In the wake of Black Mirror’s season 5 trailer, fans have been buzzing with excitement. Here at NerdBastards, we’re no different. Black Mirror has encouraged a new trend of sci-fi anthology TV, questioning the world in new, bizarre ways.
While waiting for the three new, star-studded episodes, let’s look back on some of the best stories to come out of the anthology series. Every episode pushes the envelope in it’s own way, but some do it better than others or leave more lasting impacts.
With definitely, absolutely no particular order in mind, here are the 5 best Black Mirror episodes (for 5 seasons now, get it?)
(Please laugh at my jokes or you’re in for a long read.)
Season 1, Episode 1: “The National Anthem”
As the infamous first episode, of course we had to include “The National Anthem”. This story holds zero punches as it makes a commentary on the obsession with shock and vulgarity. People talk about how they don’t want to see the awful things in the world and wish they weren’t there, but that doesn’t stop them from obsessing and watching them (no shade to the True Crime community, but some of you guys are obsessed with murders, so let’s just call it even).
The ending of this episode is so damn good that we can’t spoil it. Anyone who knows doesn’t need to hear it again, and anyone who doesn’t know should watch it and get completely hooked on Black Mirror.
Season 2, Episode 1: “Be Right Back”
Considering this is one of the most effective and powerful Black Mirror episodes, we might as well start with it. “Be Right Back” is emotional, haunting, and truly questions the lengths that science should be pushed. When a wife tragically loses her husband, the grief nearly crushes her. But could that pain all go away if she ordered a replica of him, to fill that painful void?
The company makes it clear they aren’t the same. But how could not wish they were?
From exploring human nature, right and wrong, and the lengths grief will take you, this isn’t just a science fiction story. It’s a painful truth of heartbreak and loss that just uses science fiction to prove a point. It’s heartbreaking, raw, and ultimately powerful as hell.
Season 3, Episode 1: “Nosedive”
THE GIFS. There are few Black Mirror episodes with such stunning and impactful visuals. The story follows a world where every little action is scrutinized by others, improving or worsening your social “rating”. As the title says, it follows Lacie, a good girl who did everything right. That is, until she had one bad day and everything, as the title said, took a nosedive. And when your entire psyche is wrapped up in your rating? Well, the rating won’t be the only thing nosediving.
Existing in a surreal, pastel mad dollhouse, the story is endlessly impressive and hits hard on every level. Fans won’t miss a single cringe-worthy, painful moment of Lacie’s devolution (or evolution?).
Season 4, Episode 1: “USS Callister”
Star Trek has become an unyielding pillar of nerd culture. That means that of course Black Mirror had to do their own homage. Granted, the homage isn’t nearly as friendly as one might hope.
The “USS Callister” is about the virtual reality world created by a genius, Robert Daly. At first, fans are encouraged to feel bad for Rob. He’s just a passionate nerd who gets overshadowed and excluded by his far more charismatic business partner.
However, with some time, you learn the more sinister ways Rob uses his genius and how it affects the people he’s come to torment.
Somehow a comedy, parody, and a love letter to Star Trek all in one, “USS Callister” can’t be missed. Especially not for Trekkies.
Bandersnatch deserves recognition for sheer ambition alone. Sure, it’s not an episode, but you all know it counts. It’s an interactive film with tons of wildly different end routes, all changing based on the decisions the viewer makes, small or large.
The story follows a video game programmer named Stefan, a guy whose mind is already not that stable. However, the further he goes into his own “choose your own adventure” video game, the more surrealist, bizarre, and dangerous his own life gets. It may include drugs, movie sets, or even Netflix.
Because of it’s own nature, it doesn’t always have the most satisfying conclusions or poignant messages. However, as a huge ambitious, original product, there’s nothing else quite like it.
And it all started with a childhood rabbit.
Honorable Mention: Season 3, Episode 4: “San Junipero”
Though we made this list five to match up with the whole “season 5” thing, we have to mention “San Junipero” for one single reason: the great things it does for the LGBTQ+ community. For the general audience it might just seem like a little love story. Well-told, but ultimately no big deal. However, it means so much more.
Too often in LGBTQ+ films, it’s turned into a tragedy. Either the pair never can be together, or one gets horribly abandoned, or the worst one, one (or both) of the couple dies. This episode completely subverts that by having both of them die but it being a happily ever after. Adding the afterlife world of San Junipero gives these women a chance to find happiness together.
It’s heartwarming and lovely, to say the least, and it means so much. After all, all people in love deserve a happy ending.