We're in for another white Christmas. Black Mirror, the nightmarish anthology series that many look to as a Twilight Zone for the modern age, is set to return to Netflix before the year is out with another six-episode drop.
The overarching theme that links the otherwise individual, stand-alone episodes remains the same: an imaginative but not impossible technological advance informs a not-too-distant future, where the invention that's supposed to make life easier, safer, or more enjoyable instead gives humans the rope with which to hang themselves. But coming off the heels of season 3, anticipation is even higher. That season's benchmark episode "San Junipero" became an instant fan-favorite for being a grand, unconventional love-story and the rare Black Mirror installment to close on a hint of optimism if not an outright happy ending. It also yielded the series its first Emmy wins for Outstanding Television Movie (yea, I don't know either) and Outstanding Writing for series creator Charlie Brooker, who pens every episode.
I've seen every installment of season 4. With excitement at a fever pitch but the release date not until the very end of the month (Dec. 29), here are all your Black Mirror questions answered. And don't worry, it's completely spoiler-free.
So what's this season's "San Junipero?"
Feels-wise, that'd be "Hang the DJ." It's about dating apps. Consider this your Trigger Warning!
Any recognizable faces this time around?
"Callister" has William from Westworld, the Mother from How I Met Your Mother, Landry from Friday Night Lights and Chewing Gum's Michaela Coel with a bigger role than airline attendant this time. "Arkangel" stars Midge from Mad Men and features Jodie Foster on the camera.
Which episode should I avoid if I don't want to feel particularly depressed at the moment? i.e. which ep is the least Netflix and Chill?
Maybe I'm fucked up but I didn't find this season as particularly dark as the others. "Crocodile" is the most grim, though, and "Arkangel" definitely isn't a party.
Jodie Foster directed that one? Tell me more.
Technology x Overbearing Parent = Worst Nightmare.
Spins out of control towards the end in my opinion.
What's the best episode?
Gonna have to go with "USS Callister." (With "Hang the DJ" at a close second.)
That's the space episode in the trailer?
It has some elements of Star Trek satire for sure. Beyond that, I wouldn't dream of spoiling it... the less you know the better.
So is that the episode I'd want to watch ASAP before Twitter spoils it or my annoying co-worker accidentally gives the twists away in the elevator?
Why's it called "Crocodile?"
No idea. As far as I saw, there are no crocodiles.
What's good with the black-and-white episode?
That's "Metalhead," easily this season's biggest stylistic departure.
Is it successful?
Your mileage varies based on whether you prefer busy episodes or stories that are scaled back. This one is very pared down. You may be bored; you may admire its simplicity.
Order doesn't really matter on this show, right?
Well, Brooker actually obsesses over the order, specifically premiere and finale, but yes, the episodes are standalone. With that said, I'd recommend watching "Black Museum" last.
That's the Easter Egg episode?
Right. As Brooker told EW, Black Museum is British-speak for crime museum—although the episode does end up getting a little racially charged. With that canvas, eagle-eye Mirror-heads will spot a few throwbacks to episodes past, and unless my eyes deceived me, there's a throwback to a season 4 episode even.
"White Christmas" with Jon Hamm is still my favorite Black Mirror episode.
Well mine is "The Entire History of You," but in that case, you'll love "Black Museum." It's what Brooker calls a compendium episode i.e., like "Christmas," it contains three mini-stories in one.
"San Junipero" scored BM its first two Emmys. Which episode is going for the gold this time around?
Well, "Hang the DJ" is closest to "Junipero" in spirit, but not so much spectacle. If we're talking spectacle, that'd be "Callister," which also boasts the most recognizable faces; I predict an acting nom or at least buzz for Cristin Milioti.
So is this season good?
I'd say so... it's at least better than 3, which had higher highs but some episodes I personally didn't get into at all.
Snap season ranking.
Netflix officially lumps "White Christmas" into season 2, which gives it the edge, so: 2 > 1 > 4 >> 3.