We all have those TV shows we feel the need to binge-watch. We also have those we wish we had time to. Luckily, binge-watching in the Nonahood has got you covered and does it for you first! Read about the shows reviewed here and find your new favorite show!
*Spoiler alert for Season 5 of Black Mirror*
Since being bought by Netflix in 2015, the sci-fi TV show Black Mirror has been one of Netflix’s major recurring series, known for its storytelling on how technology has catapulted our society into the unknown and how it can weaken our humanity. Last year, an interactive Black Mirror movie premiered on Netflix called Bandersnatch, and although it was an interesting experience to embark on a choose-your-own-adventure with a Black Mirror spin (I do recommend watching it once or twice), I was more excited for a new season of these radical, intense episodes. Sadly, in the new season, there were only three episodes for me to binge – I easily finished them in a day – but I was able to finally get my Black Mirror fix.
If you’ve never seen Black Mirror, it’s important to note that the series is an anthology, so none of the episodes follows the same storyline. You can pick, choose and bounce around seasons to your heart’s desire!
The episodes that I’ve seen the most buzz from are “Striking Vipers” and “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too.” “Striking Vipers” focuses on an in-depth and realistic virtual gaming experience between two best friends that greatly affects their friendship and their personal lives. “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” features Miley Cyrus in a similar role to Hannah Montana, where she’s a huge pop star with an alter ego named Ashley O; Ashley O’s team makes miniature, robotic versions of her that her fans can purchase and interact with, as if Ashley O were right in their bedroom. It’s not hard to imagine how that can go awry. However, I haven’t seen much talk about the second episode “Smithereens,” which is why I’m choosing to focus on it in this review because, in my opinion, it was one of Black Mirror’s most meaningful episodes.
In “Smithereens,” we’re following a man named Chris, a cab driver in London. Chris seems to be picking up people coming from one building: Smithereen, which we find out later is a social media company. At first, he gets discouraged when he’s unable to pick up an actual employee of Smithereen, but then he finally gets his chance when he picks up a man named Jaden.
Chris kidnaps Jaden, and we start to see his motives unravel. While transferring Jaden to another car, he finds out Jaden’s just an intern, gets discouraged once again, then decides to continue on with taking him hostage. As Chris drives to another location, Jaden sits in clear sight in the back seat with a bag over his head, and police obviously see him and begin to follow Chris’ car. This starts a standoff between Chris and the police, since Chris threatens to kill Jaden if he doesn’t get to speak to Billy Bauer, the CEO of Smithereen.
A chase to get Bauer on the phone with Chris ensues, even though it’s laughable and pitiful how reluctant the Smithereen employees are to phone Bauer in this life-or-death situation. Since Smithereen headquarters are in the U.S., the FBI gets involved, and those in Smithereen headquarters manage to find Chris’ information through his old Smithereen profile, faster than both the FBI and the British police – not hard to imagine that happening in real life, either.
Finally, the COO contacts Bauer, and after constant protests from both her and the FBI, Bauer gets on the phone with Chris. Here is where Chris tells Bauer all he wants is for Bauer to listen, and he confesses to Bauer how addicted he was to Smithereen. His addiction led him to check his notifications while driving, and in that instant, he got hit by a drunk driver. His fiancé, who was in the passenger seat, was killed. Chris tells Bauer he feels as if it’s his fault and wanted to tell Bauer since it’s his social media network. “Bit of user feedback for you there,” Chris says.
Chris then says he’s going to release Jaden and commit suicide. Jaden tries to stop him, now understanding Chris’ thought process with this entire charade, but the British police get a clear shot of Chris, a shot is fired, and the screen goes black. Then, in a montage, we see the world’s reaction – people getting the notification that the standoff is over and continuing on with their lives. One man checks the notification as he’s driving and gets honked at from the car behind him. Even Bauer just closes his eyes and continues his retreat.
The lesson in this episode is important because this storyline is completely plausible. It’s something that we might see in the news today or tomorrow. We have to remember to take a step back from our phones, to realize the people behind the screens are real, and that our attention shouldn’t always be on social media. I highly recommend watching at least “Smithereens” in the new season of Black Mirror and to let it resonate with you like it did with me. It reminds us that, more often than not, we need to do better for the sake of our humanity.
Demi is currently a senior at UCF, studying creative writing. She is a lover of the arts and always eager to discuss films, TV and music. Send in shows to be binge-watched at firstname.lastname@example.org!