As momentum builds towards a brand new series of Charlie Brooker’s anthology sci-fi series Black Mirror, we pick out our top five episodes so far, starting with…
5. Nosedive (3×01)
The first instalment in the series since the show moved from Channel 4 to Netflix, “Nosedive” immediately showed us the lengths this series could now go to with the increased budget and the incredible pulling power of Netflix in terms to talent. The episode was a thought provoking and somewhat eye-opening tale that scarily depicts a world where our lives are controlled by our social media popularity. It’s very easy to draw comparisons with Instagram and Twitter or even Youtube where many make a living based off of their online presence. Bryce Dallas Howard shines as the popularity chasing but ultimately good natured Lacie who desperately tries to improve her “rating” so you can attend the wedding of her self-absorbed, childhood friend Naomie (Alice Eve). Cherry Jones also makes an interesting appearance as a trucker who doesn’t buy into what society is offering, opting for a seldom life on the open road.
4. Men Against Fire (3×05)
Another episode from the third season, set in a dystopian world tells the story of Stripe (Malachi Kirby), a soldier who hunts mutants known as “roaches”. Except unbeknownst to him and his unit, they are in fact killing humans deemed unworthy. This harrowing episode brings into question the nature of war and who the real enemy actually is. Our protagonist is unknowingly cleansing society and it makes you wonder what propaganda others have unwittingly bought into in real life. Can we really trust the powers that be? Do our servicemen and women really know their enemies? Is war as black and white as our leaders would like to make out?
3. The Entire History of You (1×03)
The earliest episode on this list and probably one that remains the most fresh in my memory despite airing back in 2011 starring Jodie Whittaker and Toby Kebbell. In “Entire History of You” the human race all have the ability to playback everything they see, hear and do via a piece of technology called a “Grain”. The episode follows the story of Liam (Toby Kebbell) who suspects his wife Ffion (Jodie Whittaker) is having an affair. The most interesting thing about this episode is the sci-fi technological element of this episode isn’t crucial to the story. In fact, it’s more a tale of mistrust and jealousy and how some people are pathologically predetermined to ruin the good things in their life because their own insecurities.
2. Be Right Back (2×01)
Before she Peggy Carter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Haley Atwell (previously best known for Brideshead Revisited) starred in this incredibly spooky yet touching episode alongside Domhnall Gleeson. The episode explores grief and how far a loved one would go to be reunited with a deceased lover and the possibility of whether technology can help in the aftermath of a traumatic bereavement. Both Atwell and Gleeson are fantastic in roles that may have contributed to their rise in Hollywood with Gleeson going onto to work on Ex Machina, Our Time and The Revenant. The episode got a great reception by audiences and critics alike.
1. San Junipero (3×04)
Is anyone surprised this episode is at the top of our list, only a few months after it walked away with a whole host of awards including a BAFTA and an Emmy? “San Junipero” was an absolute masterclass in filmmaking with beauty, gravitas and passion in abundance with two incredible performances from Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw at the front and centre. Not only that but the episode is set against the most gorgeous backdrop, which happens to have been filmed in Cape Town not California, with a toe tapping soundtrack that was whirling around my head for weeks. This story touched queer hearts across the globe as it gave the floor to a truly beautiful love story that could’ve moved the ice queen herself. Interestingly this episode is directed by Owen Harris who also oversaw “Be Right Back” which suggests direction is incredibly important to whether these episodes work on screen or not (as Charlie Brooker writes almost every episode), sadly he won’t be back for more in Season 4 but I’m crossing my fingers for a return in Season 5. It’s the one episode I’ve gone back to again and again as well as buying a wonderful piece of art inspired by the episode which proudly sits framed on my desk. And did I mention the soundtrack – it kicks ass!