The popular Netflix series Black Mirror left audiences reeling, with the release of five new episodes last week. Although Season 6 arguably does not reach the heights of Seasons 1 through 3, it’s certainly making waves in its own right. Charlie Brooker, the creator of Black Mirror, dared to make some changes in style, leading to a much-debated ranking. Here is my list:
5. ‘Mazey Day’
Easily the most divisive episode and falling to a firm last in my rankings is Black Mirror’s ‘Mazey Day’. Starting off promising with great acting from Zazie Beetz as Bo, I was expecting a deep dive into the tolls that the paparazzi inflicts on public figures. The episode is set in the 2000s and is not that bad for the first two-thirds, benefitting heavily from being the shortest episode in the season. The so-called ‘twist’, however, ruins the storyline by turning into a half-baked Teen Wolf wannabe. It just feels like the ending has nothing to do with the moral message of the episode and therefore lacked that horrifying element that Black Mirror is known for.
With the lack of science fiction or technology, it just doesn’t feel like it belongs in the series, despite it being a great watch
4. ‘Demon 79’
Now, my next one is going to be controversial. It’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy ‘Demon 79’; in fact, it had one of the best comedic themes in the Black Mirror universe. Unfortunately, it veered too much into horror for my tastes. The episode was thoroughly entertaining and made great use of political and social issues relevant in 1970s Britain, exploring the racism and hatred of members of the Windrush generation. Prevalent dark humour reminded me of pre-Netflix Black Mirror and the concept itself is just warped enough to work. I wasn’t overly fond of the ending, but the episode offered a truly convincing cast (Anjana Vasan and Paapa Essiedu) and an excellent soundtrack. With the lack of science fiction or technology, it just doesn’t feel like it belongs in the series, despite it being a great watch.
3. ‘Loch Henry’
‘Loch Henry’ is one of those episodes that stick with you after watching, sending me running to The Office for some much-needed tension relief. Following a young couple intending to create a documentary about a hometown horror story, ‘Loch Henry’ is a great slow burn that kicks you right at the end. If you’re a fan of the true crime genre, this definitely has an appeal but will also get you questioning your obsession. The angle is innovative even if we’ve all witnessed an indictment of true crime before and I truly could not predict the twist. Some viewers may disagree, but this episode was honestly one of my favourites – perhaps saying more about me than Black Mirror in general.
My first-place choice will come as no surprise to anyone who has watched Season 6
2. ‘Joan is Awful’
The runner-up in my rankings in a respectable second place would be ‘Joan Is Awful’ – the first episode of the season. Making a splash, the storyline follows Joan, an average middle-class woman whose life is turned into a ‘Streamberry’ show, with Joan herself played by a deepfaked Salma Hayek. From the vibe, it is clear that the actresses enjoyed creating their characters and fulfilling the episode’s scarily realistic scenario. The storyline scarred me more than I realised, a notion shared by many viewers that were frantically running to Netflix’s Terms and Conditions after watching. I just find it unbelievable that the script was approved by the many executives involved and Netflix actually agreed to produce it. Is ‘Joan Is Awful’ a crowd-pleaser? Short answer: yes. But I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing given some of the episodes at the bottom of the rankings.
1. ‘Beyond the Sea’
My first-place choice will come as no surprise to anyone who has watched Season 6. ‘Beyond the Sea’ was clearly a standout, and I can see it becoming a classic episode across all seasons. Featuring a star-studded cast of Aaron Paul, Josh Hartnett, and Kate Mara, everything from the storyline to the special effects feels lifelike and has you on the edge of your seat. Although some critics are claiming the runtime drags on, I personally felt it was perfectly timed to build and develop the characters. Aaron Paul was incredible, and the episode arguably features the performance of his career. The tension between the two astronauts feels organic and the introduction of new technologies firmly places it as the best episode of Season 6.