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Mirror, Mirror: Ranking Season 4 Of ‘Black Mirror’

It is difficult to rate a series that set a new standard for television. This is a show that debuted out of the gate with a Prime Minister making sweet love to a pig. This is a show that other shows reference.

In essence, Black Mirror is quite simply one of the best series on the small screen right now. Probably ever.

This is because the sci-fi-er successfully walks the line between real life and the not-so-distant future with is both terrifying, yet so close to actually happening thanks to modern technology, that it makes us squirm in our Tweets.

And unlike its predecessor The Twilight Zone, Friday The  13th: The Series, Tales from the Crypt, or any other anthology show in which people were taught valuable lessons thanks to objects and trends in modern society, not everyone who is punished is an asshole. Some are innocents. Others are just attempting to survive.

It can be very hard to watch. But that is where the best television can come from: a place that sits uncomfortably on the line between entertainment and cringy.

Yes, Black Mirror deserves every accolade it deserves…but that isn’t to say it isn’t without the occasional miss.

For every “Nosedive” (Season 3, Episode 1), there is a “The Waldo Moment” (Season 2, Episode 3). And for every “San Junipero” (Season 3, Episode 4) there is a “Men Against Fire” (Season 3, Episode 5).

From someone who watched every episode of Black Mirror several times, as well as The Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Tales from the Crypt AND Freddie’s Nightmares, here is a ranked of the season four’s episodes, best to worst:

Um. Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.  Artwork via Butcher Billy

 

1.  “USS Callister” (Episode 1)

 

The fourth season begins with a bang as fan fiction takes a dark and twisted turn when geek-by-day Robert Daley (Jesse Plemons) uses his coworkers as inspiration in his online simulation. The Star Trek-esque costumes and bright colors are just a facade for the horror of the reality, in which the online bully is actually trapping their very, very real consciousness forever in an endless loop of shitty sets, badly scripted dialogue and horrible abuse at the hands of their captain.

 

2.  “Hang the DJ” (Episode 4)

 

Tinder, Grindr, Plenty of Fish, J-Date, Coffee Meets Bagel…how far are you willing to go to meet the perfect soul mate? Are you willing to settle down with a person you despise for a year with the hope that the next match is perfect? How about give up the perfect soulmate after a brief 12 hour date?

Frank (Joe Cole) and Amy (Georgina Campbell) meet through a dating “program,” and while it isn’t exactly perfect, there is something there. But they much wallow through a complicated system of set dinners and co-habitations and mindless sex with strangers to get to each other once again in this futuristic dating app that combines Happn with AirBnB and possibly Grubhub.

 

3. “Arkangel” (Episode 2)

 

Kids today will never get chicken pox, never know reruns or sit through endless commercials during Saturday morning cartoons. They will never know Saturday morning cartoons. They will never try to unscramble porn from Cinemax late at night or have urban legends about the scary house at the end of the block. They will never ride in the back of a pick up.

Maybe this is an exaggeration.

But let’s say it’s not. “Arkangel” looks at this further with the idea of tracking devices in children, monitoring not only their whereabouts, but what they see and process, and how that sheltering will help or hinder them.

And more importantly, what will happen to those children when they are no longer little…

Rosemarie DeWitt stars as a mother we all know and understand, yet struggle to like.

 

4. “Black Museum” (Episode 6)

 

The final episode is a mini trilogy of horror that wraps everything in a nice little bow. Three fun little stories of horror mixing technology with the old proverb, “Arrogance is knowledge minus wisdom.” A story about a doctor who can feel the pain of his patients, the tragic tale of a coma patient give a second chance and the account of a man who sells his soul are all bookended in a sideshow attraction of the Black Museum.

A fun episode, but lacks the moral center and heart of other Black Mirror episodes.

 

5.  “Crocodile” (Episode 3)

 

Andrea Riseborough plays a woman whose past won’t remain buried in the third episode of the fourth season. And while it has a promising beginning, the violence of the episode soon becomes the focus of the episode instead of the technology, overshadowing lessons learned and becoming more and more absurd as the episode progresses.

In the end, the more endearing and fascinating parts of “Crocodile” are eliminated and the audience is left with nothing to cling to in as far as character development and drama.

 

6. ”Metalhead” (Episode 4)

 

Director David Slade’s vision of the future in the fourth episode of Black Mirror fourth season was dark, dystopian and beautiful.

At first.

Filled with fear and flight, this vision of the future showed a group of survivor on the run from “dogs,” metal robots with a single mission: Kill. Them. All.

And there is only one way to survive. Run.

The journey at first is astounding. From the escape to the small battles.

However…

That final scene.

Oy.

It ruins the whole episode and renders the plot absurd.

I would rather just not know.

 

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