This post contains spoilers.
No show dangles dystopia in front of our eyes like Black Mirror.
Now in its fourth season, each episode of the Netflix Sci-fi/Thriller acts as a stand-alone mini-movie set in the future. It’s a future overrun by invasive gadgets and techno-paranoia which, the show suggests, is far nearer than we’d like to think.
However for all its thematic brilliance – its darkness and ominous foreshadowing – this most recent season lacked the one thing that made the others so very special.
LISTEN: We give a rundown of Black Mirror Season 3, just in case you need a refresher, on our pop culture podcast The Binge. Post continues after audio.
Unlike fine wine, television shows don’t tend to get better with age.
Seven years on from Black Mirror’s original Season One release date in 2011, it seems Brooker is done with beating around the bush. Juiced of elusiveness, Season Four leaves little to the imagination.
Instead, Brooker gives us shock value: a filmography trait symptomatic of our modern thirst for action.
Episode 4, Metalhead, is without a doubt the weakest of the latest bunch. In a black-and-white post-apocalyptic desert ruled by evil mini-robots, one woman battles for survival after watching two friends’ heads turn to mush at the hand of aforementioned robots.
The episode has potential – the bleakness of this world and how it came to be is intriguing. But we never find out. Instead, the episode ends with our crestfallen protagonist cutting her own throat, and a ‘final reveal’ involving teddy bears that seems farcical at best.
Speaking of farcical, the Season’s third episode, Crocodile, reeks of it.
A young woman meets up with an ex-boyfriend who wants to make amends with the family of a cyclist they hit and killed years earlier. She then kills the ex, afraid that his wanting to come clean about the manslaughter would doom her career.
While disposing of her ex’s body, she’s witness to another traffic accident outside her hotel room – an automated vehicle hitting a pedestrian. This seems unrelated to the story-line, until the tech aspect is revealed – a memory recalling device used to prove insurance cases, which seems almost an afterthought to a deeply disturbing plot.
Questions from the unrelated traffic accident bring up memories from both murders, and it’s at this point that the episode turns from being relatively uninteresting to ludicrous.
Our wealthy-young-mother protagonist murders in cold blood the insurance agent, her husband, and their infant son to cover her tracks, as all three could potentially identify her by using the memory technology.
The murders are graphic. It’s clearly a conscious directorial decision to include blood spatter and confronting violence.