Black Mirror has finally returned with season 3 on Netflix, and it was well worth the wait!
If you’re not yet familiar with Black Mirror, then you have three glorious seasons to enjoy. Black Mirror is an anthology series with television episodes that tends to focus on the dark side of life. In particular, the ways technology has become such an integrated part of our lives. Various forms of social media and how it can be used – for both good and evil – has always been the cornerstone of Black Mirror.
And also, the little fact that since everything is now recorded through video or pictures, we can’t really forget anything or let it go. Long live Cyberspace, where holding a grudge has become increasingly easy.
Just binge-watch season 3 of Black Mirror
Season 3 of Black Mirror is out on Netflix, and we watched all six episodes in one sitting. Once you begin, it’s damn near impossible to stop. Especially since there’s the most inspiring and uplifting story in the middle of this season. So full of hope and light. Generally, darkness and despair tend to be the driving force in Black Mirror.
So, you know, pretty perfect for us horror fans. Still, when you then get an episode with the amazing things life has to offer, you remember what it’s all about.
We thrive on the darkness because the contrast is important. However, we also need a good dose of light to remember this. It is – quite frankly – a pure stroke of genius. Oh, and don’t worry, even the “happy” episode of Black Mirror is completely in line with the concept.
The strongest anthology out there
The truly amazing part about Black Mirror is the fact that each and every episode is still a world of its own. When an episode ends, I usually find myself wanting an entire season of that particular story. And never more that with San Junipero, which was the happy episode 4 of season 3. I would pay an obscene amount of money to get an entire season or feature film with this concept.
For me, Black Mirror is by far one of the strongest anthology concepts out there. When you watch an episode, you recognize the universe of this anthology in various ways. This ensures that when the plot twists arrive, they make perfect sense. Even if you hadn’t guessed half of it up front (and in my case, it isn’t for the lack of trying!) I am constantly outsmarted by this show. And I love it.
As a whole, Black Mirror season 3 is a strong 5 out of 5 for me. Nothing less than a perfect rating is even possible. And while I still have favorite episodes among season 1 and 2, this season is the best overall experience. It had me from the second Bryce Dallas Howard screamed “I’ll cut his head off and stick it up my ass!” with the most intense and sincere anger. I laughed so hard, I almost had an asthma attack. And this was in episode one!
Below is a quick run-down of each episode of Black Mirror season 3 – including a rating for each one.
The 6 episodes of Black Mirror Season 3
The episodes – or short movies – of the Black Mirror television anthology are similar in amazing ways while being very different. Even though I love all the episodes, something always speaks more to me. This time around it was – very unexpectedly – the happy episode. The one offering hope and love in the face and the definitive ending.
As stated above, Black Mirror season 3 gets a solid 5 out of 5 from Heaven of Horror, but we’re also giving a rating to each segment here:
Nosedive – 5/5
This is a deceptively familiar segment, which features a life where Social Media evaluations have literally become a currency. You can only enter places if you have a high enough Social Media rating. Also, people trade ratings all the time and in all situations. Nosedive is a pastel colored world, where everyone is nice to each other. But only out of fear of getting a bad rating.
Everything is about keeping up appearances, and those who fail will pay a very high price. So, when things do go wrong, and you can’t keep smiling, the Social Media nosedive is quick, crazy and very expensive.
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) stars in Nosedive. She is absolutely perfect as Lacie, who wants to be a top rated person but can’t quite cut it. Cheryl Jones and Alice Eve play key roles and are both extremely memorable. This despite not being onscreen that much.
The episode was directed by Joe Wright. He previously directed movies like Atonement (2007) and Hanna (2011). Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation, The Social Network) wrote the episode with Michael Schur, who has written for both Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Needless to say, this also means the story is driven by a wonderfully dark humor.
Playtest – 5/5
Playtest is definitely the most horror-defined episode of season 3. There are plenty of scary and creepy things throughout the season, but this one episode has everything a good horror movie would have. A young American man is traveling around Europe and at his last stop in London before heading home. He just needs to make some money first. He does what he’s been doing all along: He uses an App. With this App, people and companies list odd jobs. Very quickly, he finds one that can make him some money within a few days of working.
In this case, a gaming company has a new system they’d like to test. Hence the episode title Playtest. All he has to do is get a small implant in the back of his neck. This enables him to experience a new and more advanced form of Augmented Reality. In this case, the system can also learn what scares you the most, which means things get extremely scary for the player. Of course, nothing can physically hurt you, but if your brain thinks you’re getting hurt, then the body tends to believe it.
Wyatt Russell (We Are What We Are) stars in Playtest and works perfectly on so many levels. The episode has Hannah John-Kamen (Game of Thrones, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Wunmi Mosaku (Citadel, Batman v Superman) in supporting roles that evolve in many ways.
Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) directed the episode, which was written by Black Mirror creator and writer, Charlie Brooker, himself.
Shut Up and Dance – 5/5
The meek and quirky 19-year old Kenny finds himself being blackmailed after a computer virus films him in a very compromising situation. He is then forced to do various things. With the threat of having his indiscretion shared with everyone he knows, he goes along with it. I won’t say too much about this segment, but it was definitely extremely uncomfortable to watch. Also, just like Nosedive, the Shut Up and Dance episode seems dangerously familiar to what’s going on today.
Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game) plays the lead as Kenny. Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones, Ripper Street) is sharing the screen with him for most of the episode. Both give excellent portrayals of people being pushed way beyond their boundaries.
William Bridges wrote the Shut Up and Dance episode, and James Watkins directed. Believe me, Watkins certainly knows how to make us feel uncomfortable while telling very important stories. He debuted as a director in 2008 with the amazing Eden Lake (he also wrote it). I cannot recommend that movie enough!
San Junipero – 5/5
San Junipero is basically the next level of online dating or long-distance relationships. I won’t say anything else… oh, except I am just as much in love with the soundtrack as I am the story. It takes place in 1987, and I am very much an 80s music girl. Basically, I was in heaven on so many levels.
Honestly, I would give the San Junipero episode 6 out of 5, if I could. But, unfortunately, the scale just doesn’t work that way.
This Black Mirror episode has immediately become one of my favorite things ever. And I’m talking both TV, movies, anthologies, etc. For me, San Junipero is hope and love for all of us. For the world, for people, for the future. Also, it’s an episode that shows us a very positive way to use technology – though the dangers are also very clear.
I pride myself on guessing plots ahead of time, and I certainly did guess some parts. Gaydar (or just intuition) is a real thing, and I have a pretty good one. Also, being gay myself and having grown up in a very multi-ethnically place, I tend to keep an open mind about how people could possibly interact. I try never to assume who or what anyone is, and instead allow them to tell or show me.
San Junipero stars Mackenzie Davis (Freaks of Nature) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Free State of Jones and the upcoming God Particle). In their own ways, they work so perfectly, I simply could not have dreamed of anything more or better!
Creator of Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker, also wrote the San Junipero episode, which was directed by Owen Harris. He was the director of Kill Your Friends and also, he directed episode 1 of season 2, which starred Hayley Atwell and Domhnall Gleeson. It just happens to be one of my favorite episodes of season 2. Obviously, I’m now hoping Harris will be back to direct again for season 4 of Black Mirror.
Men Against Fire – 4/5
Men Against Fire is about future soldiers, who are working to protect a village from a breed of subhumans. They have an immense advantage thanks to technology, but this technology can be used for both good and evil. Also, when your choices are made based on what this technology tells you, then you better be damn sure it gives you the correct information.
Even though I’m “only” giving the Men Against Fire episode a 4 out of 5, this is a very strong episode. For me, it was only the pacing that didn’t work perfectly. The story is – once again – very relevant to the world we’re living in. In fact, I have no doubt this is the wet dream of many governments and armies. This is the darkest episode of Men Against Fire because it features a very post-apocalyptic world without much hope. Well, except for the one technology can offer you.
On a personal note, the village is apparently in Denmark, so we hear a lot of people speaking Danish. I love it when Denmark is even just mentioned in something – which happens a lot more than you’d think. Also, there are a few actors, who are clearly trying to speak Danish. They’re probably from another Scandinavian country and no one else will know the difference.
Men Against Fire stars Malachi Kirby (Kunta Kinte in the Roots remake) as Stripe. Also, we have Madeline Brewer (Orange is the New Black), Sarah Snook (Predestination), and Michael Kelly (House of Cards) in key supporting roles.
Jakob Verbruggen (House of Cards) directed the Men Against Fire, which was (yet again) written by Mr. Black Mirror himself, Charlie Brooker.
Hated in the Nation – 5/5
This final episode of season 3 is basically an entire movie called Hated in the Nation with a runtime of 1 hour and 29 minutes.
Once again I find myself wanting more of these characters. We’re in near-future London, where tiny drone bees have taken the place of real bees. Police detective Karin Parke gets a new shadow (an officer in training) with Blue. Blue is extremely good with social media and technology after she worked with catching online predators. Especially those sharing things involving kids. After a particularly gruesome case, she wanted to get out and stop crime. Instead of “just” finding proof after a crime has happened.
Hated in the Nation is about several people being murdered immediately after having been in a social media shit storm. A link to certain social media practices is quickly discovered. After that, it becomes a race against the clock to find the killer. We’ve seen the story in other variations before, but this one seems more realistic and current. Well, with the technology that “near-future” also offers to the story, of course.
Hated in the Nation stars Kelly McDonald (Trainspotting, No Country for Old Men) as the police detective and Faye Marsay (Game of Thrones) as her new sidekick. I could definitely imagine this episode being a series of movies or a spin-off show.
James Hawes directed the episode and does a stellar job. Previously, he has directed several episodes of Penny Dreadful, so he clearly masters all eras. Of course, Charlie Brooker wrote this final episode of Black Mirror season 3, and hopefully he is busy writing season 4, so we won’t have to wait too long for the next season.