The first thing that comes to mind when you think “science fiction” might be lightsaber battles or spaceships zipping from galaxy to galaxy. But the diverse genre has more to offer than just candy-colored thrills and new alien species. The other side of that coin is the slow-burning dread that can creep in around the edges of life. The changes to reality may be subtle, but they can still pack quite a punch.
Black Mirror is this second type of sci-fi, imagining a not-so-distant future with the technological advances that feel like a natural extension of the world we live in now. Against the backdrop of the unchecked tech, Black Mirror juxtaposes the human against the artificial. Some of these reveries on the human condition will leave viewers shaken up, while others might be more likely to induce an eye roll. Let’s take a look at the best Black Mirror episodes and the ones that probably should have remained a fever dream.
Season 4, Episode 2
Directed by Jodie Foster and starring Rosemarie DeWitt, the expectations for “Arkangel” were rather high. Unfortunately, the story beats are all too familiar, proving that sometimes you can see a Black Mirror twist coming. When new technology allows a mother (DeWitt) to censor what her daughter sees and also tracks her every move, things go expectedly awry. The danger that sets off the mother’s choices feels relatively low stakes compared to the horror in other episodes, making the violent end both expected and unearned.
22. “The Waldo Moment”
Season 2, Episode 3
While it feels surprisingly prescient following the 2016 election, “The Waldo Moment” just doesn’t have the cleverness to put it in the top ranks of Black Mirror. When a failed comedian (Daniel Rigby) and his cartoon character, Waldo, get roped into an election, the lines between entertainment and politics get uncomfortably blurred. Waldo was once a tool to poke fun of the stuffy political class, but that doesn’t mean that he is a better alternative in the long run. Despite these heavy themes, “The Waldo Moment” doesn’t have that much to say. Government is a serious business that shouldn’t be controlled merely by the loudest voices, but Waldo is probably not the best mouthpiece for that truth.