[Review] Black Mirror

Black Mirror is amazing and you should watch it. This is what I thought about each episode:

1. National Anthem
A good first episode and introduction into the concept. I was being very critical and waiting for them to ‘mess up’ one of the concepts, like say something would happen that probably wouldn’t, or misinterpret something, but no, it was perfect. Also considering the first season came out in 2011, even better. Really messed up but perfectly executed.

2. Fifteen Million Merits
This one grew on me after I watched it. The first pass was heavy-handed and Hunger-Gamey, but as I pondered it and kinda thought about all the subtleties and comments on society and all that good stuff, it got better and better. I.e. we’re all just endlessly spinning our wheels (doing whatever we can in Society) to earn Merits that let us do needless things like ‘customize our avatars’ or skip past tedious/redundant/undesirable things.

3. The Entire History of You
My favorite. Conceptually the best episode out of the series, perfectly executed, and amazing as far as showing the implications of being able to ‘look back’ at anything you’ve seen at any given time: lying, correcting people, recounting past events, for better or for worse. The image of the couple having sex with their eyes glossed over was one of the most unsettling things I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m from the internet. Devastating and just crazy. Days after I would find myself realizing how often I use the search function in Facebook chat to remember things/recall jokes I’ve made with people/find links/etc. Really good story structure, too.

4. Be Right Back
This one freeeaaked me out. Tl;dr, I have some ideas for a series of short stories about the Singularity, and one of which was almost exactly this entire concept, down to having some AI ‘consume’ someone’s social media footprint and being able to create a simulation of someone. I gave a high level pitch to my friend ¬†within a day or two before watching this and we were pretty spooked because it was basically bullet point for bullet point the same concept, but then even got into things that I hadn’t though about, how the ‘simulation’ was mostly imperfect because it was based off the idealized version of what the guy chose to post. Mine was the optimistic version, this was the pessimistic version. Really incredible and sad for poor attic robot.

5. White Bear
Maybe least favorite, tied with #6. Didn’t care about the main character at all, ever, but maybe that was intentional? Not even sure what the point was? A world with the punishment becomes disproportionate to the crime? A strange amusement park of vengeance? How oddly ritual it was? The lengths people would go to punish people? Totally misinterpreted the whole beginning of it, really strange. I was hoping it was something more like a commentary on video games – with the amnesia opener, running away from a villain, trying to hide, etc. Really disappointed when it wasn’t that. (Also, up until this point, every episode had some kind of sex scene. Yes, the first episode counts. But this one broke the chain and I was sillymad about it.)

6. The Waldo Moment
Waldo wasn’t funny or witty enough to get the point across to me. Funny/cool concept, especially talking about making him into an international concept. But meh. (also no sex but does cartoon bear wiener?) I would have liked to have seen them go the creepy route and actually have had him win,¬†play with the concept of a figurehead, etc.

7. White Christmas
WOW this was awesome and a roller coaster. Each segment was amazing. The end of each section was a bit predictable but the fact that there were 6 stories in it was awesome and really well done. The ‘cookie’ concept was utterly horrifying, especially playing with the time. I’ve been geeking out on AI and the Singularity and stuff, and the cookie stuff is one of the main theories as to how we’ll create AI. The very ending cookie thing was just utterly terrifying. Every section was awesome and clever. Totally stood on it’s own. The set up and order of them all was perfect, especially the last section, which was amazing, mind blowing and terrifying.

I totally have some ideas that could very well be Black Mirror episodes and I am seriously considering writing them up into some sort of episodic format.