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Black Mirror Season 4 Review

Released on 29 December on Netflix, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror has returned with six new episodes to satisfy your morbid dystopic dreams. Since Netflix acquired production and screening rights, all seasons were made available for your binging pleasure, and chances are you’ve already seen all of them. But if you’ve yet to tune-in, the series is a comment on our increasing reliance on technology through it’s exploration of the idea of ‘post-human’. Controversial issues of sentient technology, hyper-surveillance, and immortality, encourage debate about the real-life implications of modern, and future technology. Despite offering an eclectic mix in each season, many of the episodes feature violence and scenes that are unsuitable for younger or more sensitive audiences. Season four is no exception. So, without further ado, here’s a rundown of my top three episodes from this season, with no spoilers!

Episode one, ‘USSR Callister’, it is the strongest episode of the season. With a kitsch Star Trek aesthetic, Brooker satirises and pays homage to the TV sci-fi franchise. Borrowing cinematic styles from 2001: A Space Odyssey and No Man’s Sky style video-game tech, it is a carefully crafted mix of science fiction and pop culture. Tapping into the future-fantasy of human and alien cohabitation through creation of seemingly endless virtual realities, Brooker fictionalises the very real creation of Hello Games’s ‘eighteen quintillion planets’ that make up the immersive universe of No Man’s Sky. ‘USSR Callister’ addresses the realities of online security and gaming addiction; one in ten children is addicted to video-games in South Korea alone. Unlike many Black Mirror episodes, the technology is scientifically believable. The episode features stand-out performances from Jimmi Simpson and Cristin Milioti.

Equally impressive is Maxine Peak’s performance in episode five, ‘Metalhead’. The episode’s soundtrack evokes the same tense uneasiness as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and the artistic monochrome cinematography creates the most stylistically sophisticated episode of the season. Directed by David Slade, its beauty is matched only by its violence. It also offers an acute critique of the potential implications of hyper-militarisation in the modern robotics industry. It’s a fast-paced run-for-your-life human survival story pitting desire for technology against the basic need for humanity.

Episode four, ‘Hang the DJ’, takes on a lighter tone by celebrating British culture with its careful narrative framing through The Smiths’s indie-rock anthem ‘Panic’. Immersive performances from Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole, famous for his role in Peaky Blinders, will have you utterly invested in their pursuit to find their ultimate compatible other as the pair entrust their lives to a self-contained community controlled by dating coach technology. Challenging our reliance on machines to facilitate human interactions, the episode still has some Black Mirror cynicism and has been compared to season three’s uplifting ‘San Junipero’. It garnered mixed reviews online since it’s not the most politically engaging episode of the season, but what it lacks in commentary it makes up for in soul. Think The Notebook meets The Truman Show.

With strong political and social undertones, season four maintains the status quo for Black Mirror fans, with many of the seasons offering some hits and some misses, this one is no different. The show appeals to a wide range of tastes from science-fiction, horror, dystopian, and even romance. Every episode is worth a watch, even if it’s only to see what all the hype is about. Be prepared for fear, fun, and laughter, and you may end up going around saying “monkey needs a hug”.

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