Netflix has been fairly quiet about the forthcoming fifth season of Black Mirror, but a shred of news has come out via Bloomberg, as part of a larger piece about the streaming service experimenting with interactive episodes and movies. According to Bloomberg’s report, Netflix is preparing a slate of programs—including children’s animated series, Black Mirror, and two video-game adaptations—in which the viewer gets to choose where the plot of a given program goes based on a series of branching options. At least one of these will be released by the end of the year… and it could very well be Black Mirror, as Bloomberg reports that season 5 will premiere sometime in December.
This makes sense, as season 4 premiered on December 29 of last year; Netflix could be gearing up for another end-of-year drop of at least six new episodes, one of which will be interactive. The series is well acquainted with the highs and lows of interactive technology, from the reputation-amplifying and -destroying of “Nosedive” to the nesting-doll horror movie/video game mashup that is “Playtest” to the insidious security blanket app that fractures a family in “Arkangel.” But instead of just watching characters ruin their lives with a cruel two-star rating or making the wrong choice in a VR haunted house, it’s up to the audience to decide where a particular narrative goes.
According to the piece, Netflix has already rolled out this interactive technology with the kids’ program Puss in Book, inviting its young viewers to decide whether the eponymous cat fights a god or a tree. The options for Black Mirror will be more complex, and likely more emotionally devastating; we would not put it past the creators to make the episode super-meta and perhaps even shatter the fourth wall not unlike the unnerving Black Mirror title card.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, showrunners Charlie Brooker (also creator) and Annabel Jones hinted at this experimentation with “new genres” for season 5:
And what about next season?
JONES We’re experimenting with new genres.
BROOKER We try to do things that are markedly different from what we’ve done before, so I think hopefully we’ve got that.
JONES I have to say, we’ve picture- locked the first one, and it’s good. It’s really good. [Next season] will be new and different.
Now the only question is, would you as a viewer pick the rare happy Black Mirror ending, or the devastating one?