Black Mirror Redux


@thebutcherbilly – used with permission

Black Mirror is a Netflix Original series created in 2011 and has five seasons with another season announced to be released in June. To get prepared for what that season has in store, I thought we should break down all the episodes out currently. This show is an anthology, meaning you don’t have to watch it in order (nor do I recommend doing that. This show has a well known joke to “never watch the first episode as your first episode”). 

Since the show is an anthology, it has brought in many celebrities such as Bryce Dallas Howard (Nosedive), John Hamm (White Christmas) and Daniel Kaluuya (Fifteen Million Merits) which allows them to star in single character roles. Many other celebrities have also been a part of this show in major roles.

For each episode I will be giving it a score out of thirty: /10 for plot, /10 for filmmaking and lastly /10 for how twisted they push the episode. At the end of this series I will post two lists, one of the final rankings of every episode and one for my personal rankings of each episode.

This will be the list I go off of created by my brother and I:

  1. Play test
  2. Fifteen Million Merits
  3. Smithereens
  4. Men Against Fire
  5. Nosedive
  6. The National Anthem
  7. Striking Vipers
  8. Crocodile
  9. Ark Angel
  10. San Junipero
  11. White Bear
  12. Entire History of You
  13. Be Right Back
  14. Waldo Moment
  15. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too
  16. Metal head
  17. Hated in The Nation
  18. Shut up And Dance
  19. Hang The D.J
  20. USS Callister
  21. White Christmas
  22. Black  Museum
  23. Bandersnatch(Choose Your Own Adventure Game)


This show is unlike any other and I highly recommend it to people who enjoy psychological shows and futuristic societies. It pushes systematic issues in our society and possible futures that we could find ourselves trapped in. As well as breaks down our relationship with technology and explores scenarios that are not too far off of the life we live currently.

via Netflix


Starting with number one, Play Test is 57 minutes long and is episode two of season three.

This episode follows Cooper, a thrill seeker who’s traveling and needs some quick cash to get back home and finds an “odd” job testing out a new virtual reality game. However, the game is still early in development and is stronger than anyone anticipated. 

This episode is a little different than the entirety of Black Mirror but still a good watch. While most episodes focus on the psychological side, this follows a more horror movie style. If you’re a fan of jump scares this episode heavily focuses on them and is right up your alley. I wouldn’t recommend this to be your first choice of getting into this intricate show but it’s a good secondary option out of the twenty-two episodes.

via Netflix


Starting off the bat, the camera work in this episode is decent. It has a lot of clean transitions and works well with all the jump scares that are hidden in this episode. My favorite shot would have to be when the painting of the mansion turns on then off and the camera pans up to the floor above Cooper and footsteps follow the camera. 

I really enjoyed the emphasis on power between Cooper and Katie when getting prepared for the initial demo with him sitting in a patient’s chair and Katie standing over him. Using point of view shots like that really express how little knowledge Cooper has about this job he’s got himself in. 

I didn’t think they did anything crazy or out of the ordinary to push the camera work and for that reason I give it a 7.5/10. They did a good job with all the effects added into this episode of all the virtual horrors attacking Cooper, but I think it could’ve been pushed a little more.

The Plot for this movie was very interesting, it takes until the last minutes for the ball to finally drop. Even afterwards you’re still trying to break down everything that occurred. With only 25 minutes left in the episode is when things start to amp up and everything gets messy. It takes a while to actually get there with a heavy exposition of explaining Cooper and why he’s traveling and why he would choose this job.

Plot also got a 7.5/10 due to how rushed it was. More than half of the episode was spent giving backstory, which does give a harder gut punch to him seeing his mom and his greatest fear occurring: becoming just like his dad. I think it could’ve been balanced more at the end of the day. The ending feels too rushed and with all the twists and turns they focused on it gave no time to actually sink in the power of this virtual reality technology.

Those last comments lead into my final grading: how twisted up this episode was. Cooper believes he has gone through hell and back, undergoing many torture methods thanks to his own mind and even believes he makes it home, since he is the narrator, we believe this as well. In reality he never made it past the first demo and only lasted 0.04 seconds before seizing and dying due to him leaving his phone on. A call from his mom (which is heavily emphasized throughout the entire show) interferes with the technology and instantly kills him.

This ending is instantaneous and frustrating because everything you witnessed after the gopher game was a figment of his imagination and never happened. Our technology has not expanded that far but until that point, this is a future we could find ourselves in, which in turn, is very frightening. 

Not to be repetitive, but I also give it a 7.5/10. The exposition is already our life so nothing insane about that. The technology aspect of having something inserted into the base of your neck and being able to actually live a horror video game is absolutely unreal however, our technology is getting pretty close to that.

In total, Play Test receives a 22.5/30. This is my second time watching it and I enjoyed it more the second time around. I still think the ending could’ve been better and not as rushed as it was. The episode leaves your head hurting and contemplating everything you’ve just witnessed. I’m excited to continue this series and see how all the other episodes fall on this scale.