Mirror Mirror: Breaking Down Season 4 of 'Black Mirror'

Mirror Mirror: Breaking Down Season 4 of 'Black Mirror'

The ominous show returns with a new twist.

The ominous show returns with a new twist.

Text: Maxwell N. Burnstein

Entering the dark and dystopian world of Black Mirror is a cultural crux that has currently transfixed millions who feast on the Netflix show’s mash-up of technology and harsh realism. For the hit show’s fourth season, creator Charlie Brooker created his most polarizing season yet bringing in some much-needed light in his seemingly dark world.

Opening the season, with satire felt staged to coax those a decade older into a space age feature-length with the “USS Callister”. A dark ode to Star Trek sees a tech-entrepreneur adapt AI into a personal galaxy where those who wronged him fulfill his space-fleet fantasies. The space-jump is this season’s addition of dark humor like “Nosedive” (Season Three) and “The Waldo Movement” (Seasons Two), leaving audiences divided on the appropriated sci-fi.

“Crocodile” plays to the recurring theme of becoming destabilized when memories are made accessible. First introduced in “The Entire History of You” (Season One), the repurposed technology from “White Christmas” (Season Two) solves a crimewave started with an unintended murder and may be the season’s most forgettable episode.

“Metalhead” is the post-apocalyptic future that breaks the timeline and would have set a better tone as the sixth and final episode. The black and white dystopian society set in Black Mirror’s native England sees a strong female lead played by Maxine Peake fight to survive against human-killing drones. Director, David Slade—known for his work in the film Hard Candy—breaks from the series singular film style for a 38-minute high-art orchestra backed thriller.

Jodie Foster brought the anticipation as director of “Arkangel”, the fourth season’s standout contribution. The darkest addition is stripped of the series affinity for luxury in a hometown setting that’s disposition as lower class  seems all to familiar. A single mother’s helicopter parenting places her child in a beta-program that monitors her activities, not unlike the cookies from “White Christmas”. Continually adjusting her growing daughter’s setting, the mother and daughter eventually reach a destructive crossroad in one of Black Mirror’s most emotionally charged endings.

The season finale episode, “Black Museum” examines how men use AI technology to act out their darkest fantasies, treating the people around them as mere objects. In a sudden shift, the episode ends with a plot twist involving revenge—a daughter who ultimately wreaks havoc on a scientist who tortured her father for decades.

In entering the New Year, Black Mirror seems more like a reflection of society than a disillusioned reality as we see our reflection on screens, hear our loved ones over smart phones and define ourselves on social media.

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