The latest season of the sci-fi series Black Mirror has launched on Netflix. The three episode fifth season features an all-star cast bringing stories of technology and its effects on humanity to life. Here’s my review of the fifth season of the groundbreaking series.
College friends Danny (Anthony Mackie) and Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) have drifted apart after graduation with Danny getting married and having children while Karl continues to date younger women. When the two reunite at Danny’s birthday party, Karl gives him a present; the newest iteration of the video game that bonded them Striking Vipers. Armed with new virtual reality technology that puts them in the bodies of the game avatars, the two discover that fighting each other isn’t as fulfilling as engaging in another physical pursuit.
The episode is well acted and starts off with an interesting premise as it explores themes that don’t usually get talked about in society. Using the game avatars to explore themes of sexuality is good, but the episode doesn’t really go deep enough in exploring the relationship between Danny and Karl and its implications on their real lives.
Chris (Andrew Scott) is a ride share driver who seems to be targeting the London offices of the social networking app Smithereens. When what he thinks is an executive with the company enters his vehicle, he kidnaps the young man in an attempt to force the CEO of the company Billy Bauer (Topher Grace) to talk to him, the kidnapping sets off an international crisis. With the police surrounding his vehicle to rescue the hostage, the investigation into what Chris wants leads to a tragic discovery.
This is another episode that starts off strong with great performances by Andrew Scott and Damson Idris as the hostage Jaden. Unfortunately, it never really seems to go anywhere interesting and the final reveal and conclusion are anti-climactic.
Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too
Rachel (Angourie Rice) is a lonely teen who retreats into her love of pop singer Ashley O (Miley Cyrus). Both Rachel and her sister Jack (Madison Davenport) are dealing with the loss of their mother in their own way and Rachel’s father gives her a gift of a robot doll with the voice and personality of Ashley O. Unbeknownst to Rachel and the rest of the world, Ashley has her own problems with her domineering manager and handlers who will do whatever it takes to keep Ashley under their control.
This episode is the most tech heavy one of the season and it does a great job of blurring the line between technology and reality in some interesting ways. Cyrus does a great job in her performance, but the themes explored in the episode fall away as the episode devolves into an unsatisfying conclusion.