Written by Shannon McGrew
Last week, I found myself under the weather with a pretty nasty cold. Being forced to rest is not something I do often, so I took this as an opportunity to catch up on some movies and start a series that I kept being told to watch titled “Black Mirror.” At the time I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but as soon as the first episode ended I knew I wanted more. In the three days I was sick, I binge watched all three seasons of “Black Mirror” and proclaimed for all to hear that it was one of the best shows I’ve watched…EVER. As I tried to detox from my binge, I decided that I wanted to share all that I had experienced with those of you out there who are not familiar with the show or have not yet had the opportunity to watch it. The best way to do that, I decided, was to share my top 5 favorite episodes from the series. For those not familiar with “Black Mirror” it’s reminiscent of shows like “The Twilight Zone”, each episode being a stand alone episode, that deals with the rapid advancement of technology and the paranoia it can bring in today’s modern society. So without further ado, here are my top 5 favorite episodes of “Black Mirror”!
#5: “San Junipero” – Season 3, Episode 4
Synopsis: In a seaside town in 1987, a shy young woman and an outgoing party girl strike up a powerful bond that seems to defy the laws of space and time.
Thoughts: I know I know, this is everybody’s favorite episode. When I first started watching “Black Mirror” friends told me to get ready for an episode titled “San Junipero” because it would be a soul crushing one. I think because so many people hyped it up, it didn’t have the same effect as “Be Right Back” (you’ll read about that one further down the list) did for me, but nevertheless, this is still an outstanding episode with incredible performances by Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis. It’s hard to explain much without giving away the entire episode, but the overall theme deals with love and death and how technology can bring those two things together if we want. As much as people felt like they got punched in the guy by the story that was unfolding, and believe me, it’s a tear-jerker, I think that in the end this episode inspires hope in people who maybe, just maybe, someday we will have the chance to see those we love again.
#4: “White Christmas” – Holiday Special
Synopsis: In a mysterious and remote snowy outpost, Matt and Potter share an interesting Christmas meal together, swapping creepy tales of their earlier lives in the outside world.
Thoughts: Out of all the episodes I watched, this one kept me guessing till the very end and it’s an episode I consider to have some of the best writing for a storyline ever. It’s start with a simple premise, two men on a snowy outpost, sharing a Christmas meal while telling their stories from the past. What makes this episode SO good is the believable relationship that is forming between the two main actors, Matt (Jon Hamm) and Potter (Rafe Spall). As time goes on, you begin to realize how intricate and detailed these stories are and how they are intertwined together. You eventually get to a point where you can’t help but get lost in their sorrows, and though it’s apparent that they aren’t necessarily “good” guys, you can’t help but root for them. Then all of a sudden, everything gets turned upside down and you see the real motive behind one of the characters, which changes the whole dynamic of the episode. I found myself relatively happy with the eventual outcomes after the shock wore off, mostly for one character in particular. If this episode showed us anything, it’s how sneaky and cold technology can be when retrieving information from someone.
#3: “Be Right Back” – Season 2, Episode 1
Synopsis: After losing her husband in a car crash, a grieving woman uses a computer software that allows you to “talk” to the deceased.
Thoughts: I like feeling things when watching shows or movies; for example, the feeling of being scared or surprised, even sad sometimes. However, what I absolutely hate to happen is crying. I’m sure that says a lot about me as a person, but it’s true, I don’t like to cry when I can help it. When going into this episode, I didn’t think much of it and that was where my downfall was. I made myself vulnerable and in doing so I allowed myself to feel an emotion that I typically keep wrapped up and hidden within myself. This was a tough one to watch especially if you have ever lost a loved one. Imagine that our technology was so advanced that we had the opportunity to see/hear/talk/touch that person we lost. How far would you go to experience that and would the pay off be worth it? It’s a subject that a lot of us, especially myself, have thought about. However, bringing that person back, as a shell of their former self, may not be as beneficial as one may think and this episode does a terrific job of showing just how heartbreaking it can be.
#2: “Nosedive” – Season 3, Episode 1
Synopsis: In a future entirely controlled by how people evaluate others on social media, a girl is trying to keep her “score” high while preparing for her oldest childhood friend’s wedding.
Thoughts: If there was an episode that spoke to the heart of the millennial generation, this would be it. The majority of us are constantly feeling the need to be validated by how many likes we receive on social media and we’ve allowed that tool to be the basis of how we evaluate our self-worth. I loved that this episode showed the viewer the high points and the very low points of letting something so minuscule dictate one’s happiness. Out of the entire series, I personally believe this is the episode that shows how detached we are from true human interaction on a daily basis. It’s a sobering reality and one that reminds us that we shouldn’t take advantage of those in our lives who are willing to be true to themselves, regardless of what their social media likes are. Our worth, our love, and our reason for being here should never be dictated by social media, or anyone, ever.
#1: “The Entire History of You” – Season 1 Episode 3
Synopsis: In the near future, everyone has access to a memory implant that records everything they do, see and hear – a sort of Sky Plus for the brain. You need never forget a face again – but is that always a good thing?
Thoughts: I love LOVE love this episode. I don’t know exactly what it was about it that resonated with me, but regardless it did. To me, I think the writing was perfect, the acting superb, and the storyline cohesive and interesting. Imagine for a minute, that you had the opportunity to record EVERYTHING and with the push of a button you can fast forward and rewind encounters and experiences within your life. It sounds amazing at first, until you realize you could spend hours obsessing over the body language and laughter of your loved one. Then you start to question them and if they are doing more than meets the eye. If they are, are you willing to handle the consequences it could bring upon you and your family? This episode does a great job of handling both the pro’s and con’s of this technologically advanced system while also showing us the horrifying consequences it can bring about. Out of all the episodes I’ve watched (which was all of them obviously), this is the one that stuck with me the most. Sometimes the advancement of technology isn’t always for the best.
In the end, these are my opinions, and my opinions only. “Black Mirror” has so many great episodes that delve into real world scenarios and social issues that it was truly hard to narrow down 5 of them. If you have a favorite one, let us know as I would love to hear what each of your favorite episodes were.