ByLinky Johnson 2019-06-17 1199
According to the motto: "Look here, reflect on your inventions". Netflix went one step further with the interactive film "Bandersnatch". I liked the idea of seeing the format as an experimental field - for completely new forms of television.
But in Season 5, I miss what "Black Mirror" has been up to now: the experimental but credible dystopia; the consequence of the narrative, even if there is no happy ending; and the feeling of having seen something totally weird.
So what do we have? Three episodes - which is perfectly okay, after all the first two seasons consisted of only three episodes each. And with a running time of at least 60 to even 70 minutes, the new episodes are even a bit longer than those from season 1. And what do they give away?
Danny and Karl are two old friends from college times who liked to play together for nights on end. Even when Danny was on a date with his girlfriend, they ended up together in front of the console at the end of the evening. Later Danny is married - the wire to his old buddy has been lost.
But when Karl gives him a new video game "Striking Vipers" for his birthday, things change. It's a "Virtual Reality"-Beat'em'Up-Game, the two compete against each other as virtual images of their fighters. Danny literally slips into a kung fu fighter, Karl into an attractive fighter.
Man and woman in an abandoned virtual environment. What happens? They sleep together. So - somehow they don't, after all they do it with their virtual bodies. But they experience and feel it, they become literally addicted to it.
This means: Danny cheats on his wife. Or is it not? It would have been exciting to put this question at the centre of the story. Or at least to sharpen the story. But all that doesn't happen - there is even a happy ending. I think: too thin.
Taxi driver Andrew kidnaps an employee of "Smithereens" - a kind of "Facebook" - to blackmail the company into talking to managing director Billy Bauer. Why all this? He had a car accident in which his wife had died. Although he was acquitted as a victim, he was actually the culprit. He had been looking at his smartphone because he had received a notification from the social media app.
Well - the conversation between Andrew and Billy is actually taking place. And that's probably the best part of the episode. After all, Billy himself seems to have lost control of his product. But instead of Andrew understanding him, he doesn't absolve him. He has told his story and so he releases Billy with all his displeasure.
In my opinion, this is the strongest episode of the fifth "Black Mirror" season, even though it wasn't quite as strong compared to other episodes from previous seasons. Let's put it this way: There are one or two weakening episodes in every season, that's not that tragic. After all, the episode is still entertaining.
So there is another chance, and that's episode 3, with Miley Cyrus playing herself as Ashley O. The singer seems to resurrect her old role Hannah Montana for a short time at the beginning. Ashley O only sings positive songs with simple lyrics and calendar lines.
But the artist is dissatisfied with this alter ego. But her manager doesn't like it at all. She recently released the little doll "Ashley Too", a kind of Alexa based on Ashley O's personality. Rachel, a big fan, and Jack, Rachel's sister, find out, however, that the entire mind has actually been transferred into the doll. Well, does that look familiar to you? Exactly.
The fact that a motif is used twice isn't the problem in itself, but the plot of the episode drifts more into a shallow teen drama than into a cynical vision of the future that was so characteristic of "Black Mirror". Too bad actually.
Were my expectations too high, did the author Charlie Brooker run out of ideas or should "Black Mirror" degenerate into an easy to swallow gibberish? I hope we'll be surprised again soon. As it always has been.