I love love love Black Mirror. For one thing, it’s just so relentlessly clever. I’m willing to bet it’ll turn out to be prophetic as well, if it isn’t so on some levels already. Repeat viewers will also be rewarded in many cases by the whole Leland Palmer/Twin Peaks/Kuleshov Effect by which our perception of the characters changes based on what we now know. Plus there are all these the super fun easter eggs scattered among the episodes.
So I’m admittedly surprised it’s taken me so long to get around to my Top 10 Black Mirror Episodes.
#10 Men Against Fire, S3 E5
One of the things that often sticks with me from some Black Mirror episodes is how Kafka-esque they become. I don’t mean people turning into giant bugs Kafka. I mean unexplained bureaucratic institutional vengeance wielded by an unidentified few, like in The Trial. “Men Against Fire” also speaks to the bait-and-switch kind of practices employed by less scrupulous military recruiters.
#9 Metalhead, S4 E5
So, Black Mirror has, by and large, never been a yuk tsunami, but man oh man did S4 ever get buh-leak. I mean, even for me some of them got downright merciless, and none moreson than “Metalhead.” The end is just deeply disturbing, and the “dogs” are super creepy robots that look like a cross between a carnivorous predator and a heavily armored giant cockroach.
#8 Nosedive, S3 E1
I liked this one the first time I saw it, but it recently took on a whole new kind of depth based on some other stuff I’ve been watching. In particular, I’ve been checking out rSlash, the very entertaining Sassy, and the always hilarious Charlotte Dobre, especially the stuff where people who think they’re influencers (but have like 1000 followers) get called out for trying to get free shit. I dunno, “Nosedive” just kinda tapped into that world for me as well.
#7 Playtest, S3 E2
This is just terrifying. Next time I’m on a plane, and someone refuses to turn off some electroinc device or other, well, let’s just say that I will not be held responsible for my actions.
#6 Crocodile, S4 E3
Yet another thing I love so very damn much about this show is its number of M. Night Shyamalan kinds of twists. This one is no exception. I literally sat straight up and said “No. Fucking. Way!” to Groovy (my cat). He wasn’t impressed. Apparently he saw it coming way the hell before I did. Oh, and another bleak one from S4.
#5 Shut Up And Dance, S3 E3
Okay, S4 gets pretty bleak, yeah, but god damn “Shut Up And Dance” is, for me, one of the darkest episodes of the entire series. Some never-identified troll blackmails an entire network of people into contributing bits and pieces to one grand overarching scheme with the promise that once they’ve completed their step, they’re off the hook. It’s also possibly the best example of another thing Black Mirror has going for it, and that’s its ability to subvert your expectations, often in the worst way possible.
#4 White Christmas, Standalone Special
I love Jon Hamm. I’d have been tempted to cast him as Stanton Carlisle in Nightmare Alley instead of Bradley Cooper. But wowzers do you hate his character in this one. It starts out as two guys relegated to some snowbound cabin as part of some kind of punishment. Another twist, and another gut punch ending, double in this case. In terms of which one moves the needle the most on the Bleak-O-Meter, it’s a toss up between this one and #5 above.
#3 The Waldo Moment ,S2 E3
Yet another thing I love about Black Mirror is its cynicism, the kind that routinely offers up a jaded look at human nature. In this one, an animated bear makes a mockery of party politics. It’s a tough watch here in The Colonies what with the Big Orange Cult. Waldo’s co-opting by American agents for the purposes of propaganda and disinformation is particularly chilling.
#2 The National Anthem, S1 E1
Speaking of cynical, holy crap. Princess Susannah, a beloved and sociopolitically active royal, is kidnapped and will be killed unless the prime minister fucks a pig. On national TV. Live. This was the first episode, and as soon as the premise became clear, I knew they had me as a die hard fan forever. What’s unsettling about this one in particular is its plausibility.
Arkangel S4 E2, USS Callister S4 E1, White Bear S2 E2
#1 Black Museum, S4 E6
I just saw this one recently, and until then, “The National Anthem” was easily my #1. What edged “Black Museum” ahead by just the narrowest of margins was one thing, and that’s my, to quote The Princess Bride, “overdeveloped sense of vengeance.” I don’t wanna spoil anything. A woman stops by a roadside attraction called the Black Museum and hears a couple of stories from the proprietor, very horror anthology style. Watch it as least twice—once just for the easter eggs.
And that’s my Black Mirror list. Are you a fan? What are your faves? Lemme know in The Comments.