Black Mirror Season 4: Dark and Unforgiving

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Netflix has announced Black Mirror Season 4 will return on December 29 for another look at the future if we continue down the innovative technological road unhindered.

In Charlie Brooker's current bird's eye view of the future, it could either be so dark there's no point in living or rays of sunshine may be streaming through the darkness.

The upcoming six episodes of Black Mirror range from a complete miss not worth watching to delightful. Here's my take.

Arkangel

The first episode, "Arkangel," tells the tale of a single mother (Rosemarie Dewitt) lovingly raising her daughter in near-future America who gets the opportunity to enhance her parenting with a sophisticated surveillance tool.

Told over the course of several years and in the style of an indie movie, "Arkangel" examines the mother/daughter relationship and the difficulties raising a young girl alone.

The future we witness isn't too far of a stretch from the capabilities of today, making it clear the time for a conversation about them is now. Director Jodie Foster doesn't oversell either side of the situation showing how easy it would be to fall into a trap of your own making.

USS Callister

"USS Callister," starring Jesse Plemons, Cristin Milioto, Jimmi Simpson, and Michaela Coel is timely given the current surge of space dramas on television, and the colorful, feature-length, star-packed space romp is sure to be a favorite with viewers.

Unfortunately, I can't share any details to tell you why it's relevant, but the twist is sure to start a discussion in 2017 especially right after the gift-giving season as we all thank our lucky stars technology is lagging behind, for once.

Crocodile

The most genuinely frightening of all the installments is "Crocodile," a story about a new device that can access your raw impressions of events. Originally produced for law enforcement, the device is supposed to be a benign tool to help insurers get the evidence needed to cover claims or uncover fraud.

Filmed entirely in Iceland, there is a stark, brutal feel to the piece that enhances the story when Mia (a brilliantly cast Andrea Riseborough) is faced with something terrible that rises up from her past to haunt her.

It's the closest to what I would call a "classic" Black Mirror episode, one that sticks with you days after you watch it, calling you out on your own past and hidden secrets. It's not easy to shake the feeling of dread after watching. 

Hang the DJ

Thankfully, it's followed up by "Hang the DJ," which lends some hope to the future with a story about characters who are using an advanced dating system that maps out relationships for you in advance. If you put your faith in Coach, you will find the one.

There are two characters in particular whose dizzying array of prospective partners we follow, each lasting anywhere from minutes to years until the one is determined, if ever. It's a charming and uplifting view of dating in the online world, even when the dates aren't to anyone's liking. The leads (Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole) are delightful.

Unfortunately, the life gets sucked out of the series after "Hang the DJ."

Metalhead

It took me days to understand what "Metalhead" could possibly be about, and even mulling it over now, I am not sure I have it down. All the pieces don't add up.

Timing in at only 40 minutes, watching it seemed interminable. Coined as a nightmarish tense story about survival, Black Mirror's first black and white installment didn't appear to have a point even after a garish "twist."

If you're a fan of chase films for nothing but the chase, it might be right up your alley.

Black Museum

"Black Museum" is touted as an installment similar to "White Christmas" from Black Mirror Season 2, but while that was tied together with Jon Hamm, the roadside odd relics museum that ties the three stories together here doesn't work as well.

Not only are the stories disjointed, but they're also darker and more macabre. The thing I found most offputting, though, was the cast of British actors with American accents. It felt disingenuous. Odd, I know, but it's a warning. If you watch a lot of TV, you might wonder why none of the tales were in their native accents, too.

While several of the episodes of Black Mirror Season 4 are discussion inducing and relevant to our current world and the near future, a couple miss the mark. The themes of consciousness and privacy run throughout, and if 2017 has told us anything, we have a lot of work to do as a people before we have that talk. 

My overall grade is below, but here are my grades for the individual episodes:

"Arkangel" -- A

"USS Callister: -- B

"Crocodile" -- A

"Hang the DJ" -- A+

"Metalhead" -- D-

"Black Museum" -- C

Black Mirror Season 4 will release on Netflix December 29. Catch up on all three previous seasons on Netflix now!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Netflix Quotes

Jonathan: I notice a little bit of dryness on your cheek.
Tom: That’s my Lupus.
Jonathan: Okay, let’s talk about that a little. One thing I know about Lupus is that it’s all about SPF. Like, we have to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays because sun actually can cause inflammation and flare ups for people with Lupus.
Tom: Right...
[Cut to Jonathan’s confessional]
Jonathan: How you take care of yourself is how the world sees you, and he’s not taking care of himself.

Bobby: We are about to pull in. What’s our mission today with Tom?
Jonathan: We’re gonna dust off these Christmas ghosts’ pasts of these relationships, we’re gonna sort out his closet, we’re gonna get him cuter, we’re gonna get him looking good, we’re gonna get the house fixed up. We’re ready! We cannot wait. Am I right?
All: Yes!