Hang the DJ

Charlie Brooker likely looked at the overwhelmingly positive reaction to San Junipero, and realized he had to give Black Mirror season 4 a love story as well. Enter Hang the DJ, a Black Mirror take on the wild world of online dating from Game of Thrones director Tim Van Patten.

Georgina Campbell (Broadchurch) and Joe Cole (Green Room) play lonely hearts living in an Orwellian society where Big Brother isn’t only always watching, he’s also deciding who you can go out on a date with as well. Campbell and Cole are paired-up on a date that goes exceptionally well, but ends quickly. From there, the two find themselves in one dead-end relationship after another, while always remembering the spark they shared on their quick night together.

Nowhere near as memorable or sweet as San Junipero, Hang the DJ is nonetheless a fun diversion from all the darkness the prevails in the other episodes. What keeps Hang the DJ afloat are the utterly charming performances from Campbell and Cole. The actors have an incredible chemistry together, and their flirty, funny performances are a treat to watch. But Hang the DJ makes the mistake that San Junipero wisely avoided: it remembers it’s a Black Mirror episode, and therefore thinks it’s restricted to a specific perimeter. The inevitable Black Mirror twist that arrives proves to be ultimately unsatisfying, robbing much of the episode’s already built-up goodwill.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Black Museum

How’s this for meta: Black Museum is an anthology episode inside an anthology show. The Girl With All the Gifts director Colm McCarthy helms this episode, which features not one but four different storylines: a framing narrative and three separate stories within it.

Black Mirror has done this sort of thing before with their Christmas episode Black Mirror, White Christmas, but Black Museum takes it to the next level. It’s a bold idea, and gives the episode a nice Night Gallery-esque feel. In a clever twist, Black Museum seems to exist within the same timelines of several other previous Black Mirror episodes: there are visual call-backs to props from different Black Mirror episodes, both from Netflix and the Channel 4 era, but I’ll let you try to spot them all without any hints.

Black Panther’s Letitia Wright plays a road tripper who ends up at a tourist trap: the Black Museum, a crime museum that houses artifacts used in several tech-based crimes. Wright is guided through the museum by the sleazy-seeming owner, played with sweaty menace by Douglas Hodge (The Night Manager).

Individually, the stories that are presented in Black Museum are interesting and twisted enough to entice Black Mirror fans. One segment, based on a story by Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller fame, is ghoulish and gory enough to give you nightmares. The problem, however, is that the individual segments never really colace with the anthology framing device. You get the sense that any of the stories here would be better served as one distinct episode, rather than being truncated to fit within the framework here. Worse than that, the wraparound story that frames everything is mostly void of life until the final few minutes, which saps it of its ultimate impact. Save this episode for last and enjoy the others first.

Rating: 5 out of 10

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Black Mirror season 4 will premiere on Netflix on December 29, 2017.

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