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Black Mirror – Season 4 – Review

black-mirror-logoBlack Mirror was one of the shows that I didn’t quite understand until I watched the first few episodes. My brother continually told me to try it and when I finally did I became obsessed. I love shows like The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror because of the twists and the way they keep you on your toes. You never quite understand what is going on and never quite know where the show is going to turn.

Black Mirror is a show that prays on our fear of technology and what it can do. Since the beginning of computers and machines people have had fears about them taking over and destroying our lives. Black Mirror brings out those anxieties and wraps you up in that fear. This season centered on a number of different ideas.

I am going to rank the episodes in the order of my least favorite to my favorite. Some episodes this time weren’t as thrilling as others, but I did enjoy them all in some way or another. There are minor spoilers but nothing that ruins the episodes.

6. Crocodile

BM_CROC.0Crocodile is about a woman trying to hide a mistake made in her past. In her desire to hide what she did, she destroys lives and hurts people.

This episode was interesting, and suspenseful. I wanted to know how far this woman would go to keep her secrets hidden. I was surprised how far she truly went. The end was also surprising and ironic. I did enjoy that aspect.

The reason it is last on my list is because I felt like the technology angle was only there because of the idea behind this show. It wasn’t absolutely necessary to the plot. Black Mirror is about what technology can do if left unchecked. In this episode I felt like the whole story would have been the same with or without the technology. I wanted a bit more twist from it.

5. Metalhead

imagesThe episode surrounds a woman who is trying to bring something back to her community in an apocalyptic wasteland. She is followed by a robot dog and has to decide how and if it is possible to escape.

I saw that this one was liked a lot on Twitter. It was definitely suspenseful. It felt like an early episode of The Walking Dead. It was full of action. I was always afraid, waiting to see if the protagonist was going to get away or not. It was a constant ride, moving at a quick pace. I enjoyed the ride but I wanted more from it.

I felt like it would have been improved if there had been more details about what was going on in this world. I wanted to know who created the robot guard dogs and why. I wanted to know why the world was in survival mode. I felt like it was only this running and hiding episode. I have seen that. I watch this show for something that I haven’t seen before and this episode just wasn’t that for me.

4. Arkangel

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Black Mirror

A woman almost loses her daughter when she is young. As a way to ensure she will never lose her again, she enters her into a trial for a new technology. This technology implants a chip in a child’s head and allows you to use an app to watch their every move. Not only is there GPS to track them but you can see what they see, hear what they hear and get up-to-the-minute notifications about their health and safety. As the child grows, the mother learns that constantly watching your child can have its downsides.

I enjoyed this episode. It was a cautionary tale about helicopter parenting. I liked the technology. I felt like this was something that I could actually see happening. We already can track people’s phones. The more advanced our phones get the more we are going to be able to follow everyone. And while I understand the desire to know what is going on with you chid, there is a way to take it too far.

I also really liked how the beginning of this episode paralleled the end. It was a great way to end it. I was extremely satisfied by the end and how they used the fear in the beginning and twisted it for the end.

While this was a good episode, I did feel like I could predict much of it. One of my favorite aspects of Black Mirror is not quite knowing where things are going to go, and I was almost spot on with my predictions for this episode.

The episode also felt like it had two storylines at first. The storyline when the girl was a child was interesting and I wished they had pursed that for the whole of the episode. It diverged and went into a pretty simple storyline as she got older. In the end I think this would have been higher on my list if they had taken it in the first direction instead of the second.

3. Hang the DJ

MV5BN2UyMDQyMmQtNDVlNC00ZDU0LTlkMGItNWMwYTNiOTJmZTMxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODE1NDk0NzQ_._V1_.0Two people are set up on a date. At first it seems like a blind date and then it feels more like speed dating. You learn that they are using an app that sets them up, and determines a pre-set amount of time for them to be together. They are given a number of relationships to try until the app has enough information to find them their perfect match.

I really loved this episode. I know people have been comparing it to San Juniper from last season and saying that it was just not as good. I can see the comparison but I felt like this was a different story and was just as sweet.

This is one of the few episodes in this show that has a hopeful ending. It is rare to be smiling at the end of a Black Mirror episode. I liked the idea of the app doing all the work of not only setting you up but also of breaking you up.

I also loved the relationship between the two main characters. I thought their relationship was sweet and felt very real to me. I kept watching, hoping things would work out for them. When I watched the end I was excited. I loved the way the app worked, it was clever.

My only issue with this episode was that I felt like this undertone of something sinister was not well developed. You have an idea of it in the beginning then it fades away until the end. I felt like if it had been better spread throughout the episode you would have felt more urgency for the two to get together. Also the end may have had a bigger impact if that feeling was better used.

2. USS Callister

landscape-1508343510-screen-shot-2017-10-18-at-171757The episode begins with a cheesy over the top seeming episode of a space type opera. The crew defeats a villain and everything is awesome. Then you transition to the real world and see the man who played the captain is at work where he is barely noticed let alone respected. It becomes even more tragic seeming when you find out he owns the company but no one seems to care about him.

We learn that the beginning was his own version of a virtual reality game he developed. He has this version of his life where he is respected and loved, a stark difference to his real life. We quickly learn though that his little world is much more sinister then it appears.

This was the first episode of the season. I loved this episode. I loved the twist and the commentary on some important topics. I loved that the episode didn’t make you wait long for the twist, it put it early and then gave you a journey to go on.

It looked at the way women and minorities are treated. I looked at toxic masculinity and how someone can think they deserve more than they really deserve just because of their name and position. I liked how it explored power dynamics. It felt relevant. I did what I loved this show for doing; it took our everyday lives and showed how technology can twist it to make it worse if we let it.

This episode also showed us what happens though when we fight the injustices. It showed that that fight is possible and if all those who are marginalized come together then something can be done. I think this was a very important episode for our current time. It left an impact and made me think hard about it afterward.

1. Black Museum

black_mirror_black_museumA young woman stops to charge her car. While she is waiting she sees a museum and decides to check it out. She learns that it is a museum of criminality. Everything in it was used for a crime. It is a dark place. She talks with the curator and learns the dark history behind some of the artifacts. It turns out she knows more about this place then she lets on.

I absolutely adored this episode. It was the perfect way to end this season. It was intriguing and interesting from the first minute. I loved all the easter eggs hidden throughout this episode. If you have not watched all the other episodes of Black Mirror, watch those first then come back to this one. You will appreciate it so much more.

I liked how this episode literally centered on the evil that technology can do if used wrong. It shows what happens when we are given too much power, when we think we can control it but learn that we can’t. It is almost like a preview for this whole series.

The atmosphere was dark and forbidding for the beginning. You know that this place is not good, you know that things are not going to end well here. I was worried the whole time for what was going to come.

The two vignette stories before the end were interesting and highlighted interesting technology. I thought I knew where it was leading but was wrong and I love when I am wrong. I was surprised when I watched the end but I was also very satisfied. It was the ending this episode deserved. It explored some tough topics and we are again forced to reflect not only on how we let technology work in our lives but how we exploit and use certain people because we think we are higher than them.

This season was good, not my favorite but it still made me think and reconsider things around me. I think these episodes  weren’t my favorite because the technology wasn’t as front and center as it usually is. I think they tried to tell some other type of stories this time, which was alright but veered away from what I am used to.

In the end this season was fascinating and a fun ride as usual. It still makes you rethink how you use your phone and computer and what it can do to you.

What should you read next? How about my book, Is There More?

IsThereMore_AmazonHave you ever asked yourself what would happen if the books around you could speak? Or what would it be like if you could reset someone like a computer? Or even how life would be if you could make friends with your inner demons?

These are just some of the questions I asked myself when I was writing my book Is There More?. I started with some What If? questions and explored where the ideas could go. I have always loved asking that question and running with the ideas. I wanted to get readers thinking about the world around us and how different things could be if we just ask What If?.

If you are looking for a book that will give you some interesting ideas to explore or will ask some questions you haven’t thought too much about then look no further than my book Is There More? .

It is a short story collections of 8 stories that explores the world around us in a twisted, different way.  If you enjoy Twilight Zone or Black Mirror you will enjoy these stories. I wrote them hoping that readers would be able to question the world around them and look at it with new eyes.

I have recently dropped the price on both the e-book and the paperback. The e-book is now $2.99 and the paperback is $6.99. If you are looking for something to read this weekend or during the coming week, it is a great quick read!

Be sure to get it on Amazon!

A quick summary:

The world around us is more vast than we may believe. Look deeper. Push past the veil of reality to find out what truly lies beneath. What you will find looks a lot like the world you see everyday, but a closer look shows you how much more there is to see. It is a world where the books on your shelves have voices, and they are not happy. A world where a person can be reset as easily as a computer. Somewhere you can open your door to find a “Choose Your own Adventure,” book waiting to take complete control of your world. It is a place where you may believe you know what is possible, but looking deeper shows you just how many possibilities truly exist. Turn each page and always ask yourself, is there more?

Also be sure to add it to your Goodreads shelf!

Is There More?

“Black Mirror,” Review (Spoilers)

blackmirrorlogo.0I had come across the show “Black Mirror ,” on Netflix before but had never stopped to watch it until my brother recommended it to me. He knows my preference for shows in the vein of “The Twilight Zone.” I love shows that take our reality and twist it a little bit (I write much like this). Any show that has a twisted story line that makes you think as the show progresses will grab my attention. And “Black Mirror ,” was no exception to that rule.

“Black Mirror,” is a British show. There are two seasons, each with three episodes on Netflix, so it didn’t take me all that long to catch up on the show. Each episode is its own standalone story, but there is a hint that the episodes could well take place in the same universe. Each episode explores the consequences of the advancement of technology. Every episode focus on a different type of technology; whether it is Youtube and video sharing or the ability to access every memory you have ever had. The idea of the show is to explore how fast and far we have come, how far we still have to go and what some of the results of our efforts maybe. None of the episodes end with a happily-ever-after, smiles and hugs. We get to see the consequences of the technological world around us and it is scary and at times depressing.

The show doesn’t take place in a future that is far form our world today, like “Star Trek.” The advancements they show are not only possible but they are possible in our life times, I believe. I am 26 and I can remember a time when going on the computer was a privilege in our house. I had to not only wait my turn but also had to wait for dial-up to get online. Now I have a smart phone where I can literally access the world from my car, house and workplace. I have young cousins who have never known a time without not only a computer but a smartphone. Technology is on a fast track and it is not going to slow down anytime soon. So many of these advancements seem not only possible to me but probable.

With this fast paced advancement it is easy for us not to have time to be able to contemplate what these new discoveries could mean for us. I will give a quick look at my two favorite episodes. (Major Spoilers for these episodes ahead). The first is called “White Bear.” A young woman, Victoria, wakes up distressed and hurt in a small bedroom. She stumbles out of the house desperately searching for someone to tell her what is going on. All she sees are people holding cell phones and taping her. No one will talk with her.

She gets chased by a masked man and runs into two rebels. The woman takes Victoria under wing and attempts to save her. She tells her that somehow cellphones got hacked with a brainwashing type message. Anyone who has seen it just stands around watching. While those unaffected are hunted and killed. As Victoria runs she keeps having flashbacks to a time with a young girl who she thinks is her daughter. She works with the woman to try and shut down the signal that is causing the issue. Just as they seem about to fail they are revealed to be in front of an audience. The whole thing was a show.

It turns out that Victoria is a murderess and helped her fiancé kill the young girl she kept seeing before. They reveal all to her as she (still with no real memory) begs for mercy and is taken through a street of people throwing things at her and shouting her demise. They set up the room again, strap her down, wipe her memory and the whole thing begins once again. The whole thing is taking place inside of what appears to be a kind-of amusement park. The visitors even get to participate in the psychological torture of Victoria and most likely other criminals.

This is a interesting episode because it is something I can very well see taking place in our life time. Whenever a murderer or a violent criminal is caught there are always people shouting for them to get the same treatment which they showed to their victims. We as a people want extreme justice. And for many life in prison or even the death penalty are not enough. But is this really acceptable? To completely wipe all memories of the person’s life to the point that not only do they not remember their crime but they don’t even know who they are at all? Then have them believe they are running for their lives and trying to save a loved one only to discover the horrible deed they have done? And to have this done over and over again until they aren’t even psychologically able to function anymore? (I’m assuming this would be the ultimate end) And also to have the public take part? It is torture and it makes you think of how acceptable this type of thing could be. Many will say it makes sense while others will reply with torturing a torturer is just creating a cycle that will solve nothing. This show wants you to think and this episode definitely does that. What is your opinion?

The other episode that really stuck with me was “Be Right Back.” It is the story of a grieving widow and what she will do to get back the man she loved. Martha’s husband, Ash, goes out one night and dies in an accident. Martha is devastated and can barely function anymore. She is desperate to talk to her husband one more time.

A friend tells her about a company where they take a program that reads all social media and internet interactions and creates a form of a person from the information. Martha’s husband was heavily involved with social media and the internet so she decides to try it. “Ash,” replies much like her Ash would, saying some of the same phrases and talking about the same topics. Though it never tries to hide the fact that it is a computer program.

Eventually the computer and phone are not enough. She takes it a step farther and has his consciousness downloaded into a type of robot. He looks exactly like her late husband and seems appears life like. But it doesn’t take her long to realize that this is not her husband. No matter how much he did online this version can’t be him. There are things that he does, says that this robot can’t replicate. She realizes that she is falling apart even more with this new addition then she was without him. She becomes scared and upset and even tries to make him jump off a cliff. But he cries and she can’t get past seeming him as alive in some way. In the end she stores him in the attic, where she allows their daughter (who she learned she was pregnant at, right after Ash died) to see him once in a while.

Again this is a technology I can see having two polarizing opinions. For those who have been devastated by the lost of a loved one, the idea of being able to see them, talk to them and touch them again seems extremely appealing. But they are not completely that person you lost. They may sound the same and look the same but they do not have the lost loved one’s true personality. No matter how open you maybe on your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram you are not showing the world every aspect of you. My mom lost my biological father right before I was born. She has alway said that she would love to see and talk with him one more time. But I doubt she would choose the path. I think she would understand that while this person may look the same as my father did it can never completely capture his true personality and soul.

This episode explored the idea of technology creating life in a way or more accurately substituting a form of life. Is what this program creates actually life? Some people would see this as perfectly acceptable. While many others would find it twisted and a bit disturbing; I put myself very much in the second camp. What about you? If you had the opportunity to bring back a loved one in some form would you? Even if it wasn’t completely them?

“BlackMirror,”is not only entertaining but it makes you think about the world around us. Technology will continue to develop at a lightening speed and we are going to be offered many different options. Will we have time to stop and think about what the implications are of this new advancement? “Black Mirror,” gives us a glimpse into our possible future. It gives us an opportunity to think and prepare for some tough decisions we all may have to make one day.

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