‘Black Mirror’ Makes a Haunting Return

Joshua Perry, News Editor

Why does dystopia feel so far into the future? Maybe it’s nearly here.

At least, that’s what Charlie Brooker’s bleak drama “Black Mirror” proposes.

For those unfamiliar with the series, “Black Mirror” is a dark anthology of science fiction: it explores what happens when the limits of technological power exceed the limits of human responsibility to control it. The results are harrowing, to say the least.

The striking impression the series gives is the plausibility of these fictional disasters. The title refers to the darkened monitor on any of the many devices which modern society relies so heavily upon. It isn’t hard to imagine this reliance could increase, and bring society downhill.

The fourth season was released on Netflix on Dec. 29, sparking the attention of its devoted fan base. If you haven’t seen it, you should; it’s a good place to start, since each episode is its own individual drama. And this latest addition is just as good, if not better than its predecessors.

There are six episodes total. Each one sticks with the easily-recognizable techno-paranoia theme that “Black Mirror” is so famous for, but with different moods, settings, and emotions.

For example, the first episode, “USS Callister,” is about a “Star Trek”-like simulation created by a programming genius for his enjoyment and the torment of genetic copies of his co-workers. The episode is dark, but it manages some sincere humor, which is rare in the series.

Cristin Milioti’s character, who is responsible for most of the laughs, shines the most in the episode. However, Jesse Plemons, who plays the sadistic programmer, does very well, evoking pity from the audience at first and then going all-out assuming the role of the villain.

In the end, the episode has an uncharacteristically happy ending, although it still leaves the audience with “Black Mirror’s” trademark uneasiness.

Episode two switches gears completely. “Arkangel,” directed by Jodie Foster, brings the audience into a parent’s daydream. An implant designed to monitor every aspect of a child’s condition—location, health, stress levels, even what they see—is put into a single mother’s only daughter, with incredible repercussions.

The mother, played by Rosemarie DeWitt, lives the dream of every helicopter parent: complete knowledge and protection of her child’s life. But when excessive sheltering and the Big Mother household drives the two apart, a shocking conclusion is reached.

“Arkangel” is a classic “Black Mirror” episode. It’s a wonderfully-crafted cautionary tale, and despite its somber story, the detailed, engaging plot is definitely appreciable.

The rest of the episodes also have notable qualities, but none stood out as much as the first two. “Hang the DJ” presents an intriguing take on dating apps, and “Metalhead” shows a barren landscape controlled by merciless robots. “Crocodile” is about a future where one’s memories can become available to authorities. “Black Museum” is a longer, three-part story with a depressing atmosphere, but it has a twist ending.

All of them are worth watching, but it would be difficult to do it all at once. Each one is a tough pill to swallow, but they are definitely worth it.