Normally, I don’t watch television, as I don’t subscribe to Netflix, let alone have a television at home. Even the times when I *rarely* watch shows, I usually don’t get hooked on them. With the few exceptions like Fresh Off the Boat or, more recently, Wynonna Earp from earlier this year, nothing has really interested me enough to continue watching them.
However… (and you know where I’m going with this)
Just a month ago, I received an email from Netflix offering me a one-month free trial to watch what it had to offer. Again, I don’t usually watch television, but considering that I was bored in my flat in France, I decided to give it a try. For the first week or two, I just used it to watch some films, both English and French ones, which I found enjoyable.
Later, I heard of this television series called Black Mirror, of which I’d discovered when watching one of my favorite YouTubers reacting to one of its episodes. It piqued my interest, and so I decided to watch that episode that she’d recommended to us. An hour later, I was hooked.
I watched only Season 3 of Black Mirror, since that particular season had been commissioned to be featured on Netflix. With a sci-fi/drama/thriller edge to it, Black Mirror is something that I’d never quite seen before: dark, intelligent, and often disturbing, it’s one of those shows which, for a lack of a better (more proper) expression, fucks with your mind with its twisted plot-lines and equally-insane endings, all of which touch on the dark side of technology in this day and age. And it’s all fucking brilliant.
Okay, I admit, I did not watch all six of the episodes of the show: while I could’ve done so, I had actually gone and spoiled it for myself by reading the synopsis of the episodes online. Considering that the ones I’d watched were very unsettling, and considering that I’m a pretty sensitive person to begin with, I knew that I probably wouldn’t have made it through one of the episodes without getting even more disturbed than I already was. Call me a wuss, but maybe I’ll find it in myself to actually go back and finish off the season with that episode, perhaps with friends.
Any case, I’ll be reviewing each of the six episodes, all of which are anthological, i.e. stories in themselves, so you don’t need to watch in chronological order, as they are separate from each other. I’ll do my best not to do spoilers, as I highly recommend you try them out for yourself!
Without further ado, let’s go!
1. “Nosedive.” The first of Season 3, this episode was definitely a treat to watch. Despite its happy, perky backdrop, this is intentionally done to make you feel unsettled right away, as the concept of “ratings” and societal position go hand-in-hand. Bryce Dallas Howard’s character embodies this concept perfectly, and it makes you feel so sad, not to forget fearful that this world could happen soon in ours, whether tomorrow or within the next five years. Although personally, the second half of the episode dragged a bit, I think it was necessary to show the growth in Howard’s character. Any case, I would say that this episode is one of my top-three favorites of the show.
2. “Playtest.” Now, this is the episode which I didn’t choose to watch because, again, I’d spoiled it for myself by reading the summary online, and hearing that it’s one of the more horror-based ones of the show. And if you know me, I cannot do the horror genre, whether it films or TV. Again, maybe if I watch it with someone, I should be able to stomach it. But until then, I won’t be watching it.
3. “Shut Up and Dance.” Considered the darkest episode in the season, I would have to agree, as it keeps you tense and on the edge of your seat with Alex Lawther’s character fighting against time to prevent a terrible secret from being spread all over the Internet. I guess what makes this episode heart pounding is that it takes place in the present day, and it can happen at just about any moment. Granted, it started getting a bit frustrating during the middle-to-end of the episode, as I kept wondering when this screwed-up, cat-and-mouse game would end. I really hated the plot twist at the end of the episode, but at the same time, I knew that it had to happen. Despite all of that, “Shut Up and Dance” is in my top-three favorites.
4. “San Junipero.” This has got to be my favorite episode hands down, and it was actually the first one that I started with. Again, after a YouTuber had recommended it in a video, I was curious in giving it a try. I won’t go too in-depth with the plot, but basically, the idea of “nostalgic therapy” is touched upon, as well as a really adorable lesbian relationship that just warmed my queer heart. Seriously, I’m in love with the actresses who played the lead roles…and I can assure you that the ending is brighter than the other episodes in the season! While I thought that the last ten minutes was a bit too rushed in tying up the loose ends, this episode was otherwise perfect.
5. “Men Against Fire.” I would have to say that this episode was not only very dark, but also very heavy on the social commentary of our society today in relation to war and killing despite morals. The episode itself is quite minimalist, with Malachi Kirby, who played the main character, giving an incredible performance with little dialogue, but a huge range of emotions, from anger to fear to paranoia. Admittedly, this episode wasn’t easy to watch, as its Holocaust references and message on racial and ethnic prejudice really depressed the hell out of me. It was brilliant, but I wouldn’t choose to watch it again.
6. “Hated in the Nation.” The longest of the bunch at 89 minutes long, “Hated in the Nation” comes off as a neo-detective thriller, along with commentary on the dangers of using social media to condemn others and on the possibilities of using technology to save our environment with the recent phenomenon of bees dying out in the world. In retrospect, I think this episode was doing too much with all of these different factors, but somehow, it all worked out pretty well! There were a few scenes that I just couldn’t bear to watch, let alone stomach, but again, it really makes you think about your actions online, especially in today’s age of hashtag culture. Really strong performances from the leading cast, and I was glad to see that they were female!
…also, side note: if this episode didn’t have such a sinister element to it (but then again, that wouldn’t be Black Mirror, would it?), I would totally ship Blue and Karin together! Really, they make an awesome team, and although the scenes were few, the times when Karin patronized Blue (not the best word, but I guarantee that it’s not used badly) and otherwise took her under her wing gave me sort of a fangirling moment, however very subtle that was.
Anyway, that’s the breakdown of *almost* all of the episodes of Black Mirror. Once more, I encourage you to give it a go; it’s probably one of the best things that I’ve discovered this year in terms of entertainment. If you’ve already seen Season 3, let me know which episode was your favorite!
Take care, bloggers! 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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