Black Mirror Season 4 Episodes from Worst to Best

Some people can’t watch multiple episodes of Black Mirror consecutively; I am not one of those people. When Season 4 of the series was released at the end of 2017, it took no more than 48 hours for me to finish all six mind-boggling installments, leaving me to question everything and fear for the future.

The great, although frustrating, issue with the release of a new season of a popular Netflix TV show is that everybody on the Internet is talking about it, too. I took to Twitter after watching each new episode to read everyone’s thoughts, allowing myself to be swayed by the analyses and theories of each episode by avid Twitter users. So, my first-time-viewing thoughts of the episodes both individually and as a collective season have shifted due to this influence. However, I’ve decided to stay true to myself,  and present my own ranking of the Black Mirror Season 4 episodes based on my initial impressions, from worst to best.

 

6. Metalhead

 

This episode was almost unanimously crowned as the worst episode of Season 4 by Twitter users across the board. The episode was filmed entirely in black and white and focused on one nameless character running away from a killer robot dog in an abandoned junkyard for 40 minutes. Metalhead failed to keep my interest. The audience is given hardly any information about the protagonist, a middle-aged woman who is attempting to obtain something significant from a warehouse guarded by these killer robot dogs. It’s implied that she is seeking some kind of medicine for a sick person, and that this post-apocalyptic world has low, if any, resources left. In the end, however, it’s revealed that she was going to get a box of teddy bears, presumably for emotionally traumatized children seeking comfort. Though the twist should be heart-wrenching, it doesn’t hold the punch it could have if the audience had really cared about anyone in this story, which proved hard to do when you don’t know anything about them.

 

5-4. USS Callister and Crocodile

 

This ranking would probably be considered “controversial” since USS Callister was considered to be in the better half of the six new episodes according to critics, whereas Crocodile was not. Most people watched USS Callister first since it was the first episode in the order presented on Netflix (I did not). It’s relatively happy ending and clever dismantling of the misogynistic, victim-complex, gamer-boy archetype would have been a perfect start to the new season. I liked it it, but I think I grew to like it more as I read about it on Twitter, which would defeat the purpose of staying loyal to my untainted feelings. It was aesthetically pleasing, though, with its Star Trek-esque clothing and setting.

 

 

Crocodile is probably the darkest episode of the season because of the multiple murders committed. I’ve seen Crocodile three times now, so I’ve become desensitized to this violence. Yet it remains shocking, and the first time I saw it I was consistently flabbergasted with the death of each new victim. This one ties for second to last in this ranking because it was a little too unrealistic (How did she not get caught the whole time?!) and I felt the baby’s blindness was unnecessarily dark—it’s horrible enough that she killed a baby. It was the emphasis on the darkness of human nature, though, rather than a focus on the pitfalls of technology, that made this episode stand out; and the guinea pig snitch. Bless that guinea pig.

 

    

3. Hang the DJ

 

Hang the DJ has the most optimistic ending of any Season 4 episode, possibly in the Black Mirror series as a whole. This episode is a bit of a spoof on Tinder. Simulations of singles are put into a confined world where they date new people one after another for preset periods of time until ‘the system’ reveals their perfect match. I I was confused by the ending, and my delayed understanding prevented me from realizing how lovely the “998 rebellions=99.8% success rate” thing really was. Though, the positivity of the characters, Frank and Amy, ultimate fate is shadowed by the torture their simulations had to go through to end up together in real life. There’s something about simulations of real people with real consciousness that make me uneasy.

 

 

2. Arkangel

 

    This rating could be controversial to many viewers but I really liked Arkangel. While I completely condemn the overprotective and invasive nature of the mother’s parenting, I sympathized with her—or, at least, never hated her. I still think it was Sara’s right to have privacy, and the Arkangel system was a horrible invention and would have been my worst nightmare in my youth. The scene where Sara blatantly lies to her mom  and then later doesn’t answer her phone all night was painfully familiar to me. I later rewatched the episode with my mom and wondered if it felt familiar to her too. I was convinced the mother was dead at the end, which would have been much more of Black Mirror’s style, so the fact that Sara simply runs away seemed too soft of a conclusion.

 

 

1. Black Museum

 

This is, without a doubt, one of the best episodes of the entire series. It blew my mind how the episode incorporated all its twists with the through line of the stories behind each criminological artifact, while also giving this intertwined ending meaning deeper than mere shock value. Its commentary on the fascination with black suffering as entertainment was extremely poignant yet believable, unfortunately. Nish’s character was exceptional. I couldn’t help but wonder whether she would be as well-loved if she hadn’t been put through so much, as the daughter of someone who was treated so badly. She avenged the torture of her father for her parents’ sake. The character of Rolo Haynes was so well executed; at first, he doesn’t seem entirely creepy or evil, but kind of rubs you the wrong way. Even after his crimes have been exposed, he doesn’t possess some villainous smile. He doesn’t take responsibility nor revel in the destruction he has caused, which makes him all the more gross. This episode deals with racial issues in such a necessary way, and included fun connections back to past episodes.

Overall, this season delivered. The series’ return was long-awaited, and the ever-present balance of fascinating technological advances with the exploration of how humans interact with these advancements still manages to keep me on my toes.