Sunday, October 23, 2016

TV Show Review: Black Mirror (Season 3)

Netflix produced the third season of this previously BBC sci-fi thriller of stand-alone episodes that range from horror to mystery to romance yet all provide cautionary tales on how we use technology today. The third season has some harsh depictions of social media hate, societal ranking by online activity, and even technological effects on warfare. None of this episodes are cheerful and all of them end on a haunting note that will leave viewers second-guessing their online interactions and the nature of our reality. This season fell right in line with what I've enjoyed so far about the short series and I found no episode lacking in mind-bending social commentary and sci-fi entertainment.

The first episode "Nosedive" follows Lacie (Bryce Dallas Howard) as she tries to increase her ranking in a society that judges each social interaction with a five-star rating. As Lacie takes a road trip to her old friend/bully's wedding she encounters different rankings and finds that the world isn't open to those who haven't had positive interactions their whole lives. The scenario is a definite possibility as individuals achieve fame and money from Instagram likes and a person's career can be destroyed from a single Twitter rant.

"Playtest" depicts the growing trend of augmented reality only accelerated to tap into the main character Cooper's (Wyatt Russell) greatest fears from his childhood bully to grotesque spiders. The brain works against him as personally trauma become a reality and time is relative to the person interacting with the technology. I found this blend of sci-fi and horror one of the most enjoyable to watch though the ending was strange and simplified.

"Shut Up and Dance" was the most disturbing and sickening of the episodes. A young man Kenny (Alex Lawther) has his computer hacked and with the fear of compromised information being released begins to obey anonymous text messages. He encounters Hector (Jerome Flynn) and is ordered to do awful deeds. The threat of being spied on by hackers and the revelation of our inner secrets will spark fear for many viewers and none of the characters are sympathetic.

"San Junipero" starts out a bit confusing as a young woman Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) travels to a strange city of eighties or nineties nostalgia and falls for Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Each one of these stories puts viewers in a new world so it takes a while to become acclimated but when the twist is revealed for this strange city it is both saddening and fascinating for the possibilities it implies.

"Men Against Fire" shows how technology could brainwash an entire army into thinking a group of humans is other. Humanity has not had a problem with this concept but in the future, this technology could be the awful nudge needed. Stripe (Malachi Kirby) suffers a trauma after his first kill in the field in a war against a type of humans that are considered roaches for their inferior bloodline. They are depicted as zombies or vampires that don't talk but only howl. The layer beneath this reality is terrifying.

The final episode "Hated in the Nation" follows a detective Karin Parke (Kelly Macdonald) as she uncovers an awful terrorist plot from a string of murders. The ruminations on environmental impact and the consequences of social media interaction definitely had me thinking about the issues of a hashtag and online hate.

Overall, this season lived up to the first two by leaving me both terrified of technology and excited for the possibilities of the future. Some of the twists were easier to figure out this year, but still mad fun to watch. Black Mirror is one of my favorite shows the why it pushes emotional issues and mixed horror and sci-fi and leaves viewers hanging with no resolutions and no definite message. Each episode takes several minutes to fully be encompassed in the world but by the end, I saw each setting as something that could easily exist in a few years and may already be in development now. Creator Charlie Brooker has tapped into some of societies greatest fears through their most ambitious dreams. 

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