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Black Mirror review: the Netflix series is back and darker than ever



Charlie Brookers ambitious near-future fables return for another six episodes and deliver dread and paranoia on every corner

Dont be fooled by the gorgeous scenery that makes up much of the fourth season of Black Mirror (Netflix). Its near-future fables take place over mountainous snowscapes, expanses of moorland and sprawling deserts, but its world is taut and panicked, full of damaged and damaging people, and every corner promises dread and paranoia. If theres any festive spirit left lingering, then this will knock it right out of you. Black Mirror is darker than it has ever been.

Charlie Brookers series returns for another six episodes, each of which is regally confident and more cinematically ambitious than almost anything the show has done before, with the exception, perhaps, of season threes San Junipero. Having a transatlantic budget really suits it, for the most part, allowing for some impressive feats of invention and greater scope.

While the running time of these standalone stories varies from 40 minutes to 85 minutes or so, each one plays out like a mini-movie, boldly establishing its own troubling world. ArkAngel, directed by Jodie Foster, could be an American indie; Metalhead is like a Ben Wheatley experiment, and USS Callister, easily this years best instalment, could have been pulled from the very darkest recesses of JJ Abrams mind and thrust into multiplexes to rattle unsuspecting moviegoers.

All three are likely to be the principal talking points, and when Black Mirror is at its best, it provokes discussion, though often less about technological developments and more about the fallibility of human nature. It can be difficult to discuss this show without revealing what makes it so effective so many of the storylines rely on wrongfooting viewers and yanking the curtain away at the last minute that even a hint of a plot spoiler would trample the fun. But all is rarely as it seems and, as usual, were left to play the game by filling in the gaps where we can. Whats going on in the hyper-stylised, darkest timeline Star Trek-ish world of USS Callister is revealed fairly quickly, but it more than justifies its bumper length, finding tension in cruelty and thrills in adventure, and it is the neatest and most satisfying of the bunch.

The best of Black Mirror, season four. Clockwise from top left: Arkangel, Crocodile, Black Museum, USS Callister, Metalhead, and Hang the DJ. Composite: Netflix

There are glimmers of hope and light, too, in Hang The DJ, which attempts to see how love would look in a world where Tinder, Alexa and every algorithm thats ever defined you come together in an electronic snowglobe which establishes you who youre allowed to have sex with and for how long. But any sweetness is short-lived. ArkAngel, which puts parents inside the heads of their children in the interests of safety, is a gothic slow-burner that touches on a universal fear of how quickly kids grow up then morphs into a claustrophobic domestic tragedy that takes place over 15 increasingly grim and precarious years.

Metalhead, in which the world has gone all Madchester Max, is shot in black and white, and follows Maxine Peakes Bella on a mission to survive what at first appears to be the worlds most stressful trip to Ikea, and I do not say that lightly. It is a breathlessly tense horror show that never relents for a second. Nor, too, does the upsetting Crocodile, one of the most unpleasant episodes that Black Mirror has ever done, which is laced with the kind of hopeless misanthropy that comes out in its nastier moments, as it did with the hacking blackmail of last seasons Shut Up And Dance. Andrea Riseborough and Kiran Sonia Sawar are award-worthy as the unfortunate duo brought together by secrets and lies. But I found its final punch and twist too much. At its rare weak moments, Black Mirror can have a tendency to favour the shock of the very worst outcome over subtlety, dredging the floors of human nature at its most horrible.

The finale inasmuch as its best to save it until last is Black Museum, a kind of mini anthology in which a devilish curator of now-illegal technology tells the stories of how it was used for wrongdoing. The initial scenes are a true treat for fans, who may wish to play spot-the-tech for devices that have appeared in the past, though I wasnt sold on the final act, which seemed to retread old ground. Given that theres nothing like Black Mirror on TV, its a minor quibble, but where its earlier episodes claimed new territory, I found myself thinking of what these instalments reminded me of: Flatliners, The Lobster, Carrie, even older episodes of Black Mirror. Still, it manages to take those familiar elements and craft them into something impossibly fearful, anxiety-inducing, and, above all, gripping. It may not always be pleasant, but it certainly makes you think.

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‘Outlanders’ Season 5 confirmed by executive producer



Image: starz

Everyone’s favorite show that isn’t Game of Thrones is coming back for a fifth season.

In lieu of an official announcement from Starz, Outlander executive producer Ronald D. Moore said Sunday that the show will be returning for a fifth season, Entertainment Weekly reported. Moore noted that there are still “usual negotiations and conversations” about the future of the show, but he seemed completely confident in confirming Season 5.

“We are certainly going to do it,” Moore said at the For Your Consideration: Outlander panel. “I have no doubt we are doing a Season 5.”

The pseudo-announcement doesn’t come as a huge surprise considering the show’s success, critical acclaim, and its source material. The series is based on the best-selling novels of the same name by Diana Gabaldon, and each season roughly adapts one book in the series.

Outlanders Season 3 finished in December last year and Season 4, which is still in production, is expected to kick off this fall. Season 5 likely won’t air until 2019 or even 2020.

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Everything we know about Season 2 of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’



And you thought it couldn’t get any darker…

Image: Hulu

This story contains spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1. To refresh your memory of where we left off, check out our highlights recap.

There’s just about one guarantee for the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale: No one is safe.

The cast and executive producers of Hulu’s hit show made that abundantly clear during the panel at PaleyFest on Sunday, March 18. They revealed some tantalizing details about where the characters are going when we return to Gilead on April 25.

“Anyone could die,” said executive producer Warren Littlefield. But, like the show’s world, it isn’t just all darkness. Showrunner Bruce Miller also revealed that at least one person will escape Gilead’s clutches, and well, we’re certainly pulling for June over Serena.

The end of Season 1 left off on an ambiguous note (to say the least), with many of characters left to hang in a freefall of uncertainty. So where will they be in Season 2?


Thankfully, Alexis Bledel will return as Emily, despite the horrors she faced. EW revealed that Season 2 Emily even gets her own flashback scenes to pre-Gilead life with her wife, played by guest star Clea Duvall.

But in the here and now, Emily finds herself stuck in the most desolate of places.

Only hinted at in both the book and Season 1, the colonies are like Gilead’s concentration camps: a radioactive wasteland where the “unwomen” are sent to work until they die. Bledel mentioned it as a place where one’s physical health immediately deteriorates. Miller said the colonies are, “an extrapolation of the way [Gilead] thinks about women — as disposable.”



Perhaps the most tragic yet oddly uplifting character of all, the handmaids’ refusal to stone her does not save Janine from punishment. She’s sent to the Colonies for endangering her child, but actress Madeline Brewer said it isn’t all bad. “She’s just grateful that’s she’s alive, after so many brushes with death.”

Aunt Lydia

For Aunt Lydia, Offred’s pregnancy is the victory she’s been working toward. But as we’ve seen, even a happy and determined Aunt Lydia is a terrifying Aunt Lydia. In Season 2, Miller said we’ll see her “sense of duty to make sure Offred’s baby is healthy and comes into a loving household — even if it kills her and most of the people around her.”


While Moira’s escape to Canada might be the best ending a handmaid can hope for, Samira Wiley said there’s no escaping the trauma left behind. In Little America (Toronto’s safe haven for Gilead refugees) her and Luke deepen their relationship through a common love for June.

Wiley also hinted that we’d see Moira’s life not only before Gilead, but outside of June. In Season 1, she mentions the love of her life, Odette — who was reclassified as an “unwoman.” Will Moira get  another reunion? Or is Odette with Janine and Emily now in the Colonies?  


O-T Fagbenle echoed Wiley’s sentiments, saying that they both have PTSD to deal with. But also, Season 2 explores the parts of Luke and June’s relationship that were less than rosey. Don’t forget: He left his first wife to marry her. So we’ll see the more “contentious” parts of their coupling.


Actor Max Minghella gave some assurance to audiences that the shift we see in his character after learning about June’s baby is genuine. “His primal feelings for her have not shifted for her,” he said. “Nick’s constantly making decisions that negate his self-preservation [for her.]”

We’ve never seen handmaid’s dressed in black before

Image: hulu

The Waterfords

“Serena’s pissed,” said Yvonne Strahovski. And, boy, we know how dangerous that can get.

When it comes to Commander Waterford, “They’ve come to an incredibly uneasy peace,” said Miller. “[The loss of June] hollowed out their marriage… but I don’t know if you’d see that from the outside. They seem like a united front [against June.]”


The poor Martha left to deal with the repercussions in the Waterford household after June’s departure, “is in the most perilous state she’s ever been in,” said actress Amanda Brugel.


For obvious reasons, Season 2 will focus on the theme of motherhood. But we’ll get a full scope of this through Offred/June’s character. In flashback scenes, we’ll see one of the most interesting relationships from the book’s that has yet to be explored in the show: June’s own mother. 

Relating it back to the conversations about #MeToo — and the shift between second and third wave feminism — producer Warren Littlefield suggested that June’s relationship to her mom will exemplify that.

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‘Saturday Night Live’ heads to Wakanda: Chadwick Boseman is set for April 7



Image: Dia Dipasupil/Jamie McCarthy; Getty Images

Wakanda’s very own Black Panther is headed to Studio 8H. 

On April 7, Chadwick Boseman will take on the hosting duties for Saturday Night Live with none other than the “Bodak Yellow” queen Cardi B as a musical guest. The announcement was made during an episode guest hosted by Bill Hader this weekend. 

While Boseman and Cardi haven’t appeared on the show before, both have been parodied by cast member Chris Redd and former guest host Tiffany Haddish, respectively. 

“Who finna not go to the club to watch Bardi on tv?!,” Cardi wrote on Instagram following announcement. By the looks of it, pretty much everyone: the news elicited enthusiastic reactions from folks online who can’t wait to see what SNL cooks up for Wakanda (and Bronx) royalty.