After years of anticipation, the sixth season of Black Mirror has finally arrived. Whether you’ve already binged the whole season, or are trying to decide if it’s worth your time, here is FIB’s review.
Writer of ‘Black Mirror’, Charlie Brooker, is back with a bite. The episodes are as gorey as ever, with sprinklings of old-school horror, and even old-fashioned technology. Despite the show’s premise being a window into the future of technology, many of the episodes this season are set in the past.
Don’t worry, AI of course features, with some episodes exploring the world of data harvesting and deepfakes. FIB ranks this season’s five episodes, from greatest to worst.
1. Demon 79
What might be a controversial winner is “Demon 79”. FIB thinks it is the perfect mix of moral questioning, politics, and identity. Set in 1979, a young British Indian woman navigates the world of everyday racism against a larger backdrop of anti-immigration sentiments. Her monotonous life as a shoe salesperson is thrown out the window when she is met with a demon. The demon of course presents as Bobby Farrell, from the disco band Boney M. The dark and sexy music of Boney M. features throughout, juxtaposing with the gruesome content of the episode.
The Bobby Farrell demon tells the woman that she must kill three people in three days to prevent a nuclear apocalypse. Everything else that unfolds is a series of moral questions that blur the lines between right and wrong. The reference to the threat of nuclear warfare and rising racial discrimination is also quite poignant.
All in all, a very cleverly put-together episode with many layers, and something in there for everyone.
2. Loch Henry
Up next is “Loch Henry”, a classic murder mystery tale. It veers away from the traditional ‘Black Mirror’ tropes of technology gone wrong and dystopia. Rather, the episode is a typical story of small-town people going crazy and burying themselves in secrets and crimes.
The plot unfolds through the eyes of the young couple Davis and Pia, who visit Davis’ ghost town of a birthplace. They decide to make an investigative documentary about a local murderer, and soon find themselves in a whirlwind of shocking discoveries and danger.
Although very well-made, and with a jaw-dropping plot twist, the only ‘Black Mirror’-esque part of the episode is the couple’s use of old-school cameras and tape footage.
3. Beyond the Sea
Whilst this seems to be a favourite episode of the season, “Beyond the Sea” falls short for me. Saturated with toxic masculinity, the story is essentially a glorified marital affair, with the addition of some space technology.
The only interesting concept it explores is that the two main male characters are astronauts working in space, who have replicas of themselves back home that they can switch back to at any time. The actors’ performances are strong, and the relationship dynamics between the characters are developed so powerfully in such a short period of time.
The ending had so much potential to play into a whole other level of evil and betrayal, but instead, it took a rather brutal, unexpected, and ultimately nonsensical turn. Yet maybe that was the point…
4. Joan is Awful
Another popular episode is “Joan is Awful”. It explores the imminence of deepfakes; warning the audience of how easy it is for our identities to be stolen and used for practically anything. It exposes and exaggerates the life of Joan on a Netflix-like platform, making viewers uncomfortable at the thought of such voyeurism.
However, I find it very similar to an older, much more confronting ‘Black Mirror’ episode, “Nosedive”. “Nosedive” examined the notion of cancel culture and the downfall of one’s social status in a fresh and enthralling way.
“Joan is Awful” felt a little far-fetched and cliché, yet still an enjoyable watch.
5. Mazey Day
“Mazey Day” has garnered attention for all the wrong reasons. This episode is an extended metaphor for early 2000s paparazzi culture and all the horrors that came along with the demise of major celebrities such as Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. It demonstrates how far the paparazzi will go to get the perfect shot for their next paycheck, no matter the moral cost.
Yet, the episode severely lacks in flow and characterisation, and well, it features a werewolf for no good reason…We could read into why the writers chose this direction for the episode (maybe a metaphor for the corruption of celebrities by the media?) but whatever said and done, it is decidedly over the top.
Back when ‘Black Mirror’ began in 2011, the world of technology looked very different. Audiences were gobsmacked at the potential of the digital realm taking over the real one. Now, it seems as if a lot of Brooker’s predictions were correct. Instead of providing a portal to the future, he is merely showing us a vision of the present.
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