Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror grabbed audiences, who love its dystopian technology stories, as well as critics, who compare it to The Twilight Zone. The show's first two seasons on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom were so good that Netflix bought the rights for future seasons. In anticipation of the fourth season (premiering Dec. 29), we at Tom's Guide voted on all 13 episodes (including the holiday special) to see which entries you need to watch right away and which can wait. Also, don't worry about watching them in any particular order, as there's no overarching storyline to worry about.
We've updated our rankings per fourth season of Black Mirror, as well as Bandersnatch, an interactive feature length edition that's good enough to make sure Black Mirror stays in our best Netflix TV Shows rankings.
Our least favorite episode centers on Stripe, a soldier fighting in a war while reality becomes a bit unglued around him. Though this episode is not particularly bad, with solid acting and great visuals, the big twist at the end doesn't quite stick the landing, and the technology at the episode's core feels uninspired. — Henry T. Casey
Credit: Laurie Sparham/Netflix
What happens when a farcical character moves from lambasting politicians to running for office? No, this isn't a documentary about the 2016 U.S. presidential election; this episode is about a blue cartoon bear named Waldo. The story is as much about the human behind Waldo, though: Jamie Salter, a failed comedian who gets too emotionally attached to one of the candidates in a parliamentary election. This episode failed to rank higher because its animated bear — which now feels similar to the Animoji in iOS — isn't provocative enough in exploring the dark side of technology, which is why people watch Black Mirror in the first place. — Henry T. Casey
Credit: Channel 4
Metalhead thrusts you into a familiar post-apocalyptic world but instead of zombies, there's a pack of killer robodogs bringing humans to extinction. The first few minutes of this episode stands as a demonstration of what could happen if we mounted shotguns to Boston Dynamics' SpotMini. Unfortunately, the latter half of this David Slade-directed thriller loses steam as the tale delves into a linear survival story lacking the depth we've come to expect from Black Mirror. There is still a lot to love about the episode. The limited dialogue adds to the nightmarish atmosphere while the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography exudes the same hopelessness I felt watching The Road. While it's missing the satisfying twist Black Mirror is known for, Metalhead is still worth a visit, if only as a brief, brutal horror story. — Phillip Tracy
Credit: Jonathan Prime/Netflix
The first Black Mirror episode that felt like a true horror story, Playtest is a dramatization of what happens when virtual reality goes wrong. Our protagonist, Cooper, signs up to test a new video game experience in order to earn an extra buck. It's not long before a computer capable of simulating his biggest insecurities and fears is implanted into the back of his neck. The rest of the episode is a full-on haunted house horror movie filled with jump scares and multiple dimensions. The nightmare even concludes with a rather satisfying, if someone generic plot twist. Still, while Playtest will satisfy horror junkies, its undeveloped characters and failure to take on any real-world issues keep it from climbing higher in the ranks. — Phillip Tracy
Credit: Laurie Sparham/Netflix
The most frustrating thing about Arkangel is that it’s a strawman. We’re expected to believe that a group of scientists and parents think it’s a good idea to constantly track children’s whereabouts through a permanent implant (rather than, I don’t know, a bracelet?). We’re also supposed to buy that these scientists and parents want to censor children from seeing anything at all stressful (really?). One of Black Mirror’s signature qualities is that it critiques technologies that resembles those in our society, or those we’re on our way to. But Arkangel, rather than critiquing the very real parental controls that we see across technology and social media, critiques an imagined parental surveillance system so ridiculous it’s implausible and unsympathetic. It’s hard for me to have any reaction to this episode other than mentally screaming “What are you doing, you idiot?” at every character. — Monica Chin
Credit: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix
The first Black Mirror episode is easily its most controversial, as it has barely any connection to the show's overall obsessions over tech. And while audiences wretched over the premise, where a Prime Minister is forced into abhorrent behavior, we're shown how social media and the 24-7 news networks can be used for the manipulation of the public.— Henry T. Casey
Credit: Channel 4
I don't remember much about Crocodile, except being bored.— Andrew E. Freedman
Credit: Arnaldur Halidorsson/Netflix