The first trailer for the highly anticipated fifth season of the Netflix sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror is finally here, and it looks to be as edgy, darkly satiric, and thought-provoking as ever.
(Mildest of spoilers for prior seasons and Bandersnatch below.)
For the uninitiated, Black Mirror is the creation of Charlie Brooker, co-showrunner with Annabel Jones. The series explores, shall we say, the darker side of technology and its impact on people’s lives in the near future, and it’s in the spirit of classic anthology series like The Twilight Zone. Brooker developed Black Mirror to highlight topics related to humanity’s relationship to technology, creating stories that feature “the way we live now—and the way we might be living in 10 minutes’ time if we’re clumsy.” The series debuted on the British Channel 4 in December 2011, followed by a second season. Noting its popularity, Netflix took over the series in 2015, releasing longer seasons 3 and 4 in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Last December, Netflix confirmed rumors of an experimental “choose your own adventure” feature on Netflix with the debut of a standalone one-off Black Mirror “event,” dubbed Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Set in 1984, Bandersnatch follows the travails of a young programmer named Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), intent on making an interactive video game based on a fictional choose-your-own-adventure (CYOA) novel, Bandersnatch, from a tragic writer named Jerome F. Davies. It’s a great, period-specific choice, since CYOA books were all the rage in the 1980s and 1990s. (Check out our spoiler-y Choose-Your-Own-Opinion review from earlier this year. I declared it “an enticing blend of fantasy and horror that doesn’t take its dark rumination on the illusion of free will too seriously.”) [Editor’s note: or you could check out our CYOA “Tentacular, tentacular!” from 2011.]
That CYOA experiment was technically challenging enough to delay season 5 of the regular series. But now we have our first trailer showcasing an impressive cast that includes Anthony Mackie, Miley Cyrus, Topher Grace, Damson Idris, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, among others. Season 5 consists of just three episodes, a return to its British roots; personally, I’m in favor of fewer, better episodes on TV in general if that’s what the storytelling requires.
The trailer is cagey about precisely what each episode will be about, but the potentially sinister influence of an Alexa-like doll on a lonely teenaged girl is one scenario. We also get glimpses of a married couple whose relationship is on the rocks—a return to the themes explored in S1’s “The Entire History of You” perhaps?—with the husband tempted by the ease of Tinder-like apps for finding nubile young women. Miley Cyrus plays a hugely popular online pop star (of course). We see a man with obvious emotional issues and a gun about to snap in a coffee shop filled with people typing away on their smartphones. And we might be getting an episode featuring a virtual reality Mortal Combat kind of game.
Black Mirror S5 hits Netflix on June 5, 2019.
Listing image by YouTube/Netflix