A new episode of Black Mirror – Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – has just landed on Netflix. But wait, you’ve still not caught up on all of the previous episodes and you don’t know which ones to watch first!
No sweat, Chet, I’ve got your back.
Below is a list of the TEN best episodes of Black Mirror (so far)*. Read, digest and seek them out on Netflix.
What are the best episodes of Black Mirror?
Be Right Back
As with most episodes of Black Mirror, the concept behind this episode is pretty straight forward: A man dies in a traffic accident, so his girlfriend uses technology to create a simulation, effectively bringing him back to life. The problem is, over time the girlfriend realises the simulation can never be her real boyfriend, so what does she do with this new replicant?
The premise of Be Right Back allows for an ethical debate on what constitutes real life, whilst looking at grief and loss. It poses questions about humanity’s relationship with technology, especially in light of recent technological advances such as Amazon’s Alexa.
Hated in the Nation
Hated in the Nation casts its gaze on social media, hashtags and our relationship with the internet – or rather, our relationship with the darker side of the internet. This feature-length episode concentrates on a series of murders – all connected to a specific hashtag – and how we are increasingly blurring the lines between real life and what we see online.
The National Anthem
The National Anthem was the first episode of Black Mirror to air and as such, it is probably the most famous of them all. Why? Because the episode involves the Prime Minister, a pig and a story about the power of the internet in modern day life.
In this tale, Princess Susannah, a member of the British royal family is kidnapped. The kidnapper has one demand: The Prime Minister must have sexual intercourse with a pig on live TV, otherwise the Princess will be killed. What transpires is a shocking and thought-provoking tale which highlights our obsession with the media.
Using the 1980s as a backdrop, San Junipero is a beautifully crafted piece of television which centres around two young girls: Kelly and Yorkie. The two girls meet at a club and engage in a relationship which becomes so much more than their initial encounter suggests.
To explain this episode’s connection to technology would take something away from what is a great story. The setting, the music and the characters are all spot-on, making this a must watch episode.
Maxine Peake takes the lead role in Metalhead – a bleak story shot in black and white, which is low on budget but high on tension. The premise is again very simple: A woman must survive in the countryside, whilst being chased by killer robot dogs.
The great thing about Metalhead is the simplicity of the story and the way in which it leaves you wanting more. Many of Black Mirror’s episodes could be pilots for television shows, Metalhead is no exception.
In White Bear, a woman wakes up in a house she’s not familiar with. As time passes and she searches her surroundings, the woman begins to notice the hostility of those around her – including those who are using their phones to record her frustration.
There’s a twist in the tale and again I won’t spoil it, all I will say is White Bear is a strong episode which makes you question reality.
The Entire History of You
Toby Kebbell and Jodie Whittaker are the stars of this story – a tale which concerns ‘grains’, or implants if you will, that give people the opportunity to relive past memories. Not snapshots, but full-on, high definition, rewindable memories that play out like video footage.
Again, this episode asks questions…
What would you do if you could replay a private memory from years gone by?
What would you do if you knew other people could replay memories that are better best forgotten?
The Entire History of You is the only episode of Black Mirror not written (or co-written) by Charlie Brooker and demonstrates that the series can be continued or developed further, should Brooker decide he ever wants to step away from the show.
Shut Up and Dance
Shut Up and Dance is one of those stories that offers up a little more than you bargained for and once again from such a simple premise. Online hackers capture a video of a young man enjoying ‘alone’ time. The hackers threaten to release the footage unless he agrees to do what they say.
Throughout the course of the episode, the man – played by Alex Lawther – learns that he’s not the only one being blackmailed, while the audience learns that there’s more to this story than we are aware of.
The beauty of Black Museum is that this episode – the final episode in the fourth season – is composed of three different tales, all told by one very intriguing museum curator. Not only is it a great episode, with three great tales, but it also suggests that all the past episodes are in some way linked.
And finally, USS Callister – a fantastic episode of Black Mirror which delves into the world of gaming, by way of a Star Trek riff. USS Callister is part action adventure and part dark sci-fi, with a healthy dose of the Shatner/Kirk ego thrown in for good measure.
The story sees a techno geek recreate his favourite TV show – Space Fleet – by way of a computer game that only he has access to. As the creator and ruler of the game, the man doles out punishments and rewards as he sees fit, playing out a fantasy life in cyberspace.
USS Callister is the biggest and arguably the best episode of Black Mirror to date. The episode slots into the Black Mirror world perfectly, but could easily be a pilot for a new TV series or even a self-contained movie.
*A version of this post first appeared on the Honcho-SFX blog.