After tons of waiting, fans worldwide can now rejoice! Black Mirror’s fifth season has just arrived on Netflix. The iconic, dystopian British series is, again, coming to play with our fears. The show, centred around our drifting as societies and our addiction to technology, gained popularity with its alarming writing, shedding light on the dark side of progress.
Following the first season — that only counted 3 episodes — the total count slowly increased. It peaked at 6 episodes for both season 3 and 4. For this 5th instalment, the count has gotten back to 3. Three episodes, titled “Striking Vipers”,”Smithereens” and “Rachel, Jack and Ashley too”.
Confusing the fans
A lot of fans voiced their dissatisfaction regarding the slimmer drop than usual, but the “lack of material”, as some would put it, can be explained by Black Mirror’s last year interactive, “Bandersnatch”. The exclusive episode must have cost so much resources for Charlie Booker and the writing staff, that this season could only be shorter. Another explanation might just be this year’s casting: Anthony Mackie, Andrew Scott and Miley Cyrus are all staring in their respective episodes. Quality, not quantity is the leitmotiv for the former Channel 4 series.
The second episode, “Smithereens” seems to receive better reviews, overall. Even if episode 1 and 2 are great in their own way, “Smithereens” managed to bring back the same feeling of angst we were used to, in previous seasons. This year’s Black Mirror, feels a bit less stingy. Some even wonder if the writers didn’t hold back. “I’d started writing a scene where you see a character in a kindergarten,” Charlie Booker, creator of the show and writer on all seasons, stated. “And then you realise afterwards that these are children who had died and been uploaded to this world”. Even though Booker was referring to season 4 here, the quote, taken out of context, has bitter fans caught in their feelings. Ones of frustration and deep questioning about the future.
So, what differentiates the second episode from the rest of this season, you may ask? It is embedded in today’s society; not in a somewhat distant future that slightly removes us from the implication. A contrast that seems to be received pretty well and that even “saves the season”, according to several critics.
Black Mirror season 5 suffers from one weak point, though. Even if all of the episodes remain faithful to the ambiance and worrisome mood we’ve grown used to. Season 5 is less of an introspective slap in your face. And more of a beautifully staged critic of today and tomorrow’s society.