‘Black Mirror’ season 4 review: Deals more with human nature than technology

We rank the Black Mirror season 4 episodes

What sets Black Mirror apart from other works of science fiction on the telly is that it showcases the manner in which humans react to various technological advances and the ramifications of their choices. Instead of the machines-taking-over-the-world paradigm, Black Mirror showcases the manner in which humans can use technology for not-so-noble pursuits. The latest season of Black Mirror is like its predecessors — rather dark, has a set of interesting plot-lines and characters, and deals more with human nature than technology. We rank the episodes this season.

‘Black Mirror’ season 4 review: Deals more with human nature than technology

6. Arkangel

How much can one control a child’s life? This is the underlying theme of this episode, directed by Jodie Foster. A single mother agrees to implant a tracking chip in her daughter’s brain that lets her monitor every aspect of her life, with the aid of a tablet. She can even manipulate what Sara sees, by using a filter function that can blur a disturbing image. Sara rebels, and the mother locks up the tablet. Years later, she starts using the tracking tech again and learns that Sara is experimenting with drugs and is pregnant. Sara discovers the tablet, smashes it to bits, attacks her mother, and leaves . It is an interesting premise , but the story is not engaging enough and the bond, or the lack of it, between the mother and daughter, is not explored enough .

5. Metalhead

It’s only 40 minutes long, shot in black and white, and features a group of rebels led by Maxine Peake in a post-apocalyptic world, trying to save themselves from what appear to be robotic canines, in a dingy warehouse. The setting is bleak: a battle between the hunter and the hunted. Instead of humanoid robots, we have tiny robotic dogs emerge as the supervillains. However, in this cat-and-mouse chase, not much is known about the world the characters occupy. and ensure that one cannot invest much in the characters.

4. Crocodile

In terms of technology, Crocodile is the weakest in the series. A very bleak episode, it is the tale of a successful businesswoman, confronted by an ex-boyfriend, threatening to try to come clean with the family of a biker they accidentally killed and covered up, in their teens. Scared that it could ruin her family and career, she kills him and disposes of the body. However, despite all the precautions, she finds herself in trouble when an insurance agent comes knocking, asking her to be a witness to a minor traffic accident. The agent uses a machine that lets it recall memories. A simple test brings both the accident and murder to light. The businesswoman proceeds to kill the agent, drive to the agent’s house and kill her partner and blind baby, just so that their memories cannot be mined. The tech angle was too weak and a series of murders committed just to hide an inconvenient truth seems rather far-fetched.

3. USS Callister

This is one of the episodes that grows on you with every viewing. Most of it is set in a Star Trek universe. The story follows Robert Daly, a superb coder and co-founder of a VR gaming firm. Despite his brilliance, Daly lacks company and is ignored by his colleagues. His only escape is his version of the Space Fleet game, a sort of mini-universe, where he is commander of the fleet and bullies his real-life colleagues. You begin the episode rooting for him. That view changes when his office crush, Nanette Cole, finds herself in the game, and realises that the other characters are digital clones of their real selves, trapped by Daly, who uses their DNA. It is Cole, who manages to rouse the rest and ensure they escape Daly’s game, even as she gets stuck in gaming limbo. The episode works on many levels, and offers a new take on the ‘bro culture’ and misogyny prevalent in many top tech companies.

2. Black Museum

What is human conscience? Can pain extend beyond the physical body? Have we tapped the full potential of the brain? These are the questions that drive Black Museum, that features three stories within the episode, from a doctor who begins to inflict injuries on himself to get a high from pain, to a prisoner whose conscience is given the electric chair treatment time and again by customers visiting the Black Museum, run by a shady proprietor, Rolo Haynes. It brings tech used in other episodes of the anthology together, and despite a rather tame ending, is a thoroughly interesting watch.

1. Hang the DJ

‘Black Mirror’ season 4 review: Deals more with human nature than technology

This episode wins the top spot mainly for the manner in which technology is employed. We start in a world where an app pairs a seemingly perfect couple together, and gives them only limited time together, in an attempt to link up with their perfect match. The duo goes through with numerous other relationships, unable to get over each other. Blaming the system, they decide to rebel, and we discover that the different situations and problems they faced were part of computer simulations, made to ensure that in the real world, a perfect match is reached. This episode starts off as rather dark, where an app seems to control all aspects of the lives of their characters, and talk about a system that is heavily guarded and cannot be broken. In a world where dating apps are becoming commonplace, this one wins hands down.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 6:51:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/black-mirror-season-4-review/article22398130.ece

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