Review: Netflix exclusive ‘Black Mirror’ ‘continues to be source of insight’


Courtesy of IMDb

According to TRL’s Joe Cross, the third season of Black Mirror is harder to binge watch due to “long episode lengths and dark, sometimes upsetting, content”.

Just in time for Halloween, the British dystopian anthology series “Black Mirror’s” third season was released on Netflix. Primarily focusing on life in the near future, each episode focuses on a different story involving technology and how it affects our lives.

The choice to make the third season a Netflix exclusive is unusual, as it’s significantly harder to binge-watch than shows like Stranger Things or House of Cards due to lengths of the episodes. The series is rated TV-MA for its dark, sometimes upsetting, content.

The season stays afloat thanks to its variety in episodes. The first episode, “Nosedive,” contrasts past episodes with a more bitterly satirical, and funnier, tone. The episode focuses on Lacey (Bryce Dallas Howard), a woman who is determined to boost her influence in a world where popularity on social media influences social status. “Playtest,” the next episode, is completely different in tone, and verges into full-on horror territory by the end. Though it doesn’t have as much social commentary as the others, it succeeds based on its ability to stir up a feeling of pure, unadulterated dread in the viewer and an absolutely commanding performance by Wyatt Russell.

The season’s crowning achievement, however, comes in its fourth episode, “San Junipero.” Taking an unusually light and sweet tone in contrast to the other episodes, it tells an unconventional love story spanning through multiple decades rather than a cautionary tale about technology like most other episodes. It’s a breath of fresh air, a respite from the horror and dark comedy of previous episodes, and manages to have the emotional resonance of the best installments of “Black Mirror.”

The only real misfires of the season come in the last two episodes, “Men Against Fire” and “Hated in The Nation.” The first relies too much on clunky exposition that the series has managed to avoid so well throughout, and though it ends on a strong, powerful note, it takes far too long to get to that point. “Hated in The Nation,” at 90 minutes, is way too long and extremely unrealistic in its handling of its subject matter. Whereas “Nosedive” handled its utterly ridiculous subject matter in a satirical manner, this episode takes itself overly serious and suffers for it. However, “Hated” is ultimately worth it for two absolutely haunting scenes towards the middle and end of the episode. Despite not being as exceptional as the previous episodes, both have their individual merits and succeed in some places.

The longer season results in a merely good season of television. Sticking with a three-episode format like before, consisting of just “Nosedive,” “Playtest,” and “San Junipero,” would have elevated it to something truly exceptional. Still, “Black Mirror” continues to be a source of insight and reflection on our current world and a look into our future.