Season 3 of Black Mirror gains in nuance, light and talent without, however, neglecting its fundamentals, intelligence and relentless writing. Critique in three acts.
When writing onBlack Mirror, any spoiler could greatly diminish the effect of an episode. The slightest piece of information that is too much is very detrimental to the plot and its mechanisms, so we will take great care never to say too much. If you want to avoid spoiling every bit of the series, you’ve come to the wrong place. As for the others, I promise we won’t say too much.
Black Mirroron Netflix is a kind of paradox. The SVoD giant has made binge-watching an almost imperative, a way of life and a way of consuming, even though it is unimaginable thatBlack Mirrorcan be swallowed in one go, without recoil or the reflections that flow from it.
And season three of the series, produced by Netflix instead of Channel 4, is no exception to this rule: after each episode, we are always invaded by the melancholy that is typical of the end of the suspense, just when we are left alone facing the Black Mirror of our screen that darkens after the credits. Head full of questions.
So we can only beg you not to binge-watcher the series: despite its availability on Netflix, which encourages a succession of episodes, let’s rather continue to preserve its impact by striking out in small doses with violent and cynical bursts of lucidity. In short, Black Mirrors.
Especially sinceBlack Mirroris not free of design flaws: the series is even a truepharmakonwith its all-Greek ambiguity, half medicine, half poison. Too radical at times, the first two seasons could be too dark, totally black, without nuance, the one that can destroy instead of making you think. At too high a doseBlack Mirror could prove to be a real crippler, the anguish overwhelming the thinking conveyed by the questions raised, leading to sterile paranoia: this is what many onlookers had reproached.
This is perhaps the main achievement of this new season, a season that should not displease the loyal fans, but which could also more easily convince the reluctant ones. Brighter, less trenchant, stronger and imaginative, the series subtly pushes the limits of its own genre in six new episodes that are as many universes as they are colours, without ever abandoning Brooker’s recipe: thrilling and uncompromising writing.
But with sometimes less cynicism and more elegance, Brooker reaches new heights in its format and writing. Netflix doesn’t seem to have imposed much on the creator otherwise, an American cast perhaps, but neither insults nor nudity are banned for forced Americanizationof the production. In short, with more means, but above all a lot of maturity,Black Mirrormade-in-Netflix is the meeting between a creator who has evolved, and a medium that offers him new freedoms and we don’t regret the slightly cheap production of Channel 4.
To explore the reflections and new horizons ofBlack Mirrorand above all to preserve its mysteries and surprises, we decided to choose three episodes out of the six unpublished stories, which are in their own way a reflection of the new tones of the show. We also met with the cast of each of these episodes, to go through with them some of the challenges that are posed to actors of such a perception. We also took the opportunity to ask them about their perception of the issues raised by each of the new stories, between technology and society.
The first episode of the new season,San Junipero,is a clear evolution ofBlack Mirror. The casting is perfect, bringing together the very Netflix-friendly – we saw it in Easy – and surprising Gugu Mbatha-Raw and the sweet Mackenzie Davis, who form an upsetting duo in a not so common love story.
Directed by Owen Harris, who had already been behind the camera of one of the best episodes of the seriesBe Right Back, the episode boasts impeccable photography and subtle sets. The whole requires every second’s attention, to end up hosting a beautiful technological tale, worthy of a visual poem.
As Gugu Mbatha-Raw explains, San Juniperoasks questions in an unconventional way, behind its dreamlike aesthetic and romance. “What is asoul? “,seems to tell us the episode. Or better yet: ” Is love always made up of regrets?” Shot between London and Cape Town with its North American cast,San Juniperois as luminous as it is poetic, despite severe observations on our obsession with memory and the passage of time.
The episode aesthetically and subtly renews theBlack Mirror format without losing its fundamentals.
Nosedive was the second episode presented in Toronto, and is more immediately explicit about its intentions thanSan Junipero. History calls to mind the classic topos ofBlack Mirror : one of the features of our society is accentuated to the point of becoming a nightmare.
But where certain episodes are too heavy handed and verge on caricature,Nosediveis carried by an exemplary and breathless performance by Bryce Dallas Howard who plays Lacie, a young woman who is ill at ease in her own skin, whom the rating system that regulates society will push towards madness and hysteria. Cinematographic, visually implacable and masterfully written,Nosedivetakes everything in its path.
Criticism is evident throughout the episode, the conclusion may be expected, but Bryce Dallas Howard’s dive into the murky waters of the ego is so punchy that one holds one’s breath until the credits. And the result is an episode that is as grandiose for the retina as it is disturbing for the connected individuals that we are.
From the greatBlack Mirror, with a bonus for directing and acting.
Shut Up and Dance
Shut Up and Danceis almost a tribute episode to the early years of the series. Ultra-british and violent, the episode features a singular and successful duo that brings together Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game, the young Alan Turing) and Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones,you recognized him). Particularly brutal and not to be missed,Shut Up and Dance revives the nightmarish and dark tradition of the series. Although very classical in its theme (individuals trapped by his strangers on the web) and writing, young Lawther’s performance condenses our anxieties and plunges us, headfirst, into an infernal trap.
The paw is a bit heavy, but real moral disaster is made real by stories that hit the nail on the head. Thus, the character played by Jerome Flynn makes us love a sinister and lonely fifty-year-old in search of the last pleasures. Pitiful and bitter drama, Shut Up and Danceis there to remind us thatBlack Mirrormay have gained some light, but still excels in cynical and uncompromising punches.
Black Mirror – season 3
Indicative note : 5/5
More subtle, more beautiful and no less intelligent,Black Mirror, season 3 is a success on all fronts. This season confirms that Charlie Brooker is indeed the small screen genius that was once thought of as the showrunner, and the showrunner really benefits from working with teams that are as talented as they are visually inventive.
And if proof were needed, his writing is truly stunning when translated on screen by original and involved castings. Of course some episodes are great, and of course there are less good ones, but this time the less good ones are always good.
For a series that has had some bad episodes and heavy adaptations, we’re close to the creative end here.
- A true renewal
- Hindsight and intelligence
- An excellent casting
- Only 6 episodes
- Some cartoons
- We don’t want San Junipero