Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Black Mirror episodes

Vince Vena

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Having to choose only 10 episodes out of all 19 was extremely difficult because there is not a single ¨bad¨ episode; however, here is a list of the top 10 best Black Mirror episodes.

  1. ¨White Bear¨

¨White Bear¨ is one of the most intense episodes on this list. This episode takes place in a seemingly post-apocalyptic world and starts off with the main character Victoria waking up in a strange room, not knowing who she is or why she is there.

The episode is a puzzle trying to piece all these things together which is revealed in the end with a chilling plot-twist. 

¨White Bear¨ explores important themes like the ethics of torture, desensitization to violence and empathy for others. Although the intensity was effectively executed, this episode only deserves the spot of number 10 on the list because there could have been more plot and character development.

  1. ¨The National Anthem¨

¨The National Anthem¨ is the first episode of the series and takes place in the present time. The episode is a critique of the ¨reaction culture¨ our society has and shows how apathetic people are toward the pain of others.

The episode starts off with the British Prime Minister Michael Callow being woken up in the middle of the night with news that the princess has been kidnapped and will not be released unless the PM broadcasts himself committing an unspeakable act on live TV at 3 p.m. or they will kill the princess.

Throughout the day, public opinion shifts and ends with the prime minister having to commit the act.

However, it is revealed the princess was released about 30 minutes before the broadcast aired. As the circumstances changed, everyone wanted to see the PM commit that act, yet when it actually happened everyone turned away in disgust, even though they were the ones who allowed this to happen.

      8. ¨USS Callister¨

¨USS Callister¨ starts off the fourth season of Black Mirror seemingly parodying Star Trek, but has a darker twist. The main character Robert Daly creates his own virtual universe with digital copies of his real-life co-workers.

The digital copies are trapped inside the gameplay of ¨Space Fleet,¨ a Star Trek-esque game with Daly tyrannically controlling them.

As opposed to most episodes, there are moments that are actually comical and does not take place in a dystopian future. ¨USS Callister¨ shows how dangerous obsessions can become and how social isolation foments the desire to be in control.

  1. ¨Nosedive¨

¨Nosedive¨ is a fan-favorite among Black Mirror viewers, which while I agree it should be in the top ten, it’s not necessarily number one.

“Nosedive“ depicts an Instagram-like society in which everyone is judged by their social and online interactions with a person ranking them on a five star scale used through social media that affects a person’s socioeconomic status.

The main character Lacie is a young woman with a 4.2 star rating and is heavily concerned with gaining a higher number.

As the episode goes on, the experiences she goes through makes her realize that she’s been living a superficial life and is much happier without the pressure of having to perpetually seek validation from others.

       6. ¨Hated in the Nation¨

This episode is similar to ¨The National Anthem¨ in the sense that their messages both cover the issue of apathy and how media impacts our society.

However, this episode adds an extra detail about nanotechnology and portrays a society where bees have been replaced by robotic bees.

A slew of murders of unpopular individuals with inexplicable deaths have been appearing all of across the nation. It is revealed that the cause is the robotic bees being hacked into and killing anyone who receives the most ¨#DeathTo¨ hashtags.

The episode is criticizing the use of technology to smear people who are unpopular or have opposing opinions which is extremely prevalent in modern society.

This episode is about an hour and a half long so its message is more profound because of the great detail it goes into. ¨Hated in the Nation¨ is perhaps one of the best examples of shows title ¨Black Mirror¨ because the problems that come from the technology are just reflecting how people’s actions and desires.  

  1. ¨San Junipero¨

¨San Junipero¨ is an Emmy-Award-winning episode of Black Mirror that is one of out of the two episodes that have happy endings in the series.

This episode revolves around the idea of life after death, although now it is used through artificial means. St. Juniper is a fictional medicinal program that allows patients live an infinite life after death in a beachside town called San Junipero.

¨San Junipero¨ is by far the most aesthetically-pleasing episode, contrasting from the mainly bleak theme of Black Mirror, the year is 1987 in the town of San Junipero so the episode is full of neon lights, teal and purple 80s colors and classic cars.

The episode is essentially a love story between two women who are testing out a ¨free trial¨ of the system, and end up wanting to spend the afterlife together. Although the message of this episode is not the most profound, it certainly makes the viewer feel a sheer sense of happiness afterward. 

  1. ¨Shut Up and Dance¨

¨Shut Up and Dance¨ revolves around a 16-year-old boy named Kenny who is being blackmailed via text by an unknown number and is a forced to endure tasks that range from odd to wildly illegal.

About half of the Black Mirror episodes have a plot twist, but ¨Shut Up and Dance¨ probably has the most effective one because it sheds a new light on Kenny and changes the whole meaning of the entire episode.

¨Shut Up and Dance¨ shares similar themes to ¨White Bear;¨ however, before all the bad things start happening to Kenny, there is more character development which allows the viewer to feel like they truly know who Kenny is, giving more impact to the events that unfold.

¨Shut Up and Dance¨ creates a discussion on vigilante justice and privacy in the digital-age which is it deserves the spot at number four on the list.

  1. ¨Hang the DJ¨

¨Hang the DJ¨ is the second episode with a happy ending in Black Mirror. It portrays a society where dating is planned from a Tinder-like app that sets a limit on the amount of time someone has with a person, and helps them find their ¨match¨ by going on blind dates with the people they are paired up with.

Two characters, Frank and Amy, go on a blind date using the app, but are limited to 12 hours with each other. After that time is up, they are paired up with many others partners ranging from 36 hours to a whole year.

¨Hang the DJ¨ has an anti-promiscuity message that is tastefully done by expressing the importance of a monogamous relationship, showing the superficiality of ¨hook-up¨culture and promotes finding true love.

This episode shows how no matter what technology can try to solve, humans will be able to find love even if it’s not their ¨perfect match.¨ ¨Hang the DJ¨ is an episode that brings the viewer a warmhearted feeling after they watch it, but also will leave them with a sense of peace.

  1. ¨White Christmas¨

¨White Christmas¨ is one of the most complex Black Mirror episodes. Being roughly an hour and fifteen minutes long, it is one of the longest episodes in the series, and is quite possibly the darkest.

¨White Christmas¨ outlines many different issues, but ultimately deals with ethics. It brings up questions about how far are we willing to allow ourselves to let technology become a part of us.

¨White Christmas¨ fancies the idea of replacing A.I. with a digital copy of ourselves and the ability to install a real-life ¨block¨ of someone we either do not like or could potentially use as torture to the imprisoned.

With an overtly dark aura and absolutely chilling ending, ¨White Christmas¨ is one of the most powerful Black Mirror episodes.

  1. ¨The Entire History of You¨

¨The Entire History of You¨ is the most important episode of the Black Mirror series. The reason why this episode is so powerful is because even though it is supposed to take place in the ¨far future,¨ when watching the episode, you are able to place yourself in the situations the main character Liam goes through.

¨The Entire History of You¨ depicts a society where people have an eye technology called ¨Grain¨ ingrained in their brains which can record every single memory they have and gives them the ability to look back on their past memories.

Liam lets his own insecurities control him and gets so caught up in the technology to the point where he cannot function, he lets it come between his relationships with the people he is closest with.

¨The Entire History of You¨ is the best episode in the series because it binds together all of the main points about Black Mirror it involves technology, sex, ethics, relationships, insecurities, humanity and human choices. 

¨The Entire History of You¨ is also the most thought-provoking, leaving the viewer having to digest what they saw and reflect on its messages.