Hang The DJ
Back for a fourth season, Charlie Brooker’s dark, satirical series returns for another 6 episodes of dread-filled, thought provocative misery. Thematically strong and full of interesting composition, the fourth season is arguably the best in the show’s history, even if it does feel like its recycled a few ideas from the previous seasons. Whilst its debatable whether the best episodes here are as good as what’s come before, there’s no denying that this year is certainly the most consistent. Every episode feels like a hammer blow and even if there isn’t much variation in the technology explored, the emotional weight hanging over every episode more than makes up for it.
For those unfamiliar with Black Mirror, the format this year is largely unchanged from before. The six episodes are unrelated to one another, playing as an anthology with a recurring theme around possible bleak scenarios in the near future involving technological advancements. The writing is generally excellent too but a recurring theme of uploaded consciousness does crop up repeatedly and seems to bleed into many of the episodes. Thankfully, there’s just enough variation in the way it’s showcased to keep each episode fresh and different.
Although it could be argued that a few of the character actions from the protagonist in Crocodile are a little far-fetched and contrived, the scripts through all the episodes are of a high standard. From a virtual representation of a space-faring TV show to an artistic black and white vision of the future, the six episodes are vastly different from one another but it’s largely the emotion deriving in each episode that stands out the most. The structure of each episode does feel very similar to previous episodes too; Black Museum is set up in much the same way as White Christmas, Hang The DJ has echoes of San Juniper and these fragments of episodes past crop up repeatedly this year.
With most of the previous seasons gravitating toward a shock twist to emphasise the stories, Black Mirror boldly steps away from this in its fourth season to deliver a more thought provocative experience. Questions around whether we should expose children to danger, the implications of a shared consciousness or the ethical nature of digitalised versions of ourselves, Black Mirror is full of delightfully uncomfortable questions. Some of this is offset by a slightly more hopeful approach to some of the endings to the episodes here.
There’s certainly nothing else on TV quite like Black Mirror. The sheer quality of each episode rivals that of the biggest blockbuster production and the excellent writing that’s become a staple of this series is effortless in the high standard it achieves yet again. Although it’s a little disappointing that some of the episodes borrow heavily from previous seasons, it’s easy to look past considering how well crafted and consistent this season is. It’ll be interesting to see how audiences perceive this but judging Black Mirror by the quality of every episode collectively rather than individually, the fourth season is one of the best seasons since Black Mirror’s inception and that’s certainly no easy feat for a show that continues to push the boundaries and ask the uncomfortable questions.