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Reviews The Nerd Den TV

Black Mirror: Series 5

The newest series of “Black Mirror” just dropped on Netflix and it occurred to me I had some catching up to do.  Black Mirror isn’t something I like to put on in passing and so it’s sat and gathered some proverbial dust.  This morning I was ignited by Anthony Mackie’s face when I logged into Netflix.  I set up my work space and planned at least this single episode of “Black Mirror”.  This write up will contain some spoilers.

Striking Vipers

Danny (Anthony Mackie) lives with his wife Theo and their young son and seems very happy with his life.  At his birthday party his friend Karl gives him a virtual reality fighting game.  In the game they can feel the same physical sensations as you would in reality.  Karl is playing a female character and Danny a male.  After their first fight begin kissing.  They ensue a sexual relationship in the game, and the results become muddy.

Black MirrorWhat I love about this is it really explores how fragile our relationships are, but also our own understanding of our sexuality and how determined we are to label it.  When given the freedom ambiguity gives us, do we take the opportunity to explore our desires or deny them?  What lines are you crossing when you do?  And if you cross them does that decode the entire societal norm that you’ve conformed to? That’s the beauty of this episode.  Perhaps we are our more honest selves when we have the freedom of not being judged by the confines of societal norms.  Is that all that’s really stopping us from exploring our desires the way Danny, Theo and Karl did?

Smithereens

A Taxi driver is in a state of distress in a grief support group.  After he kidnaps someone he believes to be a high up in the company “Smithereens” and eventually holds the unassuming intern hostage demanding to talk to the CEO.

I didn’t enjoy this one as much.  The man was dealing with his guilt over his wife dying in a car crash as he ws the driver.  He felt responsible because he was on his phone checking his “Smithereen” account and the accident was the result.  He wanted someone to take accountability for creating this monster that by proxy was harming the entire world.

Black MirrorI empathize with the entire scenario proposed here, but it was a little too nail on the head for me, nonetheless message received.  The final shots of everyone checking their phones sent shivers down my spine.  That monster is being fed more and more every day.

Bonus: Topher Grace’s brief part was tremendous.

“Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too”

Rachel and Jack are sisters who live with their father after their mother’s death. For her birthday, Rachel gets an AI doll called Ashley Too based on Ashley O(Miley Cyrus) a famous female pop star.  Both sisters are complete opposites, but also outcasts.  When Ashley O no longer wants to make the engineered music she’s been making, her aunt who is her manager takes extreme measures to ensure her compliance.

This was not the most groundbreaking of any of the series, but it was a LOT of fun.  Also, it was made pretty believable.  You can be assured that if this technology did exist (or will) something of this nature may very well be plausible in the twisted world of Hollywood.  It’s over the top, but there’s a solid payoff.  What is most enjoyable about Black Mirror is the episodes really can go in any direction.

General Consensus

Even the episodes I’m not as fond of I at least appreciate for trying something different.  Black Mirror takes risks experimenting with the human condition, tech ideology and mixing it with the confusion of our base code of morality.  No punches are pulled and there are no qualms about exploring what effect technology will have and exploit on us as a people. I find it fascinating.

4/5 Stars

Series 5 is now streaming on Netflix

4 Stars

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