black mirror
Courtesy of Netflix

STARS 5/5

The fourth season of Netflix’s “Black Mirror” continues to attract audiences with its ability to showcase the extremes of technology, psychological error and human weakness.

When Netflix picked up the British TV show in 2015, it quickly drew attention for its “Twilight Zone”-style anthology format with situations showing the depths and problems of the psyche. Originally premiering in 2011, “Black Mirror” uses seemingly average characters who face trouble because of their dystopic and technologically advanced universes.

Season four shows no mercy in criticizing the human race. Even the characters who seem the nicest can be the most evil. In “USS Callister,” the stereotypical “nice guy” character proves to be cruel and controlling. The antagonist of the episode, Robert Daly, is an unpopular Chief Technical Officer at his video game company where he lets his employees walk all over him. Because he has no power in his real life, he uses his virtual reality game to trap the minds of his coworkers and torture them into submission.

“Black Mirror” shows how the differences between good and bad are not always black and white. By taking an oftentimes cynical approach of the world, the show highlights how there is a dark side to the most seemingly nice people. The show is like a TV version of the street artist Banksy, but it manages to go deeper in creating a more realistic and genuine story.

The fourth installment of the series persists in keeping its magic. It continues to reel in audiences by dropping references to other episodes, namely in “Crocodile” where they use Irma Thomas’ “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is” numerous times throughout the plot. In the episode, the song helps triggers people’s memories to show their thoughts on a visual platform, leading to the demise of a woman living with the murders of multiple people on her conscious. The song, which has been featured in multiple other episodes, ties viewers in with past storylines.

“Black Museum” also references other episodes by featuring objects from the series in the museum, including the tablet from “Arkangel” and an ADI from season three’s “Hated in the Nation.” The show’s ability to bring the episodes together fuels the perfect amount of Reddit fan theories and keeps audiences engaged with its fame and culture.

The penultimate episode of the season, “Metalhead,” shows an interesting new take on the show’s production. As a fully black-and-white episode, the plot is able to focus on survival rather than the clutter surrounding back stories and, in a more literal sense, color. “Black Mirror” keeps taking risks in every aspect of the show, both in production and storytelling.

Episode four of the season, “Hang the DJ,” is “Black Mirror” at its best. It’s one of the few happy endings in the series, and it gives viewers the opportunity to finally finish an episode without feeling more depressed than before they started. It mirrored season three’s “San Junipero” in some ways, but it didn’t have an underlying storyline about death, which ultimately made the episode feel more wholesome. “Hang the DJ” showed a more simple side to the series and proved there are good sides to even the darkest of futures.

Because the series is consistently strong, it’s hard to say whether season four is the show’s best season yet. No matter the ranking, “Black Mirror” is still undoubtedly one of Netflix’s strongest shows with the most opportunity to shock and entice viewers.

Recommended for you