It has been 2 years since the last instalment of Charlie Brookers dark anthology series, it has been very much missed. Black Mirror was a show that kept to a high degree of quality through its run and series 3 is no different, in fact, it’s the strongest yet. There are some changes this time around. No longer a Channel 4 production, Brooker struck a two series deal with streaming service Netflix, series 3 bumping up to 6 episodes as opposed to the 3 episode format of the previous 2 series. Here’s my thoughts on this series episode by episode. I have tried to make this piece as spoiler free as possible.
‘Nosedive’ kicks off the new series in fantastic style, set in a future world where everyone looks for validation by people rating their every action via social media to attain a high rating, those with low ratings are looked down on as the dregs of society. It is a very effective exploration of our shared obsession with social media and how that could possibly be taken to extreme levels.
‘Playtest’ is a fun yet very dark look at our relationship with immersive technology featuring a man who signs up to beta test a augmented reality implant for a games company which reads the wearers mind. Rest assured, this may put you off getting an Oculus Rift. Legitimately scary at times and with an incredibly unsettling ending, Playtest hits all the right buttons.
‘Shut Up & Dance’ see’s a young man who’s computer is hacked and is told by an unseen party to do exactly what they say or incriminating footage of the man will be put online. The episode is tense, I mean REALLY tense, it ratchets up the tension for the whole episode and doesn’t let up. Comparable in tone to ‘White Bear’ from series 2, ‘Shut Up & Dance’ again explores the cause & effect of crimes that we may find abhorrent and punishments that are arguably just as bad. This is certainly the darkest episode of the new series and possibly also the strongest.
‘San Junipero’ is an episode that shows Mr Brooker most certainly has the capacity in his writing to tug on our heartstrings as well as making us think. Exploring such themes as love, loss, time, the nature of reality as we perceive it and how technology may shape our lives even at their end. The episode is a great achievement for Brooker, unafraid to try something new in his writing.
‘Men Against Fire’ is possibly the weakest of the new run. Not to say that it is bad, it isn’t, but the rest of the series has set such a high standard that this feels a little less so than the others in this run. It is still a great, thought provoking episode that this time makes us think about the moral implications of hi-tech warfare and the culpability laid on our military for what they may perceive as just actions.
The final episode ‘Hated In The Nation’ is the longest episode of Black Mirror to date. A feature length story clocking in at 89 minutes, ‘Hated In The Nation’ is another social media centric episode concentrating on our fascination with hate figures and the consequences of negative online posting, alongside the very frightening prospect of augmented drone technology. This is the most fleshed out and fully realised story of the series, in no small part down to its increased running time. A suitable end to this run.
With series 3 of Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker has shown us that he is far from running out of ideas and is still hell bent on making us think. This has been without a doubt the strongest run of Black Mirror, there wasn’t a “bad” episode amongst them and the themes were disparate enough to keep us coming back to see what comes next. There is another series of Black Mirror still to come on Netflix and if this one is anything to go by, it can’t come soon enough.