Lacie lives in a world where everyone rates each other on their phones, smart lenses allow you to look at someone and see their name and current popularity rating. Lacie is obsessed with being well received by others. In this society everything is based on your popularity rating from the house you can live in right to the type of treatments you have access to in hospital. Lacie wants to be part of this sugary sweet world until everything goes wrong and her popularity rating begins to dramatically fall.
Josh: Pretty strong opener to the new season of Black Mirror! This is an episode you can totally relate to and imagine happening in the very near future (in fact I'm sure I read that some company in China was trialing something very similar to this!) I know this is meant to be a damning reflection on society and its relationships to social media, but I'm not gonna lie, I like the idea. I'll rate you 5 for reading this blog post! Hope you do the same for me!
Lauren: This was a great opening episode to the new season. In a world fast becoming obsessed with how many likes and followers we can get on social media, this episode was a brilliant look at how the perfect picture we often paint online is in real danger of spilling over into the real world. I loved how the pastel outfits and the bright, sunny scenery perfectly fitted in with the sugary sweet, albeit often fake, personality's of the characters. A real eye opener for a social media obsessed society, showing you there's more to life than getting likes from strangers.
Josh: Again, the idea of this fully immersive interactive gaming technology is infinitely appealing to me! The whole premise of the episode is great (albeit with a grim twist), and if I had the opportunity to have a go with this kind of thing I'd be all for it. The episode had some good, classic horror spooky, jumpy bits so, yeah, its a thumbs up from me!
Lauren: The world of gaming is greatly expanding, with virtual reality becoming ever more popular, Playtest looked at what it would be like to truly put yourself in the game. Via a chip inserted into the players neck, games really do become reality, with the ability to pick up on a users traits and fears the game becomes unique to the player. I really enjoyed this episode for it's scare factor and for it's look at how too much technology interfering with each other can have very bad consequences.
Shut Up and Dance
Kenny is leading a normal teenage life until he receives an email informing him that his computer has been hacked and the hacker has footage of him masturbating. Unless he follows the hackers instructions the video will be released to his contacts. By following the instructions, Kenny comes into contact with other victims of the hacker, each with a secret. He meets Hector and the pair embark on the hackers latest mission, robbing a bank. When the pair part ways Kenny's final task is to fight to the death with another victim where it's revealed what he really did to become entangled in the game.
Josh: I think this episode could be my favourite, and I'm not sure why! The race against the clock, the blackmail, the every-man characters, the thriller-feel to it, the plot twits and turns...it all made for fun viewing. Its a dark tale and what with all the hackers and cyber crimes being committed nowadays, you can imagine this sort of scenario happening. Oh, and to top it all off, there is one of my favourite Game of Thrones actors in there! Mr "there's no cure for being a c**t" himself: Bronn!
Lauren: We've all read countless stories of computer hacking and stories of computer camera's being used to essentially spy on people. That's pretty much what happens in this episode, but there's a twist. The hackers are using what their victims have been up to online to blackmail them into doing a series of tasks to gain absolution. This was quite a dark episode that didn't reveal what the main character had really been up to until right at the end, a twist I certainly didn't see coming and didn't expect after being made to really feel sorry for Kenny throughout the episode.
Opening in the late 80's, Yorkie is visiting San Junipero for the first time. There she meets Kelly who uses her to lose a guy. Yorkie and Kelly are complete opposites and when Kelly propositions Yorkie, she runs away. A week later they meet again and this time Yorkie accepts the offer and ends up back at Kelly's house. Yorkie then spends the following weeks trying to find Kelly in different decades (at which point it becomes clear that the characters in this episode can somehow travel through time). The story follows Kelly and Yorkie as they attempt to build a life in San Junipero, whilst discovering who each other really is.
Josh: Oh...my...days. I know Lauren's going to tell you she loved this one, but I found it pretty damn boring. I'm not one for romancy kind of stories (even if it is between two fairly hot women), so this one just seemed to drag on. And on. And on. I get the whole premise of the story, and it's a good idea, but...nah, not my cup of tea. Next!
Lauren: The plot of San Junipero is quite a difficult one to explain. It doesn't really set off like other Black Mirror episodes in that it takes a little while to realise what the twist is. This episode visits the idea of virtual reality again but in a completely different way to Playtest. Basically San Junipero is a place where the consciousnesses of dead people are uploaded into a virtual reality system that allows them to live there as their younger selves forever. Living people can visit San Junipero for 5 hours a week. Kelly and Yorkie meet at San Junipero and the episode follows their lives both in the virtual reality world and in real life. No review I write can give justice to how good this episode is. I'd actually sit down and watch this again. Oh and it made me cry!
Men Against Fire
"Roaches" have taken over, they're mutant's left over from a war, with pale features, sharp teeth and no capacity for language. It's Stripe and the rest of his squad's job to rid the village of these creatures. The squad are implanted with a MASS device to help with operations. When raiding a house suspected of harbouring Roaches, Stripe has a green device flashed in his eyes by one of the Roaches. What follows is Stripe's MASS implant glitching and him being able to see the Roaches for what they really are, humans who are victims of a Holocaust-like campaign.
Josh: I didn't hate this one, but I didn't love it either. The idea or soldiers being implanted with a device that makes them not see the targets as humans is cool, and it is interesting to see his struggle with what he has done when his device malfunctions. It makes you wonder what you would do in that situation: have a new device implanted OR remain aware of all you've done and have that on your conscience forever. Nice premise...but it just dragged on a little too long and I couldn't 100% connect with the main guy.
Lauren: I can't really put my finger on why but I just couldn't click with this episode. From the premise it should have been amazing but sadly it fell extremely short of its potential. It bored me and seemed to drag on and on which is disappointing really. With a topic like this there was so much that could have been done but it just felt like the whole episode was holding back.
Hated in the Nation
When a hated journalist is murdered, DCI Parke takes on the case with her new partner Blue. Together they discover that the journalist was targeted by #DeathTo on Twitter. After more deaths of people targeted by #DeathTo, Blue and Parke discover the hashtag is part of a game where users vote to kill a public hate figure using the hashtag. All the deaths are linked to Autonomous Drone Insects (ADI's) which have been created to replace the almost extinct bee population. They lodge inside the victims brain and cause severe pain to the victim. Blue and Parke need to find out who's controlling the ADI's and why.
Josh: The finale! A bit of a longer episode that deals with the will of the masses, online-mob justice, how trolling on social media affects people, and how a simple trend on Twitter can have deadly consequences in the offline world. I enjoyed this one, and despite it not being the very best episode, it was a little step up from Men Against Fire and a mighty stride up from San Junipero!
Lauren: I don't have too much to say about this one, Hated in the Nation was the longest episode of the series leading me to believe it would end with a bang. Again the concept was good and the analyses of social media was great but it lacked the pizzazz that a closing episode should have had. It wasn't the worst of the bunch, but it was nowhere near the best.
Josh: Shut Up and Dance takes the numero uno spot, for me!
Lauren: It has to be San Junipero for me but Shut Up and Dance and Playtest are very close contenders!