So I only recently realised I’d never actually finished watching season 3, missing out on episode 6, well I watched it and can now make my definitive ranking. This was the first season that was more widely available to audiences worldwide as it aired on Netflix exclusively as opposed to Channel 4 like previous seasons.
Hated In The Nation (episode 6)
One of the more recent episodes I’ve seen and at feature length (being just shy of 90 minutes long), this episode feels like… a feature length film and less like a Black Mirror episode but it still contains the series dark sensibilities and cold social commentary. Featuring swams of autonomous bees that are used to attack and essentially kill people that get targeted through a viral hash tag on social media, the allegory is on the nose and obvious, the bees representing the swarms of people attacking individuals for perceived bad actions/behaviour.
The commentary is all the more biting because this happens right now, not to the extent of people being killed by robotic bees but you get the point, people have been hounded to death online and online bullying is a real thing, it’s a dark and sickening side to the internet but a side that we all know exists. Themes aside, the way the episode is shot, the pacing and the acting is all on point as well, resulting in a very high quality end product and the best episode of the season.
Playtest (episode 2)
Playtest feels like an episode right out of The Twilight Zone, an intriguing premise, twists and turns galore and an unwravelling plot that has you pretty much hooked from the offset. The acting is quite good in the episode as well and helps to make some of the more horror like scenes work, it’s a more psychological horror than a thriller in fact and there are some pretty genuinely unsettling moments. There’s also an interesting commentary on new technology, playing into our fears about the unknown when it comes to new technology and things that could go horribly wrong, not to mention the pretty harrowing and gut punch of a twist, episodes like this are what have the series so memorable.
Shut up and dance (episode 3)
One of the darkest episode in the whole series and another on the nose commentary of social medias dark side, this episode feels very poignant as we follow an individual who is harassed and forced to undertake crazy tasks to avoid his dark secret being exposed to the world, all for the enjoyment of people online despite him going through a living hell. You’re left after watching the episode wondering what the point of all it was, ruining someones life just because you can just for your own twisted entertainment? It seems completely sadistic and cruel but hey, trolls actually exist… again this feels all too real and helped with the emotional impact of the story.
Nosedive (episode 1)
Bryce Dallas Howard stars as the main character in this story just 5 minutes from now in a twisted alternate reality that sees everyones lives being rated, lower rated people are shunned out of society and frowned upon while the higher rated people live their best lives, it’s a twisted, warped version of reality but perception really can be real. And with social media, this concept of rating each others lives again feels very modern and not too far off in the future, though it’s taken to the extreme. I like the central message presented as well as I take it, that it’s okay to live how you want to and not feel like you need to conform to societal expectations, presenting a fake, superficial facade of yourself just to please others, I mean life’s too short for that anyway!
Men Against Fire (episode 5)
A weird sort of dystopian VR nightmare, this episodes story didn’t quite grab me despite an interesting looking premise, the acting is okay as well but the plot just felt a bit samey and I could sort of see where they were going with the twist/reveal which didn’t have too much of an impact.
San Junipero (episode 4)
This just might be the episode from season 3 I’ve seen mentioned the most on social media and in positive terms but it didn’t really do anything for me, in part because I’ve seen plots like this before in different forms and it wasn’t anything new, though despite that I appreciate that at the heart of the story is a touching, somewhat bittersweet love story.