It’s only six episodes, and I am already finished with all of them. Lord only knows how much longer it’s going to be until there’s another season, and even still, new episodes are going to have to be written and filmed and edited and this is maybe one of the only flaws with entire seasons being dropped on Netflix, when you get engrossed in something and blow through it in just a few sittings, you’re left feeling empty and unsatisfied at the prospect of there being no more on the horizon.
Anyway, I was super excited when I heard that Black Mirror was coming back for a fourth season, so I gave it the excitement treatment: avoiding absolutely anything and everything about it until the date it released, so that I could be completely blind and have zero preconceived notions going into it. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any way to possibly enjoy things any more than doing that, because just about everything gives way too much information away.
In short, I enjoyed season 4. The show invariably had the challenge of producing fresh content despite being four seasons in, and I think the challenge proved to be such at times, but overall by the time I had gone through all six episodes, I was left with a feeling that I was sad that there was no more, and wishing that there will be more in the future, sooner rather than later.
I do think the season started off with a bang, with USS Callister, an absolute marvel of an episode that was a spectacular blend of a good story, excellent acting and really stellar visuals, with the definite homage to old episodes of Star Trek. Contrary to the start of the entire series where there’s a fairly unanimous agreement that The National Anthem was a terrible way to start the series, season 4 definitely hits the nail on the head by starting out with their best episode first.
This isn’t to say that the rest of them are bad by any stretch of the imagination; but I don’t think I’d be able to say with conviction that any of them were better than USS Callister. Personally, I think the fourth episode, Kill the DJ is a very strong second, and almost a #1B when it comes to ranking the episodes of the season. I’d say it was the most thought-provoking episode of the season that I feel like most people watching should probably be able to relate to in some capacity, and I was left feeling pretty good after watching it.
The fifth episode, Metalhead does an excellent job of invoking anxiety and tension, and I admit to cringing in my own seat at the suspense that they’re able to generate within its plot. This is a definite #3 when it comes to where it stands in the season, but probably not on the level of many of the overall series’ previous episodes.
I would say episodes two and three, Arkangel and Crocodile respectively weren’t necessarily bad in their own right, but they weren’t on my personal bar for the series. They still manage to invoke that Black Mirror-nihilism about technology, but I think there are holes in the plots and a lack of believability with some of the characters’ actions that made them feel a little bit weaker. If I had to rank them, they would probably be Arkangel at #4 and Crocodile at #6, although they’re still very much watchable and enjoyable in their own right.
The final episode of the season, Black Museum, was one that was a little bit of a love letter to the series as a whole, but was certainly no White Christmas, as far as executing as an anthology within the anthology it tried to do. I don’t necessarily think the ideas were as original as some of the other ideas utilized in the rest of the series, and it would be while watching this one might it feel like the well is starting to show glimpses of drying out for the time being. It still captures that Black Mirror irony, and there are a lot of references that fans of the show will get enjoyment out of, but as far as being how the show leaves us to wait for more, it was exactly where I would rate it among the six: #5.
It might be noticed that I’ve given away no real plot points to anything, in an attempt to remain as vague and spoiler-free as possible. I will say however, the one thing that anyone who decides to watch this show because that I said it’s worth watching is that it might not be a bad idea to watch prior seasons of the show before embarking on season 4. It’s true that every episode is a stand-alone story that doesn’t require watching the show in any particular order, but in an attempt to really excite enthusiastic regulars, the show does make a lot of references from prior episodes, and it could lead to enhanced enjoyment if you have a better understanding of all the stuff that occurred prior to season 4.
Overall, season 4 of Black Mirror was another win, and I am happy that there was more, and am sad that I’ve watched it all and have to wait until more Black Mirror comes out in the unknown future. It’s still some of the strongest writing out there, and I feel that their propensity to cast actors that aren’t necessarily household names leads to uncovering some really good talent out there that really knock the ball out of the park in their performances, leading to a spectacular package of episodes that is magnificent at being able to incite emotional responses.