Review: BLACK MIRROR SEASON 5 – An Uninspired Entry to the Series


Black Mirror is one of the jewels in Netflix’s crown, attaching big name actors and directors to the anthology. Due to the complex production of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch the fifth season had a shorter run of three episodes instead of the usual six for Netflix. Sadly the fifth season is the most forgettable out of the seasons of the show.

“Striking Vipers”

“Striking Vipers” opens the season, following an illicit relationship in the virtual world. Anthony Mackie stars as Danny, a middle-aged man trying to have a baby with his wife (Nicole Beharie). Danny is given a new VR video game from his old roommate, Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and their play time quickly turns from fighting to fucking.

Charlie Brooker is an enthusiastic gamer and with “Striking Vipers” he is taping into the past and future of video games. Brooker stated that this episode was influenced by his experience playing Tekken with his flatmates in the ’90s, the character designs and move set in “Striking Vipers” were similar to Street Fighter, and even the title of the game is similar to Fighting Vipers. As someone who grew up on ’90s fighting games these references were appreciated. Although I find it hard to believe that a VR fighting game could be turned into a sex simulation, at least not without some hacking of the software.

“Striking Vipers” is really a story about two male friends who enter into an affair. The game world allows for characters to meet up without even leaving their home. They could fulfill their wildest fantasies but it was underdeveloped. The relationships were also underdeveloped – there was no great exploration as what drives people to be closeted or why they can act differently online. The episode even missed a trick because it focused on Danny when it would have been more interesting to look at Karl who was a woman in the virtual world.

“Striking Vipers” is a disappointment, wasting its ideas. The episode had little to say about technology or the human condition.

It will be amusing for superhero fans to see Falcon, Mantis, and Black Mantra in the same episode.


“Smithereens” is the first contemporary set episode since “Shut Up and Down.” Brooker felt that Black Mirror moved too far into the sci-fi genre and wanted to make at least one episode that looks at the impact of social media.

Chris (Andrew Scott) is an Uber driver in London whose fiancé died 18 months prior. After a one night stand with another grief sufferer he decides to take action against the social media giant Smithereen (basically Twitter.) He plans to kidnap an employee and threatens to kill him if Chris doesn’t get to speak to the company’s CEO.

“Smithereens” is a standard plot for a thriller which has added social commentary about the tech age we live in. Most of the episode takes place in a field where Chris is surrounded by armed police, leading to a tense standoff between Chris and the police whilst Smithereen employees in California try to find out what Chris really wants. Smithereen ends up being the ones who find out about Chris because they have access to all his social media posts and are able to hack into Chris’ phone. It shows how easily personal information can be accessed and uses revelations by Edward Snowden as a part of the plot (i.e. hacking into phones so they can be used as bugging devices.)

“Smithereens” is one of the more human Black Mirror stories. Chris is a man of the edge and Brooker avoids the typical route of making out Smithereens to be a heartless corporation who only care about their profits. The people at the company are human beings who don’t want someone to get hurt, not even a lowly intern.

The episode needed to have great performances. “Smithereens” was lucky to have Andrew Scott who gives a strong, tortured performance as a smart man but quick to anger due to his delicate mental state. Scott has proven himself to be a talented actor in previous roles and he’s allowed to use his natural Irish accent.

It is a refreshing change of pace to have an episode that’s more grounded.

“Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too”

“Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” will easily be one of the most divisive Black Mirror episodes with its 6.0 IMDB score reflecting this.

Rachel (Angourie Rice) is a lonely and awkward teenager and a huge fan of pop star Ashley O (Miley Cyrus.) Ashley O releases an interactive doll that’s a cross between Amazon’s Alexa and a Funko Pop doll. When Rachel gets an Ashley Too doll for her birthday she treats it as a friend, leading to her older sister, Jack (Madison Davenport), to worry. At the same time Ashley O life struggles creatively and is dominated by her aunt/manager (Susan Pourfar.)

The first half of “Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too” is typical fare for Black Mirror where a new technology is released and someone becomes obsessed with it or it has a negative impact. This was done in “Be Right Back” and “Arkangel” and has the added dimension of focusing on a teenage girl. It easily draws on ideas that children and teens are too dependent on technology for socialization and validation.

As well as being a story about technology “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” is a story about siblings and this is where the episode was really relatable. Rachel and Jack are chalk-and-cheese, Jack is a moody rocker who scoffs at her younger sister’s tastes and often makes fun of her. But deep down Jack does care, from telling their dad when Rachel’s birthday is, to trying to protect Rachel from a negative influence. Anyone who has brothers or sisters could easily relate to their story.

Ashley O’s story is nothing out of the ordinary where a young pop star personal life is hell. Ashley O is forced to sing music she has outgrown and controlled by her handlers. The most interesting part of this story was it acted as a meta-commentary about Miley Cyrus’ career. She started out as a teen singer who wanted to break away from her Disney image when she got older. It did lead to the question of how the stories would connect.

When the stories do merge the episode turns into an outright comedy and this is where the point of contention arises. Cyrus was clearly having fun voicing Ashley Too who was allowed to swear like a sailor and the narrative turns from a slow boil to a fast-paced heist. It was tonally inconsistent but the humor make a change of pace from the usually depressing show and Cyrus was funny in her role.

“Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too” had a lot of interesting ideas and the three leads gave strong performances. Rice was particularly impressive as the awkward teen and shows why her star is rising. The episode did need a bit of refining, especially for the final act where Brooker wanted to get to the end quickly.


Season 5 is sadly the weakest Black Mirror season so far in its consistency. The quality of the acting and the special effects were still of the same high standard and there are worst episodes as individual pieces. But this season has a rushed quality to the writing: the philosophical and social ideas and character development were not as rich as in the previous seasons.


Top Kisses on Netflix

Is it just me, or is it hot in here? Celebrate International Kiss Day with some of our all time favorite smooches. SUBSCRIBE: About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 183 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of…

Bully. Coward. Victim: The Story of Roy Cohn | Official Trailer | HBO

BULLY. COWARD. VICTIM. THE STORY OF ROY COHN takes an unflinching look at the life and death of infamous attorney Roy Cohn, who first gained prominence by prosecuting Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in what came to be known as the “atomic spies” case. Director Ivy Meeropol brings a unique perspective as the granddaughter of Julius…

Happier Hour with Hasan Minhaj & Maitreyi Ramakrishnan | Episode 1 | Netflix

Hasan & Maitreyi surprise two deserving high school seniors when their graduations were cancelled due to COVID-19 SUBSCRIBE: About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 183 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can…

Burden Of Truth | Season 3 Episode 7 | Billy And Joanna Discuss The Pregnancy Scene | The CW

Stream new episodes of Burden of Truth Fridays free only on The CW: SUBSCRIBE: About BURDEN OF TRUTH: After fighting for the justice of five sick girls in her hometown of Millwood, corporate attorney Joanna Chang (Kristin Kreuk) finds herself at a top law firm in Winnipeg ready to make a fresh start…

The Old Guard | Combat Training | Netflix

Led by a warrior named Andy (Charlize Theron), a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. But when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile (Kiki…

2020 HAHA Awards • Best Talking Pet Nominees • Hulu • Adult Animation

The first-annual Hilarious Animated Hulu Awards are here. So, check out the nominees for Best Talking Pet, vote for your favorites at and then watch them all on Hulu. SUBSCRIBE TO HULU’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL Click the link to subscribe to our channel for the latest shows & updates: START YOUR FREE TRIAL…

South Park Catchphrases Supercut | HBO Max

Lu Lu Lu, we've got some of your favorite catchphrases from South Park, Mkay? What's the most memorable one, buddy? Stream All 23 Seasons of South Park on HBO Max. Subscribe: Be the first to know more: HBO Max: Like HBO Max on Facebook: Follow HBO Max on Twitter: Follow HBO…

Fab Friday with Bobby Berk | Queer Eye | Netflix

Bobby Berk, interior design host of the Emmy®-winning Queer Eye shares simple tips to separate work and personal lives while homebound. From how to master Zoom calls with the right camera angles and lighting to the importance of creating a separate work-free space to maintain mental health, Bobby encourages us to find balance in this…


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here