery that is death, but this idea of “living forever” may leave us as mere shells of who we really are.
I'll stop right there. Again, I wouldn't want much spoiled for you. Find out the fate of the two in what arguably is one of the best episodes of Black Mirror.
8. S3 E5: Men Against Fire
Men Against Fire starts with a zombie-esque world where soldiers are facing these creatures called Roaches, believed to be mutated forms of humans.
All the soldiers have implants that turn them into killing machines, making them the last line of protection between the monsters and the world. After going on multiple successive missions and killing hundreds of these mutants, a soldier starts having glitches in his implant, revealing to him that everything is not what appears on the surface.
As it turns out, their victims are not monsters after all. They're just normal people, just in the wrong end of the law. The device has changed their appearance, so armed men find it easier to kill without feeling remorse for their victims.
How can a man, however, trained he may be, face this horrible reality? He starts questioning his morals, not sure if he’s protecting the world from monsters or has turned into one himself.
9. S3 E3: Shut up and Dance
Everyone probably knows about Edward Snowden, the man who created international controversy after he revealed the ability of hackers to monitor you through different devices without your knowledge.
Shut up and Dance has the same premise of this disruption of personal space. A young man starts getting blackmailed after an online anonymous group secretly record him during an intimate session. These people send him on numerous missions, each more dangerous than the last and threatening to release the video if he disobeys any order. We wonder how far these masked men will make this individual go before he finally self-destructs.
Does this young man really deserve everything he’s going through for doing something seemingly innocent, or have the blackmailers gone too far? The advancement of current technology has opened up opportunities like never before, but it has also opened doorways for the hidden monsters, making it easier for them to hide behind the safety of a screen and destroy a life without giving it a second thought.
It leaves us wondering how one simple mistake can turn our whole lives upside down. If nothing else, this episode will surely make you paranoid enough to cover you webcams every time.
10. S3 E4: San Junipero
I had to put San Junipero in the list because it’s one of the few episodes that shines some hope in tackling a dystopian future through love. It shows you the possibilities of technologies working for the betterment of humanity rather than them going rogue. Two women who are absolutely polar opposites of each other strike an unexpected romance. Soon we see their romance taking place in every passing decade, and the changes the time lapse has on their characters.
True love is rare and meeting somebody who makes you even remotely believe the idea seems almost impossible, so once you have a hold of it, never let it go. Maybe love can overcome everything, even the mathematical uncertainties of machines.
Are we looking at technology all wrong? Perhaps we should incorporate its uses with all of humanity rather than a select few controlling them for their selfish interests.
That's about it for now. Black Mirror is still going strong, so you'll likely see some more entries in this list. If you have any suggestions for improving this list, feel free to leave a comment down below.