Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 2 hours 13 minutes
Starring: Hayley Atwell, Domhnall Gleeson, Lenora Crichlow, Daniel Rigby, Jason Flemyng & Chloe Pirrie
Though it contained only three episodes, BLACK MIRROR’s darker-than-dark first season received enough critical acclaim and popularity to warrant a second outing. In early 2013, Brooker returned to British television screens with three more tales of insanity and futuristic technology run amok. Unlike the first season, which was a trio of greatness, this second season contains two winners and the show’s first real misfire. If you’re looking for more madness and brilliance in equal measure, then you’ll enjoy two episodes of the three. Without further ado, onto the stories themselves…
BE RIGHT BACK: Martha (Hayley Atwell) and Ash (Domhnall Gleeson) are a loving couple, until Ash is killed in an accident. Desperate for closure, Martha signs up for an experimental software that allows her speak to a computerized imitation of Ash. It’s meant to be a therapeutic coping tool, but Martha soon takes this program to dangerous levels. BE RIGHT BACK is equal parts sad and scary, mostly hinging on Atwell’s performance as an emotionally distraught woman placed in a horrible scenario. As with most BLACK MIRROR episodes, you shouldn’t expect an upbeat message and positive outlook on the world. This cautionary tale’s natural progression builds tension and relies on believable emotions, both of which make up this episode’s tragic core. A
WHITE BEAR: Season one’s FIFTEEN MILLION MERITS remains my favorite episode of BLACK MIRROR, but WHITE BEAR is a very close runner-up. A woman (Lenora Crichlow) wakes up with no memory and finds the world around her in a chaotic frenzy. Most of the population has been zombified by a scrambled electronic signal and masked psychos are spilling blood on the streets. WHITE BEAR begins as a derivative hodge-podge of clichés and then brilliantly becomes something else entirely. This story becomes absolutely nightmarish when realize the social commentary that Brooker was aiming for and the horrifying implications of the episode’s final minutes (keep watching through the end credits). A+
THE WALDO MOMENT: Every anthology series is destined to have weak episodes and WALDO MOMENT is BLACK MIRROR’s first so-so installment. This story isn’t bad, but doesn’t fit the tone of the series. Failed comedian Jamie Salter (Daniel Rigby) has found success in voicing satirical cartoon bear Waldo. When his producers want to move the character forward onto a bigger show and have Waldo cover the election year, Jamie reluctantly agrees. The public goes nuts for Waldo…more so than for any of the actual politicians. I feel that the only BLACK MIRROR quality in WALDO MOMENT comes from the somewhat predictable (but still effective) ending. The rest of this story plays out like a ham-fisted political drama and is a bit too obvious in its message. Not a bad episode, but not a particularly good one either. B-
BLACK MIRROR’s second season isn’t as strong as its first, but I say that due to one out-of-place misfire. Fans of Charlie Brooker’s insanity/brilliance are sure to be pleased with the majority of this season and may even find something to enjoy in the weakest episode. WHITE BEAR is among the very best of the series, while BE RIGHT BACK is a haunting new spin on a tragic old tale. WALDO MOMENT is only recommended for purists who won’t feel content unless they’ve seen it. Two out of three isn’t bad!