These Are the ‘Black Mirror’ Episodes You Can Skip

There seems to be an emerging consensus that Black Mirror has jumped the shark lately from what it once was. Even though three episodes have occurred before, this truncated fifth season might have been more surface level by design, or due to writer burnout.

Executive producer Charlie Brooker does have other irons in the fire lately, though it’s looking like the (technically four) episodes this season will be considered the weakest ever produced.

While it’s a challenge to find the worst ones from earlier seasons, here’s a quick list of ones you can skip if binging to catch up.

Black Mirror
Black Mirror Show Creator Annabel Jones, Editor Andrew Sullivan and Show Creator Charlie Booker | Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Vulture Festival

1. ‘Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too’ (from new Season 5)

Bringing Miley Cyrus in to headline as a pop superstar was an inspired choice from the get-go. We have a feeling they brought her in to bring stronger star power to the show and possibly drag in more of the 18-34 demographic the show likely already attracts.

It’s unfortunate then that Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too turned into one of the most conventional episodes in Black Mirror’s history so far. This has nothing to do with Cyrus herself who does an excellent job playing a pop star who exerts a little too much influence on her fans.

This has a dual plot detailing a lonely teenage girl named Rachel who become a big fan of Ashley O (Cyrus). We also see the story of Ashley who’s forced to live under the guise of a pop star. An AI-programmed doll in her likeness is more than a little disturbing, something we may see in our real world before long.

Exploring AI and how it affects the mind should have been explored a little deeper. Because it’s a deep-layered concept, the writers didn’t seem to have enough time to elaborate in depth, hence giving a bit of a pat ending as a disappointing cop-out.

2. ‘Men Against Fire’

Most fans agree this episode from Season 3 is also one of the weakest. When we say this, we almost always have to follow it up by saying “it didn’t have to be.”

Perhaps the biggest problem with the weak episodes is the technological concepts explored are just far too complex to provide enough revelatory twists. The writing team maybe had to write against the clock, creating situations much like this episode.

Men Against Fire had a concept possibly receiving a green light as a movie. Its plot involves renegade soldiers who use AR (Augmented Reality) to help save people from a village against feral mutants.

Once again, though, they don’t go into the social implications of what AR could do to harm us as individuals. With an overly safe ending, we almost want a crack at a rewrite. Because AR is more mainstream now, the episode could be turned into something intriguing in 2019.

3. ‘Crocodile’

Rotten Tomatoes shows Crocodile as one of the worst Black Mirror episodes to date, only behind The Waldo Moment (with Sacha Baron Cohen). Those of you who’ve watched the show religiously would likely agree since it’s merely a murder thriller with no real rewarding twists about the technologies utilized.

What it does explore is a woman architect who manages to keep getting away with murders, despite technologies making it harder to hide such crimes. These murders are especially grisly on Black Mirror terms, enough where fans became a little bit sickened at how graphic they became. 

Many of us are used to seeing graphic murders and blood on mainstream cable shows. Crocodile just seemed gratuitous for shock value rather than staying more grounded in cerebral themes.

Yes, it does give an intriguing look at self-driving vehicles possibly watching everything we do. Some might have been satisfied with good winning over evil here, but we’re too used to Black Mirror ambiguous endings.