Worst and Best: Black Mirror Season 4

Black Mirror is absolutely among the best television shows at the moment, and lucky for us, Netflix is ensuring that we get our annual fix of the dark, sci-fi anthology series. The newest season quietly launched on the streaming giant December 29th and has been receiving critical praise ever since. If you haven’t had the chance to check it out yet because of all the holiday hustle and bustle, drop whatever you’re doing, forget about the other series you’re binge-watching and watch it IMMEDIATELY! Trust me you don’t want the episodes spoiled for you!

Without further ado, here is the Worst and Best of Black Mirror Season 4!


Worst: Crocodile
Black Mirror, is a dark, bleak show. But that darkness is typically intended to force the audience to ponder the implications of the feature technological advancement, or their own moral code. Crocodile is dark, for dark’s sake, and the technology on display in the episode feels like it was sandwiched into the episode so it would work for the series.

A woman meets with a man from her past, who wants to make amends with the family of a man they accidentally killed and covered up in their younger days. She decides to murder him because the threat of their crime surfacing would threaten the life she has since built for herself. She later finds herself in a peanut, after an automated van injures a man outside her hotel room, requiring her to come forth as a witness.

The tech featured in this episode is a device that recalls human memories that are used in police investigations, and insurance purposes. You can probably see where this is going. The protagonist goes on to murder the insurance investigator, along with her husband and baby.

The ending of the episode is just ham-fisted. It turns out, the baby she murdered was born blind, thus not a candidate for memory eyewitness. It just felt a little gratuitous, but they felt the need to keep pouring on the darkness for whatever reason. Ultimately, the police extract the memories from a guinea pig in the baby’s room. Which contradicts what we see earlier in the episode, considering how much coaxing needs to be done to extract memories. There’s no way they could have coaxed that memory out of a guinea pig. Then you have to think to yourself; how long is a guinea pig’s attention span/memory? The end result is by far the series’ cheesiest endings.

Best: USS Callister
This was a much, much harder pick than Black Mirror Season 4’s worst episode. Arkangel, Hang the DJ both made it a close race, but ultimately USS Callister is the year’s best episode of Black Mirror. If you only have time for three episodes, by all means, make sure you check these ones out!

The episode features this season’s biggest TV names, including How I Met Your Mother’s Cristin Milioti, and Jesse Plemons, affectionately known as “Meth Damon” amongst Breaking Bad fans for his stellar performance as the soulless turd, Todd. Both players are at their best in USS Callister, and really push this episode into the upper echelon of Black Mirror episodes.

Plemons plays a CTO working on a VR MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game, for those of you who aren’t nerds), who initially comes off as a sympathetic character. He’s abused and ignored by his business partner and subordinates. In response, he’s made his own private version of the VR he’s developed, where he can act out Captain Kirk-like starship fantasies, bossing around digital versions of his coworkers.

Any sympathy you feel for the character quickly goes out the window after its’ revealed that the digital copies are sentient, with memories of the real world. The digital copies are illegally spawned from their DNA, that Plemons’ character harvested from various sources, a lollipop, or Q-Tip swab from an old coffee cup. The science behind this is pretty janky at best, but considering how invested you are in USS Callister at this point, you’ll probably let it slide like I did.

Obviously, this could’ve gone even darker, but it’s revealed that Plemons created the digital copies without genitals so the sim would remain PG like Star Fleet, the original production it’s based on. But just because he’s not using the sim to have sex with digital copies of his coworkers, doesn’t mean we don’t see Plemons committing atrocities in the sim. The CTO uses the sim to remove a character’s face, transform a copy into a horrific spider monster, and forced a child out of an airlock in front of his father.

Eventually, Milioti’s character devises a plan to allow the digital copies to escape, and delete the sim. In true Black Mirror fashion, there’s not exactly a happy ending. However, justice is served for Plemons’ character, who’s destined to rot in his apartment, his consciousness lost in the deleted version of his sim.

Though it’s far from the best episode of Black Mirror, there’s plenty to love in USS Callister, especially if you’re a Trekkie.

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