If you don't know about Black Mirror yet (and you are into TV shows that make you feel depressed about the future, bleak about technology, and occasionally just meh about humanity) then get yourself to Netflix ASAP. If you DO know about Black Mirror and haven't seen it, congratulations! You might still have hope for the future!
That being said, some episodes are better than others. I'm here to try and rank them according to my rather arbitrary standards. SPOILERS. (Also, this is really difficult, as I REALLY like almost all of the episodes, but for different reasons/in different ways.)
19. "The Entire History of You" (Season 1, Episode 3)
This episode resonated with a lot of people. Just not me. It's actually the only episode I never finished. It's also the only episode I've started watching over 5 times. The technology is frightening before they even get into how it could be misused (if that's what happens.) The idea of an implant that records everything I do? No thank you. I don't need to replay awkward moments on a screen, I do that in my head too much as it is. I believe that my biggest complaint about this episode, thought, is that I just didn't find it entertaining. The characters and their drama weren't interesting to me. I need a real conflict.
18. "Playtest" (Season 3, Episode 2)
I enjoyed this one. The one and only time I watched it. It was scary and draining and then just utterly pointless and somewhat devastating. I didn't find the "twist" ending to be all that original. It comes it at number 18 because it rarely comes up when talking about Black Mirror, and I had completely forgotten about it until I looked up the list of episodes. I don't know if it was just too good or I'm a wimp but I found it scary enough that I don't want to ever rewatch it.
17. "Metalhead" (Season 4, Episode 5)
I wanted to like this one, especially after reading a large amount of comments of whiny people who hate black & white. I thought the monochrome made sense (and kept it from being OTT with the gore). But the story felt incomplete and lacked depth. It was a very well done episode and it was entertaining. It just lacked any sort of explanation for the collapse of civilization, where the dogs came from, or even if civilization is collapsed, really. Is it just an Amazon warehouse that Bella is trying to break into? Do the dogs work for someone?
Visually it was interesting and it was basically an action film with not a lot of depth.
16. "Men Against Fire" (Season 3, Episode 5)
I should probably swap this one with "Playtest", but that sounds like work. This is a story of genocide and propaganda. The thing is, we don't need the technology in the episode to convince soldiers to kill civilians. This is also not a new concept in science fiction. Many, many, many works have been written about dehumanizing people so that soldiers can fight the unending wars and a select few people can profit. Maybe it was too close to modern day, maybe it just seemed like heavy handed social commentary on war, but this episode just didn't do it for me.
15. "The Waldo Moment." (Season 2, Episode 3.)
This is one of the least popular episodes. The first time I watched it, I couldn't quite see why it got so much hate.
Tried to watch it again and it just didn't hold up. The idea of a cartoon character winning a popular election hits a little too close but is also unrealistic at the same time. Perhaps it's because I'm American, but the commentary on populist politics was just uncomfortable. Maybe if they had made this episode a bit more fun to watch? Make the comedian actually funny? Explain why he's depressed? I just didn't really feel a connection with the main character & Waldo doesn't seem to be something that could be popular both in the UK and the USA. The future is weird.
14." Hated in the Nation" (Season 3, Episode 6)
I've finally reached the point in this pointless exercise of ranking episodes from a somewhat popular TV show where it's more difficult to think about what I didn't like. This was an excellent episode and I feel bad that it's so far down the list. Yes, it was about 15 minutes too long and somewhat predictable. It was still better than a lot of tv shows that I watch.
This episode touched on very real issues - colony collapse and social media harassment. Of course humans found a solution to the colony collapse - instead of saving the bees, we just made drones that looked like bees. Pretty cool idea. Not sure what the antagonist was trying to do with all of the murders, though. He obviously was trying to prove a point, but I guess the real question is why? And what did he hope the outcome would be? Or is he just a neckbeardy guy who was angry and wanted to kill people and didn't really have a reason but thought this would make him sympathetic? I do not know.
13."Crocodile" (Season 4, Episode 3)
I love the setting of Crocodile. Obviously filmed in Iceland, this was a basic slasher horror story in a beautiful setting, with a pretty white woman knocking down minorities (and a white male) left and right. The idea of a world with no lies is not new. The idea of constant surveillance is not new. It was emotionally draining to watch and I probably won't watch it again. The only reason I marked this one higher than Hated in the Nation is because I love Iceland and thought it was visually spectacular. The "twist" at the end was kind of dumb, although I'd like to see how pets process images. My guess is that the guinea pig probably wouldn't be very good evidence, but I'm not a guinea pig expert.
12. "The National Anthem" (Season 1, Episode 1)
This was the first episode I ever watched. I had NO idea what I was going into. I had only hear that Black Mirror was highly popular, dark, and from the UK. It was also on Netflix. Watching this episode was fun, entertaining, and the social commentary was on point. When it ended and I moved on to the next episode, I was confused. I thought it was going to be an ongoing show about UK politics, and the characters I'd invested in. I was disappointed.
That being said, I will never watch this episode again and when I tell people about Black MIrror, I tell them to skip this one. Mostly because I don't want people to judge me on this one episode. Furthermore, it's hard to explain to someone in a professional environment water cooler moment why the show is awesome but please skip the first one and/or never mention it again. Also, no I can't tell you why. Let's talk about Game of Thrones some more.
11. "White Bear" (Season 2, Episode 2)
I loved this episode the first time I watched it. It was interesting, the social commentary was good. I am an advocate for prison reform and I can get on my soap box about prisons with very little notice or preparation. I can also be judgemental about the US and the cultural need for revenge and hate vs reform and compassion. Sometimes the murderer is a victim as well. There are terrible people out there with no remorse over killing, but sometimes it's a defense mechanism and sometimes it's survival, and sometimes it's just bad situations. Sometimes criminals convicted of crimes are innocent. We'd have fewer prisons if we could engineer a change in our culture that values education over "jobs." It's also the "make money fast and spend it on dumb shit" culture - but I digress. The idea of doing something like this to a prisoner is torture - or is it? If she can't remember, is it torture? Do they do this until she finally dies of exhaustion? Does she get a break? This theme ties in to the season 4 episode "Black Museum."
However, this episode wasn't that interesting on the rewatch. The twist actually took me by surprise the first time. On rewatch the flaws of the episode bring it down a bit, as it's harder to be sympathetic to someone who murdered a child. Or filmed why the child was murdered. I wish they would have gotten more into Victoria's motives. Was she brainwashed by the boyfriend? Did she enjoy the torture? Did she need money or stability? I am a person who likes to know motives, which is probably why I'm so fascinated and frustrated by unsolved mysteries.