Ranked and Filed : Black Mirror (Seasons 1-4)
It took a couple of seasons, but the folks over on this side of the pond have finally realized that Black Mirror is a strong television series. This anthology series takes a critical look at technology in our society and it would be easy to moan and groan about the subject matter if it wasn’t produced so phenomenally . Season 4 premiered at the end of 2017 and we wanted to celebrate the release by putting out our ranking of each episode of the series. So get comfortable and let's take a look.
19. The Waldo Moment (Season 2 Episode 3)
Some might argue that there are no bad episodes of Black Mirror and I have to say that I don’t necessarily agree. The Waldo Moment follows a failed comedian who voices a cartoon bear and gets mixed up in politics when becoming a candidate for a local election. When everything finishes viewers are left with a melancholy feeling and an allegory that wasn’t very subtle or clever. It overall isn’t worth your time and doesn’t meet the standards set by other episodes throughout the series.
18. Crocodile (Season 4 Episode 3)
An insurance agent gets more than she bargains for when her device to access her clients memories leads down a dangerous path. Unfortunately, this episode lacks innovation in it’s delivery and isn’t engaging enough for viewers to really care. The episode drags throughout its runtime and the normal observer will have to suspend their disbelief to make the plot into something worth buying.
17. Metalhead (Season 4 Episode 5)
In this post-apocalyptic world, a group of people run from a pack of electronic and deadly “dogs”. Metalhead is a solid example of visual storytelling but lacks the depth and the performance that is necessary to pull off this sub-genre. The episode never really reaches its full potential to make you care for those involved but there is a fair bit of action for those that enjoy little character development and heads blowing up.
16. Archangel (Season 4 Episode 2)
A scared mother, after losing her daughter one day at the park, finds herself using a new tracking technology to make sure her daughter is always safe. That being said, we know that in a Black Mirror episode, things rarely work out as well as planned. Rosemarie DeWitt gives a powerful performance but the episode doesn’t live up to what it could have been. It ends up being predictable, flat, and the relationship between the mom and daughter isn’t developed in a strong enough manner for us to really care about the outcome.
15. Men Against Fire (Season 3 Episode 5)
Soldiers must go from town to town protecting villagers from vile mutants called “Roaches”, but not everything is as it seems. Malachi Kirby and Madeline Brewer lead the way in this action adventure story and though they do a solid job, overall the episode is incredibly bland and forgettable for one so action filled.
14. Hated in the Nation (Season 3 Episode 6)
Two cops must quickly identify and solve a series of murders with a hidden link to social media. This episode paces itself well and buys its entire 89 minute runtime with no problem. It’s engaging and starts with a bang but when the smoke settles viewers will realize that they watched an enjoyable episode that doesn’t much have an effect after the credits roll.
13. Nosedive (Season 3 Episode 1)
A girl who wants to improve her score on social media makes it big when she gets invited to the wedding of the season, but events don’t go on as planned. The greatness of Black Mirror often lies in the subtlety of it’s messaging. This episode throws that out the window as there is no hidden meaning here. Either way, Bryce Dallas Howard is strong as the lead in this episode and helps to cover for where the episode lacks
12. Be Right Back (Season 2 Episode 1)
After a widow discovers a company that allows you to stay in contact with the deceased, she decides to communicate with her late lover. Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter from the Marvel Movies) and Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, About Time) give excellent portrayals of these characters as they take you through the grieving process. It’s a strong outing from the Black Mirror crew but doesn’t pack the emotional punch that other episodes give you.
11. Hang the DJ (Season 4 Episode 4)
A dating program pairs up couples but gives an expiration date to all relationships, but two participants quickly start to question the process. This episode seems to be a fan favorite of the 4th season, mainly due to the fact that it doesn’t kick the shit out of you. Here we have a nice little rom-com in the Black Mirror universe and it seems to be relatable for a society that has so quickly clinged to dating apps. We get two characters that are enjoyable to watch and a story that seems heartfelt but after all is said in done, viewers will find themselves saying, “That was nice” and nothing else.
10. Playtest (Season 3 Episode 2)
An American traveler needs some extra cash to make his way back home. He signs up as a trial participant for a new gaming system but soon can’t tell what’s a part of the game and what’s reality. Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) directs this specific Black Mirror endeavor and it turns out well. This episode plays with more cheap jump scares but that doesn’t take away from the emotional fear you feel throughout this tense episode and the 3rd act flat out delivers.
9. Fifteen Million Merits (Season 1 Episode 2)
In this episode, people are treated like slaves as they ride bikes to create energy. As they ride, they earn merits that they can use to pay for junk food, avoiding ads, or to get the chance to obtain stardom through a reality tv show. As one friend helps another to get onto the show, they realize that maybe they aren’t getting what they bargained for. Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) puts on an incredible performance in this heart wrenching episode that is guaranteed to pull strong emotions from the viewer. The ending is likely to have a polarizing effect but whether you enjoy the resolution, the conflict throughout the story helps to create an incredibly powerful episode.
8. San Junipero (Season 3 Episode 4)
Here is another episode that seems to be a fan favorite because it’s one of the few episodes that has anything close to resembling a pleasant ending. 2 girls meet in this seaside town and strike up a relationship that defies time. An incredible set design mixed with strong performances and a script that does a phenomenal job of bringing out the humanity in its characters helps this episode soar. It’s poignant, beautiful, and viewers will find themselves falling in love with everything they have just watched.
7. The National Anthem (Season 1 Episode 1)
If you are looking for a great place to start, Season 1 Episode 1 is a wonderful episode to give you a good feel of whether or not Black Mirror is for you. In this episode, the Prime Minister must make a life changing decision when it is discovered that a member of the royal family has been kidnapped. The story is darkly comedic and seems horrifically real. The line is quickly drawn in the sand and viewers will either buy in and get engaged or decide that that the content is too much to handle and opt out. The performances are strong and if you can stomach this episode we think you will enjoy how the rest of the series plays out.
6. USS Callister (Season 4 Episode 1)
With arguably the most recognizable ensemble we’ve seen in a Black Mirror episode, Season 4 starts off an an incredibly high note. While creating a video game, a lonesome coder creates a world of his own in an offsite prototype of his companies newest product. Though things seem happy-go-lucky at first, a darker side of this universe quickly emerges. Black Mirror does a phenomenal job of fending off standard sci-fi tropes and creating a visually stunning environment to watch these characters play. This episode is guaranteed to have viewers feel a multitude of emotions and delivers an ending that is strong and memorable. We also get a nice little cameo from Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad.)
5. Shut Up and Dance (Season 3 Episode 3)
Kenny gets caught in an online trap and is left to the mercy of his anonymous blackmailer. This one hits hard as it makes you feel for the characters and hiding you from the vicious truth surrounding it all. Add in a killer score and a finale that comes out of nowhere and you have yourself one of the strongest, most gut wrenching episodes of Black Mirror to date.
4. White Bear (Season 2 Episode 2)
A woman wakes up with no idea where she is and soon finds herself running for her life, while everyone else watches. The tension is perfectly balanced from start to finish as the viewer follows along, just as confused as the main character. Finally, when the reveal takes place, viewers are left with a phenomenal episode with a strong social commentary.
3. The Entire History of You (Season 1 Episode 3)
It is the norm in this society for people to have an implant that allows them play back anything that they have seen before. When a husband is skeptical of the faithfulness of his wife, he uses this technology to help him get to the bottom of things. This story is utterly heartbreaking and the performances are as compelling as they have ever been on this show. Everything feels so real as you can’t tear away from watching all the events unfold and at the end of it all you are left with your jaw on the floor.
2. White Christmas (Season 2 Episode 4)
Two men are stuck in an outpost at Christmas and share their stories of how technology can run a little haywire. Jon Hamm leads the way in this episode telling two of the three vignettes. These stories intertwine beautifully and lead to a heartbreaking finale that is astounding. It’s dark, creepy, and incredibly original with strong imagery and masterclass performances. The episode paces itself well and gives us a 73 minute runtime that you can’t turn away from. This is an episode you cannot miss!
1. Black Museum (Season 4 Episode 6)
This episode is a perfect culmination of the Black Mirror series. This episode follows a woman who wanders into “Black Museum” where the proprietor tells stories relating to all the artifacts. The stories in this episode will have viewers feeling all sorts of emotions and hit you with a 3rd act that might be the best that Black Mirror has ever been. The imagery used throughout the episode is remarkable and the story is one that could be dissected by film classes for semesters to come. Black Museum can stand alone without the rest of the series and offers a profound reflection on death and confronting grief. It’s the best Black Mirror has ever been.