A few days ago I watched season 5 of Black Mirror, a show I have a sort of love-hate relationship with. The premises are usually pretty interesting, but the morals feel heavy-handed and often don’t even say anything of actual substance beyond “Technology is bad” and “Privacy is good.” It tries to be a modern-day Twilight Zone, but I feel like most of the plots in Black Mirror were actually done better by the original run of the older series.
(As a note, I’ve seen the first two episodes of the current Twilight Zone revival and they’re fantastic. I need to get around to watching the rest of it at some point.)
Anyway. Season 5 returns to the series' original 3-story-per-season format, which helps to keep things fairly tight and focused, unlike the sprawling, interconnected mess that was season 4. (Okay, “Arkangel” was pretty good, and “USS Callister” was at least a fun heist episode, although it over-relied on a bunch of tropes which rubbed me in the wrong way but that’s a subject for a different blog entry.)
So far, critics seem to be loving the first episode (“Striking Vipers”), just apathetic to the second episode (“Smithereens”), and absolutely loathing the third episode (“Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too”). My feelings on the episodes are pretty much completely inverted from that – “Striking Vipers” was just okay (with a decent, but hollow, payoff at the end), “Smithereens” was a lot of setup for a story that didn’t have a lot of substance, and “Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too” is probably my favorite episode of the entire series so far.
Some more detailed thoughts have been pinging around in my head for the last few days so I figure I’d share them. I’m going to try to limit any actual spoilers here, but you probably need to watch the episodes to have a point of reference; this isn’t a review, but neither is it a recap.