Back To The View From The Black Mirror
My love for Black Mirror is well documented, especially with the way I often reference how so many other sci-fi shows fail to do what this incredible show is doing—but that doesn’t mean there are no duds. That doesn’t mean it’s beyond criticism, and, with the new season 5 out and about, and everyone talking about it, I’m tossing my hat into the discussion.
(Warning: the following videos contain upsetting and adult content. Viewer discretion advised.)
And boy is there a lot to discuss. Black Mirror season 5 is something different from the last few seasons. It seems even the creators got tired of the same dark stories, and even maybe the gut-wrenching twists. Sure, the new season has surprising moments, “Striking Vipers” surprised me with where it was going with its relationships and the ending of “Smithereens” stayed with me all day. But these episodes and even these plots are not the same as previous seasons, they are not as soul-wrenching, not as darkly ironic.
Black Mirror Didn’t Lose Its Storytelling Edge
But what they are, is still wildly clever commentary, and perhaps very prescient. Between an exploration of human sexuality and how VR will affect it, a chilling take on both social media’s power for good and evil and simple power overall, and a look at celebrity culture’s commodification of actual people, Black Mirror is still finding things to talk about.
What has gotten a downgrade, though, is some degree of acting and some degree of tight pacing. “Smithereens” has incredible acting but too long of a build-up—even if most of the time the tension is masterful. The acting was also fine in “Striking Vipers” for the most part, but it took forever to get to the “provocative” bits, for lack of a better word, and then the show didn’t do much to deepen the interest after the initial shock until close to the end.
You Never Can Say Black Mirror Lacks Variety
And then we have “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too.” Look, I won’t get into the history of Miley Cyrus, and I’ve seen her act well, but it’s a bit telling that I much more enjoyed her little robot version than her actual body. Turns out she’s a fun and convincing voice actress—and I want that capitalized on more—but her big emotional scene in the flesh was a little hollow, and the lead up a bit sour. She’s a good physical actress in terms of body motion—just delivery was a little shaky.
Even Medium Black Mirror Is Still Really Good T.V.
But I don’t want to criticize too harshly.
The story was fun, almost like a teen adventure story from the ’90s, and is also a good entry episode for new viewers like “Hang the DJ” was, as it’s not as violent or disturbing or sexual in its content.
While the new season feels sanded a bit at the harsh edges comparatively, you don’t have to be depressing to tell a story about technology’s potential negative applications poignantly. Season 5 is an opportunity for anyone to get a dose of Black Mirror goodness in a way that won’t leave you staring too much at the void.
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