FEATURES: Black Mirror Season 5 Review
June 10, 2019 Victoria Luz
Black Mirror Season 5 reels us in with the provocative and highly possible reality of our technological fears!
Once more, Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror‘ returns for Season 5. It only consists of three episodes however, it captivates the essence of how technology can send us to spiral horrendously.
‘Black Mirror’, a ‘Twilight’ Zone-esque British science fiction anthology series, is known for its techno-paranoia stand-alone stories. Building their brand around their nihilistic outlooks and technological fears, Black Mirror created a seemingly realistic future. A sharp and suspenseful future, ready to topple under the pressure of the hidden terrors of technology.
And following the success of their interactive film, Bandersnatch, they went all out once more. With ‘Black Mirror’ Season 5, they went from 0 – 100 real quick. Despite the short run of the newest season, it was enough to keep you wondering what would you do if those exact things happen in the future. Or how things could possible gone wrong.
The three new installments of ‘Black Mirror’ was star-studded, so to speak. Each episode featuring well-known actors and actresses. Not to mention, how deep the impact of each story is. It doesn’t stray too far from their usual theme of “technology will be the death of us”. But instead of showing how it affects a community or the world, they’ve narrowed it down. This time, they focused on a few characters, one at a time and how human behavior brings forth technological chaos.
The episode “Striking Vipers” follows the story of Danny (Anthony Mackie), his wife Theo (Nicole Beharie) and his longtime best friend, Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). The two guys reconnect once again after several years. And bond over a Street Fighter inspired game called Striking Vipers. However, instead of playing with controllers, Dany is introduced to virtual reality. True, it was cool, getting to play your character and feeling the pain. But it took a quick turn after Karl’s character Roxette make sexual advances to his in-game character, Lance. And yes, things began to spiral from there onwards.
Both the adult men find themselves longing for the connection they never found in real life. And soon, they began wanting more of that adult video game fantasy they experience every single night. It’s quite fucked up if you think about it. Because both of them began losing themselves into the game and the experience. Danny grew cold and distant to Theo. While Karl no longer feels pleasure from real life sexual intercourse.
And no matter how fucked up it seems, the possibility of having a VR sex simulator isn’t far from reality. And with just that though, you’d go thinking. Would you fall under the trap of pleasure and desire in a virtual world? Or not? It doesn’t really change the society on a huge scale, unlike other episodes like “Nosedive”. But it shows how people fall in love in a world where you could abandon everything – responsibility, family, ideals—just to satisfy your sexual desires. Which is kinda happening right now with all the VR innovations coming. Repulsive but it’s an ugly truth that clings to you and showing how bad we want to escape reality.
Striking and tense, “Smithereens” tackles modern social media culture and how one notification can change one’s life. It specifically tackles everyone’s obsession with social media and how we stick our faces on our phones all day.
It follows the story of Chris Gillhaney (Andrew Scott) and how his hostage-taking created global chaos. After a few days of staking out the London office of Smithereens, a social media company giant, he decides to kidnap an employee which turns out to be just an intern. He demands to speak to its CEO, Billy Bauer (Topher Grace) to talk. There’s not much action that happened to be honest. The only action we got was the struggle of Chris and the intern Jaden as they fight over the gun after Chris exposes his plan of suicide. However, the growing tension in that hourlong hostage-taking was surely something that will have you sitting at the edge of your seat.
Despite the police negotiating, Smithereens prove far more competent than them. It shows how fast the people at a social media company like Smithereens were able to gather information about Chris, a user of their app. Just basing from his Smithereen profile, they were able to track the significant changes in his life and tap into his phone as well. Which sounds like a breach of privacy, if you ask me. And that’s the #1 red flag of social media apps.
But after Chris was shot, everything just goes back to normal. There’s a dead man who screams that the addictive nature of the app can cause a whole lot of trouble. That’s it. People resume to their own lives. Everyone moves on. One by one, we see people get notified about the tragic hostage-taking. And it only takes one single glance, a few seconds for them to read and scroll down or go back to their lives.
Smithereens shows the true colors of social media. It isn’t the app. But the users themselves who make it seem addictive. And no doubt, it clearly encapsulates the reality that we live in right now.
Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too
And lastly, “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too”. A tad lighter than the first two episodes, it follows the story of two sisters caught up with the artificial intelligence of a sensational pop star. Rachel O (Miley Cyrus) is a famous singer-songwriter who wants to reinvent herself. However, her controlling manager/aunt doesn’t want her to ditch her pop star persona for something that might flop with her audience. After they release Ashley Too, an Alexa-doll like merchandise, teen girl Rachel obsesses over its words despite her sister Jack’s disagreement. One thing led to another, they find themselves tangled with Ashley’s AI through Ashley Too and tries to save her.
This episode is quite light and comedic in some sense. Something you would expect, especially with Miley Cyrus starring. And yet, it shows social anxieties and technological chaos of artificial intelligence as well. However, the mash-up seems to be quite off at some parts. The theme or essence of the episode wasn’t that clear. It’s hit or miss for ‘Black Mirror’ in this episode if you ask me. It has a good concept but it falls short than the rest of the episodes.
Overall, despite a short season for Black Mirror, it did well. It had us holding our breaths for every second. But it reminds us of how our emotions, how human emotions can set technological chaos.
What can you say about Black Mirror Season 5? Did it exceed your expectations or were you left hanging? Share us your thoughts on the comments down below. Or hit us up on our Facebook or Twitter @UDoUPh.