Show Review: Black Mirror Season 4 (No Spoilers)

Updated on January 2, 2018
The cracked title screen for the show
The cracked title screen for the show | Source

Initial Impressions

Well, Black Mirror has been slightly changing with the amount of recognition it's been getting but it has largely stayed the same: an incredibly fascinating yet depressing take on the misuse of technology in the near to far-off future. Technology is the glue that holds the plot together but it's the characters we invest in and follow.

That being said, this season is a good one. It's hard to consider the whole when every episode is standalone with only the barest connections to its brethren but out of six I really only felt one dud. A few episodes did take a while before an actual hook was presented which made me feel impatient and some of the endings, although purposefully optimistic in tone, left me with an unpleasant lingering sense of dread for a plot thread not completely addressed or forgotten. The episode White Christmas is still my favorite, but one episode does come a bit close. Basically, it's more of the same quality and that's far from a bad thing.

The cast for S4E1 USS Callister
The cast for S4E1 USS Callister | Source

The Episodes

Episode 1- The USS Callister

An apparent spoof of Star Trek, there's a lot more to it. This episode kicks off a frequent theme this season of artificially created or copied life and their lack of power or inability to escape their fate.

Episode 2- Arkangel

After nearly losing her daughter, a mother implants her child with technology that allows her not only know her constant location, but other features that factor in as her daughter grows up.

Episode 3- Crocodile

A woman deals with something from her past as an insurance agent uses technology that relives a person's memories in order to get to the bottom of an accident.

Episode 4- Hang the DJ

Singles engage in a dating service that lays everything out for the participants, including how long their relationship will last.

Episode 5- Metalhead

People attempt to survive a post-apocalyptic landscape where the only other being is something designed to track and kill them.

Episode 6- Black Museum

An homage to the rest of the series, a museum is host to a variety of technology involved in crimes while providing a host of new stories very similarly to White Christmas.

Andrea Riseborough in the episode 'Crocodile'
Andrea Riseborough in the episode 'Crocodile' | Source

Assorted Musings

A recurring theme seems to follow generated intelligence and living people using it as property, whether it's nothing more than a simulation or copied human intelligence in some capacity. More often than not, you'll find some sympathy with such creations, similar to such things as the 'Cookies' in episodes past.

I'm frustrated by the mixed messages that Black Mirror seems to be sending this season. In the past, especially with 'White Bear,' the audience is shown the televised reality show-esque torture of a convicted killer. We're taught to revile those who celebrate the torture, despite being told the main character helped to murder a child. It's problematic then that in a lot of the 'good' endings that may arguably be found in this season, the torture of the villain is actually celebrated. It comes across...lopsidedly.

Sure, the only emotional connection we had in 'White Bear' was the suffering of the convicted killer, one who couldn't remember her crime and her mind was wiped at the end of every session. We don't experience the pain of those who lost the child nor do we actually meet the child or witness the killing. But even if we did see the killing or witness the pain, would we really victorious witnessing the torture?

Thus, when you see a villain in this season receive a similar torture being used on someone else, it doesn't feel like justice. It feels like a morbid fascination for revenge, an unsettling desire that I struggle with sympathizing with, disconnecting me after I felt Black Mirror handled these types of stories well before. But, that is very much just my own opinion.

Letitia Wright as Nish in 'Black Museum'
Letitia Wright as Nish in 'Black Museum' | Source

Rated R

There's cursing, implicit nudity, actual nudity, sex scenes, intense violence, and very disturbing content. There is no full frontal nudity and most nudity is in the dark. There's plenty use of the 'f-word' and depressing content. But this is all kind of moot because if you're familiar with Black Mirror, this isn't really a surprise.

Closing Thoughts

I mean, there really isn't a lot of things to say. Black Mirror is the best at what it does. It's a more adult take on The Twilight Zone focusing solely on technology and the misuse or negligent ways it's used or relied upon. It's morbidly fascinating. There are speed bumps of horror or disgust you'll come across as you watch, but you'll be hooked and want to see how everything turns out, or what the big twist of the episode will be, or what other envelopes the maguffin will be used before the episode ends. For these reasons, it's easy to finish a show but very difficult to binge.

But yeah, Black Mirror really hasn't changed very much at all. What you liked about the show before season 4 is all still here and it's still operating with the same quality.

Tl;dr

  • Season 4 is just as good as previous seasons
  • That being said, it's at least just as dark
  • Production quality seems to be at the best
  • Show kinda-sorta sends mixed messages about torture (see above)

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