The National Anthem

Black MirrorA member of the Royal Family is kidnapped, and a YouTube video demands that the Prime Minister perform a degrading act on live television to secure her release…or the next video will likely be that of her death. With mere hours before the deadline, the Prime Minister and his staff try to explore numerous avenues of at least appearing to comply with the demand, including backup plans that backfire when word gets out from a bystander on social media. Time is running out, and throughout 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Michael Callow and his aides concentrate on the issue most important to them during this crisis: the poll numbers.

Get the DVDswritten by Charlie Brooker
directed by Otto Bathurst
music by Martin Phipps

Black MirrorCast: Rory Kinnear (Michael Callow), Lindsay Duncan (Alex Cairns), Donald Sumpter (Julian Hereford), Tom Goodman-Hill (Tom Bilce), Anna Wilson-Jones (Jane Callow), Patrick Kennedy (Section Chief Walker), Alastair Mackenzie (Martin), Chetna Pandya (Malaika), Alex MacQueen (Special Agent Callett), Jay Simpson (Rod Senseless), Helen Fospero (Lucinda Towne), Lydia Wilson (Princess Susannah), Sophie Kennedy Clark (Lauren), Andrew Knott (Brian), Allen Leech (Pike), Johann Myers (Noel), Sophie Wu (Jamie), Rakie Ayola (Shelly), Amit Shah (Jack), Nick Hendrix (Andrew), Justin Edwards (Jon), Jeany Spark (Camilla), Aymen Hamdouchi (Kieran), Julian Rivett (Damon Brown), Jonathan Forbes Black Mirror(Browne), Madeliene Bowyer (Sonia), Jeffry Wickham (Sir Harold Mount), Shazad Latif (Mehdi Raboud), Eleanor Wyld (Young Actress), Wolf Wasserman (Spark), Mickell David (Son), Dominic Le Mougnan (Prince)

Note: Shazad Latif would, several years later, take on the role of Ash Tyler in Star Trek: Discovery. (The plot details of this episode have been significantly watered down in the above synopsis; suffice to say, Black Mirror isn’t for kids.)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Fifteen Million Merits

Black MirrorBing Madsen wakes up in his tiny room every day; every wall is a screen, and like everyone else, he’s bombarded with constant entertainment. But also like everyone else, he can’t just stay in his room – it’s off to the gym to put in a full day on a stationary bike, the kinetic energy from which everyone’s electronic life is powered. Those who can’t or won’t spend their days in the gym are clad in yellow, relegated to menial work, and ridiculed throughout society. Bing, however, puts in his gym time, and it’s there that he meets Abi, with whom he’s immediately smitten. Upon hearing her sing, he’s entranced, and offers to spend the majority of the credits he’s built up working in the gym to buy her a ticket to compete on Hot Shots, a reality show that has made stars of so many others. The ticket is more expensive than he realizes, and he effectively zeroes out his account to make good on the promise, but he does give her a ticket and accompanies her to the live broadcast, whose judges are ready to make her a star…but not in the way that she hoped or imagined. But, presented with the choice of returning to pedaling the stationary bike day in and day out, or giving herself over to a more tawdry life of stardom than she bargained for, she does indeed make a choice. Now Bing is determined to come up with enough money – again – to buy another Hot Shots ticket, but this time so he can send society a message.

Get the DVDswritten by Charlie Brooker and Kanak Huq
directed by Euros Lyn
music by Stephen McKeon

Black MirrorCast: Daniel Kaluuya (Bing), Jessica Brown Findlay (Abi), Rupert Everett (Judge Hope), Julia Davis (Judge Charity), Ashley Thomas (Judge Wraith), Paul Popplewell (Dustin), Isabella Laughland (Swift), David Fynn (Oliver), Colin Carmichael (Kai), Hannah John-Kamen (Selma Telse), Kerrie Hayes (Glee), Eugene O’Hare (Hammond), Jaimi Barbakoff (Anna), Merce Ribot (Big Shot Registration Lady), Matthew Burgess (Botherguts Host), Laura Power (Interviewer), Matt Stokoe (Guard)

Note: Hannah John-Kamen would appear in a later episode of Black Mirror (Playtest) in a much more substantial role.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Entire History Of You

Black MirrorGrain is a neural implant that records everything a person sees, even details they don’t notice at first, and stores it for later recall. During a replay, called a “redo”, different details can be enhanced and brought into focus, obsessed over, even litigated. A scan of recent memories has become the new background check: airport security, insurance, and job offers are all contingent upon memory scans with no unusual incidents – and no major deletions from the record hinting at a cover-up of such incidents. Liam, unsettled by news that the law firm for which he works will begin using recorded Grain memories to allow people to sue their parents for negligence during childhood, is in no mood for a party with old friends, but he still shows up, annoyed that his wife Fiona is being very attentive toward a male guest Liam regards as a blowhard. Upon learning that his wife had more than a mere passing acquaintance with the man in her single life, Liam is fixated on proving that they’re still having an affair. But the memory of what he does to resolve the situation may yet haunt him.

Get the DVDswritten by Jesse Alexander
directed by Brian Welsh
music by Stuart Earl

Black MirrorCast: Toby Kebbell (Liam), Jodie Whittaker (Fiona), Tom Cullen (Jonas), Amy Beth Hayes (Lucy), Rebekah Staton (Colleen), Rhashan Stone (Jeff), Phoebe Fox (Hallam), Jimi Mistry (Paul), Daniel Lapaine (Max), Karl Collins (Robbie), Elizabeth Chan (Leah), Mona Goodwin (Gina), Kemal Sylvester (Airport Security)

Note: Jodie Whittaker would go on to become Doctor Who‘s thirteenth face, making her debut in the closing moments of Twice Upon A Time (2017).

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Nosedive

Black MirrorSocial media “ratings”, bestowed by friends, strangers and random passerby alike, are as much currency as actual money, determining not just social standing, but what kind of jobs and housing are available. Smiles are everyday attire, worn to avoid “downvotes” for being considered surly or impolite. Lacie Pound, hovering between 4.0 and 4.5 out of 5, “upvotes” everyone she meets; it’s the polite thing to do, and it’s expected. At home, however, she is stuck living in a small house with her brother, but Lacie is eyeing a more upscale residence – one that she can only afford if she reaches a steady 4.5 social media rating, qualifying her for a discount. The opportunity to boost her profile appears in the form of an invitation to be the maid of honor at a childhood friend’s wedding…but does Lacie even have the necessary clout to make the trip?

Get the DVDsteleplay by Rashida Jones and Mike Schur
story by Charlie Brooker
directed by Joe Wright
music by Max Richter

Black MirrorCast: Bryce Dallas Howard (Lacie Pound), Alice Eve (Naomi Jayne Blestow), Cherry Jones (Susan), James Norton (Ryan Pound), Alan Ritchison (Paul), Daisy Haggard (Bets), Susannah Fielding (Carol), Michaela Coel (Airport Stewardess), Demetri Goritsas (Hansen), Kadiff Kirwan (Chester), Sope Dirisu (Man in Jail), Clayton Evertson (Ted), Andrew Roux (Electro Station Assistant), Anjana Vasan (Space Cop), Colin Moss (Anthony), Nambitha Ben-Wazi (Glam Woman), Jeffrey Davenport (Cab Driver), Ntokozo Majozi (Jack the Barrista), Justin Munitz (Keith), Zandile Madliwa (Alien Girl), Kevin Otto (Pastor), Shane Zaza (Chuck), Abubakar Salim (Airport Guard), Jennie Nielson (Woman in Car), Deon Lotz (Man in Car), Daniel Newton (Kid on Quad Bike), Rebecca Newton (Kid’s Younger Sister), Lewelyn Van den Berg (Male Jogger), Blessing Mamuesa (Glam Woman’s Son)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Playtest

Black MirrorFor Cooper, trying to escape from the stress of his home life with his mother means quietly leaving without a word to travel the world. From Australia to Spain to England, Cooper’s carefree voyage of self-discovery is almost over. His mother keeps calling, and Cooper keeps declining her call. He hooks up with a British video game journalist named Sonja, a fortuitous meeting since it appears that he’s maxed out his credit card and can’t buy a ticket back to the States. Sonja points him toward a paid playtesting opportunity that should provide Cooper with the money he needs to get home. The game in question is an augmented reality horror experience that draws upon the player’s own memory to conjure his worst fears. From spiders to childhood bullies to a decidedly more deadly version of Sonja, Cooper is scared out of his wits and wants the game to end. But the damage may already be done: the lines between reality and the game are blurred, and Cooper may never see the real world again.

Black MirrorGet the DVDswritten by Charlie Brooker
directed by Dan Trachtenberg
music by Bear McCreary

Cast: Wyatt Rssell (Cooper), Hannah John-Kamen (Sonja), Wummi Mosaku (Katie), Ken Yamamura (Shou Saito), Elisabeth Moynihan (Cooper’s Mum), Jamie Paul (Rick Peters), Jessica Neil (Scared Girl On Plane)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Shut Up And Dance

Black MirrorKenny lives a very average teenage life, but within that lies a particularly disturbing vice – one which comes back to haunt him when an unidentified hacker e-mails Kenny video from his own computer’s webcam. The hacker, now communicating with Kenny via text message, informs him that he will be “activated” at some point in the future, and must follow instructions to avoid a leak of the webcam video that will ruin Kenny’s life. When Kenny does receive instructions, he finds himself encountering a succession of others who are being similarly blackmailed, each receiving their own instructions via text message. Kenny and Hector, a middle-aged man whose own indiscretions have left him vulnerable to blackmail, are instructed to rob a bank. As Hector follows instructions to dispose of their getaway car, Kenny’s next orders make him wonder how much worse things are going to get for him.

Get the DVDswritten by Will Bridges & Charlie Brooker
directed by James Watkins
music by Alex Heffes

Black MirrorCast: Alex Lawther (Kenny), Jerome Flynn (Hector), Susannah Doyle (Blackmailed Woman), Frankie Wilson (Tom), Jimmy Roye-Dunne (Red), Hannah Steele (Melissa), Sarah Beck Mather (Restaurant Mother), Beatrice Robertson-Jones (Restaurant Daughter), Maya Gerber (Lindsay), Camilla Power (Sandra), Ivanno Jeremiah (Moped Man), Maiam Haque (Petrol Station Attendant), Natasha Little (Karen), Nicola Sloane (Bank Clerk), Paul Bazely (The Man in the Woods), Leanne Best (Penny)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

U.S.S. Callister

Black MirrorStardate not given: The stalwart crew of the starship U.S.S. Callister patrols the galaxy, constantly running into the evil forces of the tyrannical Baldak, and constantly defeating them thanks to the heroic leadership and tactical brilliance of Captain Robert Daly. But failing to praise or please Daly reveals the terrifying truth that he’s even more of a tyrant than his arch-enemy…

Stardates aren’t real: Callister, Inc.’s flagship product, the massively multiplayer virtual reality space adventure game Infinity, is a massive hit. The company’s chief technology officer, socially stunted software guru Robert Daly, is running behind on a major update to the game, but is distracted from the impending crisis by the arrival of a new programmer, Nanette Cole. But when Callister’s CEO wastes no time showing him up, Daly quietly grabs a lid from one of her coffee cups, and scans it for DNA.

Stardate still not given: Nanette Cole awakens in an unfamiliar (and alarmingly revealing) uniform, aboard what appears to be a spaceship. She explores until she finds the bridge, full of people who appear to be her new co-workers at Callister, Inc. …only to be told that, like them, she is an image of the real Nanette Cole, extracted from a DNA sample, who will now be left with no option but to play out Robert Daly’s twisted sci-fi fan fantasies. She immediately comes to the conclusion that the U.S.S. Callister needs a change of command.

written by William Bridges & Charlie Brooker
directed by Toby Haynes
music by Daniel Pemberton

Black MirrorCast: Jesse Plemons (Robert Daly), Cristin Milioti (Nanette Cole), Jimmi Simpson (Walton), Michaela Coel (Shania), Billy Magnussen (Baldak), Milanki Brooks (Elen Tulaska), Osy Ikhile (Nate Packer), Paul G. Raymond (Kabir Dudani), Hammed Animashaun (Pizza Guy), Tom Mulheron (Tommy), Aaron Paul (Gamer691)

Notes: Toby Haynes has numerous genre directing credits, including a series of very well-regarded episodes of Matt Smith‘s era of Doctor Who Jimmi Black MirrorSimpson is a regular on HBO‘s Westworld, while multiple Emmy winner Aaron Paul – heard in a voice-only role here – was one of the stars of AMC’s popular series Breaking Bad. This episode obviously spoofed the original Star Trek (and, toward the end, the J.J. Abrams retooling of classic Trek for the big screen), as well as a certain somewhat suspect subset of its fandom.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Arkangel

Black MirrorAfter her three-year-old daughter Sara causes a scare by wandering away from a public park looking for a stray cat, Marie has Sara implanted with a device called Arkangel, still in the trial phase, allowing Marie to look at a tablet and immediately see Sara’s location, vital signs, and even what Sara sees. She can even control what Sara sees with a filter system that can audiovisually censor any input causing the girl undue stress, though within a few years she drops the filter and lets Sara see the world as it really is. The Arkangel product line is eventually abandoned, and Marie puts away the tablet…until Sara’s rebellious adolescence arrives, and then Marie resumes surveillance of Sara’s every move and begins intervening in her daughter’s life, with disastrous consequences.

written by Charlie Brooker
directed by Jodie Foster
music by Mark Isham

Black MirrorCast: Rosemarie Dewitt (Marie), Brenna Harding (Sara), Owen Teague (Trick), Angela Vint (Anaesthetist), Jason Weinberg (Surgeon), Nicholas Campbell (Russ), Aniya Hodge (Sara, age 3), Sabryn Rock (Pippa), Edward Charette (Young Man at Park), Carlos Pinder (Man who finds Sara), Jenny Raven (Jasmine), Paul Braunstein (Anthony), Sarah Abbott (Sara, age 9), Nicky Torchia (Trick, age 12), McKayla Twiggs (Meryl, age 9), Kaleb Young (Cal, age 10), Matt Baram (Dr. Usborne), Michelle Cornelius (Schoolyard Teacher), Kaden Stephen (Boy in Fight), Abby Quinn (Meryl), Tosh Robertson (Hiro), Dempsey Bryk (Cal), Ronica Sajnami (Store Employee), Michelle Groux (English Teacher), Edie Inksetter (School Nurse)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Crocodile

Black MirrorIncident 1: Driving home across Iceland from a concert, young couple Mia and Rob run over a bicyclist, killing him. They drag the body, his belongings, and his bike over to the edge of a lake, throwing him in to get rid of any evidence.

Incident 2: 15 years have passed, and Mia is now a successful businesswoman with her own family. But Rob shows up to tell her that he’s finally found the identity of the man they accidentally killed 15 years ago, and intends to write an anonymous letter to his still-grieving family. An argument becomes a struggle, and Mia kills Rob and disposes of his body, witnessing an accident involving a pedestrian outside shortly afterward.

Incident 3: Shazia, an insurance adjuster, carries around a portable device that can retrieve and record people’s memories, a normal part of her job in settling accident claims. Her investigation into a recent accident involving a pedestrian leads her to Mia, unaware that attempting to probe Mia’s memories could be the last thing she ever does. But at what point is Mia finished killing?

written by Charlie Brooker
directed by John Hillcoat
music by Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross and Claudia Sarne

Black MirrorCast: Andrea Riseborough (Mia Nolan), Kiran Sonia Sawar (Shazia Akhand), Andrew Gower (Rob), Anthony Welch (Anan Akhand), Claire Rushbrook (Police Detective), Joshua James (Gordy), Noni Harper-Brown (Adelle Leonce), Brian Pettifer (William Grange, Dentist), Jamie Michie (Simon Nicholls), Armin Karina (Farshad, Hotel Receptionist), Stefan Orn Eggertsson (Finn Nicholls), James Eeles (DC Lydon), Olafia Hronn Jonsdottir (Felicity Carmichael), Diljia Imana (Ali Akhand), Sigurdur Sigurjons (Room Service Man)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Hang The DJ

Black MirrorAs arranged by an artificial intelligence called Coach, which handles dating and matchmaking, Frank and Amy are randomly paired together. As with all of Coach’s matches, an “expiry date” is set, giving Frank and Amy 12 hours in an isolated cabin to get to know each other, but regardless of how well it goes, in 12 hours each will be picked up by a self-driving car, and Coach will pick their next partner. Frank is then paired with a girl who seems to show irritation at everything he says, and is alarmed to finds that Coach has decided this relationship will last for a full year. Amy’s next relationship is predetermined to last nine months. But when Amy and Frank bump into one another at a party, it heightens their respective relief that their current relationships are only temporary. Some time after that, Coach puts Frank and Amy together again, and they mutually agree not to look at the expiry date of their relationship. But when Frank’s curiosity gets the best of him, it seems he and Amy have no future.

written by Charlie Brooker
directed by Tim Van Patten
music by Alex Somers and Sigur Ros

Black MirrorCast: Georgina Campbell (Amy), Joe Cole (Frank), Gina Bramhill (voice of Coach), George Blagden (Lenny), Gwyneth Keyworth (Nicola), Jessie Cave (Edna), Luke Manning (Mike), Tim Pritchett (Norman), Alex Tamaro (Butch), Che Watson (Silverfox), Bruce Chong (David), Anna Dobrucki (Patty)

Notes: The episode’s title is a lyric from the Smiths’ 1986 single “Panic” which coincides neatly with how Frank and Amy feel about their other partners – “Burn down the disco / Hang the blessed DJ / Because the music that they constantly play / It says nothing to me about my life”. The song’s closing refrain plays over the end credits.

LogBook entry by Earl Green