‘Black Mirror’ season 4 is as disturbing as ever

Jonny Rhein

Black poster with broken glass with text that says "the future is bright. Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror"
Charlie Brooker’s “Black Mirror” Photo Courtesy of Lindsay Silveira

Black Mirror” is back with its fourth series and some of its darkest and most unique episodes yet.

The Netflix series that is commonly known as a modern-day “Twilight Zone” has come a long way since its first episodes that still has people talking. The plot lines have become more intricate than that of a prime minister making love to a pig to save a princess’s life (although still a fun story) and the show runners are covering new territory in styles and approaches to stories. Like the earlier episodes, series four focuses on technology and its effect on society for better or worse. But let’s be real, it’s always worse.


The writer and creator, Charlie Brooker, is a master at not only putting you in the shoes of the main characters, but putting you in them, making you stay and not caring if you ever get out. Imagine the worst first date you’ve ever had. Now watch the fourth episode, “Hang the DJ,” and feel like you’re living your worst first date every single day for a year with no way out. Okay, now snap out of it. Don’t worry. It’s not real; it’s just a TV show.

Brooker loves the idea of tapping into human consciousness and creating different ways in which it could be manipulated. The experiments he comes up with seem harmless, genius or maybe even beneficial in the eyes of the characters in the show, but all of us watching at home know before the episode even starts that the experiment will go horribly wrong. Cloning a person’s consciousness (whether digitally or in real life) may sound cool, but after watching “USS Callister,” I’m beginning to think we should stop using the words “cloning” and “humans” in the same sentence.

Metalhead” steps out of the realm of human consciousness and creates a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by robot “dogs” that want to kill you. The usual plot twists and layered stories were traded in for a “No Country for Old Men,” cat-and-mouse thriller in which a woman must continuously outsmart a robot to avoid getting her brains blown out. It’s easy to hate on this episode because it lacks that bad-mushroom-trip element that most people love about “Black Mirror,” but “Metalhead” shows the creative lengths the writers and directors can go. And the idea of robots programmed to kill humans sounds way more realistic than someone trapping your consciousness inside of a teddy bear.

Like “Metalhead,” the finale “Black Museum” breaks the traditional conventions of the show. The episode is broken into three different mini-stories that practically turns the six-episode series into nine (or ten, just watch the episode.)

Should you watch it? Yes.

Within the darkness of “Black Mirror” series four is an important, relatable humanistic element.  No one wants to see a loved one pass, and all parents want to ensure their children are 100 percent safe at all times like Marie in “Arkangel,” but sometimes it’s better to accept the inevitable, leave it alone and let things naturally take its course.

Collegian reporter Jonny Rhein can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @jonnyrhein.