Black Mirror Season 1: A Review

Black Mirror Season 1: A Review

I took a week off from blogging because I wasn't feeling creative. I was stuck in a rut and still am so I took the time to nourish and pamper myself by watching stuff, to distract myself temporarily. Following this short one-week break, I decided to marathon all three seasons of Black Mirror, a show I have been postponing a lot of times because I wasn't up for something intense. But, to say I was amazed is not enough. I am in love with this show.

Since I'm only going to review each episode based on my impression and what I think, I'll try my best not spoil on how each episode ended, what its high peak rising action was and all of that. However, I cannot promise you that this review is going to be a hundred percent free from it. You have been warned. Also, I've decided to split the review into three parts because the show has three seasons in total. Plus, this is going to make reading a lot easier.

A little bit on what the Black Mirror is about:
Black Mirror is a British science fiction television anthology series created by Charlie Brooker. It centres around dark and satirical themes that examine modern society, particularly with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies. Episodes are standalone works, usually set in an alternative present or the near future.

The National Anthem — 3/5

The first season started with 'The National Anthem' , the first episode about British Prime Minister Michael Callow who is woken up at night by an unfortunate news involving a beloved member of the Royal Family. Having kidnapped Princess Susannah, the kidnapper requested Callow to have a sexual intercourse with a pig live on national television. Intensely disturbing? Yes, yes it is. I'm not going to spoil you more than the plot but this episode really scarred me for life. I'm almost sure I remember the ending scene like it was carved in the back of my mind for two days. Mind you, I'm not someone who usually close my eyes when it comes to disturbing scenes but this, this one is different. This one makes me want to throw up a little even if it was censored and hidden. For what it's worth, this was such a nicely executed one especially for a premise to mark the vibe of Black Mirror. From what I digest, this episode tells us that humans are twisted beings; we sneer and snort over the thought of unethical, vile acts but when they happen, we are fascinated by it. We are so stunned and mesmerized by what's in front of our eyes that sometimes, we miss the little things that happen at the same thing. This episode makes you question about politics, politicians and of course, ethical morality.

Fifteen Million Merits — 5/5

I'm going to say it: this is one of the best Black Mirror episodes and definitely one of my favorites. The story is a perfect metaphor and analogy for our word and the possibility of a future we might be facing. In Fifteen Million Merits, society must cycle on exercise bikes in order to generate the futuristic currency called 'Merits.' This is the story of Bing who meets Abby when he discovers and motivates her to participate in a talent game show to escape the messed up, "corporate slave" system around them. Exclusively directed by Euros Lyn, a Welsh director responsible for several episodes on Sherlock and Doctor Who, this futuristic dystopian story took a surprising turn for both Bing and Abby as they realize that the system, the fucked up system, they live in is inevitable. There can only be an upgrade, not an escape.

This is a story that, when you take a closer look, is an easy reflection of the capitalism that we face today. The rich keeps getting richer, the poor keeps getting poorer. The less fortunate individuals, in this case represented by overweight people, are sentenced to unpleasant janitorial jobs and mockery, having been seen as lower class citizens. Another vivid sign of capitalism is the fact that in order to skip disturbing porn advertisements, a payment is to ensue. Closing your eyes is forbidden as the system will alert force you to watch it. Imagine if you work your ass off every single day only to have one thousand Merits taken by ads. Isn't that what happen on the internet today? The fact that we have to pay to go ads free shows how relatable this episode is.

One last fucked up thing about this episode is the truth about talent shows like X-Factors and judges like Simon Cowell. This is the bitter parallel to reality shows we see today and the painful truth about how a person's physical features overrule her talent and skills. I don't know which one is more frightening: the fact that Abi is reduced to be an object of gratification or the fact that everyone is cheering her to do it. But that's why this episode is bloody amazing. It shows you that even in 2017, women are objectified by not only men but also women. Heck, if you think about it, the reason "I want to watch this or that because (insert an actress' name) is lovely" makes us think that every single one of us is carrying bits and pieces of guilt. Sure, we disagree and we protest but in the end, even if it's for a harmless preference or a simple wash of eyecandy, every single one of us is part of this problematic system, both in terms of gender issues and the capitalist hierarchy where the governing system is built in favor of the higher ups.

If you are curious but don't feel like watching the show, you can read more spoilers here and here.

The Entire History of You — 3/5

In an alternate, futuristic timeline, people have "grains" implanted behind their ear. This implant allows them to record everything they do, see and hear which then allows memories to be played back either in front of the person's eyes or projected to a screen, a process dubbed as "re-do." At first glance, this is the sort of technology that we might find useful. Record every single textbook you have studied on? Sure, maybe that'd make the exams a lot easier. Record all the fruitful events you have participated ten years ago? Awesome, you won't have to forget anything! The possibility is endless when you suddenly possess what looks like an eidetic memory. But is it really a gift?

Liam Foxwell is a lawyer who just went through a seemingly unpleasant work appraisal. He then arrives to a dinner party hosted by his wife's friend, sees her talks to a man named Jonas — a man he was introduced to for the first time. Little did he know, Liam's life takes a major turn when he suspects his wife, Ffion cheating behind his back. The plot itself is pretty straightforward and blunt. There was no plot twist and I feel like it was very predictable although of course, in typical Black Mirror manner, this is still a dark episode involving obsession fueled by advance technology. I also feel like this is meant to criticize how advanced our world is evolving today. Whether it's Siri or any other intelligent AI in the making, this just tells us that the obsession we have towards technology is going to backfire sooner or later. In fact, we are already obsessed. Some of us are so obsessed with the latest iPhone we cannot not have it. Majority of us cling to our smartphones because without technology, we are dead. We feel dead.

Even if The Entire History of You runs on a linear plot, it still arouses different questions regarding morality. Think about it. If Liam decided to go "grain-less", he might not realized that his wife was cheating on him. Yet, at the same time, the obsession and the technology are the ones that drive him to borderline insanity. If you are Liam, what would you do?

If you are not in the mood for tv series with a lot of episodes, do try Black Mirror and I guarantee you will not be disappointed. I remember Arden said how watching all three episodes in one sitting might be too much. I personally watch as many as of them as I possibly can because time is money and it's not too much for me. Of course, that's just how my brain works and it might be different for you. Regardless, do try this show because I promise every episode is worth your time (especially if you are a fan of science fiction, philosophy and psychology)

Next up I'm going to review season 2 so if you're excited about it, do let me know in the comments!