Guns, mobile phones, creepy robots… Black Mirror must be back.
Season 5 of Charlie Brooker’s sci-fi anthology series has sidestepped out of the shadows with not just one trailer but, which finally confirm cast member Miley Cyrus, alongside Anthony Mackie, (Falcon from ), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Black Mantis from Aquaman) and a few more surprises including a second Marvel team member in Pom Klementieff (Mantis in the Avengers).
Along with a release date — June 5 — we know just three stories will be told this time round, same as the first two seasons of the show when it was originally shown on Channel 4 in the UK. Excitingly, all three of these episodes come from the pen of Brooker himself.
For everything else we know about the upcoming season, check out the explainer below.
Black Mirror episodes are like mini movies, so here are three movie-type posters to go with the upcoming episodes, released by Netflix on Tuesday.
3 individual episode trailers
It wasn’t long after Netflix uploaded(which you can view below) that it piled on three individual trailers for the new episodes.
If we read into episode titles literally, then Smithereens will continue to pave Black Mirror’s path of unhappy endings. It features Andrew Scott and Topher Grace in what looks to be an exploration of one’s relationship with… one’s car. We do often sit in our cars alone with our dashboard technology, and in this case it looks like self-help audio guides, sat navs and Uber are the tech going rogue. “Don’t forget to rate your drivers,” the Netflix YouTube caption reads, and its press release: “A cab driver with an agenda becomes the centre of attention on a day that rapidly spirals out of control.”
Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too
Miley Cyrus’s episode features the singer not only voicing the companion robot Angourie Rice’s character befriends, but she also plays singer Ashley O, who looks to be under heavy management intent on exploiting her talents with robot tie-ins — this really is the near future.
A possible theme of this episode is what it’s like for a young girl to grow up and be herself in the digital age when a “lovable” robot likeor takes the form of a Barbie-esque robot. Netflix’s press release says of the plot: “A lonely teenager yearns to connect with her favorite pop star — whose charmed existence isn’t quite as rosy it appears…” The end of the trailer, where the charging robot, named Ashley Too, says “Get this thing out of my ass” is a lovely weird Black Mirror highlight, and possibly hints at further exploration of the “cookies” from White Christmas.
The title Striking Vipers doesn’t exactly help clear up the mystery the trailer for Mackie’s episode poses around the tech unsettling his character’s life. We’re introduced to a couple trying for kids, but there’s something standing in the way. It appears to be connected to the nodes Mackie’s character affixes to his temples that blur over his eyes with some kind of digital cloud — what is he looking at? Could it have a connection to the “grains” from The Entire History of You?
Notably, according to the Netflix press release, this is the episode featuring Klementieff, and Abdul-Mateen II plays a college friend to Mackie’s character who kicks off the life-changing events.
Full season 5 trailer
Set to the powerful Lonely Feelings by Djib Mo,confirms Black Mirror’s music choices remain on point, as well as showcasing a starry list of cast members and a few possible themes the three stories will explore.
Scott, recently seen in the acclaimed Fleabag, looks to be a man driven to gun-wielding insanity by everyone’s constant connectedness to technology. Mackie’s character may be in strife with his marriage, in part because he has eyes for another woman pictured on his phone. A friendless teen played by Rice of Ladies in Black and the upcomingmay be getting more than she bargained for with a little robot buddy, bringing Eighth Grade mixed with Alexa-gone-wrong vibes.
Brooker isn’t done with the video game world after previous episodes Bandersnatch and Playtest, with Klementieff’s character suiting up as a Street Fighter-esque warrior in a Street Fighter-esque digital arena. Grace is also there, with an orangey tan and ponytail and a grim look on his face. Whether those things are connected to his mood remains to be seen.
Rounding out this impressive cast is Miley Cyrus using her multitalents to play a pop singer with trippy digitized backup dancers. Check out the Djib Mo YouTube video for another hit of Black Mirror-esque imagery, which seems to mirror some of her look.
The Marvel-DC crossover probably isn’t a thing
Black Mirror knows how to paint a portrait of society — and in our case, it’s one that’s obsessed with Marvel and DC.
On the way to the first trailer, Netflix stoked our excitement by letting loose a first look at the episode starring Mackie and Abdul-Mateen II a day beforehand, via Entertainment Weekly. After Avengers: Endgame, Mackie is on his way to greater stardom having taken over Captain America’s mantle. Capitalizing on that, Brooker said of his episode: “It’s the Marvel-DC crossover no one saw coming.”
But following the trailer, it seems like Brooker was toying with us as usual, since Mackie looks to be less superpowered and more in strife with his wife. But we won’t know for sure until June 5.
As the trailer confirmed, the release date is June 5.
Brooker had a tidbit for us when talking about the season 5 release. “It’s all imminent-ish. It’ll be out soon,” he said in a January interview with RadioTimes.com. “We’d already shot like, one of the episodes of season 5 before we did Bandersnatch.
“At one point we weren’t sure whether we were going to make Bandersnatch part of season 5.”
Black Mirror season 3 arrived on Netflix in October 2016. Season 4 launched in December 2017. Season 5 was pushed back to accommodate Bandersnatch as the sprawling choose-your-own-adventure epic took a lot of hard work to pull off.
“Doing Bandersnatch was like doing several episodes at once,” Brooker told RadioTimes.com. “It was Netflix’s suggestion as well — ‘Let’s do it as its own thing’. As it expanded and got bigger and bigger and bigger it became apparent that the way to do this was to do it as a standalone thing.”
The starry cast
Black Mirror alumni includes Jon Hamm, Bryce Dallas Howard, Hayley Atwell and Domhnall Gleeson.
Now we have for season 5:
Cyrus noted how excited she was for people to see her episode. “I’m really actually excited for everyone to watch the ‘headshaking project’ we said yes to,” Cyrus said on The Howard Stern Show in December, 2018.
San Junipero sequel
San Junipero 2… is not happening. Sorry, Kelly and Yorkie fans.
Despite the show’s penchant for including Easter egg references to earlier episodes, many of which you can find in Bandersnatch, Brooker isn’t delivering on his comments about doing a “Return to” episode that could expand season 3’s much-loved romance.
“I’ve always wanted to do a ‘Return to’ story,” Brooker said in his book Inside Black Mirror, published in November, 2018. “Return to San Junipero! Or do Crocodile again, but backwards, like Memento. Crocodile Two: Back in Business.”
Even if Brooker does go back to the ’80s utopia of San Junipero, Kelly and Yorkie’s story will be left alone.
“In terms of a sequel to San Junipero, no, certainly not in its current form — I don’t think we’d revisit those characters unless we had a really, really good reason,” Brooker told NME.
“And I very much doubt that we would do that as an episode. Maybe as a graphic novel or some sort of commemorative biscuit. But we wouldn’t want to pick that apart and tinker with it, as we’d like to leave Kelly and Yorkie where they are.”
Guess we’ll just have to make do with original, groundbreaking storytelling.
Note: This article was originally published March 13 and is updated as new information rolls in.