After finishing Black Mirror Season 4, I can’t stop my inner Black Mirror fan to rave about the show. Below, I rank all 19 episodes of the show from personal worst to best. Apart from numbers 19 and 18, every Black Mirror episode is excellent entertainment, so don’t fret if your favorite appears low in the ranking.
Also, if you’re interested in data science applied to the show, check out my article wherein I apply Sentiment Analysis to the first three seasons of the show.
19. Waldo Moment
The Waldo Moment is the least Black Mirror-like episode of all nineteen. It’s more political satire than sci-fi, and the idea of a virtual politician isn’t all that interesting. The main characters aren’t rootable, and I don’t really give a damn about their romance. Not really much to say about the episode. Entirely skippable.
18. Men Against Fire
Personally, I find this to be the most boring episode of Black Mirror, but maybe it’s just me – not really a fan of war flicks. Roaches as humans wasn’t really an exciting twist, and I kind of dozed off near the end.
Arkangel’s aesthetic feels like an indie film, as Jodie Foster intended. But while I can praise the direction, I really don’t have much to say about the core story. What happened between mother and daughter was all very predictable given the premise at the start, and the payoff at the end isn’t really worth the ride.
16. Black Museum
Three really-out-there stories make up Black Museum, with all three dealing with transferring consciousness or sensation from one body to another. By far, the tech in this episode demonstrates the cruelest applications I have seen in the show, but I can’t help but think that it’s too outlandish to actually happen in the future, which diminishes the effect for me.
15. Hated in the Nation
Killer bees! This episode definitely feels like a full-length feature. As Black Mirror’s attempt at a buddy cop drama, Hated in the Nation half succeeds and half fails. On the plus side, the leads are very charismatic and the episode didn’t chicken out in actually doing mass homicide. On the other hand, it’s way too drawn out and the main bad guy is underdeveloped. Also, their accents are really hard to understand.
14. The National Anthem
The first episode of the show is more dark comedy than sci-fi, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Something like this could absolutely happen in this day and age, and that’s why The National Anthem is such a fun watch. It plays out like an episode of 24, with multiple threads happening simultaneously.
Metalhead is a relentless chase film, something definitely different from every other episode of the show. It’s also the only monochromatic one. The mood, with less focus on dialog and more focus on atmosphere, ala The Shining, makes the episode stand out. From beginning to end, Metalhead doesn’t let up with the feeling of dread originating from the robotic dog’s pursuit. And wow, that robotic dog is cute and terrifying at the same time.
12. Shut Up and Dance
This episode is quite light on technology – the level of hacking in Shut Up and Dance is surely possible at present. Following Kenny around town, feeling sorry for him, getting angry at the hackers blackmailing the poor kid, and learning in the end that all along Kenny was a pedophile, Shut Up and Dance put me on an emotional rollercoaster.
The darkest episode of Black Mirror proves to be a difficult watch for many. We basically follow a serial killer for the whole episode who spirals deeper and deeper in crime just to clear her tracks. An absurd twist at the end puts Crocodile at a relatively high place in this ranking… And also because I’m a sucker for really dark stuff.
10. Fifteen Million Merits
Fifteen Million Merits is the first high-concept episode of the show, and it shows early on, all the way back in Season 1, how dark Black Mirror can go. Abi’s bastardization was very unexpected, and it shocked me how she wasn’t redeemed at the end. Bing’s ending, on the other hand, was controversial. Did he game the system or sell out? Opinions differ depending on who you ask.
9. Be Right Back
Be Right Back deserves a high rank in this list due to its emotional heft. Being widowed is devastating, and the episode tries to show how technology solves (?) the issue. Be Right Back shows that no matter how artificial intelligence is super advanced nowadays, the intricacies and flaws of human can never be truly learned. Or can it?
Nosedive is the perfect entry point for newcomers to the show. Nosedive’s handle on social media is very relatable to almost everyone, considering how socializing nowadays is very much online-centric. The episode doesn’t go all-out dark and actually ends on a hopeful note. Watching Nosedive is a good way for people to acclimatize themselves with the feel of the show.
7. USS Callister
The episode is both a funny and very dark subversion of Star Trek. I really appreciated how USS Callister turned out. Looking at the promotional materials, I was unsure of how they would integrate the Star Trek feel in the episode, and I’m glad that it’s just in the setting of a game and not an actual futuristic setting, How the episode managed to balance a lighthearted tone and a very dark premise is outstanding.
6. White Christmas
Black Mirror’s Christmas special is definitely not gonna bring you holiday cheer. The tech introduced in the episode is definitely ethically questionable and it leads to one of the biggest twists of the series. All three stories in this anthology within an anthology are really strong, with each succeeding mini-episode playing on the tech and mythos of the former to build a more complicated story.
Playtest is Black Mirror trying out the horror genre – and it’s not slow-burn horror, it’s the jump-out-of-your-seat variety. And if that’s not enough, it involves inception-type simulations within simulations and deals with family drama and regret. Playtest tries to do a lot of things and succeeds in all of them.
4. The Entire History of You
How future tech can affect relationships is one of the more interesting aspects that Black Mirror explores. It’s no surprise that three of the top five best Black Mirror episodes deal with the interplay between love and tech. The Entire History of You demonstrates a perfect case of how tech, in this case the grain, could unravel the dishonesty between partners. We can all admit that we get paranoid sometimes when our respective partners are acting all fishy, and we sometimes tend to act as detectives to get to the bottom of it. Liam’s paranoia + grain led him straight to Ffion and Jonas’ steamy affair, something he wouldn’t notice had he not access to the grain. The episode’s subject is so low-key – a wife’s infidelity – and that’s what’s so great and unique about this Black Mirror episode.
3. Hang the DJ
The best season four episode is reminiscent of last year’s The Lobster, having the same awkward matchmaking premise. Amy and Frank felt like Romeo and Juliet, but it’s nice to see the two actually have a happy (well, not happy – we’re not sure yet, but hopeful) ending. As with other Black Mirror episodes, Hang the DJ has an awesome twist, but it’s unusual in the way that the characters actually figure it out by themselves. By the end, you’d be as happy as Amy and Frank, something you’re not used to if you’re a fan of Black Mirror. And you’d be humming Hang the DJ as well.
2. San Junipero
Yorkie and Kelly’s romantic romp beyond death is one for the books. Succeeding as both a sci-fi flick and a love story, San Junipero stands out as the most upbeat episode of Black Mirror (well, until Hang the DJ). You can’t help but feel happy and giddy inside with how Yorkie and Kelly’s relationship turned out, until you realize that it’s not really them but computational snapshots of their personas built from code. Anyway, it’s basically still them, right? The credits scene with Yorkie and Kelly cruising in San Junipero with Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven is a Place on Earth playing on the radio stands out as one of the most memorable closers of any TV show.
1. White Bear
White Bear is the essential episode of Black Mirror. It plays on the idea of having limited information and just going with the flow. At the end of the episode, White Bear deconstructs everything you know (or assumed) and reveals the truth in a jaw-dropping fashion. It’s the biggest twist of any TV episode I’ve ever seen and it demands a second viewing. And a third, and a fourth.
Do you agree with my ranking? Hit the comments below.