We’ve spent a lot of time staring into Netflix’s dark, cracked “Black Mirror.” Usually we rank things from worst to best, but there are no bad episodes of the show. The worst are entertaining and the best tear your heart out. Here they are ranked from good to to mind-blowing.
Season 3, Episode 6: “Hated in the Nation”
It’s disappointing that Season 3 — in which “Black Mirror” produced some of the best television, well, ever — ended on such a so-so note. This story about a killer hashtag and Terminator bees has shades of “Sharknado.” Great acting, though.
Season 2, Episode 3: “The Waldo Moment”
A lot of people say this episode, about an insulting cartoon bear who inserts himself into politics, heralded the rise of Donald Trump. It’s well done, but just not that groundbreaking.
Season 1, Episode 2: Fifteen Million Merits
This twist on “American Idol”-style mobs is, again, well-acted. But is it even a satire to portray people working hard for the illusion of happiness? Isn’t that just… being alive?
Season 2, Episode 2: “White Bear”
Full disclosure. We’re divided on this one. One of us thinks it’s a sharp critique of armchair prosecutors, and the other thinks “Black Mirror” is least effective when it goes for horror.
Season 3, Episode 2: “Playtest”
Another horror episode. It’s absolutely captivating, and the questions it raises about memory and identity linger long after the shocks.
Season 2, Episode 1: “Be Right Back”
We recommend this episode, and all the ones that follow, without caveat. This episode, starring Hayley Atwell and Domhnall Gleeson, is another aching look at the qualities that make us us. It’s one of many “Black Mirror” episodes that could have been a Best Picture contender if it were a movie. In fact, it shares some similarities with 2014 Best Picture nominee “Her.”
7. Season 2, Episode 4: “White Christmas”
If you’re dreaming of a black Christmas, this showcase for Jon Hamm at his most mad combines two imaginary technologies — one of which allows you to “block” people in real life — to tell one of the knottiest stories ever told. Sentiment-free, it’s the most “Black Mirror” episode of “Black Mirror.”
6. Season 3, Episode 3: “Shut Up and Dance”
No episode of “Black Mirror” will leave you feeling worse about humanity than this one. It’s brilliantly plotted and paced, and the ultimate prank is on you. Oh, also? It could happen. Similar things have already happened.
5. Episode 3, Season 5: “Men Against Fire”
Welcome to the Top 5. We don’t say this lightly: This episodes stands alongside “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “Full Metal Jacket” as one of the best stories about how war really works. (Fun fact: The speech about most soldiers not firing their weapons might be totally wrong.)
4. Season 3, Episode 1 — “Nosedive”
This episode, starring Bryce Dallas Howard, is a perfect sendup of our obsession with social media approval. We tweeted how much we loved the episode, waited to see if anyone retweeted or liked our tweet… and then realized the show hit even closer to home than we had realized.
3. Season 1, Episode 1: “National Anthem”
There is no better introduction to the show’s cold-realist aesthetic.
2. Season 3, Episode 3: “The Entire History of You”
If you’ve ever been in a relationship with anyone who’s been in another relationship, this one will crush you. The episode so needed to be a movie that Robert Downey Jr. is turning it into a movie.
1. Season 3, Episode 4: “San Junipero”
Hard sci-fi with heart. This is another episode that, if it were a film, would be a Best Picture contender. It’s visually stunning, joyous to watch for anyone with any sense of ’80s nostalgia — and makes you grateful for life and love. It’s all the more perfect that the episode features a colorblind romance filmed in Cape Town, South Africa — the former seat of segregation.
Finally, ready for Black Mirror Season 4? Here’s everything we know about it so far.
If you’re done with “Black Mirror,” have you tried Netflix’s latest, “The Crown”? It’s excellent, and we ranked all the characters.
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