The fifth season of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror premiered on Netflix yesterday with a total of three new episodes, Striking Vipers, which stars Anthony Mackie and Yahya Abdul-Matee in the lead roles as well as Smithereens and Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too both of which also boast star-studded talents from Topher Grace and Andrew Scott and well as Miley Cyrus and Angourie Rice. Along with our brief review of each episode, we’ll also be placing the three new episodes in rank order from best to worst, to decide which episode takes the crown of best and worst of the new season.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
3. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too
Despite its star-studded talent both infront of and behind the camera, Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too, is the weakest entry in this new season, and arguably one of the worst of the entire show. It begins with a unique enough premise, where Cyrus’s Pop Sensation “Ashley O” launches a brand new wave of AI programmed robots designed to reflect the singers personality. However, when one falls into the hands of Angourie Rice’s (Rachel’s) hands it quickly leads down a spiral of conspiracy. Yet it’s this intriguing premise that makes the episode feel so lacklustre, as rather than tell a more serious story that you’ve come to expect from the show, the episode opts to act as more of an outright comedy instead. A change of tone that feels noticeably jarring when binged in succession of the two first episodes. Whilst some may appreciate the lighter tone of this episode, it just didn’t stick the landing for us, and for that reason it ranks in last as the weakest entry of the new season.
Rating: ★ ★
2. Striking Vipers
The less you know about Black Mirrors first episode of the new season Striking Vipers the better as it’s by far the most unexpected episode of the newest season. For that reason we’ll be keeping spoilers on this one to a minimum, although it’s worth nothing that both Mackie and Abdul-Matee turn in sublime performances and really sell the emotional demanding roles they’re given to work with here. It’s much more somber than was expected though ends on a refreshingly happy note, not far flung from the brilliant San Junipero. Although it frequently meanders in parts, it sticks it’s landing well, with a truly sucker-punch ending.
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Taking the crown for best episode of the new season is Smithereen. The most tense, and intriguing episode of the bunch, Brooker feels the most like he’s taking things back to basics here. It takes time to build up one what’s unfolding and exactly what the technological element is, but as the mystery starts to clear the episode reveals itself to be the smartest and most relevant episode of the three. It’s message is delivered poignantly and feels all to relevant to today’s society. It captures the bleakness that I look for in Black Mirror perfectly, as well as having a intriguing and powerful narrative to boot.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
So there you have it. All three episodes of the newest season of Netflix’s Black Mirror reviewed and ranked. Think we’ve ranked them wrong, did you love another episode more than us, or do you agree with our ratings and rankings. Be sure to let us know in the post comments, or by visiting any of our social media pages.