The fifth season of the highly acclaimed technology P.S.A., that is Black Mirror, came out on Netflix recently. The show returns to its shorter format of three episodes. As many know, the show highlights how technological advancements can lead to some crazy, interesting and dangerous paths for humans of the future. The first two episodes, Striking Vipers and Smithereens, both carry a compelling story that very much pushes some intense emotional boundaries as the series is known for. The third episode, Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too feels a bit disjointed from the Black Mirror style and had more flare than substance. I will avoid spoilers this time around and allow you to check them out for yourself.
Striking Vipers is a story of two college buddies reconnecting in their older, adult life. Danny, played by Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Civil War), is a father and husband with the typical office job and parent homelife. He and his wife have been trucking along together in a mundane lifestyle for a while and may both be getting a little tired of the same old thing everyday. Karl, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman), is now a successful artist who is living the single bachelor life of drinking and smashing girls every night. The “good life” has lost its sting, though. After reconnecting at Danny’s birthday party, the two start playing a fully immersive VR game in which they can be new people with new experiences and sensations. It shows how living in artificial happiness rather than attempting to better your real life can bleed through and affect your world in many ways. The acting is great and the effects really bring the whole episode together.
The second episode, Smithereens, is about a man named Chris who drives a cab in the city. Andrew Scott (Sherlock) plays the role brilliantly in scenes where Chris is having these mental breakdowns. Chris has a bone to pick with the tech company Smithereens and it’s CEO, played by Topher Grace. The performances in this episode heavily outshine any in the rest of the season. Damson Idris plays a young kid named Jaden that gets caught up in the madness of it all. It is a very personal story with few characters and only one real scene location. It touches on the hypnotism so many people experience with being glued to their phones 24/7.
The last episode of the season is titled Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too. This episode definitely had unique a style, but not one that meshes very well with the overall aesthetic of Black Mirror. It felt very cartoonish at times and almost felt like a kids show with a few f-bombs peppered in. The episode most definitely displays some of the season’s best CGI work with a robotic toy being one of its centric focuses, but it just feels out of place. Miley Cyrus plays a pop-star named Ashley O that the whole world is in love with. That includes Rachel, played by Angourie Rice, who is a young girl in a new town with not very many friends. Her and her sister, played by Madison Davenport, moved to a new city with their dad. Her idol, Ashley O, is the closest thing Rachel has to a friend. However, is the real Ashley O really the fun-loving rainbow princess that she seems to be? It overall just didn’t stick the landing for me, but is still a good looking production with some interesting concepts.
Season five is definitely a good late night watch. Some episodes are stronger than others, but the season as a whole is pretty solid. Keeping it shorter makes a lot of sense. I’d imagine they have a short sixth season already in the chamber for later this year.
What is your favorite episode of Black Mirror?