Black Mirror: Shut Up And Dance/San Junipero

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By Shannon Fox, @shannonfox

 

(You can find the review/recap of the first two “Black Mirror” episodes here.)

 

The third and fourth episodes of season three of Netflix’s “Black Mirror” are a perfect example of how the show manages to successfully go from one side of the spectrum to the other without losing any poignancy in its storytelling.  “Shut Up and Dance”, the third episode of the new series, is dark and disturbing (though not even as disturbing as “Black Mirror” gets— I still think the premiere episode, “National Anthem”, wins that title– while “San Junipero”, the fourth episode, is one of the most beautiful hours of television I’ve ever seen in my life.

 

Let’s take a deeper dive into each, shall we?

 

“Shut Up And Dance”

 

shutupanddance

 

One of the main reasons why I found “Shut Up and Dance” so incredibly disturbing was because worrying about whether someone could potentially hack into my camera phone, laptop, or even the camera on my Xbox One is definitely something that I’ve thought about before.  I mean, I’m not up to anything horrific, but still– having someone be able to watch you without your knowledge is a downright creepy notion.  And once again, “Black Mirror” terrifies by examining a situation that DEFINITELY COULD HAPPEN RIGHT NOW.  *shivers*

 

“Shut Up and Dance” is centered around a teenage boy, Kenny, who experiences just that: his laptop is hacked, and the hacker secretly takes video of him in a pretty compromising situation.  The hacker then uses the footage to blackmail Kenny into going through a series of tasks with others that have been filmed and blackmailed in the same way.  The question is, of course, how far is Kenny willing to go to protect himself and keep the hacker from emailing the footage to everyone he knows?

 

Uh, he goes pretty freakin’ far, guys.

 

This is a REALLY intense episode, and the performance of Alex Lawther as Kenny really adds to it.  There’s also a familiar face in the episode for all of you “Game of Thrones” fans– Jerome Flynn, but you probably know him best as Bronn.  Flynn plays a fellow blackmail-ee, Hector, whom Kenny is partnered up with to complete his tasks.

 

Full of twists and turns, “Shut Up and Dance” is one of the darkest episodes of “Black Mirror”, so much so that I found myself hoping that it would end just to get a break from being absolutely horrified.  But I also think it’s one of the best examples of why each episode NEEDS to be watched, apart from entertainment value.  This one will stick with you, folks.

 

And maybe consider covering those cameras on your tech devices.

 

“San Junipero”

 

sanjunipero

 

In trying to convince everyone and their mom to watch “Black Mirror”, I’ve come across one main reason for resisting: “I’ve heard it’s really dark”.  Which, I mean, fair enough– look at the previous episode.  Personally, I think that the show is important (and GREAT) enough that all aversions to less shiny-happy themes should be temporarily put aside, but I understand that some may not be interested in doing so.

 

Good news, those with sensitive hearts and minds! “San Junipero” is the episode for you.  And honestly? It may be my favorite “Black Mirror” episode to date.

 

“San Junipero” is about two young women, Yorkie (played by Mackenzie Davis, currently Cameron on “Halt and Catch Fire”) and Kelly (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw– Whovians may remember her as Martha Jones’s sister, Tish) who meet at a club in a city called– you guessed it– San Junipero.  AND THAT’S LITERALLY ALL I’M GIVING YOU. GO WATCH IT.

 

In all seriousness, I think that this episode is one of the most moving hours of television I’ve ever experienced, particularly in our current social/political climate.  But there’s nothing preach-y about this episode, just perfect story-telling and emotion.  Both Davis and Mbatha-Raw are relatable and affecting.  You can’t help but love them, and root for them, because they’re just so incredible HUMAN.  God, it’s so beautiful.  It’s also so incredibly different than the rest of the show’s episodes, which adds to the appeal: there’s a bit of relief there, you know?  The unknown future can be terrifying, but… maybe everything will be okay, if we can just figure out what’s important.

 

And the SOUNDTRACK.  Nostalgia at its finest.

 

There’s so much I could talk about, regarding “San Junipero”– love, loss, life, and the lessons we gain from each of them.  But I’m going to refrain because, more than any of the others, THIS is the episode that everyone should watch.  This is the one we should all be thinking about in the months and years to come.

 

But maybe have some tissues handy, okay?

 

What did you think of “Shut Up and Dance” and “San Junipero”?  Let us know in the comments!


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