If you want to make someone feel emotion, you have to make them let go. Listening to something is an act of surrender. – Brian Eno
Black Mirror brings us at least one more uplifting/light episode in season four. I say “at least” because as I type this I haven’t finished the season, and I’m desperately trying to avoid reading commentary with spoilers. But I had a thought, and I’ll try to get make my point without spoilers for anything past season 3. If you haven’t seen at least a few episodes of Black Mirror, and are potentially spoiled by any details, be warned!
I loved the first season of the series (except “State of the Nation,” which, come on). Loved the second season. And the world’s most disturbing Christmas special (which pops into mind far more frequently than maybe it should—the moment when John Hamm puts the agent on pause to get her compliance, that’s really twisted if you think about it too much, which I have). And then season three came and I learned (with a lot of people) that I had no idea how much I could love the show. Yep, I’m a sucker for “San Junipero.” Black Mirror meets the love child of John Hughes and Richard Curtis. Sold.
In the gap between seasons three and four, I thought “San Junipero” was just better, or maybe more to my liking. Why couldn’t all the episodes be a little less grim? Surely I’m not the only person who thought like this—though I can’t google it right now, because spoilers are real—but I do remember a small flood of praise for the way the story landed on the fairytale ending via the sad twists in the middle.
But as I watched the season four episode that will remain nameless and spoil-free for you*, I realized that I’d forgotten a key element.** The first time I saw “San Junipero,” I spent the hour engaged in what was actually happening on screen, sure, but also pretty much convinced that it was all going to go horribly wrong at any moment because this is Black Mirror, after all. There was a palpable tension between the show I was seeing and the series I knew, and the fact that I was intellectually wrangling with that tension allowed a sweet story about love to sneak up behind my jaded writer’s brain and catch me by surprise.
- It’s a lot like life.
- There’s a lesson in dramatic structure here.
While we’re on the subject of Black Mirror: So You Blew Through All Six Episodes of Black Mirror, Season 4. Now What?
* Speaking of the title that dare not be uttered, now I do have to change the name of a half-written script of my own–yep, I had a working title of the same name (which in retrospect is an obvious choice, albeit a good one). It happens!
** I should mention that while it does use a similar trick, the season four show I’m referring to is no “San Junipero,” you all. I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up falsely. I hope that’s an anti-spoiler, not a spoiler!