Black Mirror: The Complete Third Series (DVD TV series review).

The third series of ‘Black Mirror’ starts off with ‘Nosedive’ with a reality that depends on popularity ratings for status. To be able to afford a new house and stop sharing with her brother, Lacie Pound (actress Bryce Dallas Howard) can get a special deal if she can raise her popularity from 4.2 to 4.8. Although it’s not stated, I presume the highest you can go is 5. You would have thought they might have gone for something based off 10 or even 100% but let’s put that down to TV. An invitation to be matron-of-honour to an old school friend ends up in a series of catastrophes where her ratings take a serious nosedive.

A big complication in all of this is Lacie Pound’s ratings dropped purely by one person not liking something she did. If that was the case, everyone would be zeroed quite quickly if you measure up how many people dislike against those who liked you. When you consider how part of society these days shares their lives so much, this is obviously as exaggeration of this although, comedy aside, I would be surprised if an entire society could be run this way.

With ‘Playtest’, American Cooper Redfield (actor Wyatt Russell), a year after his father died with dementia and issues with his mother and doesn’t answer her phone calls, travels the world. His last port of call is London and, short of cash, and being a gamer sees an opportunity of making some by becoming a guinea pig for a new computer game. However, it is less virtual reality and more neural net and some really spoiler results. I have to confess I hope that there are regulations in place preventing companies doing this without some external supervision in real life. More so, to allow the test subject to be shown just what they are planning to do to him. To just do it in a mercenary way of a money incentive and no questions just makes it scary and hope it’s a lesson to those who watch this episode to be wary of such activity.

The oddly named ‘Shut Up And Dance’ is where several individuals are spied on through their computer cameras and effectively blackmailed to perform criminal acts or risk disgrace to their nearest and dearest and everyone else. There is a massive twist at the end so everything is spoiler. Such blackmail is already being tried on by con-artists in our reality but not so extreme but, logistically, they can’t really get into your computer unless you’ve given them access in the first place. Even so, the pros from certain anti-virus software will explain that they have limited access to your computer and not to your passwords when resolving software issues. Even so, the lesson from this story is be careful what you do in front of your computer camera.

San Junipero’ is the odd story in the pack. The relationship between wallflower Yorkie (actress Mackenzie Davis) and party-lover Kelly (actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw) develops over a few weeks, messed up when the latter loses track of the latter after a bed encounter. It isn’t until towards the end that and this is likely to be spoiler than you get the SF stamp that these are actually two people dying and making a decision when to live in a virtual world.

With ‘Men Against Fire’, Stripe (actor Malachi Kirby) has just recently joined a military unit that is to protect the impoverished foreign-speaking civilians/civs from the roaches. These military people have an optical hi-tech implant inside them guiding their actions and what they see. These turn out not to be insects but apparently ravaged humans. On his first sortie, Strike succeeds in killing two roaches, one of which flashes him with a green light that upsets him. His medical back at base shows him all right though. A second sortie, with only his commander, Medina (actress Sarah Snook) and Raiman (actress Madeline Brewer) is worse. Medina is shot dead and Raiman seems to be killing civs as well as roaches, so a shot Stripe rescues two of them but collapses from blood loss, only to find they have saved him and reality isn’t quite what it seems. I felt the ending was a bit confusing and more clues should have been laid than there were.

The final story, ‘Hatred In The Nation’, is also 80 minutes long, so many sure you give yourself time to watch it all in one sitting because you don’t want to stop. Writer Jo Powers has upset a lot of people with her views on disabled people and getting a lot of hate email when she mysteriously dies and her husband wounded. DCI Karin Parke (actress Kelly Macdonald) and her grey shadow-cum-assistant, Blue Colson (actress Faye Marsay) are trying to figure it out. When rap singer Tusk (actor Charles Babalola) dies in a similar way in an MRI scanner and an insect found there. Home Office detective Shaun Li (actor Benedict Wong) catches up with them, they have also found the bee burrowed in Powers’ head. It’s not just an ordinary bee but a bee drone, a creation of the Swarm Project when the nature version had died out. Someone has subverted their programming to tune in anyone with a #deathto link and the highest gets killed after 5pm. They try to protect the next victim but are unsuccessful. The Chancellor of the Government Cabinet is next. However, something even more insidious is going to go on. Watch the rest for yourself. It truly is intense and should make you think if you ever send such messages. At least we don’t have bee drones yet.

There is an unusual flaw in the DVDs. If you have a habit of checking the length of a film so you ensure you have enough time to watch it, the third series doesn’t split this so you could be forgiven to thinking each story is 2 hours long. It’s not, they really are about an hour each, except the final story.

I think writer Charlie Brooker was off in a couple places with a couple of these stories but makes up for it elsewhere. ‘Black Mirror’ really shows some cracks in modern day society. If you do anything remotely like the activities in this season, it might make you think of the consequences of your actions and change your behaviour.

GF Willmetts

June 2020

(region 2 DVD: pub: Dazzler Media/Netflix, 2016. 3 DVDs 383 minutes 6 episodes. Price: I pulled my copy for £ 9.99 (UK). ASIN: DAZD0302)

check out website: https://cinando.com/en/Company/dazzler_media_47809/Detail


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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