“Black Mirror” Season 3Posted: November 2, 2016
If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you probably know that “Black Mirror” is one of my favorite shows, if not my most favorite. There’s just something about its dark cynicism that appeals to me. I have sung its praises twice before, so it’s no surprise that I was super excited for season 3 to return on Netflix (and can we appreciate the irony that a show specifically about the horrors of modern technology is now produced by a streaming platform, the epitome of modern technology?)
Since this is an anthology show and there are only 6 episodes, I’m going to give a quick review of each episode, instead of reviewing the season as a whole as I usually do.
“Nosedive”: This one hits close to home because it captures that whole world of blogging/social media where everything is about “likes”. Imagine that your Instagram statistics can determine your place in society. The more popular you are, the more privileges you get. And you get rated for every single encounter, every little thing you do, so you have to maintain that veneer of perfection at all time. It’s like an entire world of Stepford… people, except they’re not robots. This one is supposed to be funny (well, as funny as Black Mirror can be), but I find it terrifying.
“Playtest”: Probably my least favorite episode. The idea is sound – an American backpacker gets stranded in London and decides to participate in the testing of a new “enhanced reality” video game, but soon loses touch with reality itself. But the build-up is slow, I don’t feel connected to the characters, and the message isn’t clear. The one positive note is that the Japanese actor playing the video game developer is hella cute.
“Shut up and Dance”: A teenager gets his computer hacked, and the hacker threatens to spill his dirty secrets if he doesn’t do as he’s told. What follows is a tense 40-minute ride that will leave your fingernails a wreck and make you insanely paranoid (I scrubbed my Internet history after watching it – even though I didn’t have anything to hide). And par for the course with Black Mirror, it is super dark and shows that people are pretty much terrible.
“San Junipero”: It starts out simply enough – in the 1980’s, two young women meet in a nightclub and start a relationship. But then you begin to realize this place, and these women, and the people around them, are not what they seem. More than that I won’t say. Black Mirror doesn’t get sentimental very often (see “people are terrible”, above), but this one’s going to make you cry.
“Men Against Fire”: A dystopian world is threatened by mutated/infected humans known as “roaches”, and the main character is a soldier specifically trained to take them down, thanks to an implant in his brain. The implant then starts glitching, and of course all it goes to hell. This one has a twist that you can see a mile off, but that doesn’t make it any less harrowing.
“Hated in the Nation”: Two detectives investigate a series of murders and discover that somebody is using robot bees, originally designed to replace the real bees which are dying out, to kill people. And not just random people, but people universally hated by the Internet. This is probably the most traditionally plotted episode – it’s a murder mystery. It’s what CSI: Cyber hopes it can be when it grows up. But the social commentary is still there, the bleakness is there, and, as horrifying as it is, I can’t help but think those robot bees sound like a really good idea – except they can be used to kill (which is exactly the point the episode, and the entire show, is trying to make. Technology is all well and good, until somebody abuses it.)
Have you seen “Black Mirror”? What do you think?