Black Mirror season 4 episode guide: Charlie Brooker reveals new plot and episode details

Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones reveal what to expect from all the upcoming episodes, including USS Callister, Hang the DJ, Metalhead, Crocodile, Arkangel and Black Museum

Black Mirror season 4 (Netflix, TL)

Here’s the thing about Black Mirror season 4: nobody really knows anything about it. The trailers only showcase a few seconds of material, the minimalist posters offer little clues and the episode titles are nothing if not enigmatic.

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However, with the new season set to be released on Friday 29th December on Netflix, will co-creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones give away any more what’s in store? Answer: a little.

Find out more about what to expect from the six new episodes below.

USS Callister

The crew of the USS Callister (Netflix, TL)
The crew of the USS Callister

Directed by: Toby Haynes

At 74 minutes, this near-feature length episode featuring Breaking Bad’s Jesse Plemons (yes, Meth Damon) and takes some inspiration from the breakout episode of season three, San Junipero. Not in terms of its Star Trek-style costumes, of course, but how the idea was conceived by Brooker and co-writer William Bridges (who co-penned season three’s Shut Up and Dance).

“Certainly San Junipero influenced us here,” Charlie Brooker said. “Like San Junipero, [USS Callister] was a conscious decision to expand what the show was and then upend it.”

“We were pleased with how [San Junipero] had come out, it gave us the confidence to play with the tone more than we have before. We were sort of saying, ‘What haven’t we done yet?’. We did the 1980s [in San Junipero] when we didn’t think we could do that, so then we thought, ‘Can we do space?’”

He added: “Callister is very dark in places and it’s got moments of comedy that you maybe wouldn’t have expected a few years ago from Black Mirror.”

(Netflix, TL)

But does Callister contain a bittersweet ending à la San Junipero? Well, we couldn’t say. Really: although we’ve seen the episode, Brooker has only permitted us to reveal “it’s a story set in space” with “more to it than meets the eye”.

That said, we can say it’s very very strong. In fact, this could be the best Black Mirror to date. Expect to see Brooker accepting a third Emmy for this episode next year.

Hang the DJ

Directed by: Tim Van Patten

Think the Hang the DJ trailer shows off a Tinder-like technology? You’re almost right.

“The elevator pitch for this episode is it’s a Spotify for relationships,” said Brooker. “If you can imagine a service that gives you a playlist of all the relationships you’re going to have in your life. It takes the guesswork out of the romance. It’s quite a playful episode, really.”

Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole in Hang the DJ (Netflix, TL)
Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole in Hang the DJ 

Referring to the lighter tone of Hang the DJ, producer Annabel Jones added: “It’s a sort of rom-com. Well, [Charlie] calls it a rom-com, but I don’t think anyone else will think so! It’s Black Mirror’s version of one anyway.”

Metalhead

Maxine Peake in Metalhead (Netflix, TL)
Maxine Peake in Metalhead

Directed by: David Slade

AKA the black and white one. Although Brooker did not say whether there was a specific reason why the episode was shot in monochrome, or how that robot dog we see chasing Maxine Peake in the trailer fits in, we do know it’s a fantastically fast-paced episode.

“It’s just 38 minutes long and it’s deliberately a pared back story. It’s a short technological nightmare playing out against… I don’t want to say against the clock, but it’s very quick and primal,” explained Brooker. “It’s not the sort of story that we tend to do. We tend to be more about a human dilemma.”

Interestingly, although Brooker highlights the episode’s short running time, Metalhead will be only slightly shorter than the 44-minute length episodes from the show’s first two series, originally broadcast on Channel 4. However, without any ad breaks to speedbump the plot, we can still expect the episode to be one giant chase.

Crocodile

Directed by: John Hillcoat

Filmed in Iceland, this episode is shrouded in mystery. The message that accompanied the poster unveiling – “Memories can be subjective” – suggests Crocodile will ask questions about our recall. In the trailer we see a character – Birdman’s Andrea Riseborough  – getting to the bottom of a car crash with the help of a memory-extracting machine.

While Brooker himself said little about Crocodile’s story, he did reveal that Riseborough’s character was originally written as a man. “We sent the script to Andrea to look at some of the other roles and she said, ‘I want to play this part’,” he said.

“She hasn’t played that sort of character before and wanted a challenge. She wanted to see if she could get into a certain mindset,” added Jones.

Brooker continued: “We thought, ‘Oh, that’s interesting, we hadn’t thought of that!’. We went back and changed other aspects of the script to suit that setup.”

Arkangel

Directed by: Jodie Foster

The trailers for this episode hint at an eerie tale of over-parenting with Rosemarie DeWitt’s protective mother installing sophisticated surveillance software into the brain of her daughter Sarah after the latter briefly goes missing in their hometown.

Jones explained that this mother/daughter relationship would be told over several years as the child grew up – and that’s the reason why director Jodie Foster was asked to join the project.

“We thought of Jodie from the outset. Of all the people who understand privacy and being in the spotlight, she would.”

Black Mirror

Foster did more than simply direct the episode. Although Brooker didn’t reveal exact details, he said the Silence of The Lambs star “had so many good thoughts and suggestions of what might happen” that she slightly altered the events in the episode.

Black Museum

Directed by: Colm McCarthy

While guarded about the rest of the season, Brooker and Jones were surprising willing to talk about this episode at great length, going into depth about the main characters and a major plot twist.

Just kidding: of course, both kept tight-lipped about the episode, simply stating it was “like a Treehouse of Horror Simpsons episode” – meaning we can expect many short segments contained in one instalment, akin to un-festive Black Mirror special White Christmas.

Letitia Wright in Black Museum (Netflix, TL)
Letitia Wright in Black Museum

We also know that the titular Black Museum – likely to be a crime museum judging from the “cloning without consent” and “double suicide” information panels in the trailer – will have nods to episodes of old. From a patterned balaclava to a familiar mug shot, the downright creepy trailer contained several references to season two episode White Bear.

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Presuming we can keep our eyes open through the gruesome mini-tales that await, this story could hand us an explanation why several Black Mirror episodes seem to be set in the same universe.