On may 15, Netflix dropped the official Season 5 trailer for their award winning series Black Mirror. Introducing three new stories to the complex web that the writers have already woven, the trailer was set to the mantra of Djib Mo’s Lonely Feelings. Yesterday, the streaming service giant surprised fans with three individual trailers for the three story arcs.
It looks like the series will go back to the three-episode format of the first two seasons. The episodes, written by Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones, will, as always, feature the almost dystopian dangers that over-reliance on technology can cause. The trailers themselves are packed with references to past episodes much to fans’ excitement.
Smithereens is the name of a transportation app- Black Mirror‘s version of Uber. That, however, is not the first 21st Century reference to pop up in the trailer. It starts off with a man, played by actor Andrew Scott, behind the steering wheel listening to a meditation audio. The audio reminds one of the recent surge in people ascribing to the practise of “mindfulness”. This particular type of meditation focuses on one’s breathing and is, sometimes, used as a way to work through anxiety and panic attacks. That, coupled with the flashback that the writers throw in, should probably hint that Scott’s character, the driver, is dealing with some inner emotional or psychological conflict.
He picks up one of his customers, played by Damson Idris, and the trailer becomes a more millennial version of Oscar winning movie Green Book. However, if there is one thing viewers of Black Mirror know, it’s that nothing good ever comes from two people driving through the relatively abandoned countryside. The trailer soon turns into a nightmare: Scott holds his client hostage. The closing scenes are a kaleidoscope of flashbacks, Scott ranting and the police force crouching behind their cars in tactical gear.
The ending shot appears to be Scott in the future, still listening to the mindfulness audio which tells him to allow “thoughts” to enter his mind without judgement (brainwashing maybe?). The episode will shed more light on how the app is connected to the events, what the flashbacks were about and what happened to the poor client.
In 1960, Della Reese released a song titled Not One Minute More. The lyrics are about loving someone till death do you apart. That is the song to which the Striking Vipers trailer starring Anthony Mackie is set to. In the trailer, Mackie plays a husband living in suburbia with his family. He and his wife are trying to have more children but there appears to be some sort of hesitation on his side. While other members of the family are portrayed as happy and smiling, Mackie’s character decidedly lacks that same liveliness- a fact that his wife also points out. The evident tension that builds up between them as the trailer progresses is a sharp contrast to the R&B soundtrack.
Mackie is hiding something and while the jury is still out on what that could be, there are some references to past episodes. Towards the end of the trailer, he takes out a black box which contains a circular, wireless node- something that has been featured on previous Black Mirror episodes like USS Callister (Season 4, Episode 1) and San Junipero (Season 3, Episode 4), among many others. This raises questions about whether Mackie’s life shown in the trailer is even real or whether he is using technology to leave behind his mundane existence. Which ever way the plot goes, the underlying themes of relying on technology for escape and whether free will is an illusion, are present.
However, when Mackie does attach the node to his temple, his eyes begin glowing, much like the eyes of the characters in Entire History of You (Season 1, Episode 3). All three of the referenced episodes featured technology that was not inherently evil but had the ability to bring out the worst of a human being’s insecurities – San Junipero being an exception to an extent. It’s going be very interesting to see how the episode plays out.
Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too
If one were to combine the plot from Netflix’s The Act and Disney’s Hannah Montana, they would create the premise of Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too, the third story of Season 5. Appropriately enough, Miley Cyrus plays a pop star, named Ashley, who is kept sedated, or drugged (at the very least), by her record label so that she can wear pink wigs and put on elaborate shows. Her schedule is packed to an almost inhumane degree. This may be Black Mirror’s take on the rise of K-pop: a music phenomenon that is known for their artists’ lengthy working hours and complex performances – much like the one Cyrus can be seen doing in the trailer.
In the beginning, she can be seen promoting her new toy/ robot device named “Ashley Too”. Rachel (played by Angourie Rice), a high schooler with a very obvious lack of friends, decides to buy one. She develops a friendship with the machine – very Spike Jonze’s Her-esque. Ashley Too gives motivational messages and is very up-beat, keeping in line with human Ashley’s good girl image. This might also be a slight dig at how Disney requires its child-stars to cultivate family friendly personas, something that Cyrus, as a Disney alumna, has lengthly spoken about. When Cyrus decided to break away from that image, it was met with a lot of shock, surprise and judgment.
It appears that her character Ashley will do the same, or, at least, will try to do so. Ashley Too, on the other hand, will succeed and takes on a life of her own. Think a cuter version of Ex Machina, one that swears and lacks the self-awareness to know that it will die if it’s not charged. Ashley Too appears to bring in some element of humour, which is absent from the first two episodes. However, the juxtaposition of happy songs and a child-like font with the darker, almost seedy imagery of Ashley’s life, makes sure to stay true to the more adult themes of the show. The accompanying Youtube caption is also quite ominous, reading, “Ashley, are you ok?”
And to answer a lingering question that people may have: no, the trailer does not introduce Jack. Viewers will have to watch the episode to find out.
The fifth season officially drops on June 5th- which does make one think there was a missed opportunity in not releasing on May 5th instead. The lack of an overt linking narrative between the characters means that viewers can jump in at any season without being lost. The very way that the show can be viewed hints at it being tailor-made for the busy millennial audience, which makes up a majority of Netflix’s customers. People too busy to not have the ability to pause a show and who could very well end up living in a future as dystopian as Black Mirror‘s.