“Black Mirror” Season 5: Surprising Yet Impressively Believable

Miley Cyrus in "Black Mirror"

After the spectacular that was Bandersnatch, one cannot justify being disappointed by the fact there were only three episodes this season. What’s more, each was intricately crafted and had us believing in each character far more than we ever did for Waldo or Arkangel’s rushed mother-daughter relationship.

The season highlight is arguably “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too,” which explores teen pop culture via the figure of happy-go-lucky Ashley O.

We soon learn that Ashley is drugged by her aunt to keep her smiling and creating the music they want. As the episode progresses, we discover the lengths that those controlling her are willing to go to in order to capitalize on her smiling image.

Miley Cyrus gave a surprising performance, in which she had us deeply empathizing with the trapped woman being forced to be someone she is not.

She then had us laughing and rooting for a malfunctioned robot with the “real” Ashley’s personality, and we were rooting for the uncanny bot every step of the way. As far as entertainment goes, this absurd dystopian adventure is the pinnacle.

Episode two is generally being considered as the weakest of the three, although it definitely has something to offer. “Smithereens” focuses on a hostage situation in which the kidnapper is desperate to get hold of the
Smithereens company founder, Billy Bauer.

We quickly sympathize with the man holding a Smithereens intern captive, given that he clearly does not want to be doing what he is doing at all.

Overall, the episode is less of a sci-fi adventure and more of a social reflection on our own addiction to social media.

Finally, the season opener “Sniping Vipers” was a big surprise. Starring Marvel’s Anthony Mackie, the episode explores the possibility of alternative sexual relations through virtual reality. It caught us off guard but raised some interesting questions about gender fluidity and modern relationships.

After Danny and Karl’s online personas share a passionate kiss, Karl jokes that the pair are “gay now.” Danny denies it, but later accepts that the pair do have undeniable chemistry — it’s just that the chemistry is confined to the game.

The episode thus explores a new set of forms love can take and how the modern relationship has the potential to be flexible enough to accommodate.

Overall, season 5 was tame in comparison to some of the previous seasons, but it was also highly believable and moving. Charlie Brooker once again explores our own social reality through a series of futuristic scenarios, only this time, the events were new takes on things that are more or less already happening.