‘Black Mirror’ Season 4 Review: Less Macabre With A Little ‘Doctor Who’-esque Ending
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Black Mirror is one of Netflix’s top original and with Season 4, they gave people another view of artistry. However, there are some key differences with the previous seasons.
With the release of the Star Wars blockbuster and Will Smith’s Bright on Netflix, some thought it would be challenging to pair up Black Mirror Season 4 on the mix, but the release was simply perfect.
The fourth season started with the first episode “USS Callister” which has a Star Trek kind of format. The story revolves around a space simulation gone bad. As IndieWire noted, this is the prime example of a fan not getting what the real message is about.
Since Black Mirror usually revolves around potential scenarios in the future, this one is very close to home. The game simulation for USS Callister is somehow similar to our VR systems, but more advanced, according to The Wrap. There is the sense of cruelty in the plot, but the real star is Cristin Miloti and her line, “Stealing my p—sy is a red f—ing line!”
The show felt empowering as Miloti’s character jimmies her way through an eternal hellhole with their digital god. At the end of it, they all escaped and the antagonist was trapped forever in a limbo.
The journey would now go over the next episodes “Arkangel” and “Crocodile,” which both have their own misery. However, I want to highlight “Arkangel” here because this is now one of the best comparisons of how Season 4 differs to the other three seasons.
When you say Black Mirror, you know you are going to watch something morbid and tragically depressing. The attraction with the show is its close imitation of reality and the possibilities of the future. In Season 3’s “Nosedive,” Byrce Dallas Howard smashes it with her portrayal of the world of socialites and how social media is now redefining our sense of purpose and value.
The series has two ways of inflicting overwhelm to its viewers: mind-bending gruesomeness or psychological trauma. It’s so close to our reality that you can’t help but think if you would do the same thing given the chance.
“Shut Up and Dance” in Season 3 is one of the most memorable episodes in Black Mirror as a group of hackers manipulate and torture those who watch child pornography. As a viewer, you hope that they get out there alive because the reason why they’re there was not really divulged beforehand. So, they follow a mystery man on the phone until one of them supposedly survives, only to find out that his survival would also mean his death. The anonymous man on the phone eventually releases footage of the survivor’s child porn collection. It was a social death after all.
With all of the first three season’s lingering ghoulish memories, one can’t help but wonder what happened with Season 4. There is still some great storytelling and artistry that boasts of Netflix’s unique production style like the “Metalhead” episode, but nothing really matched the hair-raising effect of the previous seasons until the first part of the last episode, “Black Museum.”
During the last hurrah, Black Mirror mimicked the Doctor Who format where the stories all come together as a tightly knit series of events with a formal conclusion. Though, yes, the story about the masochist doctor hits the bone, the conclusion was still a subtle win.
It was subtle because with Black Mirror you want to watch something that will leave you thinking, something that will make you want to make the right choices when it comes to the future of technology. However, for some reason, Season 4 fell short in bringing in the worst of the characters and the circumstances that it was just borderline “freaky” instead of teeth-gritting, nail-biting, edge-of-my-seat viewing experience.
If you have watched Black Mirror from the very beginning, you may be in for less macabre than you’re used to, but it’s not all bad. It’s probably just that kind of season where they change things a little bit.
Black Mirror Season 4 is now available on Netflix.