A new season of Black Mirror has arrived – which means another round of sweet, life-affirming stories about the simple pleasures of being a human.
We kid, of course. Charlie Brooker’s critically acclaimed anthology series is known for being a little…different to that.
His dark vision of the near-future has put forward plenty of memorable moments so far, from a Prime Minister fornicating a pig (in the very first episode) to a Choose Your Own Adventure style interactive feature (last year’s Bandersnatch).
The fifth season, which is now on Netflix, is only three episodes – so you can smash through them quickly. Here’s a brief, spoiler-free look at what to expect from each of these eps.
Season five’s first episode is themed around virtual reality. Striking Vipers tells the story of two old college friends who discover a mutual same-sex attraction, but only when they are in the virtual realm.
According to The Guardian’s review, “mind-blowing online sex between them ensues and suddenly every boundary is porous: real and online life; fidelity and infidelity; heterosexuality and homosexuality; and lust, love and friendship.”
According to BBC critic Hugh Montgomery, this episode “hits Black Mirror’s absolute sweet spot, being both technologically plausible and richly philosophical.”
The second episode explores a common theme in the Black Mirror universe: about how technology shapes society. Collider’s review describes the plot of Smithereens as follows:
“Scott stars as Chris, a devasted young man who is hung up on the evils of social media’s influence and accidentally ignites an international crisis when he kidnaps an employee from a Titan tech company called Smithereen.
“Dead set on speaking with Smithereen CEO Billy Bauer, Chris accidentally mistakes a well-meaning intern (Damson Idris) for a company higher-up and demands that he get the big-wig on the phone tout suite. In classic Black Mirror fashion, nothing goes well, the tension mounts, and it all culminates in an emotional gut-punch.”
Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too
The third and final episode of season five was described as the “Miley Cyrus episode” in this review published on CNet. Here’s their breakdown of the plot:
“We follow three characters: teenage sisters Rachel and Jack, and Ashley O, a pop star whose new merch is a companion robot called Ashley Too. That’s where fandom is at in the near future.
Ashley’s diary reveals in big angry scrawl that she’s “pissed off” about the direction her management is taking her career. Little does she know that pissing them off is not a good idea.
Meanwhile, the sisters chat and interact with Ashley Too, the aforementioned companion robot made in Ashley’s image. They’re motherless and friendless and ripe for having a role model in their lives. A teen idol in every sense of the word whose AI is the squeaky clean version of the real Ashley.”