Black Mirror – Season Two + The Christmas Special

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The great thing about Black Mirror as a show is that it’s an anthology series. Every episode is self-contained. You can jump around, skip episodes if you like, and if one episode is bad there is a next one coming up that could be good or bad. Season two had two bad episodes out of four. Netflix categorizes White Christmas, the Christmas special as a part of season two so we did as well. Last season all of the episodes were so good, even great. This season, not so much.

Caidyn will be in blue.

Chantel will be in purple. 

Be Right Back

This was definitely my favorite out of the whole season. It’s a solid start, showing a woman whose husband died in an accident go through the grieving process. I thought that it was beautifully written and a great glimpse into just how hard it is to grieve someone that you loved with all of your heart.

I’m always a sucker for tv/movies/books that deal with characters who are grieving. They always hit me the hardest and invoke a lot of emotions for me personally. This episode was beautiful and Hayley Atwell did an excellent job in portraying the complexity of the situation because she was grieving her husband while also wanting desperately to bring him back. I wanted to give her credit because the acting on this show is one part of what makes this show great.

A common part of grieving is the desperation to bring what you lost back. I always think of the five stages, which can come in any order and you can repeat or combine them. Denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. I think that Atwell was fantastic at showing the facets and how you can bounce between things. One second, she’s accepted it, then the next she’s back to being angry or sad.

It was fascinating watching her character’s struggle through the episode and what happens in this world that’s technologically advanced. The grief is still real, the way people deal with it is slightly different. We don’t want to give anything away with this episode because we want you to experience it for yourselves, but I think we both highly recommend this episode.

A short note on the technology: The initial tech shown in the episode felt like we weren’t that far away from it, you know? It felt that it could be there within a few years to a decade with how quickly things are going in the world.

I think there are a few episodes in this season and in future seasons where the technology isn’t far off from where we are. The fact that this show revolves around technology and where it can take us is very interesting indeed. There are definitely outlandish things in certain episodes, but it all feels real in some way or another. Some are just a terrible idea like the technology in “The Entire History of You”.

The technology in this has upsides and downsides, which we can’t get into because of spoilers. Speaking of terrible ideas, let’s go to “White Bear”.

White Bear

Both of us weren’t huge fans of this one, but I actually liked it a little better than Chantel did. I can’t go into the ending of it, but it focuses around a woman who has been checked out of the world and, for some reason, there are people chasing her and trying to kill her, then these random spectators taking pictures and videos of the whole thing.

Unlike Be Right Back, this one just wasn’t as well crafted. The twist felt off since there was no hint about what was going to happen. But I did appreciate this one because I really enjoyed the brief conversation of what constitutes cruelty.

This was my least favorite episode when I watched it the first time and that hasn’t changed on a second viewing. I think the concept of the idea was good but poorly executed. I think if we had been in the know the entire time it would’ve made the idea far more interesting and the twist wouldn’t have felt so cheap. I do think the first time I watched it, there was a lot of tension and I kept wondering what the hell was happening. On a second viewing, I didn’t get anything out of it.

I don’t think that it would have worked if we knew the secret from the start, but I think it would have been better if there were screw-ups that let us know that something wasn’t quite right, and it wasn’t that everyone had finally become completely apathetic like I thought the whole time I was watching. Completely giving it away would have ruined it, but I think there could have been a different angle to take the episode to talk about the same issue.

I disagree because I don’t think it was worth keeping a secret. Sometimes, if the audience is kept in the dark it’s effective. Other episodes do a far better job of keeping secrets from the audience. This episode failed in my opinion. It was a weak concept with a weak execution and it was disappointing after the strong first season and the first episode of the season. I’m always talking about the quality of this show, but I don’t think this episode is evidence of that.

For all the weaknesses of this episode, the acting was still really good in it.

It was okay.

There’s no pleasing you.

Not when it comes to this episode.

The Waldo Moment

This was an okay episode. I didn’t think it was fantastic and I think Caidyn and I both agree it wasn’t that realistic. I know that some people say this episode predicted Trump, and I disagree. Trump isn’t Waldo who is a cartoon bear. I think that it implies that people are stupid enough to vote for a cartoon which I don’t think is the case at all. Yes, people want something different but it didn’t have to be a cartoon bear.

The technology presented was very realistic, but no, the plot didn’t work for me. I don’t mind a comparison to Trump by calling him as stupid as a cartoon bear, but I can’t believe that people were so fed up to really want a fucking bear to run the world. It didn’t work for me, even if I know that people do tons of throwaway votes. And the cartoon bear, in a way, was a throwaway vote that actually gained traction.

The only thing that redeemed this episode for me was Jamie, who was a failed comedian who ended up being the voice behind this bear, Waldo. He was extremely depressed, starved for attention and affection, he was so fragile and yet he just continuously gets put down by one thing or the other. I can see people finding him unlikable, but I liked his character. What I have noticed is the episodes that seem as if they take place in the present day are generally weaker. Both episodes thus far have been surrounded by politics, which I don’t find interesting at all. Technology is a huge part of this show and when they deviate from that, I don’t care as much.

I’m one of the people who didn’t like Jamie. Sure, I could understand him and his plight, but eh. I don’t like that type of person, sadly. He just came off wrong to me, especially since I don’t like the humor Waldo had and he was Waldo. I find politics interesting, but this one was meh for me. I couldn’t root for Jamie, no matter how much he went through a change and somewhat grew as a character.

While Jamie did portray Waldo and created the character (I believe) he spends most of the episode wanting his own voice to be heard and wanting to be seen. Waldo is so tied to who he is and it’s the only thing that makes him worth anything. I think that’s so tragic and I totally understand not liking him. He’s an extremely flawed character and is very immature in a lot of ways, but I understand him and I had a soft spot for him.

White Christmas

I almost chose this one as my favorite episode from this season, but I didn’t because it didn’t have the heavy hitting emotions like “Be Right Back” did. What this one did have that the rest of the season didn’t was a tight plot that held my interest the whole time and reminded me of movies that I love, such as Inception or Shutter Island.

This episode was so well crafted. I agree with Caidyn that it wasn’t as emotional as “Be Right Back”, but it was so well done plot-wise. It involves multiple storylines which all revolve around two men. There is questionable morality and so many things to think about. I don’t want to give too much away and it’s almost too easy to but this episode was compelling and Jon Hamm was great as always. I would honestly recommend skipping the two episodes in the middle because “Be Right Back” and “White Christmas” are the best episodes of the season and it’s not even close.

What I loved about this episode was that they did give it away bit by bit without doing too much, but then when it’s all revealed (or close to since I picked it up early) it all makes sense. Especially since you feel like something’s wrong or off right from the start. You don’t know what it is exactly, but you can feel it.

I agree with Chantel, though. As we watch these, I’m actually recommending episodes to my mom since she watched “The National Anthem” and got scarred by it. I think that you can definitely skip “The Waldo Moment” and “White Bear” then come back to them later if you want to see what they’re all about.

Yes, everything was unfolding slowly. There were multiple reveals and I think they were well done. Unlike “White Bear”. Even if they were predictable, it didn’t matter to me. They were still interesting. I had no fucking clue what was happening in “White Bear” and yet the payoff was weak. This episode, you might be able to figure out the reveals but they are far better and actually have a purpose. There are hints of what is going on. Everything circles back in the end.

I think at first you can definitely skip “The Waldo Moment” and “White Bear” until you know you enjoy the show. I feel like people can too easily get put off by the poor quality of those episodes because I assure you some of these episodes are some of the best I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to hype it up for you because I think it gets enough hype, but if you watch “Be Right Back” or “Fifteen Million Merits” or “White Christmas” and you don’t like the show, then there might not be hope for you.

Episode rankings

Chantel’s rankings:

  1. Be Right Back
  2. White Christmas
  3. The Waldo Moment
  4. White Bear

Caidyn’s rankings:

  1. Be Right Back
  2. White Christmas
  3. White Bear
  4. The Waldo Moment

4 thoughts on “Black Mirror – Season Two + The Christmas Special

  1. Pingback: Black Mirror – Season Three (Part 1) | BW Book Reviews

  2. Pingback: Black Mirror – Season Three (Part 2) | BW Book Reviews

  3. Pingback: Black Mirror – Season Four (Part 1) | BW Book Reviews

  4. Pingback: Black Mirror – Season Four (Part 2) | BW Book Reviews

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