The ominous and disturbing TV series premiered its fifth season last Wednesday, revealing three new stories expected to once again, leave the audience wondering about the not so bright future that will come. The new episodes of “Black Mirror” are not so similar to the ones from past seasons, when it comes to the atmosphere, and it is not necessarily a good thing because season 5 left everyone quite confused. I was so excited to get to see the new episodes and discover more details about the characters, but a few minutes after finishing the first one I realised it cannot be compared to the other “Black Mirror” stories. I felt the absence of Charlie Brooker`s visionary ideas this year as the narratives resonated with past episodes such as the endings of “The Waldo Moment” and “San Junipero”.
On the bright side, the casting was once again stunning thanks to the incredible work of Anthony Mackie, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Beharie, Andrew Scott, Damson Idris and Miley Cyrus. My absolute favourite moment from the entire season was Andrew Scott`s wild performance from the second episode entitled “Smithereens”. The episode depicts the unknown story of Chris- a cab driver, portrayed by Scott, who furiously decides to kidnap one of the high-level employees of the technological platform Smithereens, in order to talk to Billy Bauer, the founder of the platform. The only good reason to watch the new season would be Scott`s haunting performance as he truly made the character come to life while delivering a brilliant performance. I believe that everyone should watch it just because of Andrew Scott`s tremendous talent and award-worthy performance as sometimes great acting can make you appreciate a TV show much more.
It is quite difficult to talk about the first episode, entitled “Striking Vipers” because there is not much to say without spoiling it. I had a few issues with it as it failed to impress and I believe it was too long to illustrate such a short story. The main idea was made to fit within an hour of runtime, although 40 minutes would have been more than enough for the story to develop. The nice elements, on the other hand, were the acting and the directing and editing of each scene for they did not feel rigid or overstated. It was exciting to see Anthony Mackie and Pom Klementieff together in the same TV series, other than the Avengers films. On a different note, the most disappointing detail about “Striking Vipers” is that it has a decent and unexpected plot featuring technology and how far it can go once you get used to using it, but it is not a “Black Mirror” episode...and neither is “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too”- the one featuring Miley Cyrus.
Talking about each episode separately made me realise that the second one is by far my favourite of the fifth season being the only one to deliver a proper message to the audience. “Smithereens” managed to combine high level acting with a recurring issue in today`s society: when and how did technology become so addictive? That is exactly what Scott`s character is trying to find out during the episode. A brief classic car chase preceded Chris’s surprising past unravelling and offered more details about the character’s desperate demand to speak with the founder of the company. Another aspect I truly adored was featuring the original version of the song “Can’t take my eyes off you” in the waiting playlist while Chris is on the phone. The song title appears later in the episode as a pun when Chris angrily asks what makes mobile phones so obsessive that you “can’t take your eyes off them”.
The third and final episode, called “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” concludes the new season by presenting the untold truth about Ashley O`s real life. Ashley is a worldwide musical sensation, portrayed by Miley Cyrus, who recently announced she is launching a new interactive doll- created entirely after her personality. And this is where things start to get interesting…but is it really? Well, to be honest, no. I expected to see an odd and completely dark narrative built in the classic “Black Mirror” style, but instead I got a very usual episode you could have easily misplaced in any other TV show, except this one. The story was not shocking at all, some scenes were quite similar to the ending of “The Waldo Moment” and I would have liked to see Miley in a different way, because I already knew she was a great singer and an international phenomenon.
Conclusively, the fifth season of the series was pretty unsatisfying as it was neither mysterious nor profound enough to be considered part of “Black Mirror”. If I were to recommend it to someone else, the only reason would be that you should consider Chris’s emotional message before deciding to use tech platforms again. I hope the next season-if there will be one, will take a deeper approach to life.