Liam Hoofe looks back at all 19 episodes of Black Mirror and ranks them from worst to best…
It’s been a few weeks since Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker’s dystopian anthology series, made its return to our screens with its fourth season and by now, fans everywhere will have digested the show’s six newest tales. Black Mirror arrived on our screens back in 2011 and has been providing us with innovative television ever since.
I originally wrote a ranking piece for the show back in 2016, when there had only been two seasons of the show, and at that time, a total of seven episodes. With the show’s move to Netflix, the new seasons have doubled in size and now, two seasons later, the show has had a total of 19 episodes. With such a wide array of genres and issues being tackled, it is natural that a show with such variety would have produced episodes of varying degrees of quality and while there is no such thing as a bad episode of Black Mirror, there are certainly some that are worse than others.
The show’s fourth season has arguably been Black Mirror’s most divisive to date, with several of the episodes having received mixed reviews. When Black Mirror is good, though, it is the best show on television and now fans have had plenty of time to digest Season 4 of the show, let’s take a look back at all 19 Black Mirror episodes and rank them from worst to best.
Starting this list is one of season four’s efforts, Arkangel. The episode, directed by Jodie Foster is easily the most heavy-handed in the show’s history. The concept, a mother inputs a device into her daughter so that she can follow her every move, is a nice idea but the episode totally fails in its execution. The episode is about as subtle as a sledgehammer and while it certainly has its moments, the themes of helicopter parenting are drilled down your throat, making this the only episode of Black Mirror that I would really describe as, well, boring.
Black Mirror has played with many genres throughout its four-season run and it has been largely successful in doing so. Season 3’s Men Against Fire sees the show take on the army genre and while it is far from a bad episode of television, it never really manages to grab your attention.
The biggest reason for this is the episode’s over-reliance on army movie tropes and an ending that is so telegraphed you could probably guess it just from reading a brief synopsis of the show. The episode’s final dialogue is well executed and the show has some great action set pieces, it just never really makes any real impact.
Metalhead is the shortest episode of Black Mirror to date. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the episode is basically one long nightmarish sequence about a woman being chased by a murderous robotic dog. The episode is suitably tense and it is shot in a beautifully, nightmarish monotone but the whole thing just feels like it lacks that Black Mirror bite. While it is a really fun episode, it never really sinks its teeth into anything and is just a distraction more than anything else.
16: Hated in the Nation
Black Mirror season 3 finished with ‘Hated in the Nation’, a 90-minute police procedural that on the whole, has more hits than misses. You could be forgiven for thinking that the episode’s low placing on the list is indicative of its quality but if anything, if it praise of just how good the show is as a whole. Hated in the Nation is a fun episode of the show, one which reminded me a lot of John Ronson’s best-selling ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’. The episode takes aim at social media and the way panic can and will spread in the 21st century.
Crocodile is basically just an episode about a woman having a really bad day. This Nordic crime piece focuses on a woman who is forced to kill her ex-boyfriend, setting off a chain of events that is both grisly and heartbreaking. The episode saves its biggest punch until the final moments but the rest of the journey is also a fun ride.
14: The Waldo Moment
The Waldo Moment is one of the most divisive Black Mirror episodes but watching it again, nearly five years after its original release, you can’t help but notice the similarities between the rise of Waldo and the world’s current political climate.
While the premise may seem a little silly and many have argued that the execution is not that great either, The Waldo Moment works as a satire of our current political situation and, while the humor is fairly juvenile, it’s hard not to raise a wee smile while you’re watching it.
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