Timing is everything and as we close in on Halloween, Netflix added to its long list of brilliant moves on Friday (Oct. 21) and released six new episodes of popular anthology series, “Black Mirror.” Viewed by many as a modern day “Twilight Zone,” the sci-fi series — helmed by show creator Charlie Brooker — continues to deliver stories that will surely toy with your emotions.
With six more episodes coming in 2017, here’s a ranking of Season 3, from worst to best.
Men Against Fire (Season 3, Episode 5)
It’s a familiar story that’s explored in the “Men Against Fire,” and one where the twist might have been seen coming from a mile away. Packed with mixed influences — from “Starship Troopers” to “The 5th Wave” — “Men Against Fire” follows the struggles of a super soldier who begins to deal with a surprise bout of conscience. While the episode’s twist is predictable, and the third act falls apart completely, there is still an impact in the message. And for fans of violent, futuristic war-torn subject matter, this episode has got you covered.
Shut Up and Dance (Season 3, Episode 3)
Pulling the wool over the audience’s eyes for the majority of “Shut Up and Dance,” we follow young Kenny (Alex Lawther) as he is blackmailed by hackers over a compromising video. Instead of going to the cops, Kenny becomes a pawn in a disturbing real-world game. And once the audience becomes fully invested in rooting for the episode’s hero, a twist is revealed in the final moments that makes you second guess your own moral compass.
Hated in the Nation (Season 3, Episode 6)
What you got here is a surprising episode that mixes the familiar cop procedural formula the BBC is known for with some Hitchcockian flair. “Hated in the Nation” plays on multiple levels, what with the common trend of social media outrage, the hunt for a serial killer and… well, a swarm of robotic killer bees. After watching this episode, you may just be tempted to revisit “The Birds,” just out of principal.
Playtest (Season 3, Episode 2)
“Playtest” is a story that fully exists in the horror genre, which is perfect for this time of year. In fact, this may just be the scariest episode of “Black Mirror” to date. Still, the driving factors that get Cooper (Wyatt Russell) to play this fully immersive, augmented reality video game are denial and grief. Surrounded by increasingly frightening terrors conjured up by his own mind, things don’t end well. Public service announcement: Call your mom.
Nosedive (Season 3, Episode 1)
The first episode of the new season comes out with some whopping social commentary, showing us what might happen if our obsession with status updates, likes and faves continue to grow. Bryce Dallas Howard stars as Lacie, a woman yearning to break through into the upper echelon of society. With her “popularity arc” on the rise, what could go wrong? Well, just about everything.
Written by Mike Schur and Rashida Jones, “Nosedive” is the perfect parody of our time. Just be warned, what starts as a cutesy story, ends in a manic downward spiraling quest for identity and acceptance.
San Junipero (Season 3, Episode 4)
This one really affected us, and in a way we’re not used to with “Black Mirror.” Taking a step away from the sci-fi shock mojo that the series is known for, “San Junipero” explores love and longing… while on the precipice of death. Truly succeeding at tugging at the audience’s heartstrings, what plays out in “San Junipero” is a love story between outspoken club girl Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis), a shy newcomer to the beach city.
The episode delivers a different tone in its retro callbacks to different eras — shout out to Max Headroom! — and the revealed twist is wonderfully layered. Unlike some other episodes in the anthology series, the resolution of “San Junipero” is one fully immersed hope and the promise of everlasting happiness. In fact, it may just make you smile.
“Black Mirror” Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.