The episodes of Black Mirror season 4 are more connected than you might think.
Black Mirror has always been an anthology series, so there’s usually no significant connection between each season, or even each episode within a season. The series is a collection of unrelated episodes that examine the potential consequences of emerging technologies, with each episode looking at the world through an entirely new lens.
Warning: This article contains spoilers from the episodes of Black Mirror season 4
While that’s still the case in Black Mirror seaon 4, for the first time, I noticed a larger theme that seemed to be touched on in every episode. Beyond the obvious recurring theme of the caution required when approaching new, unknown technological advancements, every episode seemed to come back to one question.
What would you do for love?
This theme wasn’t evident immediately in Black Mirror season 4, but it became increasingly apparent as I made my way through the season.
My first clue came after watching “Crocodile,” the heavy slog through one woman’s struggle to get away from the mistakes of her past. The episode was beautifully shot, featured some gorgeous Icelandic scenery, and highlighted a really cool memory-capturing technology, but ultimately left me feeling miserable without proper justification.
While some Black Mirror episodes in previous seasons have been just as dark, there always seemed to be a deeper meaning or take-away message that warranted the weight. At the end of “Crocodile” the only thing I took away was to not murder people, which I was already pretty sold on, prior to watching the episode.
Things considerably lightened up as I moved onto “Hang the DJ,” and while the series returned to a darker tone with “Metalhead,” that’s where the deeper theme of the season really dawned on me. As the hopelessness of the heroine’s plight set in, and the cause of the expedition was revealed, it became abundantly clear.
Every episode of Black Mirror season 4 explores new technology while simultaneously exploring the great lengths that people would go to for love.
“Metalhead” may have made you think that they were searching for an important medication for someone, but in reality, they risked death to deliver a small dose of happiness to a child, in the form of a teddy bear. In a world where nothing but fear remained, that love was enough to make the characters go to insane lengths.
Taking it back to “Crocodile,” when the main character was forced to make a decision between being exposed and committing murder to remain safe, it wasn’t her conscience or her fear of conviction that compelled her to act. It was the thought of her husband and son that drove her to ridiculous measures. In the end, she still made it to her son’s recital. Love had driven her the entire time.
The theme was a little more obvious in “Hang the DJ.” The characters of that world literally gave up their lives and freedom in the hope of finding “the one.” In the end, their love was the reason for everything. It was also very evident in “Arkangel,” where a mother loved her daughter so much that she went to extreme lengths to protect her.
The “what would you do for love?” theme took on a different form in “USS Callister.” Robert Daly couldn’t achieve the sense of love and respect that he required, and felt that he deserved, in the real world, so he took it in the form of domination and forced admiration in his virtual world.
Black Mirror season 4 ended with “Black Museum,” which actually supports the theory that the episodes of this season are connected.
First of all, the theme can very clearly be seen in multiple forms throughout the episode. One example being the story of Kerry. Her partner loved her so much that he agreed to share his consciousness. Then, Kerry loved her child so much that she resigned herself to spending eternity inside a stuffed bear!
Another example is the larger “Black Museum” story, with a daughter forming an elaborate plan to free her father. “Black Museum” also supports the theory that the episodes are connected by actually featuring items from the other episodes in the ‘museum!’
Of course, the episodes of Black Mirror season 4 still work great as standalone pieces. Keeping this underlying theme in mind only serves to enhance the experience of the season, as a whole. Next time you’re watching Black Mirror season 4, keep an eye out for this theme and see if you agree.