So, it’s time to review the fifth season of “Black Mirror”. And guess what, it’s not really a Black Mirror but still pretty good. Most people say that they want Charlie Brooker to restore the true theme of this series. This fifth season shows opinions between positive and negative. To be precise, this season raises a mixed response compared to the previous season. Indeed, the anthology series of dystopia is starting to not be popular any more than before. The focus is also on the influence of technology; rather weird in this era of greater threats. Especially when discussing political collapse, ecological disasters, and moral value, “Black Mirror” was actually not dead.
I can say that just one episode I think is touching on satire and the impression of “Black Mirror”. I ranked “Smithereens” as one of the best in this season and “Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too” as the worst. “Striking Vipers” is pretty good but not as good as the second episode. The first episode didn’t surprise me too much but it was more of an irony where I laughed at it. After Brooker spends his time on “Bandersnatch“, this is the fifth season we are waiting for the most.
The first episode, “Striking Viper”, tells about Anthony Mackie as Danny and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Karl. During college, they always spent their time playing a Street Fighter-like video game. After several years, they finally reunited, were married, and had a wife. Karl brought a sequel to the game called Striking Viper, the game they had played. However, in this sequel, the system allows the player to play the game using a chip. Starting with physical contact and touch, they start playing the game every night. However, their lives then changed.
The premise of this episode actually makes sense both technologically and philosophically. The obsession with character video games is just a normal thing, but what if the obsession was on a higher level? In this era, we get a virtual reality where you can marry anime characters. However, just wait for how this system is exactly like this Striking Viper. On the other hand, this episode raised the homoeroticism of a video game and the increasingly explicit quality in video games. Violence, ambiguity, sexuality, gender, self-sacrifice, and shame become one. Like “San Junipero” and “USS Callister” where human emotions are timeless. In this episode, nature is only temporary but questions the extent to which the obsession is now. But, I just laughed throughout the episode. We also got a happy ending; was an irony in my opinion.
“Smithereens” is one of the best episodes at least for me. This episode tells the story of Andrew Gower as Rob, a Uber-like driver in London. With a clear backstory, he is now not too comfortable with the lives of these millennial kids. He complained about how they were always facing down, walking while staring at their cellphones without noticing each other. And that’s what Rob felt after he kidnaps one of Smithereens’s employees. This action has a reason for the deadlock and Rob does it only to talk to the boss at the company.
This episode has a clear explanation, a basic satire, and a slightly ambiguous ending. This episode aims the uncontrolled accountability of a user from the current giant social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others are Smithereens. Cases like a young person die because playing cellphones while driving a vehicle is nothing new. However, who is to blame? Is it the creator or the consumer? Topher Grace as Billy Bauer is an interesting character, restless, but ambiguous. The ending makes you question what we actually see in social media. When the news about one of the people killed on the internet, everyone looks normal and feels the world is safe. Like the ending, even though we never know who is dead, the message is very clear and conveyed in open-to-interpretation. And don’t forget this episode ends with Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”.
“Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too” is a great example of why everything takes a time to work in such an episode. But instead, this is the roughest episode in this season or in all seasons. Having a potential, this episode criticizes a company and the music industry that treats its artists. Miley Cyrus as Ashley O is a pink-haired pop star. She produced a robot doll that was programmed to speak and act like her. The robot has a similarly unique way in “White Christmas” where you can copy human consciousness.
In a parallel storyline, this episode has many stacks up stories to make a lot of pointless in it. Miley Cyrus gives a true appearance. Her character is so depressed and exploited by television and people in the company. Because of the fact, they all just want albums and money. However, this episode turned out to be one of the weirdest episodes ever. This episode turns one of the bleakest series into the happiest episode ever. Like an 80s teenage adventure of “Bill & Ted”, it’s just amazing.
The fifth season of “Black Mirror” leaves many requests where Brooker should recreate the theme of the series. Of course, this season has great storytelling, interesting characters, and more background in today’s era. After the success of “Bandersnatch”, me or you as well want to see Brooker pay more attention to this series too. However, it’s not really as bad as critics or people say it. I just want more than an interactive film. So, in conclusion, the first episode is decent, the second episode is great, and the third episode is just bad.
3.5 out of 5 stars.