What Did You Think of the 3 New Episodes of Black Mirror?

That’s right, there are only 3 episodes of Black Mirror in the new season. But I’d rather have 3 than 0. My thoughts on each (with spoilers) are below.

Striking Vipers: While this episode made me the most uncomfortable, I also thought it was the most interesting and thought provoking. It takes place in the near future when virtual reality has developed to the point that it syncs to your entire body. This allows you, for example, to feel pain while playing a video game…and pleasure.

The result is that it’s possible for your avatar in the game to have sexual encounters with other avatars controlled by pretty much anyone. But should you? How much does the person behind the other avatar matter? If you’re already committed to someone, is it cheating on the same level as having intercourse with your actual body?

Smithereens: I must admit that I’m not sure this episode was time well spent. It’s essentially a 1-hour warning about social media addiction. While I think that’s an important message, my favorite episodes of Black Mirror are those where the element of technology pervades the entire episode, showing us a version of the near future that we may or may not want. This episode felt like a hostage episode of any crime show (well filmed and acted, but just not Black Mirror).

Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too: This episode touches on a few interesting elements. The first is how a girl befriends an Amazon-Echo like device. The second is the the possibilities that could emerge if technology can capture and save your entire brain function. And the third is another brain-scanning technology that extracts songs from a sleeping pop star’s brain. I love the idea of any technology that interacts with and learns from your dreams.

Have you watched this season of Black Mirror? What are your thoughts on your favorite episode (or any of them)?

3 Responses to “What Did You Think of the 3 New Episodes of Black Mirror?”

  1. We watched both Striking Viper and Smithereens tonight, and we will likely watch the last episode tomorrow. I felt similarly about the two episodes. Striking Viper was definitely one I was glad I didn’t immediately watch with my parents (like we normally do) but it raised some interesting questions. I found it interesting in that while the physical aspect may not be completely up to par, digital relationships and where the line is drawn between friendships and cheating is something I’ve seen people in real life struggle with. I wonder if their perceptions would change with the addition of physical sensation. It’s an interesting concept definitely. Still vaguely uncomfortable to watch, but thought provoking.

    Likewise, I wasn’t as crazy about the second episode. I think the concept of just having another person listen to you is something many people feel they are lacking. The concept could be very easy for some people to connect to. That being said, I think the social media addiction was less subtle and haunting than it has been portrayed in other episodes. While I felt bad for the main character, I did not connect with this episode in the same way I have with others.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mackenzie. I agree about the grey zone created by digital relationships and how it could get even weirder in the future!

  2. Blue Meeple says:

    Good point about having 3 episodes rather than 0. I did enjoy binge watching them. I don’t want to say disappointing, but certainly they were not the high standard I was expecting from Charlie Brooker. I didn’t feel they had the edge, depth or darkness that some of his previous works had. The endings certainly were not so dark (thinking of Bandersnatch – regardless of which path you took!). Not that I consider darkness a particular positive in his work, in fact I always found his dark and gloomy endings too much. I could accept a positive change in tone, but these episodes lacked challenge and complexity of his previous works.
    Your comment on Smithereens is pretty spot on, I’d extend that to the whole series, “just not Black mirror”. The ideas were good, but much more work could have been done on them.
    There is some nuance to Striking Vipers episode, while questioning the boundaries and ethics of online / virtual relationships, also touching on boredom of day to day life. But maybe it spreads itself too thin. It left so many interesting potentials unexplored. Although the ending was something I wanted to see people get in real life, it didn’t deliver a good drama.
    The one episode that haunts me more than any other to this day remains Metalhead.

    (On a separate note, I am new-ish to your blog. I hope commenting using an alias is ok!)

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