Media Minute: “Black Mirror”

The thrilling sci-fi anthology series “Black Mirror” has found a new home on Netflix.

Originally broadcast on British television, the series’ third and latest season was commissioned by Netflix for 12 episodes. The show’s dark tales will now reach a wide American binge-watching audience. The first six episodes became available on Netflix Friday, Oct. 21, and has reached critical success.

The show operates as an anthology series. Every episode presents a different story and its set of characters often jump from near present time to unknown futuristic settings. This keeps the show fresh, and the 60-minute run time allows each episode to come to fruition.

“Black Mirror” weaves grim stories with its visions of dystopia. It could be considered a cautious warning. The show explores the terrifying possibilities of a society too dependent on technology.

Questions raised during the story include the current and future state of our relationship with technology in general.

While every episode is thought-provoking because of its relevance or fascinating creativity, most of those thoughts involve elements of fear, anxiety, paranoia or sadness. Some episodes are more suspenseful than others, forcing the viewer to reflect on unnerving instances of the modern or future world.

Perhaps the darkest and most thrilling tale of the third season transpires in the episode “Shut Up and Dance.” A teenage boy somewhere in present-day Britain is blackmailed into a whirlwind of increasingly bizarre tasks by an online anonymous source. This, all resulting from an embarrassing evening alone in his bedroom where the anonymous source recorded him through his laptop webcam.

The anonymous source teams the teenager, Kenny, with an older man who is also being blackmailed. Together they must complete random demands or risk the loss of their livelihoods and dignity, as the blackmailers have threatened to leak their dirty laundry to the world.

The episode ends with one of the biggest twists of the season, turning the viewer’s rationale completely upside-down as “Black Mirror” generally does so well. The most disturbing part of this episode is not what happens to the teenager or his partner, though, but instead the present-day setting and its unsettling likelihood.

Other episodes take place in the future, but hold on to the relevance of our technologically driven modern world.

In the 90-minute season finale “Hated in the Nation,” the mysterious death of a controversial journalist puzzles the country and alarms the detectives involved in the investigation.

Other controversial figures begin to die as well. The detectives eventually discover a pattern: All of the figures who die are victims of social media hate waves, where social media users wished death and other heinous things upon them.

Their deaths are not by accident, nor are they coincidental. They are deliberate and only made possible by a certain technological advance that shall be unnamed to not spoil it for viewers. The social media users who participated in wishing death upon another human got what they wished for.

The finale is a lesson that again, is quite relevant to today’s world. “Black Mirror” pushes viewers to contemplate the “what if?” scenarios that make us uncomfortable, and cautions the future of technological advancement and how we use it.