I’ve previously reviewed all the episodes of the show (save for Banderdash Choose Your Own Adventure episode, which I should rewatch at some point I think) here:
But there has now been 27 total episodes of the show which feels like the right number to do a Top 5 episode breakdown, right?
Season 1 Episode 3 – The Entire History of You
This was the reason I fell in love with this show. The core idea of being able to record your life is both so simple and so ripe with possibilities that I’m somewhat paralyzed by the very idea of it. Like so many Black Mirror episodes we are led down a destructive path where the search for the truth gets in the way of being happy with your current life. While we all believe we would like to live in a world where every secret could be revealed to us, I’m not sure we could ever be prepared for the quiet truths. The truths that are spoken about us when we are not around. I think about the handful of times in my own life where I got a peek at a private moment where someone spoke their truth about me. You’d like to believe it will always be good things, but sometimes their version of reality can make you reassess your own version… and not always for the best.
Perhaps sometimes ignorance is truly bliss?
Season 2 Episode 1 – Be Right Back
I read an article the other day that this very idea is now being used via an app. That we could recreate a loved one through all the various writings, postings, videos, and basically anything where there might be a digital version of you. Something built out of a empathetic need to help people grieve doesn’t seem like it would be bad. But I can only wonder how hanging on to those who have passed in this way could never be mentally or emotionally healthy over the long term. Part of the process is the letting go portion, but it would be too easy, too convinent to just keep talking with them. Convincing yourself that this is them, when all it really could be was a empty doppleganger.
Season 3 Episode 4 – San Junipero
Sometimes Black Mirror shows us the positive side of technology. I mean, it can’t always be bad, right? Here it’s the idea of living forever in a virtual world with the people you love. Like many advances in tech over the years, allowing the elderly or disabled have a somewhat normal life, this one literally can not only do this while they are living out the last few years of their lives… but it also can be a permanent place for their minds to live on after their fleshly bodies are gone. Is that something you might want? And if the answer right now is no, what happens when you realize the end is much closer than your beginning? Who could fault someone for chosing to start fresh? And who’s to say that if your mind can survive in such a way, that your soul might join it in this new afterlife?
Season 4 Episode 1 – USS Callister
On Star Trek they have a Holo Deck which allows the crew to have some recreation time while onboard the ship. It creates environments as real as anything they can imagine. And pretty much any episode which ever featured the Holo Deck ended up having something go wrong (or at least all the ones I can remember). So it is very fitting that we have a homage to Star Trek where the Holo Deck in question is basically a recreation of a starship. However, in this version of things, it isn’t the holograms who are the problem, but the one who programmed it in the first place. And in this particular episode, the all-powerful creator allows that very same power to lead him down some very dark paths.
Season 4 Episode 4 – Hang the DJ
I’ve written a book about Soulmates (currently editing it), so the idea of having a program decide not only who your lifelong partner will be, but also how long your other relationships might last… feels very much on point. Again, we have to ask ourselves what truths do we want to know. Is it better to fall in love with the hope the person is our ONE? Or would you rather know you will be with a person for a couple of years before it winds down? For many people, I could see not wanting to bother with the shorter relationships because we want to have that fairy-tale relationship. But without those other entanglements to help us grow as people, how will we get to the place we need to be for our ONE?
Season 6 Episode 5 – Demon 79
One that is less about technology advancements and more about the lengths someone would go to in order to save all of those around her. This one played with ideas on both delusion, trust, and again… the truth of the matter. So many times we find ourselves going down a path because it feels like the only path laid out in front of us. Too many times we lament not being able to make changes to our lives. Here, in this story, Nida has this horrible task thrust upon her. Does she change? Can she change in order to save the world? How much of your soul would you make forfeit? Is there a limit you might go?
And what if it was all in your head?
Black Mirror does a great job of not only asking very open-ended quesitons, but it also manages to show you a version of events where whatever the technology might be, it could lead you down the wrong path. And I think this is important. With everything we create we should still ask ourselves what did we mean for it to be used for and what negative things might it be used for. The show doesn’t say don’t advance… it just wants us to look before we leap.
John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.
Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.
He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com