There are two good reasons to do this article: the first is that the original ranking of all the episodes available on this website is not good and should not have traffic redirected to it ever (Editor’s Note: it’s very good, Jared’s wrong, read the better version here), therefore this should hopefully replace it through SEO and word of mouth. The second is that it’s March, so what is a content starved website to do than just crank out a March Madness bracket but instead of college team names you’ve never heard of, fun pop culture content!
The rules are simple: 16 episodes of the television show Black Mirror will be pitted against each other until one wins. There will be 2 play-in games to determine the lower seeds, just like in the NCAA. All decisions are final, and have been tested scientifically so that there is no tomfoolery about. I will not tolerate bad rankings of such a great show to be on this website without a more accurate and fun correction for the world to see.
17 seed “Metalhead” beats 20 seed “The Waldo Moment”
19 seed “Hated in the Nation” upsets 18 seed “Men Against Fire”
There are teams ‘on the bubble’ in the real March Madness, and have to play to get the honor of being in ‘the big dance’ altogether. These 4 episodes were on the outside looking in, and they are the weakest of the bunch. Metalhead is a not-rewatchable black and white exercise in horror that isn’t very scary, but is very pretty. It gets the win over Waldo which is just the worst. The worst. Episode. Of the show. The. Worst.
Hated in the Nation has a lot of good ideas all done not well, mixed with too many bad ideas, but it’s sheer ambition and choice of casting makes it slightly edge out Men Against Fire. Which is just, whatever, it’s fine. It’s on the nose and not as clever as it thinks it is. It’s okay. But I doubt these lower seed Cinderellas upset any in the real top 16 bracket.
1 seed “The Entire History of You” beats 16 seed “Bandersnatch”
2 seed “San Junipero” beats 15 seed “Fifteen Million Merits”
3 seed “Be Right Back” beats 14 seed “The National Anthem”
4 seed “Shut Up and Dance” beats 13 seed “Crocodile”
12 seed “Playtest” upsets 5 seed “White Christmas”
11 seed “Black Museum” upsets 6 seed “USS Callister”
7 seed “White Bear” beats 10 seed “Arkangel”
9 seed “Hang the DJ” upsets 8 seed “Nosedive”
We have 8 games here, so let’s just get through them quickly. Most of the higher seeds beat the lower ones, which is par for the course aka chalk. Bandersnatch is a fun mess of an experiment, and wasn’t making it far. 15 Million Merits wasn’t able to upset the fan favorite San Junipero, and as much I really like National Anthem and Crocodile, they couldn’t pull the upset either.
Our first real upset is Playtest over White Christmas, which is controversial but I stand by it. Playtest is underrated and a really great time with some killer direction, a great central performance, a strong premise filled with easter eggs, and fun twists and turns. Apologizes to White Christmas for being very good but the favorites can’t win them all. Same with Black Museum over USS Callister, which I thought was overrated from the general consensus. Black Museum is 3 great miniature stories tied into one, and I ride and die for that one.
White Bear rolls over Arkangel, another gem I’m more fond of than most people, and Hang the DJ manages to pull the upset against the much flashier Nosedive, which is still the most cringe inducing thing I’ve ever seen. It’s so awkward and embarrassing it makes me turn away from the screen, I have too much empathy for some of those situations. They’re Larry David levels of awkward cringe.
1 seed “The Entire History of You” beats 9 seed “Hang the DJ”
4 seed “Shut Up and Dance” beats 12 seed “Playtest”
2 seed “San Junipero” beats 7 seed “White Bear”
3 seed “Be Right Back” beats 11 seed “Black Museum”
The top 4 seeds all made it through. Who saw that coming? The cream of the crop really outshines the other episodes, which is crazy because so much of Black Mirror is competent, thought provoking and well done material. But when you pit some of these lower seeds and Davids against Goliaths, the Goliaths win in this case.
As much as I like White Bear and Playtest, and as much as the Internet went gaga over Hang the DJ, they just could not stand up to the sadness of Entire History of You, the despair of Shut Up and Dance, the love in San Junipero, and Hayley Atwell. Who just puts up the GOAT performance of the series.
1 seed “The Entire History of You” beats 4 seed “Shut Up and Dance”
3 seed “Be Right Back” upsets 2 seed “San Junipero”
I think Shut Up is the most harrowing and scary of any of these episodes. It’s a tour de force. But there is something so magical and wondrous about Entire History that it really cinched Black Mirror to become the behemoth that it is. It wouldn’t be our generations’ Twilight Zone without Toby Kebbell rewinding his fucking contact lenses and breaking your heart.
The biggest point of contention will be San Junipero losing before the finals. Sorry everyone, and mostly sorry to Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw aka the most beautiful people on the planet, but to me, MY Black Mirror always ends in tragedy and is a warning for our future. No optimism in MY Black Mirror. It sets a precedent I don’t appreciate. This isn’t a show for romance, it is one for having an existential breakdown over your dead husband’s robot body and creepy AI, god damnit.
3 seed “Be Right Back” upsets 1 seed “The Entire History of You”
It’s just the best episode of the show, from start to finish. It doesn’t matter what the seeding was, or the critical consensus, when you show people what Black Mirror is you show them this as the prime example of the high concept technological nightmare factory that is Black Mirror.
3 seed “Be Right Back”
You don’t need the craziest plot, or a ton of characters, just let Domhnall Gleeson and Hayley Atwell do their thing.
Congrats Be Right Back, you are the best episode of the entire series and will be very hard to top in the future, as long as Netflix’s quality dips in comparison to the BBC episodes.