Netflix’s new run of Black Mirror goes out with a real sting in this feature-length instalment…
Despite every episode having the scope of a movie, Season 3’s finale ‘Hated in the Nation’ is the first regular Black Mirror episode stretched out to 90 minutes. Yes, there was 2014’s festive special ‘White Christmas’, but that was an anthology episode rather than one story over the whole runtime. This episode is such a success, though, that it proves this should become a recurring practise.
In ‘Hated in the Nation’, internet hate figures keep dying in brutal ways. Could the hashtag #DeathTo really do what it says on the tin?
And what is the connection to ADIs, the tiny androids taking the place of bees in the eco-system? As it turns out, in a mirror of Season 1’s ‘The National Anthem’, the whole thing is a statement about the mob mentality. In this case, getting people to understand the consequence of the nasty things they spout on social media.
Black Mirror as a crime drama works very well – even if at first glance, it looks like an episode of Brooker’s spoof cop show A Touch of Cloth played straight. The mystery nicely builds over the extended runtime with some real gut-punch moments scattered throughout (including a truly devastating ending). A word to director James Hawes must be give here, as he makes the episode’s full-on horror scenes remarkably tense. That sequence where the bees attack the safe house is like a futuristic version of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.
Likewise, the cast is all-round terrific, featuring Trainspotting’s Kelly MacDonald, Faye Marsay (yet another Doctor Who alum!) and soon to be Doctor Strange star Benedict Wong. In particular, it is great to see yet another episode of this season led by two women, as MacDonald and Marsay play DCI Karin Parke and tech expert Blue Colson, two detectives on the hunt for the hashtag killer. Can we just have a spin-off show about these two solving hi-tech crimes please?
This is Black Mirror, of course, so the most outstanding element is how it makes us consider the world around us. Most of us say hyperbolic things online from time to time, but do we really mean them? If not, why do we post such things in the first place?
Alongside this, the episode also finds time to bring up other issues as well – such as government oversight, disablism, endangered species and free speech. It’s impressive that it doesn’t ever feel overstuffed.
Overall, this was another instant classic and a fitting end to a terrific set of new stories. With three corkers in a row, the second half of Black Mirror’s third season is probably superior to the first but this was still the strongest batch of episodes yet.
With a fourth season from Netflix promised, the future looks bright – despite what Black Mirror may tell us.
Available from Friday 21 October 2016 on Netflix.
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