Black Mirror: “Black Museum” Season 4 Episode 6 Review

Photo Credit:https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/12/29/16822796/black-mirror-black-museum-recap-season-4-review

The benefit of a grab-bag episode like “Black Museum” is that if one story doesn’t work, there’s another right around the corner that might. The season finale’s very concept, as it’s initially laid out to us, is pretty captivating. Seemingly random traveler Nish (Letitia Wright) is refueling her car at a rundown version of a futuristic gas station when she decides to go inside the roadside Black Museum attraction, which, as we learn from the proprietor Rolo Haynes (Douglas Hodge), houses a number of Black Mirror-style artifacts from events that could have been full episodes on their own. Instead, we get three vignettes.

The first tells the story of a down-on-his-luck doctor (Daniel Lapaine) who installs a neurological implant that allows him to feel the sensations his patients are feeling, allowing him to better diagnose them. He of course gets addicted to the pain—and having two orgasms at once when having sex—and ruins his entire life, leaving the illuminated head piece his patients wore to the museum. This story goes on for a little too long, unable to justify the episode’s extended runtime.

But on to the next one, which boasts a little more emotional power, a young mother (Alexandra Roach) winds up in a coma, but her consciousness can be uploaded and shared by her husband’s (Alis Hodge) unused brain space. It’s an interesting concept that predictably leads to issues of privacy and loads of arguments, but the end result is deeply disturbing in a way that is only satisfying because it’s not quite the end of the story yet, just backstory for the one at hand.

Which takes us to the final vignette of the episode: the story of a wrongfully convicted killer (Babs Olusanmokun) and his sentient hologram that lives at the museum now for all the sick rapists and sadists of the area to come in and torture him, if they pay Haynes a pretty penny. Unfortunately, the manner in which the twist is revealed so late into the episode doesn’t really allow for any true emotional resonance in what is clearly meant to be an emotional story. But Nish’s actions are exciting and satisfying, tying up two of the three vignettes with at least some semblance of humane closure.

By it’s very nature, much like Black Mirror‘s episodic structure itself, “Black Museum” was going to be an uneven entry for the series, similar to the extended backstories found in “White Christmas.” But then, all the vignettes here stick pretty close to the Black Mirror formula, which works for it. There is, after all, a reason this show is so alluring to begin with. “Black Museum” fits as a season finale of sorts, embodying so much of what the series is about in just one episode. Even though it isn’t the best episode of the season, or even second best, this is a positive note to leave us on before the show returns—whenever that may be. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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