Black Mirror season four review

Manuela Graf, Features Editor

If you are looking for a show to really mess your mind up and send your brain into a jumbled mess of thinking about the flaws of modern-day society while unforgivingly keeping you on the edge of your seat, Black Mirror may be a great binge-watch option for you. Any hip-enough teenager has likely heard of this series by now. The show, however, which shifted from being British to American-owned in 2014, has seen some noticeable changes in its production, and many people believe, its quality.

These changes are most pronounced in the show’s recent release of its fourth season on December 29 of 2017. The change in season release scheduling to once a year as an American-owned series means there is less time for production, but more directors, writers, and editors with an increased budget.

The two should cancel out, but have actually resulted in a dip in quality from season three to four. The fourth season is basically a repetition of recycled ideas from the previous seasons, which in the past have focused on a bleak, satirical approach to mocking modern culture’s obsession with technology.

The fourth season saw a few new ideas introduced, playing on themes like modern dating apps (“Hang the DJ”), personalized surveillance tools (“Arkangel”), online gaming, (“USS Callister”), and the ability to transfer one’s full conscious identity to another person’s brain (“Black Museum”).

These new ideas, however, did not live up to their potential. The episodes are carried out in the traditional Black Mirror-esque fashion but don’t equate with the more engaging concepts of season three. Season four offers up less originality and resulted in what, in my opinion, are two pretty good episodes, one okay one, and three pretty bad ones.

While “Black Museum” and “USS Callister” were significantly more compelling and captivating, episodes like “Crocodile” and “Arkangel” were lacking in sinister charm and seemed like unenthusiastic approaches to the classic and subtle critical tone seen in some of the best Black Mirror episodes.

In “Crocodile,” successful architect Mia is living a nice life until her ex comes back to haunt her with her past, threatening to confess to an accidental murder of a biker that the ex-couple were involved in years ago. As a result, she murders him at a very inconvenient time, as there is another accident that takes place outside. A new investigational technology that extracts your memory results in Mia being questioned about the other incident she was a witness to, but in fear of having her crime uncovered by her memory, she murders the investigator and her entire family.

The entire episode is a series of ruthless murders as the lead character grows in desperation, but has no real meaning or content behind it. As for this episode, the only thing I can say I enjoyed was the melancholy tone set by the cine-noir like setting of Iceland’s wilderness.

The equally bad episode “Arkangel” follows a single mom and her daughter, in whom she installs a surveillance device to protect her and shield her from the negative things in life. This backfires when the little girl is unable to do anything when her grandfather has a stroke as she is blurred from seeing the situation by the device. The mom stops the device, only to activate it again when she finds out her now teenage daughter is lying about her whereabouts. The mom finds her daughter doing illegal drugs and doing inappropriate things with her boyfriend, and the episode spirals downhill as the breakdown of mother-daughter trust results in the girl beating her mom unconscious.

This episode is also ruthless and blunt, and doesn’t offer any intriguing criticism that other episodes have had. In all, I can personally say I preferred the British-inspired satirical tones of the first and second seasons, even though season three still offered new fresh ideas and criticisms. The fourth season was overall a disheartening approach to Black Mirror’s purpose and didn’t offer the consistency that I and many other viewers were looking for.