BLACK MIRROR 4: What We Know So Far
Back in 2011, I stumbled across a review for the pilot of a new TV show called Black Mirror. I can't remember what it said other than the show was created by Charlie Brooker (Dead Set) and it being a positive review—and me being super intrigued by what I read. So I decided to check it out. Afterwards I just sat on my couch, shocked. My mind had been blown and it was splattered all over the living room walls and it looked like I had reenacted the “I shot Marvin in the face!” scene from Pulp Fiction. It was the most thought-provoking TV I had ever seen and a roller coaster ride of emotions. It had me cringing in my seat one second and laughing out loud the next. The episode was fucking disturbing to say the least. Brooker's satirical take on Man vs. Technology was nothing less than brilliant and the dystopian Black Mirror became my go to answer when being asked for recommendations for TV shows. I felt that the show wasn't being talked about enough or getting the praise it deserved. Until one day, when out of the blue the two existing seasons popped up on Netflix and all of a sudden EVERYONE was talking about it.
I was happy to see that. From what I could tell, the majority of the viewers seemed to love it and it was almost like seeing something being brought back to life. Some time went by and then suddenly—BOOM! Season 3 was announced with Charlie Brooker on board and with Netflix producing it. In October last year, season 3 premiered on the streaming service and it was JUST as good as the previous seasons; 6 episodes of the sharpest writing ever put on the small screen entered my mind and never left. It was also the season that gave us the universally loved—and much needed—“San Junipero”. With that episode Brooker brought us the most beautiful love story of 2016 and tears were shed all over the world. I had to seek out the nearest pharmacy for a pack of dehydration treatment afterwards. Immediately after finishing the third installment of the show I felt that season 4 couldn't come fast enough. I was craving more Black Mirror!
Back in August, a teaser with the episode titles of season 4 was released. I couldn't have been any happier since that meant it was out there somewhere on the horizon, waiting for us. And in the past couple of days Netflix have released amazing looking trailers and posters for some of the upcoming episodes. Fingers crossed that we get a release date soon, as well. The only confirmation we have got so far is that it WILL be released this year.
The first trailer that dropped was for the episode titled “Arkangel”, which was directed by none other than the legendary Jodie Foster. “Jodie Foster from The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, Taxi Driver and The Silence of the Lambs?” you ask. Yes. THAT Jodie Foster.
When speaking to EW about the upcoming season, Brooker talked about how Foster came on board as a director.
“Netflix had worked with her before and they suggested Jodie. We were like, “Really? You think she would?” We had a Skype conversation during which I managed to keep my cool and not freak out. She responded to the script and she had a lot of thoughts and suggestions on the characters so there were a lot of adjustments. She’s not just a gun for hire, she’s incredibly intelligent and comes in with some thoughts on the material. Which is what you want in a director because each story is a stand-alone [episode], so you want each to be idiosyncratic to that director. And she brought a lot of that.”
He continued: “Tone wise, that’s almost within the world of an indie drama — and you could say that’s classic Black Mirror. It’s about a mother and a daughter and a technological opportunity that comes along that’s seized upon [and then Brooker laughs a bit wickedly].”
Judging by the content of the show, I can only imagine that the brilliant madman Brooker laughs wickedly A LOT. (At least in my head he does.)
In an interview with The Independent earlier this year, the show´s producer Annabel Jones gave us some details on the 6 episodes of the forthcoming season, and this is what she had to say about “Arkangel”:
“So this one’s like an indie movie set in blue-collar America, even though we filmed it in Canada. It follows a mother who has a young daughter and faces that perennial question of how to look after a child in an increasingly technical world; it taps into helicopter parenting… I always hope that whatever we tackle, it’s never on the nose and just more in the background but this episode asks how do you be a responsible mother in a world in which you can be all-powerful and omnipresent? How do you exercise responsibility? How do you ensure you give your child independence in a world in which you can have a lot of control? Charlie’s very technical – I’m a little bit technical – but none of these stories really ever have technology screaming down the lens. ‘ArkAngel’ is a very human story. It was a really harmonious production and watching [director] Jodie Foster with the young actors was just a joy to behold.”
The second trailer that dropped was for “Crocodile”, an episode set in Iceland that was directed by John Hillcoat, the man behind films like Ghosts... of the Civil Dead and The Proposition.
“No one has guessed what that one’s about yet, probably because it’s got the most opaque title of all of them. That title tells you nothing, in the way that Reservoir Dogs doesn’t tell you anything about Reservoir Dogs. It’s a title that was echoing around in my head for all sorts of reasons that have no relation what’s going on there. So I’m happy to keep it that way. It’s a fairly taut story; it’s kind of a thriller…” Brooker said about the episode, keeping it a little secretive.
Jones on the other hand—without spoiling it—revealed a little bit more about the episode:
“’Crocodile’ is a beautiful, more personal study. It’s set in Iceland which introduced a totally new palette – one of the privileges of doing Black Mirror is the opportunity to create different worlds and moods and tones. It’s a film set in the near future where your memories are no longer private so they can be dredged – sometimes in helpful ways. It’s very different to [season one episode] ‘The Entire History of You’ in that they’re not accurate – they’re memories rather than recordings. We follow Andrea Riseborough, a woman trying to solve a dilemma…”
As for the rest of the episodes —for which there are no trailers out (yet)—this is what Jones and Brooker had to say:
“Hang the DJ” - Dir. Timothy Van Patten (Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones)
J: “‘Hang the DJ’ doesn’t look contemporary but some of the observations and scenes that it tackles are… pertinent to the contemporary dating scene. It involves a lot of comedic moments. There’s quite a lot of sex in it – not a huge amount, but come on, who’s complaining? It’s funny, it feels real, and has that ‘Nosedive’ feel – a very alternative reality visual to it. You don’t know where you are or what world it is, but very quickly that becomes background – you’re just there with the characters, you’re seeing what they’re experiencing. I think there is a lot of comedic wry observations in the protagonist’s story that people will enjoy. It’s beautifully acted by Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole. People will enjoy this one with a little smile.”
B: “We’ve gone for lots of different tones this season. There’s a couple more comedic. There’s some that are not nihilistically horrible from beginning to end and there are others that are. This is one that’s more enjoyable [yet once again laughs].”
“USS Callister” - Dir. Toby Haynes (Sherlock, Doctor Who)
J: “‘USS Callister’ is a space opera. The challenges of trying to create that world, and obviously getting to play with the genre, opened a whole new opportunity. But I think we’ve put a clever spin on it. It’s a romp – it’s big and ambitious with lots of CG. It’s an absolute visual feast and really high octane. There are obviously more unsettling, poignant and slightly more melancholic moments, but at the same time, it is a romp. It’s such a treat for a filmmaker to be making a film this epic.”
B: “It certainly sticks out. Last time when we first released some images it was “San Junipero” that threw [fans], and that’s certainly the case with “Callister” this time around. In a way, [the story] is what it appears to be… and also obviously this is also Black Mirror. There’s certainly more to it than meets the eye.”
“Metalhead” - Dir. David Slade (30 Days of Night, Hard Candy)
J: “This film is in black and white which is a new thing for Black Mirror but it feels the creative decision was earned by the world we’re portraying.”
B: “Weirdly, the inspiration for this episode was I was trying to set myself a challenge of how paired back can I get. What’s a literally black-and-white story we can tell?”
“Black Museum” - Dir. Colm McCarthy (Peaky Blinders, Sherlock)
J: “‘Black Museum’ is absolute popcorn. It’s three stories in one – a portmanteau-type thing – but absolutely full of ideas that whip along and before you know it you’re at the end of a 90-minute film and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, can you please stop? This is horrendous – stop throwing me these things!” It’s just unrelenting. It was the last we did in terms of shooting."
When being asked the question if this episode have anything to do with race relations, Brooker responded:
“No, a black museum in the U.K. is a crime museum. It’s a phrase I didn’t realize wasn’t a universal phrase. That’s a “Treehouse of Horror.” We did “White Christmas” before. The show itself is an anthology and that was an anthology within an anthology. I always wanted to do another one of those and that’s what this is. You’re getting several stories. “Tales from the Black Museum” we could have called it. There’s quite a lot going on there. We do little nods and winks to previous stories we’ve done.”
With those—in my opinion—sparse plot details I can almost guarantee that we won't be able to tell what Brooker and co. have up their sleeves, since the—usually dark and brutal—twists in Black Mirror often are some of the most unexpected and, at times, downright shocking ones. But with the biggest twist of 2016 plunging the world into an extra long real life episode of Black Mirror, I may be totally wrong.