One of the more interesting series that I’ve seen recently is Black Mirror. A BBC show that recently got attention in the United States as it arrived on Netflix, I personally heard about it recommended from a friend at a party.
The show reference’s the Black Mirror, the black screen that we all pay attention to. A slightly modified Twilight Zone without as much camp or humor, the show does well in it’s first watching. The episodes are all distinct and separate from each other, some of the highest quality and others falling short.
If you haven’t seen the series, I don’t recommend reading this but watching it yourself. It’s one of my favorite shows that I learned in 2014 and eagerly wait for a Season 3 if it will ever come out. The recently launched hour long Christmas Special was well timed (timed as of this post).
Episode 01 – National Anthem
This is probably one of my favorite episode for two reasons: the absurdity of the entire episode and the technology is a reflection of our present time. Nothing in the episode required advanced technologies and while things were subtly more advanced than what could be possible, it never toes that line in complete disbelief. The absurdity of the entire episode is great as the first introduction is setup immediately where you have no idea where the episode is going to go.
Beyond the basic acting, the story’s conclusion and premise of the episode hold incredibly well. The influence of the internet and the ability of a populace with a strong desire to share and a camera in their pocket has changed the world and it’s shown. Beyond that, I think the other things that the episode try to hold up about Britian’s willingness to all watch the spectacle, I just don’t buy it as much. I just can’t imagine people’s fascination with watching it be that high. But perhaps I have better hope for people’s tastes than what is present.
Episode 02 – Fifteen Million Merits
I feel the episode is highly metaphorical and that’s where I lost it. The romance is just lacking and I just don’t feel the connection between Bing and Abi. Perhaps on a canary level, where the Abi is just that one ray of hope that Bing feels, Abi just lacks the strength of will to continue on. Maybe it’s just I never cared for either character that I don’t care as much about the episode as much.
On the other side of the coin, the imagery is beautiful. The shows on the TV and how they visually showed how invasive and powerful the new society is in their lives, it was fascinating. But I’m a story person so I’m a negative on this review.
Episode 03 – The Entire HIstory of You
This episode is probably one of my favorites because it personal and really communicates more about how small technological breakthoughs will change society. The ability to recall everything and anything is scary and would dramatically change the world. The social changes, the stigma of having it or not having, the obsession and compulsiveness to check back on things. Jesus, the exploration of it was the best part of the story as they explored how it impacts everything from a fight to just having a job interview.
The story is incredibly turbulent and the climax in the bedroom as she reveals her infidelity was dramatic. I had to slowly put my pillow up and be like “ugh, this is not going to work out for him”. Others said this episode was predictable and I felt thematically it was the only way to for it to go, so I can understand that.
Episode 04 – Be Right Back
This episode was the most personal story about how grief influences our lives.
There was one sense of disbelief in the technology of creating some kinda bio-organic unit made me shake my head a bit but beyond that the episode maintains a sense of feasibility the entire time.
The foreshadowing is fairly clear and you can see how the events in the beginning will influence and change the story as the big reveal in the episode is shown. Our public facing persona could be similar to us, but it’s never going to be us. The private moments that are never recorded will allow us to construct something real. Even after the private communication is put into, the moments between people are the small things that define us.
I wonder though if the technology of The Entire History of You, combined with the reconstruction model would cause a more perfect individual restoration though. Marathoning the show made me think about that and it slightly influenced my viewpoint on this show, the feasability of both.
Episode 05 – White Bear
The beginning of the episode is odd, you dislike it. It has horror movie cliches, the plot doesn’t make sense, you’re just wondering what the bloody fuck is happening but then as the violence continues, the horribleness of what is happening and the implausibility of what’s going on continues you get the reveal. You realize it’s all an elaborate hoax and it’s just setup to torture this women who committed a heinous crime.
The episode works once, and only once. I feel it’s a Shamalyan episode where you see the twist and you’re not sure if it’s worth watching again. Maybe a second noticing will give you better inspection as in the Sixth Sense, but not that bad.
Episode 06 -The Waldo Moment
The weakest episode of the series. It’s a hamfisted attempt at showing that a cartoon could produce something interesting and while the personal ramifications of the situation was amusing the global ability to recognize it is a bit of a stretch that I couldn’t fathom or attempt to take it.
Winter Christmas Special
I felt the Christmas Special lacked a certain continuity between the two stories about Hamm. It was almost three separate episodes with a hamfiested attempt at combining them.
I thought each individual story was incredibly well done. The Pickup Artist idea personally resonated because I had read about that subculture and while it’s not exactly accurate, it was a pretty interesting story around it.
The second story though was the twisted one about what could be possible and what can’t be possible about creating imprints, taking the story of the episode 04 and basically contrasting it by saying are these beings real? Do they count as people? In episode 04 it made it seem like they were just imitations of a real thing but this one seems far more real, far more self-aware and less programmed. It’s interesting because I feel they kept Asimov’s Laws of Robotics in the aspect of episode 04 but the creation in this episode didn’t follow those laws or limitations in personality.
The last story was weak, I can see the idea of avoidance of a confrontation for a long long catch. It was just going on forever and everybody realized what the problem was immediately but then you just had to wait the long time period until Joe realized it himself. I felt the torture that he was put through is also incredibly cruel for someone who in the throws of anger committed a mistake as opposed to someone who was cruel and terrible.