Charlie Brooker’s spectacular series is back on Netflix to make you more worried about technology. With every new season of Black Mirror, the audience has to play a very dangerous game of expectations. Will this season be presciently accurate or more outrageous about the future of tech as compared to previous seasons? This might be regarded as very unfair to Charlie Brooker because the purpose of his creation is not to act as a dark prediction about our future or try to outdo itself in every new season. However, it is a fact that viewers judge every set of episodes this way.
Black Mirror is not about predicting anything through its original and aggressive storytelling or about the moral or ethical debate regarding speculative tech. Yet, Booker knows exactly what to do and dabbles in the moral and ethical quandaries quite well. All six episodes of the fourth season of Black Mirror will be released on December 29th and this one also continues to show off the brilliance that we have seen in the last three seasons. With this season as well, Booker has solidified himself as a creative writer and has delivered rather well when it comes to expectations.
The fourth season of Black Mirror is twisted, shocking, melancholic, amusing and sometimes even hopeful. There is no denying that it is quite great as every single episode comes up with a unique tale that’s set in the future. In every story, some part of the contemporary culture has been given a nightmarish touch. In the past seasons, technology was considered an inspiration for the show, especially in the way it has an impact on our daily interactions and social lives. The dystopian dreaming of the show has stemmed from virtual reality, reality television and Twitter. That’s the beauty of a Black Mirror episode; not only is it feasible, but also inevitable.
This new season focuses its very cynical gaze on online gaming, dating apps as well as personalized surveillance tools. But, some of the best episodes you will see are the ones that are less focused on studying the ethics pertaining to a single idea. It is more interesting to see how they are part of the warped reality we have come to accept in Black Mirror. Some episodes such as Black Museum and Crocodile take advantage of previous ones as they explore ideas that have been studied before such as a digitized consciousness. These elements are helpful in making the plot more economical.
The heart of these stories is found in bleak futuristic technology and it drives the plot forward and also paves the way for unique dramatic situations. The episodes are not just coded as drama, but also include a sci-fi element and this allows for various interpretations. For instance, Crocodile is a harrowing and tense thriller as it displays a device that can access the raw impressions a person has had to past events. These devices were originally developed by the police, but are now used by insurance brokers for checking the validity of claims made by the clients.
Yes, the device do give rise to some of the tensest and interesting scenes in the episode, but are never the story’s focal point. The third season was the first to be made for Netflix and writer and creator Charlie Brooker had used the series for exploring different formats, tones and genres. USS Callister reminds us of Star Trek to some extent with the comedy, but brings out something sinister as well. Likewise, Arkangel is a powerful drama that’s about a young girl who has grown up with a single parent that is based in a nondescript American town and comes off like an indie movie.
There is also Crocodile that’s a psychological thriller and it takes place in the tough Iceland landscape. Metalhead has absolutely no dialogue and is essentially a black-and-white survival story that has been beautifully shot. The curiosity is rather interesting, but it is the weakest episode because the plot is very thin and barely lasts for the 40 minutes duration. We cannot forget Black Museum, which, if you really get down to it, is just horror. The episode takes place in a roadside museum and it houses a morbid display of artefacts that are connected to gruesome crimes. It is, without a doubt, one of the best episodes as it brings together three somewhat comic and dark stories with relish.
But, perhaps the best episode of the lot is Hang the DJ, which is a modern yet melancholic love story. The two lead characters of the story make use of an advanced dating system that can tell them everything they want to know about a relationship, including the number of hours they will spend together. This episode focuses on these two characters as they struggle to keep up with this rather inhuman and distant way of finding love. It is very uplifting and sweet to see.
The writing duties once again fall to Brooker, but he also worked with a very impressive group of other collaborators. This includes some interesting and talented directors such as David Slade, John Hillcoat and Jodie Foster as well as some renowned actors like Jimmi Simpson, Jesse Plemons and Rosemarie Dewitt. Every episode of Black Mirror comes off as a very unique production that’s rich with talent and ideas.
Back in 2011, the show had a rather sensational debut and from then on, it is safe to say that it has gone from strength to strength. The use of genre and tone has expanded as the writers become creative with every episode and there is also a rise in ambitious storytelling as we move onto the next. None of the episodes of the fourth season of Black Mirror have the brilliance of last year’s San Junipero, which was one of the finest episodes on television. Nonetheless, the six dystopian stories that are depicted are some of the most consistent and strongest ones that the show has done in its history.