It has been four years since the last Black Mirror season and fans of this anthology series has been waiting patiently for more episodes to savor. Unlike the half-cooked season 5 which only offered 3 episodes, this season has a decent selection of 5 new stories to tell. However, the bad news is that this is probably the most un-Black Mirror-ish season of all, with more misses than hits. The first thing that you will probably notice is that much of the stories this time takes place in the past rather than in the future. This is a surprise because Black Mirror has always based its stories exploring some sort of unexpected consequences of living in a hi-tech future. This deviation meant that some of the stories’ themes have strayed away from the link with technology but instead comes across more like tales of horror more akin to anthology series like The Twilight Zone or American Horror Stories.
The season has a mix bag to offer and the good news is that it is not all bad. I would provide a micro review of each episode here to give a better picture of what to expect:
Episode 1: Joan Is Awful ⭐⭐⭐
When this episode starts off, it felt a bit like a bad joke. However, as the plot develops we begin to appreciate the concept better which cumulated in an exciting way at the end. This is probably the episode that was most in keeping with the Black Mirror spirit as it highlights a twisted but not necessarily totally impossible way in which current technology could be used. The acting kept things fun especially with a guest appearance by Salma Hayek parodying as herself.
Episode 2: Loch Henry ⭐⭐
In contrast this episode was the least Black Mirror episode of the lot as it is devoid of any reference to technology, apart from the role that VHS tapes played in the outcome. It takes place in the 1990’s and is predominantly a thriller in the horror genre. A young couple working on a documentary involving missing persons in a remote Scottish town finds more than what they were looking for. I felt its ending dragged on a bit too long after the main story had concluded. I had expected some sort of further twist to the plot but there was no payback.
Episode 3: Beyond the Sea ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
Definitely the best of the lot. Although this takes place in the 1960’s it is in an alternative world where advanced technology allows astronauts to keep in touch with their families on earth through robot replicas of themselves. There may be lots of unexplained potholes in the story but its main strength lies in the human relationship and how this was delivered through the strong performances of its 3 main characters. Aaron Paul’s performance here was exceptional and it was the highlight of the episode and season. It elevated the episode to something special and will keep you thinking about it long after it finishes.
Episode 4: Mazey Day ⭐⭐ 1/2
Another episode that felt out of place in a Black Mirror series. A bunch of paparazzi photographers hunts down an elusive super starlet who had gone unusually rogue. Naturally, they got more than what they bargained for with a monstrous tale to expose. Once again there was no obvious link to technology here. It is a fun watch but will probably fit better in a series like Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities than here.
Episode 5 – Demon 79 ⭐⭐⭐
It is 1979 and this one is played like an old fashioned style horror movie with its retro style opening credits. Again, there is no clear link to how technology is playing a part in the tale, and starts off like a comedy. However, this episode won me over because of the performances of its two main protagonists: Nida, an Indian immigrant shoe salesperson and the demon Gaap whom she accidentally summoned. Anjana Vasan and Pappa Essiedu were a delight to watch and complimented each other very well, delivering the dark humor to perfection. Pappa in particular had great comic sense and this translated through not only the dialouge but also through his body language.
Black Mirror Season 6 had merely touched the essence of what the series used to be and left me feeling shortchanged. I am grateful for the new episodes which were all well made and a fun watch but its deviation from the spirit of the series left me wanting for more. Dare we hope for a Season 7 soon?