Black Mirror is an iconic, often speculative science-fiction series. Each episode tells one full story of technology gone awry. This Netflix series is so popular and recognizable, the literary and film industries often use it as a comp for new media to let audiences know what they can expect. As a horror fiction reader and reviewer, I also use it as a comp for books with similar themes of human monsters, technology paranoia, dark comedy, and satire.
Over the last five seasons, Black Mirror has certainly cultivated a brand, or mood—a vibe. With the variety of writers and directors, some of my favorite aspects of the show are the different tones present for each episode while still managing to collectively feel cohesive.
Except for Season 6, which dropped earlier this month.
Season 6 is a bit of an outlier. A wholly new, slightly more horror flavor is woven throughout all five episodes.
And while it seems plenty of Black Mirror’s loyal fans didn’t love the departure, I think it’s one of the best seasons.
You can watch Season 6 on Netflix here.
Watch a preview of Black Mirror, Season 6
Mother Horror's thoughts on Season 6 of Black Mirror
Season 6, Episode 1 “Joan is Awful”
Black Mirror is definitely known for being a bit of a celebrity salad featuring a variety of seasoned Hollywood veterans, fresh new talent, and rising stars. If you’re anything like my family, the first few minutes of any Black Mirror episode is a shoutout contest to identify the actors and where you’ve seen them previously.
“Joan is Awful” stars Salma Hayek, Annie Murphy (Schitt’s Creek), Michael Cera (Arrested Development) and Ayo Edebiri (The Bear). In keeping with the technology gone awry theme, this episode explores the idea of a big streaming service using AI to make exploitive, reality-based shows based on the lives of its subscribers. It’s terrifying.
The thought of millions of people tuning in to watch what is basically a reenactment of your worst moments throughout your daily life is unbearable. Plenty of cringey and laugh-out-loud moments.
Season 6, Episode 2 “Loch Henry”
What a pleasure to see John Hannah (Four Weddings and A Funeral, Sliding Doors) in this episode, even if it was for mere minutes of screen time. A young couple travel to Loch Henry, Scotland to stay with the young man’s mother while they make a documentary. I absolutely loved the true crime, found footage elements of this unsettling tale.
The building tension and suspenseful climax definitely reminded me of past episodes that start off seemingly benign but wind up taking a dark turn like “Arkangel,” “White Bear,” and “Hated in the Nation."
The technology gone awry theme was evident in the end when we see how our fascination with true crime investigations and documentaries can have long-term psychological consequences for the victims through exploitation and re-traumatization.
Season 6, Episode 3 “Beyond the Sea”
My favorite episode of the 5, “Beyond the Sea” felt like a feature-length film. So much happened! In an alternate history set in 1969, two astronauts are able to be in two places at once. Their real, physical bodies are in space on a mission but can go to sleep and wake up in their replica bodies with their families on earth. The director obviously telegraphs to the audience the potential pitfalls of this setup but it doesn’t detract from watching it all go down.
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) plays the calm and cool, yet emotionally unavailable father and husband while Josh Hartnett (30 Days of Night, The Faculty) gives a more passionate, creative, and artistic portrayal to his earthly life.
Even though I knew how this technology was going to go awry, I was still startled and impressed with the epic ending. This one goes down as an all-time favorite episode of Black Mirror alongside “Nosedive” and “Be Right Back”.
Season 6, Episode 4 “Mazey Day”
Sadly, this episode is ranked at the bottom of the ratings for all 27 Black Mirror episodes on IMDB. There are far more disappointing episodes in my opinion and I honestly don’t know why people hate this one so much. Zazie Beetz (Nine Days) is magnetic, the camera loves her. If you haven’t seen the existential movie Nine Days, definitely check it out. This episode also has a few Easter Eggs that connect the entire season together, so pay close attention. I’ve seen Black Mirror fans complain about the shift from technology paranoia to horror, but I am utterly and completely confused by this.
I have highlighted the “technology gone awry” theme in the previous three episodes and this one is no different. The major theme in this story is celebrity voyeurism, the public’s obsession with their personal lives, and the way average people can make a living as celebrity parasites by selling access to the highest bidders. I loved watching the main protagonist’s evolution of empathy and morality in tandem with the physical evolution of her victim. A smart play on the tables getting turned trope; the hunter is now the hunted.
Season 6, Episode 5 “Demon 79”
I kind of want to be a little spoilery here because this particular episode transcends all the sub-genre boundaries and exists as its own, wonderful thing. It’s 1979 in Northern England. We meet a delightful young lady with big, beautiful eyes played by Anjana Vasan (Spider-Man: Far From Home). She is a shoe sales assistant in a department store forced to work with the most adversarial co-worker in the history of the world. Nida is quiet, but quirky. She is a joy to watch.
One day, her co-worker and manager are especially unkind, banishing her to take her lunch break in the store’s basement when she finds a talisman. She accidentally unleashes a demon who tells her she must kill three bad people in order to save the world. Elements of this story remind me of Stephen King’s, The Dead Zone. It opens with a very clear message to Black Mirror fans, “Red Mirror Presents…Demon 79”
As in, adjacent to or an alternate form of Black Mirror.
The spoilery thing I want to add is that I think “Red Mirror” means… dun dun dun…
And I’m here for it. This episode, at the center of it, is a love story. A supernatural-horror-romance-historical-comedy. It's the second-best episode in this season for me.
I hope you’ll check this season out for yourself, feel free to @ me on social media with your feedback!