With Black Mirror season 6, Charlie Brooker has truly exceeded himself.
The gloomy anthology series which is shrouded in unprecedented secrecy until its release each time, is consistently bold, brave and brutal but for the sixth blockbuster run of episodes, Black Mirror is even more spectacular than ever before.
Five episodes, five truly WTF storylines.
Annie Murphy, Salma Hayek, Aaron Paul, Josh Hartnett and Kate Mara are just some of the huge names on board for the collection which has mind-shuddering twists and an A-list actor defecating in a church.
The running order is as follows: Joan Is Awful, Loch Henry, Beyond The Sea, Mazey Day and Demon ’79.
I’ve compiled my ranking of the season six episodes, but will you agree? Feel free to call me out in the comments bottom of the page.
5. Mazey Day
A paparazzi photographer desperately struggling to make ends meet, throws in the towel when one of her pictures results in the death of a closeted celebrity.
However, when one rising star goes off the rails, the price for a single photo of the actress is too good to turn down.
What happens next is a bloody nod to classic 1980s horror with a satisfying crunch at the end.
Mazey Day is an oddly empathetic perspective of the paparazzi but fundamentally determining they’re all monsters with literal blood on their hands. It’s not a typical Black Mirror (I suppose, what is?) but very fun.
4. Demon ‘79
Paapa Essiedu as demon disguised a member of Boney M? I’m in.
Demon ’79 follows timid shop assistant Needa (Anjana Vaan) treated appallingly by her colleagues and neighbours during the rise of Margaret Thatcher.
Bursting with inner rage, she accidentally sets off a cursed talisman and finds herself confronted with a demon who, to be a little bit less terrifying, transforms into a fictional ‘dancing man’ from Boney M who tells her that in order to save the world from an impending apocalypse she must kill three people.
Demon ’79 is a crushing take on the hell of Thatcher and the rise of the National Rise which feels like peak Edgar Wright horror comedy. Vaan’s performance is easily one of the stand outs of season six which given the sheer quality of this season is no mean feat.
3. Beyond The Sea
Cliff (Aaron Paul) and David (Josh Hartnett) are on a mission in space which will take years, separated from their families and friends drifting in the galaxy with nothing but each other for company. Well, kind of.
Thanks to cutting edge technology a robotic body double still lives at home allowing them to send their conscious back to earth from time to time.
However when a truly horrifying incident strikes for David’s family, the future of the vital mission is in jeopardy unless Cliff is prepared to make a huge sacrifice – which he could live to regret.
Beyond The Sea is a poetic tragedy at times truly beautiful and unbearably gruesome packed with plenty of twisted turns. A real golden moment in television that actually belongs in a cinema.
2. Joan Is Awful
Annie Murphy is Joan. Joan isn’t awful but is having a below average day, having to tell a colleague and friend they’re fired, before relaying to her therapist she’s not entirely happy in her relationship and she’s missing the punchier sex life with her ex who, out of blue, texts to say he’s in town. They meet, the passion is still there and it’s blindingly obvious.
So Joan is only a little bit awful really until that day is suddenly dramatized into a new US show on Netflix and suddenly she’s depicted as the worst person in America.
While Netflix and chilling, but actually chilling, Joan is scrolling through streaming service Streamberry to find the events of her day are being played out by Salma Hayek and she is living in the strangest nightmare imaginable.
Joan Is Awful is my favourite vibe of Black Mirror – trippy as hell, totally unexpected and reaches levels absurdity you could literally only get in a show which launched with a Prime Minister having sex with a pig which then actually (allegedly) turned out to be a true story.
The cocktail of cameos could be too much but works perfectly and when there has quite rightly been criticism Black Mirror went down hill as soon as it became ‘too American’, I Hate Joan is a US blockbuster that holds onto the best humour and horror of Black Mirror’s heyday.
1. Loch Henry
Loch Henry is the most apt perspective of true crime since Making A Murderer blew up the strange phenomenon and turned horrific murders into sick bingeable television.
Perhaps of all the Black Mirror episodes to date, it’s not only the most plausible, it’s the stark reality of how exploitative television has become right here, right now.
For the first time Black Mirror heads to Scotland, to the fictional Loch Henry, the hometown of filmmaker Davis who brings his girlfriend Pia to make a documentary about an egg-protecting vigilante and stay with his widowed mother who lives alone since the death of his policeman father.
During their stay they meet Davis’ friend Stuart and over drinks they talk about the history of the once popular tourist destination which became a ghost town after a couple went missing on their honeymoon in 1997.
The case quickly became a national news story, holiday go’ers were replaced by journalists and news vans until the death of Princess Diana and suddenly the story disappeared.
Davis has a particular attachment to the story, however, when it turns out to have been the catalyst behind his father’s death.
Naturally it becomes clear to Pia the film they should be making is staring at them right in the face.
In an anthology which is packed with big budget episodes, A-list actors and some of the most extreme storylines in Black Mirror history, Loch Henry is simple thriller which makes an obvious observation but with a totally unexpected twist.
It’s classic British horror story-telling – creepy British village where countless bodies are buried, mysteries are forgotten packed with more ghosts than people. Everyone comes with their own peculiar eccentricities and subsequently there are endless questions and possibilities but the final 10 minutes is more thrilling than a Line of Duty series finale (when it was still thrilling).
Just wait for the Bergerac twist…
Black Mirror is available to stream on Netflix now.
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