Black Mirror: “Hang the DJ” Season 4 Episode 4 Review

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Black Mirror is hardly a show to send people to find hope, but over the years, it’s shown its romantic side on a number of occasions. “Be Right Back” and “San Junipero” are easily the most memorable examples, and I’m very pleased to say that “Hang the DJ” joins them.

The concept of the episode ends up being decidedly complicated (though in a manner that actually makes sense): two singles in their late 20s/early 30s join a new dating app that relinquishes the control of one’s dating life to an AI that tells you when you’re in a new relationship and reveals the definitive end date to said relationship to both members at the same time. For Frank (Joe Cole) and Amy (Georgina Campbell), who share a chemistry rich first outing despite being nervous about this new experience, the app sets them a time limit of 12 hours. But neither love nor human nature do very well with such harsh boundaries. Saying goodbye after such a short period is difficult for them, and they’re somewhat consciously put on a journey to their next meeting.

What works best in “Hang the DJ” isn’t the sci-fi/dystopian conundrum—though this one especially is brilliantly diabolical—it’s the chemistry between Cole and Campbell, who take themselves from first meeting to lustful curiosity to full-blown love over the course of this well-written, intricately plotted episode through simple yet meaningful glances and mannerisms. You believe them, something that can’t be said for the previous two episodes of the season, but that’s still key to all of Black Mirror‘s greatest successes.

As far as what the show is saying about modern dating, where “Hang the DJ” elevates the technology to isn’t entirely implausible. At multiple points, the characters joke about how nice it is to have everything done for them. Will we get to a point where a computer dictates how long we stay with someone? Likely not, but the episode’s deeply romantic twist acknowledges that in a way that is both hopeful and pro-tech, two things Black Mirror isn’t exactly known for. But any surprise happy ending this show can muster is welcome, as it continues to pull them off with such gusto and romance. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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