Despite one shining light of hope known as “San Junipero,” season three of Black Mirror was another bleak and unsettling depiction of the cold and worrisome ways that technology and the darkest of human instincts can combine. Maybe season four will be all kittens and pizza? Just kidding: It will be a real bummer.
Luckily, it was also another round of sometimes uneven but mostly strong storytelling, the closest thing we have to a modern-day version of a Rod Serling series on TV. And now, Netflix has released the trailer for season four, which consists of brief images from each of the six new episodes, along with the accompanying titles. So let’s go through them one by one, make a wholly unreasonable assumption of what the episodes will be about, and see if we can’t predict the existential message of despair that will be communicated by each one:
1. “Crocodile”: Starring Andrea Riseborough (Birdman). Directed by John Hillcoat (Lawless, The Proposition). Looks to be set in an icy tundra landscape, with a few shots of people looking worried. Possible message: You can’t escape the pull of technology’s sinister embrace, even in the middle of nowhere.
2. “Arkangel”: Starring Rosemarie Dewitt (and directed by Jodie Foster!). A woman, a child, and some very bad things set in motion by a mysterious technological process. Possible message: The children are our future, but they will be a horrible and unrecognizable future that we don’t want. Perhaps the message already most recognizable today.
3. “Hang The DJ”: Starring Georgina Campbell (Broadchurch) and Joe Cole (Green Room). A couple uses some sort of app, then hooks up. Possible message: Even stuff that looks awesome is really terrible, why do you even try, just go back to reading Dostoyevsky by candlelight, everyone.
4. “USS Callister”: Starring Jesse Plemons (Fargo, The Master). A Star Trek satire. Possible message: Even the most optimistic show in television history actually masks a shattering sense of defeat in the face of the universe’s unfeeling drive toward entropy, so honestly, cancel the Starfleet membership, just stop people, the galaxy wants to kill you.
5. “Metalhead”: Starring Maxine Peake (The Theory Of Everything). Black and white tale of robotics run amok and hunting people, from the looks of it. Possible message: Everything you love will eventually try to kill you, including your spouse, your pet, and inevitably your favorite sweater. Directed by the excellent David Slade (Hannibal).
6. “Black Museum”: Starring Douglas Hodge (The Night Manager). People in a strange roadside attraction, that eventually wake up and realize something nefarious has infected their lives and relationship. Possible message: Your road trip is also trying to kill you, we forgot to mention that in the last one.
In addition to a great collection of actors and directors, every episode of the new season is written by show creator Charlie Brooker, who has been vocal about enjoying the more varied content of the previous season, so even though our powers of accuracy based on two-second clips are redoubtable, there’s a slim chance we are completely wrong about every aspect of the interpretation of this trailer. We’ll find out when Black Mirror returns later this year.