With the acclaimed satire anthology’s much anticipated fourth season out now on Netflix, we thought we’d look at some of the Indiependent writers’ favourite episodes so far, including some of those from this latest series.
Here are five of the best according to the Indiependent:
Hang the DJ
Black Mirror, a show about the intricacies of human experience within technological developments, is, as you probably know, quite a bleak watch. In a good way.
Halfway through the fourth season came ‘Hang the DJ’. This story explores the System, a Tinder-like program which organises relationships and sets expiry dates that must be conformed to. It follows the relationship of Amy and Frank (Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole), who are paired together twice, and their relationships with other people. The episode has romantic-comedy elements but never loses the dystopian, satirical feel Black Mirror hails.
Though this episode tells the story of a relationship, and it ends happily, its secondary discussion is of complacency and acceptance. Though Amy and Frank are in love, it takes them till the end of the episode, and around 2 years of dating, to rebel against the System. They accept, and are unhappy for years because of it. Upon realising that the System is a fake reality, they attempt to live outside of it, together.
‘Hang the DJ’ is Black Mirror at its best; exploring human emotions, the story addresses relationships, casual sex, bisexuality and the reckless love we all love to watch. This is a stand-out episode of season four.
Words by Caitlin O’Connor.
Photo by Jonathan Prime / Netflix.
‘Crocodile’ is the third episode in the fourth series of Black Mirror, which aired on Netflix in December.
The plot starts with two people, Mia (portrayed by Andrea Riseborough) and Rob (Andrew Gower), driving through the snowy, scenic mountains of Iceland. The couple knock down and kill a cyclist in a hit and run accident before alarmingly disposing of his body in a nearby lake. It soon becomes clear that, like all Black Mirror episodes, this will not be a comfortable watch. However, many viewers seemingly weren’t expecting the unpleasant extent to which this episode stretches.
Even when the episode moves forward several years to reveal that they may have escaped guilt free, events take a turn for the worse and thus begins the downward spiral. This episode has some raw and violent scenes, shocking even by Black Mirror standards. A scene showing one character turning up as a proud, loving parent at their son’s show, moments after murdering an entire family is chilling. One slightly more theoretical aspect of this episode is the use of a memory recall device which scans and collects people’s memories to verify events that take place for insurance purposes. This becomes key to the plot and leads to a somewhat absurd ending involving a pet guinea-pig.
‘Crocodile’ is beautifully shot and brilliantly portrayed in what is another chillingly dark and haunting Black Mirror episode.
Words by Sarah Turner.
Black Mirror is known for invoking feelings of futility, rebellion and downright despair – you often end an episode feeling that all of that pain and distress was all for nothing. In ‘San Junipero’, Charlie Brooker instead offers hope and happiness as an alternative to his hitherto dystopian nightmares.
Set amid a colourful 1980s California, the merging of the real and the virtual is masterful, showcasing a possible afterlife that provides our lead characters, Yorkie and Kelly, with the chance for an emotional, entertaining eternity. It’s a Black Mirror episode that has shards of love and happiness, and thus is one of the best of the show’s run.
Words by Sam Lambeth.
Photo by David Dettmann/Netflix
The first episode of the series since it’s big money move to Netflix meant arguably higher production values and this episode certainly delivers on that. With a striking pastel colour palette and exaggerated performances from the cast which includes Alice Eve and Bryce Dallas Howard, ‘Nosedive’ is a visual feast. The satire in this episode is less subtle perhaps than other episodes but it is nonetheless well dispatched and pertinent.
The central idea of having a rating which can be boosted or drastically reduced depending on an individual’s real-life popularity is as pointed a criticism as any of the subliminal ‘rating’ system provided by our own social media platforms. The idea that our self-esteem and self-worth swings on the value of a virtual number is actually not even that far from today’s reality.
Although the downturn of the protagonist’s fortunes, played brilliantly and manically by Dallas Howard are tragic, the interactions that occur between humans in this episode have a darkly comic feel. There’s less of a twist as such and it’s perhaps less clever than some Black Mirror but is entertaining more because it’s presentation of a highly relatable and terrifying concept is so slickly and enjoyably done.
Words by Tim Goodfellow.
Photo by David Dettmann/Netflix.
Christmas specials in television tend to contain a certain element of reassurance. That feeling of putting it on and knowing that it’s going to be an hour full of joy, nostalgia and festivity is always welcome to most family households…and then Charlie Brooker gets his hands on this and reminds us the future for humanity doesn’t look so bright. Of course, it’s always in a way that immerses us and makes us think about it more.
‘White Christmas’ focuses on three interwoven tales told by two men held in a remote, frozen outpost in the middle of nowhere and what makes this episode one of Brooker’s best is precisely that emotional invasion of Christmas. Ironically, Christmas isn’t necessarily the main theme behind this narrative but it’s rather the antithesis of it. The thing that reminds us that all the episodes darkness is wrapped around (no pun intended) the celebration and freedom felt in a time like the festive season.
Containing excellent performances and a beautifully paced script with metamorphic and brutal ideas about technology in the near future, this episode indeed brings a whole new insightful response to the wish of having Christmas every day…
Words by Keiran Hunter.