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Everything you can expect from Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror on Netflix

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Brace yourself - Black Mirror arrived today on Netflix. 

Here's what you need to know about each one-off episode - along with which dark manifestation of digital culture each one has in its sights.

Nosedive

Directed by Joe Wright - he of Atonement and the underrated Hanna - and starring proper movie stars like Bryce Dallas Howard and Alice Eve, this episode is set in Stepford-ised future where status is determined by how others use an app on their phone to rate you. At all times. In everything you do. Lampooning the cruelties inflicted by everyone's sudden decision that an Insta-perfect life is the ultimate life, and the hysterical insecurity this can lead to, this one is actually terribly plausible. Or do you like it when nobody likes your Tweets?

It's also more than a wee bit reminiscent of an episode of Community.

Playtest

Each ep of Black Mirror can often feel like a mini-horror movie in itself, so it was only a matter of time until they did a straight-up horror pastiche.

This being Black Mirror, though, there's a technological twist. Wyatt Russell - who stood out in Richard Linklater's Everybody Wants Some!!, stars as a penniless American who agrees to take part in a test for an augmented reality game being developed by one of those shady digital plutocrats sci-fi loves.

The game is a riff of survival horror games, which have traditionally themselves riffed off classic horror, so we're thrown into a clever amalgamation of horror traditions that takes in everything from Hammer to Event Horizon to Resident Evil - and in the process, questions where exactly we draw the line between reality and simulation as we march merrily into our VR-heavy future.

Also, this is easily the most stylishly delivered episode, thanks to the direction of Dan Trachtenberg - who made this year's cracking thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane.

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Bryce Dallas Howard in 'Nosedive'

Shut Up and Dance

One of the more grounded episodes, this looks at how easily hackers could find it to blackmail virtually anyone, given that pretty much everyone has a webcam and a search history that would shock a orgy-jaded Roman emperor.

That said, blackmailing one unfortunate is one thing, but what if there was more than one victim - and they were set against each other? How far could that escalate, especially if the anonymity of digital communication means there's no way the bad guys could get caught?

Jerome Flynn stars in this one alongside Alex Lawther, an up-and-comer who featured in The Imitation Game. 

San Junipero

The twist-happy nature of Black Mirror means talking about some episodes without giving the game away can be bloody hard, and this is one of them.

Let's just say that not everything in its Eighties-set opening is as it seems, and the episode goes to unexpectedly profound places for something that opens with repeated scenes in a disco with so much hairspray going on, at any moment it could go up like Hiroshima. Like, suggesting that, maybe, in the future, death might not be so bad?

Injecting a rare boost of hope into the BM formular, this is one of the stand-out episodes of the season, and Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw are both fantastic as young party-goers who aren't all they seem.

Men Against Fire

First of all - how's that for a title?

Right, once again we're walking on thin ice over a deep sea of spoilers, but let's see how we can tee this up for you.

We're in the near-ish future, and a war against zombie-like creatures has been raging through Europe for years. We follow a platoon of soldiers on a seemingly routine mission, but a glitch develops in one of their contact-lens HUDs, and - as is becoming routine - we discover that All Is Not As It Seems.

Looking at how the information we're presented with can be not exactly accurate, and once again how reality can be distorted, this episode is a nice blend of zombie movie, The Matrix and the last act of Children of Men.

Hated in the Nation

The feature-length capper to the season, this is a blend of everything from a locked-room mystery to Scandi noir, throwing in BM's usual suggestion that social media may not be be an altogether good thing.

Kelly MacDonald and Faye Marsay (the Waif from Game of Thrones) play detectives investigating the death of a Katie Hopkins-style provocateur, and once again we're hitting the spoiler wall - but be assured that this episode's suggestion that the mob justice of Twitter could be converted into something a bit more kinetic won't leave you quickly.

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