Every episode of Black Mirror has been able to hold my attention at the least, and shock me to my core at the most. Although every episode is great, there are 10 that I consider superior. And no, Season 1, Episode 1 will not be included.
1. Men Against Fire
Military tactics are taken to a new level when soldiers are given a type of technology to enhance their senses when exterminating a breed of mutated humans called "roaches". What we discover is that these "roaches" are actually normal humans that have been deemed useless by society because of prejudice and propaganda. The technology given to the soldiers actually distorts their view of reality in order to make these humans easier to kill. The episode has some very Holocaust like themes mixed together with virtual reality that has gone too far.
How far would you go to protect your child? Marie takes the responsibility of caring for her daughter Sara too far when she takes part in the Arkangel System. This allows her to track Sara's whereabouts and health, but it also lets her block her daughters visions of anything that may be upsetting, like violence, porn, or even the image of her grandfather having a heart attack. While this works for a while, Sara eventually grows up and wants the system turned off. Unfortunately, Marie can't back away from the system, and it causes Sara to have a breakdown, beating her mother and running away.
3. Black Museum
Nish comes across a museum that showcases everything that Black Mirror epitomizes, even leaving some Easter Eggs for avid viewers. The audience is treated to a few short stories of technology gone wrong, but the most disturbing part of the episode comes from the fact that the owner of the museum is not using his collection to right the wrongs of technology, but that he is further torturing the victims of his exhibits. It's one of the more upsetting episodes, but also one of the most captivating.
4. Shut Up And Dance
Throughout the episode, we follow Kenny, a mild-mannered nineteen-year-old. Unbeknownst to Kenny, a new anti-malware program that he has downloaded actually activated his camera and recorded him masturbating. Hackers threaten to send this video to Kenny's family, school, and anyone else he may ever come into contact with, like future employers. In order to avoid this, Kenny has to follow a series of horrifying instructions, including robbing a bank at gunpoint and being forced to fight to the death with another man who is also being blackmailed. Throughout the episode, the audience understands why someone wouldn't want a video like that being released, but we all have the notion that at some point, we would stop following the black-mailers orders. It is revealed at the end of the episode why Kenny can't have that video released; he was watching child pornography.
5. San Junipero
San Junipero is a world in virtual reality that is set in different times, like 1980, 1996, and 2002. We follow Yorkie and Kelly as they meet and begin their romance in San Junipero. It is revealed that San Junipero is available to those who are dying as a trial, and they will eventually be able to decide if they want to be downloaded to San Junipero when they die, or if they want to die naturally and have their soul go into the unknown, as we do now. Yorkie knows that she wants to go to San Junipero, but the conflict lies with Kelly, who must decide if she wants to follow Yorkie, or if she wants to die naturally and possibly find her husband and daughter, who did not go to San Junipero when they died. This is a rare episode that shows some positive outcomes of the rise of technology rather than the disturbing side.
The way this episode is shot is reason enough to watch it. The aesthetic of the episode makes the viewers feel happy. Pastel colors, smiling faces, and the positive dispositions of the characters all hide the disturbing reality that this worlds occupants are all judged by each other on a scale of 1-5. You can get points from positive interactions, and lose them for negative. People are still using social media to portray perfect lives so that they can gain more points. If you have a higher total, you work better jobs, you live in nicer developments, and you have better opportunities to travel, eat, and shop. The audience sees this system become a woman's obsession as she strives to better her life by gaining more points. Her plan completely backfires, and we see the way that those who don't conform to the point system live. It's amazing how easy it is for these people to lose their lives. One bad interaction, one wrong relationship, one bad day, and your life is ruined.
7. Hated In The Nation
As the bee population decreases in the UK, scientists discover a way to develop robotic bees. However, the bees get hacked and conform to a system that makes them kill people. A trend starts on social media that allows users to use the #deathto hashtag in order to unleash the killer bees on the person who has the most #deathto hashtags credited to their name at the end of the day. A detective is able to deactivate the hacker, but it backfires and the bees go after anyone who has used the #deathto hashtag; over 387,000 people.
How far would you go to hide from your past? When Mia's ex-boyfriend wants to come forward about the hit-and-run that the two were responsible for fifteen years earlier, Mia feels forced to kill him so that her life will not be ruined. This leads to a string of murders that Mia must commit as more people get tied into her crimes through the use of a technology that can allow others to view your memories. The most upsetting part of this episode is what Mia does to the baby. If you know, you know.
9. Hang The DJ
One of the only Black Mirror episodes to have a happy ending, the audience dives into a world where dating is set to a limited amount of time. Frank and Amy are matched for a small amount of time but find themselves attracted to each other. After several other long, unhappy relationships, they are matched up again. After agreeing not to look at the set time that they have together, Frank gives into temptation and sees that their relationship is meant to last for several years. However, Franks actions cause the time to reduce significantly. This forces the couple to find a way to escape the only system that they have ever known and risk life on their own.
10. USS Callister
Toxic masculinity at its finest, Robert Daly creates a technology that allows him to imprison the DNA of those who have snubbed him in a Star Trek-like alternate reality. He tortures them in this world by sexually abusing them, turning them into monsters, brutally killing their loved ones in front of them, and overall enslaving them to do whatever he wants. The people that he has entrapped have to find a way to contact their real selves in the real world so that they can be shut down and escape the hell that they're living in. The hard part is getting around Daly before he finds a new way to torture them.