Technology is amazing, it always has been and it always will be. But what happens when it goes too far? Well, in 2011 Netflix’s Black Mirror made sure to start showing us the darkest side of a high-tech world. Sounds scary, but it’s kind of a wake-up call for humanity, in a really exaggerated way, and a statement from its first episode: everyone is always watching screens.
And with the announcement of its return a couple of months ago, we decided to make a list with the top episodes.
The future will be brighter than ever. pic.twitter.com/slVeg3VPd7
— Black Mirror (@blackmirror) March 5, 2018
Needless to say, there will be spoilers everywhere.
The fact is, even though every single episode of Black Mirror can be amazing, clever, and shocking, these are definitely the best ones:
7. The Entire History of You (Season 1, Episode 3)
The Entire History of You was their way to end season one, by telling the story of Liam Foxwell, a young lawyer who is convinced that his wife Ffion is cheating on him. That’s one side of this episode.
The other one is that almost every person has a “grain” installed, a micro device that allows you to record you memories and see them before your eyes, even project them.
The thing is that after a dinner party, Liam becomes obsessed with the idea of her cheating wife and takes it to the next level of jealousy, only to find out Ffion did have an affair with her ex, leading him to forcefully cut out his “grain” with a blade.
Yes, this episode is a bit heavy, but it’s done so right, it leaves you thinking of that time you wished you could record with your eyes.
IMDb Rating: 8.7/10
6. San Junipero (Season 3, Episode 4)
In the 80s, Yorkie, a very introverted girl, meets the enthusiastic Kelly in a party town by the beach called San Junipero. They’re different from head to toe, but it’s obvious there’s a spark as soon as they meet. But Yorkie gets uncomfortable and runs away, claiming it’s because everyone was staring at them, “two girls dancing”.
Next Saturday night they meet in the same nightclub, and when Kelly sees Yorkie, she ditches the guy she was flirting with and offers to get out of there. They go to Kelly’s house and sleep together.
The following weekend Yorkie can’t seem to find Kelly, and is told to try “another time”, which doesn’t make any sense at first. But as the episode goes by, Yorkie literally goes to the 70s, the 90s, and, eventually, finds Kelly in 2002, avoiding her.
After they make up, Kelly confesses she’s dying and that she’s just “passing through”, and finally, Yorkie tells Kelly her real-life location.
Turns out San Junipero is basically a digital graveyard, where the deceased can relive their favorite eras in their younger bodies. This simulation is abled for the elderly as well but only once a week.
In the real world
Kelly, who’s dying of cancer visits Yorkie and finds out she’s been paralyzed since she was 21, after a car crash. Yorkie’s nurse, Greg, reveals to Kelly that she wants to be euthanized and the only way he can consent for her is by getting married. After learning this, Kelly returns to San Junipero to marry Yorkie.
Now that Yorkie is staying in San Junipero, she wants Kelly to do the same, but she refuses. Kelly explains what happened to her late husband and her daughter, runs off and crashes her car, but leaves untouched (you can’t die in San Junipero).
At the end, Kelly decides to be euthanized as well and to stay in San Junipero with Yorkie.
Black Mirror can have a hopeful undertone and happy endings from time to time, and this episode is proof of it.
IMDb Rating: 8.7
5. Nosedive (Season 3, Episode 1)
Where social media moves the world, ratings define your socioeconomic status, meaning the closer you are to having five stars, the “better your life will be”. Lacie Pound, a 4.2 woman trying to reach 4.5 so she can get a discount on buying a very luxurious apartment.
Now, in order to level her score up, she must surround herself with high-rated people and receive five stars from their interactions. A childhood friend, now highly rated, calls and asks her to be maid of honor. Lacie promises a speech and takes the opportunity to achieve a higher score.
Downhill from hill from here.
Later on, after fighting with her brother, she accidentally bumps into a woman, then the flight gets cancelled. Upset, she causes a scene while security asks her to leave. Thanks to all of this, her score drops to 3.1.
After meeting a woman who used to be 4.6 and stopped caring about ratings and scores, she kind of took the advice on not caring, but in the wrong way.
Lacie arrives the wedding (even when the bride told her not to come) covered in mud and sweat, and decides to give a speech anyway. But, instead of making everyone cry of happiness, she turns violent and tells everybody off before being sent to prison. The ending has a silver lining, though: she’s finally free to speak her mind without having to care about scores and stars.
This one’s too good and a little bit too real. Also, the cinematography and color palettes in Black Mirror are always great, but here are so on point.
IMDb Rating: 8.3
4. Playtest (Season 3, Episode 2)
One day, Cooper decides to travel the world. He gets from the US to Australia, India, Italy, Spain, and many other places. His trip comes to an end in London, where he meets Sonja, a tech journalist with who he ends up sleeping with.
The next day he discovers his credit card has been cloned, he returns to Sonja’s place. While browsing through Oddjobs, Cooper spots an opening in SaitoGemu, a game company successful thanks to their amazing horror games.
Once there for the game test, phones are supposed to be off for safety reasons, but he doesn’t. As an implant is installed in the back of his neck, Cooper receives a call from his mother in the middle of the initialization process.
With the device in his neck, now he can play an augmented reality game of Whac-A-Mole, a demo of what’s next. They offer Cooper testing the beta version for more money, so, naturally, he accepts.
The game consists on spending a night alone in a scary house or until you get too scared to continue. Here’s the twist: whatever appears in that house is supposed to be a product of the individual’s own mind, which means, the game will search through your brain for whatever scares you, personally.
The rest is a little bit hard to explain, you seriously need to watch this episode. Is really scary. But we can tell you the end of it.
After all the craziness Cooper experiences in the game, turns out it’s kind of an Inception thing. He thought they had pulled him out of the game but they hadn’t yet, in the real world, his brain basically melted the moment his mom called, so he never actually tried the game at all.
Yup, welcome to Black Mirror at its best.
IMDb Rating: 8.2
3. USS Callister (Season 4, Episode 1)
Opening with some kind of Star Trek-like episode (literally), Captain Robert Daly and his crew are under the attack of the evil Valdack. But the Captain refuses to get his ship, the mighty USS Callister destroyed, so against all odds, they defeat Valdack. The crew celebrates the success and the episode ends.
That’s where the real episode takes off. In real life, Daly is the CTO and co-founder at Callister Inc, plus, the creator of multiplayer game Infinity. But that doesn’t really matter to others around him. His co-workers mistreat him and take advantage of him.
Now, Nanette Cole is new in the office and actually appreciates Daly’s work, but has a hard time communicating. Co-founder James Walton interrupts and starts hitting on Nanette. After everyone has left the office, Daly takes off the lid off of a coffee cup Nanette used earlier, and stores it.
Another reveal from Daly
The guy you thought was good is actually a psychopath.
Nanette wakes up in the Space Fleet mod (Daly’s favorite show), as a character in the game Infinity. Turns out the crew and villains are co-workers that Robert felt insulted by.
If anyone treated Robert poorly, he’d steal some DNA from them and create clones in his game, then tortures them to feel like a powerful leader they look up to.
Of course, as soon as Nanette finds out, she puts her mind to task and tries multiple times to escape the game, since she’s a programmer as well.
In the end, they make it by going into a wormhole that takes them online. This left Daly trapped in his own game, which meant his death in real life as his mind was being erased by the game’s security system, along with his mod.
This is one of the coolest episodes not only because of how they introduce this vintage wave into new technology, but because of how they disguise the anthagonist as a good guy at first. Also, the voice of Gamer691 is Aaron Paul.
IMDb Rating: 8.3
2. Hang The DJ (Season 4, Episode 4)
We all know dating is hard and not always as great as you see in romantic movies. Well, all you need is Coach, the dating system.
Coach selects Frank and Amy for a programmed date. Once there, they can reveal their “expiration date”. Unluckily, they only got 12 hours together.
The system gathers information from your mental, emotional, and physical reactions in multiple relationships and choose your next date. And even though Frank and Amy actually clicked, the system felt quite the contrary.
Next, Amy gets paired for nine months with a very handsome guy, and then goes through numerous dates. While Frank gets stuck with a dull, annoying woman for a whole year. But as their relationships end, they match again, this time, deciding not to look on the expiration date.
Eventually, Frank gets very anxious about the expiry and decides to peak. But the system, at first showing him five years, recalibrated to 20 hours. As their relationship ends, Coach sends them out in various dates. Then a pairing day is set for each one, in which they’ll meet their “ultimate compatible other”.
But when they see each other in the restaurant, they decide to let go off the system and rebel. As they get out, Frank and Amy discover it was a simulation all along and that from a thousand runs, they rebelled 998 times.
As they disappear, we return to the real world, where they both look at the app in their phones and find out they have a 99.8% match.
See? Another happy ending. This episode has a very interesting view on dating apps, how much influence they can have on people, and how nowadays almost everything depends on algorithms.
IMDb Rating: 8.8
1. White Christmas (Season 2, Episode 4)
As far as Christmas specials go, this one DEFINITELY takes the gold. This was Black Mirror‘s way of closing its second season, with a not-so-lovely ribbon.
White Christmas has three parts, so to speak, three different stories in one evening.
It starts with two men in some sort of outpost. Matt cooking a Christmas meal while trying to get Joe to talk to him, since he “haven’t done that in five years”.
Matt tells him about his side job as a “dating guru” through Zed-Eyes. These are irremovable augmented reality implants everybody has in their brains, kind of the upgrade of the “grain”. He helped single men meet women, and what went wrong with that (involving the death of one of his clients).
His wife found out about the service he was providing and she “blocked” him. This meant she could no longer hear or see him, and viceversa.
As Joe begins to talk a little bit, Matt decides to tell him about his main job in Smartelligence. People get a little chip called a “cookie”, implanted in their head for a little while so it understands how their mind work.
When it comes out, it’s a copy of the individual’s conscience and put it in an egg-like device. The “cookie” is now in change of controlling this person’s smart house, like a personal assistant.
After this, Joe finally decides to talk and tell his story, why he was in that outpost. We find out that he was in a relationship with Beth and that she was pregnant with an unwanted baby. After a fight, she blocks him and leaves him for good.
Joe discovers that she had the baby and that Beth died in an accident. Now the block was off, he decides to see his child. He finds out Beth cheated on him, that the little girl is not his, and that Gordon, Beth’s father, threw away every letter he sent her. Joe confesses killing Gordon and leaving the girl alone, who died days later in a blizzard.
Turns out, those weren’t really five years. It was all a way to make Joe confess to Matt (working with the police) through a “cookie”. Joe is sentenced to a thousand years per minute with the song “Wish It Could Be Christmas” on repeat.
And this is Black Mirror, so it doesn’t end up well for everybody. For voyeurism and not reporting the client’s murder, Matt got blocked as punishment.
Five gold stars for you, White Christmas. You go, White Christmas!
IMDb Rating: 9.2