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The Benefits of Watching Black Mirror Season 6 in Reverse Order

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Black Mirror Season 6

Black Mirror season 6 acquires an entirely fresh outlook when explored from “Demon 79” to “Joan Is Awful.”

Warning: The following content contains significant spoilers for Black Mirror Season 6

Let’s begin with a crucial note – as indicated by the warning above, we are about to embark on a discussion that contains significant spoilers regarding Black Mirror season 6. If you haven’t watched this season yet, we highly recommend taking our word for it and watching the episodes in reverse order. Afterward, return to this article to understand the reasoning behind our recommendation.

If you have already seen the season and plan to rewatch it, then continue reading! We will now elaborate on why we believe reversing the order of the five episodes, as presented by Netflix in season 6, will enhance your viewing experience.

The Episodes Were Written in Reverse Order

One compelling reason to watch this season in reverse order is simply because that’s the order in which the episodes were written, as shared by Charlie Brooker. By doing so, you’ll uncover various hidden Easter eggs scattered throughout the season that only become clear when viewed in reverse.

For instance, in “Demon 79,” we are introduced to Michael Smart, a politician resembling Nigel Farage. In subsequent episodes like “Loch Henry,” Smart’s presence is featured prominently on the front pages of newspapers, alluding to the future predicted by Gaap in 1979. Additionally, in “Joan is Awful,” there’s a documentary about Smart that Joan and Krish come across on the faux-Netflix site Streamberry. These references hold significant meaning and connect back to “Demon 79,” but they remain inconsequential if you haven’t watched that episode first.

Furthermore, Streamberry itself is a noteworthy addition to the Black Mirror universe. Although Netflix exists in this world and has been mentioned in both Bandersnatch and “Loch Henry,” the latter introduces Streamberry as the production company behind Davis’s documentary. Streamberry then becomes an integral part of “Joan is Awful.”

This also implies that the two episodes set in a vaguely “current” or near-future timeframe actually occur in reverse order. In the episode “Loch Henry,” the documentary “Loch Henry: Truth Will Out” is created and released, and in “Joan is Awful,” Joan and Krish decide not to watch it, highlighting the central theme of an excess of true crime shows. While attempting to watch Black Mirror in a strictly chronological order is nearly impossible due to the convoluted and contradictory timeline of its shared universe, these two episodes should be reversed if you prefer viewing things chronologically.

In summary, watching Black Mirror season 6 in reverse order aligns with the order in which the episodes were written, revealing hidden connections and enhancing the overall viewing experience.

The Importance of Themes and Character Development in Episode Order

Themes and characters are more coherent when the episodes are viewed in the order they were written. For instance, the episode “Loch Henry” echoes certain themes from “Mazey Day” and “Demon 79.” In “Loch Henry,” Davis’s Black American girlfriend, Pia, experiences casual racism when she visits his rural Scottish village. This racism is further exemplified in “Demon 79,” set in the 1970s, where Nida is subjected to more overt mistreatment. While racism is not central to the plot of “Loch Henry,” these references might feel tokenistic when viewed independently. However, when seen as a progression of the theme explored in “Demon 79,” they integrate more seamlessly into the overall season.

Pia also comments that the police would be more motivated to pursue the thief of rare eggs if the culprit “looked like [her],” alluding to the institutional racism within law enforcement that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. In “Mazey Day,” which takes place before the movement gained momentum in 2006, Bo and Hector, both people of color, urgently request assistance from a local police officer to fight off an approaching monster. Instead of immediately responding, the officer solely focuses on instructing Bo to “calm down,” leading to the lack of preparedness when the monster attacks. While the officer’s reaction might have been similar regardless of their race, the fact that Bo and Hector are people of color could contribute to his delayed response. This recurring theme throughout the season contextualizes the reference in “Loch Henry,” where Davis’s father is portrayed as a different kind of corrupt policeman, aligning it with the season’s overall themes more effectively.

The focus in “Mazey Day” on ruthless paparazzi photographers exploiting a wounded or dying woman also evokes thoughts of Princess Diana’s death, which is directly referenced in “Loch Henry.” Although this reference serves to establish the backstory in the late 1990s, this connection might feel abrupt and unrelated when following the Netflix order. However, if “Mazey Day” is watched first, with the concept of merciless paparazzi fresh in the viewer’s mind, the thematic link between “Mazey Day” and “Loch Henry” becomes clearer, integrating the reference more cohesively into the season’s tone and themes, rather than appearing disconnected.

The Uplifting Power of Reverse Endings

When watching these episodes in reverse, it becomes a more uplifting experience if we consider the endings of each episode. Black Mirror is known for its somber, shocking, and depressing conclusions, but its bittersweet endings often carry more impact. In chronological order, Season 6 begins with an almost entirely happy ending in “Joan is Awful.” Although there is a slight bitter undertone due to the eradication of numerous digital copies of sentient beings, the overall tone is incredibly joyful. Source Joan, in particular, experiences significant happiness by the end.

Following that, we encounter a predominantly downbeat ending in “Loch Henry,” which is somewhat tempered by the happiness of Daniel Portman’s Stuart. This is succeeded by a shocking and utterly miserable conclusion in “Beyond the Sea,” arguably one of the show’s darkest and most despairing endings to date. Another episode, “Mazey Day,” concludes with darkness and misery, and finally, “Demon 79” either signifies the end of the world or portrays a disturbing event, though Nida at least appears to be content.

By reversing this order, we experience a peculiar and bittersweet ending with “Demon 79,” followed by two exceptionally dark ones in “Mazey Day” and “Beyond the Sea.” Then comes a rather dark conclusion in “Loch Henry,” and finally, we end with a mostly happy ending in “Joan is Awful.” It’s possible that some fans desire a touch of darkness and gloom in their Black Mirror conclusions, and we’re certainly relieved that the season concludes with “Demon 79” instead of “Beyond the Sea.” However, we can’t help but feel that we would depart with a more cheerful mood if the season ended with “Joan is Awful” rather than opening up fresh anxieties about the ever-looming threat of World War III by depicting nuclear annihilation.

Enhancing the Viewing Experience of Black Mirror Season 6

The primary reason for the episode order, as acknowledged by Brooker himself, is that the series progressively became more “Black Mirror” in nature. Initially, Demon 79 was intended for a different series and not part of the Black Mirror universe. Even in its final form, it stands apart with its distinct branding as a “Red Mirror” production. Mazey Day also differs from the typical Black Mirror episodes as it delves into the realm of fantasy and the supernatural. In contrast, Demon 79 could be interpreted as happening in Nida’s imagination rather than in reality.

Beyond the Sea brings us back to familiar Black Mirror territory, but its period setting distinguishes it since only Bandersnatch, an interactive special, had been set in the past prior to Season 6. Loch Henry bears similarities to Season 4’s “Crocodile” and utilizes the original setting (Scotland, later changed to Iceland), making it a quintessential Black Mirror episode.

Finally, Joan is Awful embodies the essence of Black Mirror, reflecting the concept of “what if phones but too much?” It explores the perils of technology and even anticipates current events with its depiction of AI-generated television shows, coinciding with the release of ChatGPT.

Netflix’s decision to order the episodes can be understood from their perspective. After a lengthy four-year hiatus and lukewarm reactions to Season 5, they aimed to reestablish familiarity and reassure audiences that Black Mirror was back. Thus, they began with an episode that delivered what viewers expected, followed by another familiar story. Placing Beyond the Sea in the middle as the season’s centerpiece was logical due to its length, distinct period setting, and somber ending. The two preceding episodes ease viewers into the season while the two subsequent episodes act as a palate cleanser.

Next comes Mazey Day, which Brooker considered keeping under the “Red Mirror” branding. Ultimately, they likely discarded that idea to surprise and shock viewers with the unexpected twist—an episode centered around werewolves. However, this choice fell short because Mazey Day was not well-received by viewers. In storytelling, the genre serves as a promise to the audience—a romance promises a love story, fantasy promises something magical, and horror promises something frightening.

Black Mirror, despite featuring various types of stories, is essentially a techno-horror series with science fiction elements. By delving into outright fantasy, Mazey Day breaks the promise established over five seasons that what viewers are watching could plausibly occur in the future.

Had the episodes been listed in the order they were written, Mazey Day might have been better received—not necessarily a classic, but not the disappointment it turned out to be. Starting with Demon 79, with its “Red Mirror” branding, would introduce a story that clearly ventures into new territory, setting the stage for this highly anticipated new series. Mazey Day would then be less bewildering because the existence of Demon 79 would prime viewers for the possibility of the paranormal (perhaps even featuring the “Red Mirror” branding). Beyond the Sea would remain in its current position, bridging the gap between two period pieces with supernatural elements and two contemporary, typical Black Mirror episodes. It would serve as a more representative Black Mirror episode, albeit set in a different time period. The season would conclude with Loch Henry and Joan is Awful, immersing viewers back into the world of Black Mirror they had missed for the past four years. That’s the order we will follow when re-watching this season.

Stream all five episodes of Black Mirror season 6 now on Netflix.

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