Since 2011, Black Mirror has been terrifying and delighting audiences alike with its trademark cynical tone and science fiction lens. Let’s get one thing straight; every episode of this series is iconic and timeless. Picking the 5 best episodes is like choosing the 5 best Beatles songs, it’s nearly impossible; there’s just so much good stuff to choose from. That being said, I have whittled down my personal ‘Top 5’. So without further ado, here is the (very debatable) Top 5 episodes of Black Mirror.
5. The Entire History of You (Pilot)
After over a decade, the pilot episode of Black Mirror is still one of the best in the series. Following a tech implant that can record every moment of a person’s life through their own vision, this obviously creates security problems and undermines the autonomy of each individual. It poses the question, “If everyone is watching, would you still make the same decisions?”. It kickstarts the entire series, and sets the tone for every episode following it. Even with the expansive nature of genres and voices that this show takes, we can always expect the same formula; technological advancement + human nature = disaster. We have to give credit where credit is due to the original blueprint of the series. Not to mention, this episode still holds its own against the newer, higher-production episodes of the later seasons.
4. San Junipero (Season 3 Episode 4)
This episode is really special; and I’ll tell you why. As mentioned above, every episode of the show follows the same basic formula–we know what to expect. ‘San Junipero’ is the exception to this rule. While it does follow a technological advancement and its implications on human euthanasia/afterlife, the episode takes a distinct turn. Right from the beginning, this episode feels more comfortable and heartwarming than any other. It follows two young women who fall in love inside of a simulation. Through personal reflection and vulnerability, the characters confront their hangups with homosexuality and fidelity. It’s a surprisingly emotional episode, that ends in the most wonderful way; seriously, grab the tissues. Typically, with a Black Mirror episode, we’ll have a fulfilling but terrifying ending. ‘San Junipero’ turns that on its head, showing the two young women committing themselves to each other forever in this blissful dream, after confronting their emotional blockages. Literally, so beautiful.
3. White Bear (Season 2 Episode 2)
This is a certified classic, guys. It’s everything we love about the show, taken to extremes. What stands out in this episode to me, is the sheer ruthlessness that is revealed at the end. It’s almost nauseating how cynical and detached these people are from what they’re seeing. They pay to see a woman live her nightmare over and over again; and even if it’s a just punishment for the woman, when you add spectators, it feels disgusting. At the very end of the episode, we see the humiliation and pain she suffers every day, and the joy the people around her take in inflicting that pain. The audience claps, hollers, participates, and finds genuine joy in torturing this woman. It’s a jarring commentary on capital punishment and the prison system, and it’ll have your jaw slack on the floor.
2. Shut Up And Dance (Season 3 Episode 3)
This episode is shocking. Genuinely shocking. This episode follows a teen boy who gets his internet history hacked. After the anonymous hacker blackmails him into doing some illegal and morally horrible things, it’s revealed that the boy has been trolled the whole time. Not only has he been trolled, but his real internet history is revealed to his family and friends (and the police, due to the nature of the content). The last scene is utterly genius, with the teen looking directly into camera, bloody and exhausted (an empty shell of a person, truly), limping away from police behind him slowly. He knows he’s done, and he’s completely given himself over to his fate. After a frantic call from his mother, exposing the nature of his internet history, he completely breaks down. The first time I watched this, I genuinely gasped at the reveal. The last 10-15 minutes of this episode are absolutely unhinged. Not only that, but the opening scene of the episode is a direct callout to the reveal. It’s grotesque and revolting in every way, and it’s one of the most sinister episodes of the series. Buckle up for this one.
1. Black Museum (Season 4 Episode 6)
We knew this one was coming, right? To date, this episode stands as one of the most ambitious, following three different stories that all tie together and provide astute social commentary. Not only do the stories thread together the episode, they are able to thread together previous episodes with various Easter eggs. Letitia Wright puts on an absolute masterclass in acting, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats all the way until the last second. Her performance is layered and nuanced, giving complexity to a character that really doesn’t have the majority of the dialogue. And the reveal in this episode? Absolutely bonkers. Full-blown crazy. Not only the reveal, but the way that Letitia’s character delivers punishment and justice at the end of this episode? Masterpiece. This episode takes on sexuality, pleasure, fragility of human connection, wrongful conviction, capital punishment, Big Pharma, and of course, technology vs. human nature. It is ridiculous the amount of ground they’re able to cover in the span of 69 minutes; truly it’s a behemoth of commentary. When paired with the meta callbacks to its own lore, this stands as the greatest episode of Black Mirror. Or at least, that’s my two cents.
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