For fans, it’s been a long two year wait since the Black Mirror Christmas Special but thanks to its addition to the Netflix family, we were granted six glorious stories in one go, as opposed to the three-part seasons we’ve been fed so far.
The only downside about the show being unveiled in this way is that if you’re like me, you binge watched the whole thing and now you’re feeling a bit lost, knowing that there’s possibly another two year wait ahead.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at this third season and its episodes ranked in order of how we’d ideally have viewed them the first time round; least favourite to most favourite.
Yes, there are spoilers ahead.
MEN AGAINST FIRE
Starring Malachi Kirby, Madeline and our own Sarah Snook, the penultimate episode of the season is the most politically charged.
Fusing the harsh realities of modern warfare with the oftentimes terrifying technological advancements, the episode explores a landscape where soldiers are, via implants, made to perceive human beings as monsters (‘Roaches’), therefore making killing them an easier task.
An episode that utilises the dark humour trope Black Mirror has done so well in the past, the Dan Trachtenberg-directed Playtest explores a dangerous side of obsession with virtual reality, while playing in the horror pool to great effect. Wyatt Russell plays Cooper Redfield (cool Resident Evil hint there), your classic American backpacker bro who finds himself in London, broke and in need of money to return home, where his father is dying.
Russell is brilliant in this episode, particularly as Cooper begins to lose his grasp on what is real and what isn’t, but the scares remained very much textbook shock horror, where the real tension came in the build up and the indications that things would take a more sinister turn…turns that never were fully realised.
Nosedive opens the third season of Black Mirror and, along with Hated in the Nation, represents heightened elements of our current reality that remain scarily realistic. We meet Bryce Dallas Howard‘s Lacie in a pastel-coloured version of the future, where society is reliant on an app-based ranking scheme. Directed by Joe Wright with a teleplay by Rashida Jones and Michael Schur, Nosedive shows what happens when a seemingly perfect environment and in-control way of living is upended with the crash of one’s ‘rank’.
It’s a great look at how dependent we already are on being perceived a certain way, whether or not we actually want to genuinely be liked or simply fit in with the other pastel pink-cardigan wearers. I bet you’re going to be looking at your Uber driver differently next trip.
SHUT UP AND DANCE
This is one of those episodes where, once the twist is revealed, you find yourself looking at a lot of the earlier plot points a lot more clearly. It’s also a gem of an episode in that all the action is grounded in modern day Britain without the overuse of technology driving the story. Instead, the narrative is driven by the intense paranoia and desperation of the characters; as a viewer, you’re hooked on trying to figure these remarkably different indivduals out more than you are trying to suss out the environment they live in.
The pacing of this episode is fantastic, while the twist and the ending had me in a state of disbelief before I began drawing comparisons to 2013 episode White Bear. But as with White Bear, the twist leaves you feeling betrayed and thinking about the protagonist’s actions and entire make up until this end point.
HATED IN THE NATION
The sixth and final episode of Black Mirror‘s third season sees A.I., the bee shortage, globally accessed data and the detrimental effects of social media all come into play as Kelly Macdonald‘s DCI Karin Parke and her team attempts to work their way what seems like your ‘normal’ procedural suicide/possible murder cases before realising something larger and more sinister is at work.
What’s scary about the situation isn’t the threat of Big Brother watching or drones, it’s that we see this type of cyber-bullying happen all the time. What if there was an organisation out there killing, technically on your behalf, without you realising it? 250k retweets or uses of that particular hashtag and boom, that person is wiped out.
Who would’ve thought Black Mirror would be able to insert a sci-fi romance in amongst all the blood and chilling terror? Well, they went and did just that. It’s a clear departure from the show’s aesthetic but not a total one; there’s still a bittersweet sense of sadness surrounding the ideas of what does and doesn’t exist after death, and the struggles some people endure in moving on.
In all, San Junipero is a triumph for many reasons. The script is great for one; moving deftly between time zones with subtle visual and musical hints to guide the viewer, the focus remains on the relationship between Mackenzie Davis‘ Yorkie and Gugu Mbatha-Raw‘s Kelly as they weave in and out of each other’s lives once a week. Providing an environment for the two women to explore a relationship as their younger selves, San Junipero only exists for them for only five hours a week.
Their love story is one that becomes invested in quickly and that is thanks to the writing and acting of the two leads; Davis and Mbatha-Raw have a natural chemistry with one another and they’re both so damn likeable, you’re gunning for them to win.
Black Mirror Season 3 is available on Netflix now.