Callister: This one did less for me than it did for other people here. Not because it was lacking in execution but rather because its themes - men’s fantasy ideals of women are often screwed up even if they’re “nice guys,” unlimited agency and no consequences turns gamers into monsters etc. etc. - have been well-covered elsewhere. Even the extremely specific theme “life as a minor character in Star Trek is like being in hell” is better covered in Galaxy Quest and John Scalzi’s Red Shirts. Meanwhile, the less-well-trodden idea “fans often claim to admire the ethos of a bit of pop culture while completely ignoring that ethos in their own life” was tossed out there, but never really explored.
Arkangel: As many have said, the weakest episode of the season. Judged as a Black Mirror episode, one flaw is that the tech was irrelevant - the mother could very well gotten her info on the daughter in all sorts of other ways (you can imagine a version of this story being written in the late 19th century about the telephone.) Viewed as straight drama, the problem is that it’s lacking in flavorful specificity. The eternal conflict between a parent’s protectiveness and a child’s need to become their own person is a good seed for drama, but it needs something distinctive about the characters involved to make it memorable.
Crocodile: The tech is important for the final twist. Up to that point, though, this is is essentially a standard Columbo episode with the tech acting as a shortcut in place of police legwork. Judged as a Columbo episode it was perfectly fine. Though I never believed that character would kill more than one person, let alone violate that taboo at the end. Again, I need more to the characters than an archetype if we’re going to dwell on personal drama.
Hang the DJ: I liked it, though not as much as some other things like it such as Truman Show (as someone mentioned) or San Junipero. The leads were cute, though the middle “rinse and repeat” section was a bit of the slog. And some cynical part of me feels Booker put it in here because San Junipero was received so well. “Right then - one upbeat romance-themed episode per season it is!” That same cynical part responded to the ending with, “So … 1996 very happy sims were slaughtered just so you could use your dating app, you monsters.”
Metalhead: This was a superbly executed piece of action thriller filmmaking. It had a simple and compelling premise - you can imagine the bar napkin with “Boston Dynamics dog + Terminator” scrawled on it. The only issue being that the premise is so simple that it’s lightweight when compared to a typical Black Mirror episode. While you’re watching, though, it has so much momentum you don’t care a bit. (And that momentum solves the problem of the main character not being all that fleshed out. When things move fast, a small character detail like her talking to static on the walkie-talkie has an outsized impact.)
The twist at the end felt forced and beside the point (even if you take the Easter Egg interpretation that it’s a reference to Black Museum.) It felt like it was there because someone said, “It’s Black Mirror, it needs a big reveal at the end.”
Black Museum: As somebody said, at heart this is a simple revenge tale. I enjoyed it more than maybe it deserves. Partly because it pays homage to the narrative structures of the series’s influences (specifically Rad Bradbury - “Usher II,” The Illustrated Man, etc.) Partly because it pokes fun at Black Mirror itself ("… but.") But mostly because it does within the Black Mirror universe what Black Mirror does for the real world: pour a dose of mordant cold water on naive technological optimism. So you liked San Junipero, hmmm? How do you suppose that tech got developed?
The phrase, “monkey needs a hug” will haunt my dreams.
Someone asked why the episode is called “Black Museum.” Apart from any other double meanings, it’s primarily a reference to The Black Museum at New Scotland Yard in London, which is a real-world museum of crime.