Review, standouts, and discussion – Black Mirror Season 4

I’m not a big movie fan. In fact, there are maybe 10 movies I genuinely like and would be willing to re-watch, I myself am far more prone to comedy sitcoms. Then there are movies that gently and with time rather aggressively lead you to a soothing self-destruction of existential crises. Inception by extension, Matrix rather directly and then you have Black Mirror.

Who else was incredibly excited about season 4, knowing that it’ll be a bit of a mind marathon?  You know before you hit play on Netflix, that this episode (every episode) is going to fuck with you but you need to be in the know. Black mirror is the darkest of science fiction but the real horror camouflages in the very realism of it. We all see it. I’m sure you must have discussed the morbid influences of life-altering technology and the ever-intriguing reality of Artificial intelligence over lunch at some point in time.

Black mirror, a serious phenomenon which is reasonably summed up with the term ‘daunting’. Daunting in the fact that it opens you to the repercussions of technology for which you simply lacked the imagination to picture yourself. Daunting in that you dread it. Daunting in the realisation.

You always have this part of your pre-millennial old brain telling you that on some level, the amount of time you spend on your phone or indulging your vanity through selfies and insta can’t be good for you, on some mental level.  Simultaneously though, we shrug it off when it becomes the norm – you’ll buckle. You’ll be aware of the risks, but not enough to go sober.

Season 4 is about giving us a picture of what digital consciousness may look like, how it will be misused and trialed.

I won’t be summarising the episodes, nor will I be making a fully-fledged review. It’s simply bits and pieces that resonated, sometimes elaborated. Note – not all episodes are covered.

Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 1 – USS Calister

As always the show astonishes you by just how far you can commiserate the villain of the story and find his reasoning,  suffering, and actions – up to a point – understandable. We rather drastically change our tune regarding this innovative form of therapy when we realise that the crew characters are fully-conscious characters that are suffering while he actively relishes the pain he inflicts on them. He develops a taste; no longer revenge driven made him an unsympathetic character when he ‘recruited’ the innocent Nanette Cole.

This episode (as well as Hang the DJ) gives an enthusiastic nod to the simulated reality theory – always interesting.

Did you notice our impressions of Robert Daley went through a rollercoaster? A whopping  4 times in only an hour and 15.

The first clip of this guy rather cheesily directing his space crew into victory – he’s cool, capable and dependable (if rather corny).

We then find out what his real life looks like, the dichotomy emerges – we pity the guy. Heck, we get it. His co-workers are assholes. We can empathise.

He treats his crew like shit – humongous asshole.

He tortures and torments– a psychopathic sadist – which we finally settle on.Black Mirror Callister

Morales drawn:

Death isn’t the worst thing in the world. Far from it. It is the unceasing existence of oneself in a confined space while fully conscious. That’s hell. Death may very well be the relief of it (a rather nihilistic morale to draw, I know).

Living a dichotomy manifests itself in ways you can’t see. Technology can pull out the worst of it and grow it exponentially. It can be as simple as the common metaphor of wearing a mask when out in public which you take off once you close the front door behind you.

Black Mirror Season 4 episode 2 – Arkangel

What better name to give this technology than Arkangel?

Mothers will always invade their kid’s privacy. If your teenage self-hid that diary under your pillow, you best believe your mum’s fully updated on your personal life.

So here we see another personal conflict, the mum having had two early scares that left a deep mark, a fear of loss, leading her to reach out towards the unknown, the unsafe.

Habits form quickly.

As always, we’re well on our way to a similar future reality. What better reason to implant your kid and breach their privacy than for their safety? You can see that argument winning, can’t you?

Black Mirror Arkangel

Morales

Making mistakes, big and small ones alike are not only a luxury but a necessity for growing up (not that it is necessary to snort a line).

We already have apps that allow one to live track another via GPS, most commonly used, you guessed it, between a parent and child.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 3 – Crocodile

I know what you did last summer fused with some futuristic tech that looks retro.

Escalation is serious in this one. Like a murder bender.

Black Mirror Crocodile

Morale

‘Sin begets sin begets sin’ and I am not even religious.

Unless you know how to control your thoughts, don’t let them stick pins into your head.

Technology meant for good can be misused in the wrong hands – like everything else in the world.

Guinea Pigs are bloody adorable.

Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 4 – Hang the DJ

Ah, the modern Romeo and Juliet.

‘Everything happens for a reason’ how ironic – an answer given in religion now used to explain away the reasoning behind technology. Let’s not accept this as an answer, shall we?

Black Mirror Hang the DJ

The conclusion was shockingly wholesome for black mirror – it prioritises initiative and heart over a complex formula working through a tech system. BL always warns against future advancements but never quite this directly and PG-friendly.

The trial made it seem like it’s all about the destination, the outcome. Romance indeed. Dating is supposed to be fun, isn’t it? Or is it always about finding the one?

Morales:

There’s something to be said about chance in romance.

The continuous pursuit of practicality and time efficiency goes down this path. Enter tinder.

Frank is a huge bitch.  A year? I’d have stabbed myself with that fork. I mean what does it say about you being paired with someone like that? Do you question yourself or do you question the analysis i.e. the tech?

Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 6 – Black Museum

Horror-adjacent. What with all the torture and stuff.

Okay, who ever thought to put two personalities into one was a good idea? Like seriously.

Black Mirror Black Museum

Consciousness – even today we discuss immortality through the digitised consciousness. Here’s an exaggerated representation of one of the most potentially depressing possibilities.

A similar morale here as was the case in USS Calister – immortality in a confined space seems to be just about the worst thing. To get to a point where you yearn death – the worst case scenario – and see it as a form of mercy.

12 thoughts on “Review, standouts, and discussion – Black Mirror Season 4

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  1. Death as a form of mercy, very hopeless. Although I am not familiar with the show you were talking about, I’m probably too old… Your perspective is very interesting to me and I enjoy reading what you have to say. I look forward to your posts, they are refreshing and new to my way of life out here in the country submersed in nature.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    1. Ha it is a depressing view to pull out but in many ways it can make you somewhat less fearful of death if you’re suddenly presented with a worse alternative – so maybe not as pessimistic as it seems?

      You’re never too old, especially for Black Mirror – it is futuristic, sure, but it’s fascinating. If you have netflix I’d recommend it 🙂

      You are honestly too kind, thank you so much! It never ceases to surprise knowing that there is even one person out there who looks forward to something I post up. I’m flattered. I really do like indulging in your writing myself – a soothing kind of influence that I definitely need.

      Your naturalistic life makes me yearn a little of that myself (especially on Monday mornings) and I hope to read more! Btw riding sounds awesome.

  2. I loved this season. Crocodile was possibly my favourite. What scares you more about Black Mirror is not the technology, but the how the people change once it’s mainstream. And we can actually see that right now. How social media gave hate speech a whole new platform where people hide behind their screens and spew hatred towards other people they can’t see. This didn’t happen via emails before social media on such a massive scale. Although we don’t have a viral #DeathTo hashtag that I know of, the bees episode (I forgot the name) still resonates.

    1. Crocodile was great! I think my fav was probably USS Calister (also partial to the female lead – huge HIMYM fan). Couldn’t agree more, technology is just human progress in and of itself. Us humans, driven my emotions and questionable intentions are the ones to turn it into something more sinister and possibly destructive.

      Yeah, anonymity goes a long way. I am a huge proponent of free speech but I do hate the hypocrisy of saying things online you wouldn’t be caught dead saying in real life. It points to a huge character flaw and I guess social media knows how to nurture that darker side of us. Thanks for the great insight!

      1. You’re right. The hypocrisy in online anonymity is evident. On the other hand, this same anonymity helps many people open up about their issues online, which they cannot talk about aloud because of societal or family pressure. So there’s a puzzling question of ethics right there.
        Haha yes! Do you realize they gave us more happy endings this season than all other seasons combined – USS Callister, Black Museum and Hang the DJ.
        I have heard they are publishing a book of short stories soon. Can’t wait!

      2. Great point! There comes the good and the bad. When ethics become a bit of a battlefield, I rely on liberty. Sure, people become humongous assholes but they’re using their liberty the way they want. At the end of the day, I do think it affects their true self in a negative way while the person who reaches out for help on the same platform benefits – and it kind of falls into place. Those who do bad inadvertently get affected by these decisions they make.

        I did! I kept waiting for the horrendous plot twist – it was kind of nice! They know how to stay unpredictable.

        Did not know! I will absolutely devour that book.

      3. Well said. Have you read anything by Mill or Locke in general? Liberty is a tricky concept. You’re saying people’s Karma eventually gets them. I have given this a great deal of thought and research (Google) but I need some more reading because I still cannot form an opinion on it. If you think of people and their actions as an intricate network, one quiver in it would reverberate and potentially come back to the person who started it. This could be used by extremely highly majorly super computers to predict the future, by running all such possible scenarios.
        Although it’s a concept a lot of people find solace in, or some even fear, I find it hard to register. It’s like talking about God. Actually it’s exactly that 😁

      4. Oh, a philosophy enthusiast! That’s awesome, no I am still trying to get through ‘Plato – the last days of Socrates’. Locke and his libertarianism are a little further down the line for me at this point.

        Karma is definitely higher-power adjacent without a figurehead. Kind of like fate. I think more than just seeing it as factually true, it allows you to digest the unfair nature of society (I’ve written about this here: ttps://shatterthefourthwall.com/2017/09/20/is-this-what-growing-up-is/) – it’s a useful explanation to keep going day after day than sulking about innate injustice.

        Do you believe in free-will?

      5. I will check out your post related to Karma.
        When I think of the Free will vs Determinism debate, I automatically have enough reasonings for both views, making me more confused than ever. So far I think I believe in free-will, but even that is based on previous experiences and decisions, so that ultimately counts as Determinism!

      6. Haha yeah that debate is a bit of a vicious cycle. With age, I feel like I am treading into the murky waters of determinism too which kind of gives for a more mundane view of life – stoicism adjacent. But it’s all up for debate. Thanks for answering! Love your answers.

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