It’s finally here! Tonight, Black Mirror returns for its fourth season with six brand-new standalone episodes. After the excellence of season 3, there’s reason for some concern that the writing couldn’t possibly get any better. And while it’s true that the series may never top the brilliance of “San Junipero,” this new season certainly tries.
More often than not, the new season of Black Mirror delivers exactly what fans have come to expect from the edgy sci-fi anthology series. As is always the case, each episode is framed by near-future technology. But, at this point, is this series really about technology anymore? Each episode of the new season will probably create great conversations among more thoughtful viewers. Some may feel the show has become only a series of cautionary tales about technological invasions into our lives. Others might feel that technology is only the jumping off point for these types of stories. Either way, the latest season of Black Mirror proves one thing: it’s still the most relevant TV viewing for serious fans of science fiction.
Here’s a totally spoiler-free ranking of all six episodes. To be clear, they’re all solid, but if you’re pressed for time, we think the top three are the best, and the bottom three, solid, but not essential.
Easily the most by-the-numbers Black Mirror episode of the bunch, “Crocodile” won’t blow your mind as much if you’re already familiar with the series. But, it does posit perhaps the series most urgent question: why are we still consistently okay types of technology that is clearly bad for us? Still, if someone had never seen a Black Mirror episode before, this one wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
An ambitious story about helicopter parenting combined with those brain implants from another Black Mirror episode; “The Entire History of You.” Directed by Jodie Foster, this one might have a big emotional impact on you if you’re a parent. Then again, people who don’t have kids might have an easier time believing any of this could ever happen.
The tensest episode of Black Mirror perhaps ever. This one certainly evokes a feeling closer to the original “Twilight Zone” than perhaps any other. The story isn’t anything like the classic episode “Time Enough at Last,” in which someone appeared to be the last person on Earth. But if you squint, “Metalhead,” feels like Rod Serling’s ghost directed it.
3. “Black Museum”
Here’s another to answer the question “What is a good example of what Black Mirror is about?” Both macabre and with a glimmer of hope, this episode seems to split the difference between the grimmest aspects of the show and most enlightened. To be clear, some people will hate this episode, which is sort of the point of Black Mirror.
2. “USS Callister”
It’s not really a Star Trek parody. Like. At all. In fact, Star Trek fans might be made really uncomfortable by everything that happens. Which, is totally the point. But no matter what, as long as you don’t think too hard about how the tech works in this one, you’ll be enthralled.
1. “Hang the DJ”
The standout and best episode of the season. Watch it with someone you love, or at the very least, someone you like. If you watch it alone, that’s okay too. It’s romantic. It’s dark. It’s darkly romantic. And yeah, there’s an excellent twist at the end.
Black Mirror season 4 starts streaming all of its six new episodes tonight at 12:00 am eastern time on Netflix. Come back to Inverse at midnight to read our in-depth analysis of the standout episodes.