9:00 am EDT, June 7, 2019

‘Black Mirror’ season 5 review: All the same lessons without the depression

Black Mirror season 5 only consisted of three episodes, but it was still one of the most fulfilling seasons of the series.

Fans of Black Mirror love the show because of how much it makes you think. The show delves into the scary realities and possibilities of technology and examines what it could mean for humanity. The show often makes you consider how you’re interacting with technology in your own life, and what kind of trouble that could get you into.

A lot of the episodes have a big message to send, and some of them pack a huge punch to ensure that message is heard. Because of these punches, Black Mirror has gained a reputation for leaving fans in a state of deep despair following particularly heavy episodes.

While its definitely an effective tactic, depressing people is far from the only way to get a point across. Black Mirror has also produced many lighter episodes that are equally memorable and meaningful.

black mirror season 5

In fact, the lighter episodes have turned out to be Black Mirror’s most popular and acclaimed offerings since the show has moved to Netflix. In season 3, the fun, colorful and highly romantic “San Junipero” episode won two Emmy awards and is still considered one of the best episodes of the series. Also, season 4’s love/online dating-focused “Hang the DJ” episode is widely seen as the best of the season.

With Black Mirror season 5, it looks like Netflix is learning from its successes, and sticking to lighter fare. Luckily, the quality of the episodes doesn’t suffer for it! While each of the three episodes conveys a fulfilling story with thought-provoking elements, none of them will leave you feeling like you should burn all of your devices and go live in the forest.

None of the episodes are as fun and romantic as the two I just mentioned from Black Mirror season 3 and 4, but at the very least, they all carry a notion of hope, and every one of the episodes contains multiple characters that you can and will root for.

“Striking Vipers” was beautifully complex and deep, without going dark. It was definitely my favorite episode of Black Mirror season 5, and the one that I’ve thought about most, after watching. If Black Mirror has proven anything over the last three seasons, it’s that its fans can’t get enough of a love story, and it told another great one with “Striking Vipers.”

The episode perfectly balanced its goals of painting a picture of the possibilities of virtual reality, while delving into the intricacies of love, sex, monogamy, romance, and interpersonal relationships. Black Mirror is best when it zooms in on technology while actually telling a story about humanity. This episode was one of its finest examples of that.

black mirror season 5

The chemistry between the three stars of the episode also played a big role in it being my favorite of the season. Anthony Mackie, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Nicole Beharie brought these characters and their relationships to life in such an amazing and entertaining way. That fact alone will give this episode a lot of rewatch value.

Much like Miley Cyrus’ own career, the “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” episode wasn’t all pink hair and rainbows. It dealt with some pretty fascinating technology in an absolutely terrifying way, and paralleled the unrealistic and unfair expectations and pressure that we put on our real life pop stars, including Miley, herself.

The episode stayed on the lighter side by following Rachel, Jack and the snarky Ashley Too, but it certainly made its points while focusing on Ashley and her aunt. While the episode got really dicey for a minute, it ultimately had a really happy ending, with the three girls (and one robot) teaming up to defeat the bad guys and put on a kickass rock show to the tune of “Head Like a Hole” by Nine Inch Nails.

Even “Smithereens,” which was definitely the darkest episode in all of Black Mirror season 5, was infused with elements of hope. The driver’s aim was never to hurt anyone. He simply wanted to have a conversation with the founder of the app that took the life of his partner. The founder, beautifully portrayed by Topher Grace, desperately wanted to help.

black mirror season 5

Unfortunately, after the driver’s wish to alleviate some grief from his personal tragedy was granted, he was still shot by the people trying to control the scene. However, the episode still doesn’t end on a bleak note. The hostage escapes, and the driver’s final action is to help a woman he’d met along his journey find closure.

Black Mirror season 5 managed to get its points across and deliver a worthwhile and entertaining season without making anyone feel like they regretted watching even one episode. Although there wasn’t the same shock factor that’s existed in some episodes, I believe the season was better for it.

I remember feeling ill for two days after watching the “Crocodile” episode of Black Mirror season 4. It made me feel terrible. And the worst part is, I didn’t feel like I took anything away from that episode except for maybe to not murder people! Believe it or not, that lesson had already been pretty deeply ingrained. You don’t have to shock people to prove a point, especially if the ends don’t justify the means.

The show has officially demonstrated that with this very successful season, in my eyes. Fans who like Black Mirror for the shock factor might not be happy with season 5, but fans who are in it for the cool and important commentary on technology’s intersection with humanity should be satisfied, and will have a great time watching this season while learning some lessons along the way.

What did you think of ‘Black Mirror’ season 5?

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