In the hit and miss genre of anthology television, Black Mirror has always stood out as being more hit than miss. While the same could be said for the latest trio of offerings, one episode in particular is easily the weakest to date.
Black Mirror has always been at its best as an exploration of well-drawn characters falling victim to ‘five-minutes-into-the-future’ technology. The best episodes have always had a darker edge (save perhaps San Junipero) with the technology and focussed plots revealed in Shyamalan-esque fashion.
Season Five is a departure from at least two of these aforementioned tenets. The inclusion of star turns from Anthony Mackie, Andrew Scott, Topher Grace and Miley Cyrus may have elevated performances (save the obvious exception) yet the darker tone has taken a backseat to character exploration and more expansive plots.
While Striking Vipers is well executed both in terms of performance and a honed plot, Smithereens and Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too both endeavour to unfold feature-length movie style plots within their hour-long time slot. The former succeeds despite but certainly not as a result of this, with the expectedly strong performance of Andrew Scott elevating the tale of a man come undone. The latter fails on all fronts and for the first time, a convoluted plot overshadows what is essentially a good germ of a science fictional idea.