Oh boy. This is going to be hard to talk about...
...or that's what I thought at the beginning, before I watched the first five seconds of this episode. It pretty much spoiled the main gimmick of what made this episode 'special'. In short: it's an interactive movie.
That being said, it's a nice gimmick that's sure to get thousands, perhaps millions of people to finally subscribe to Netflix, right?
Whoopsie! One month free trial. Whoopsie! Cancelled immediately after finishing watching the episode. Whoopsie! So much for the piracy-aversion countermeasure, AKA PAC(man) [an acronym that's surely going to be important during the interactive episode]. Whoopsie!
But jokes aside, it's not a bad story. However, you could definitely feel that Black Mirror has lost its shine ever since season 3, especially when they had to incorporate such a "socially relevant" gimmick to get with the times, when games with choices are all the rage. Being an interactive movie, its central theme is naturally... can anyone guess? That's right - fate and destiny! Definitely wouldn't have seen that coming!
But to be fair, aside from one ending focusing on such a theme (and feeling like something outta that mediocre "Butterfly Effect" movie, a guilty pleasure of mine), it's also mixed with a few other themes as well. Because of our ability to control the actions of the protagonist, the story even goes meta a little bit and delve into parallel realities, and even delusion and insanity. So there's quite a bit of a mash-up of themes here that can feel oddly unsatisfying depending on the ending you reach. Personally, the most satisfying "ending" I reached was the aforementioned one that deals with fate. In the terms of a visual novel, you could even call it "the true ending" since it feels like it's the one that bears the most "closure". Furthermore, it's also the ending that feels the most like an ordinary Black Mirror cynical ending.
So what's my verdict on this? 7/10. Nice gimmick, and a good attempt to improve on the future of streaming services. I do feel tempted to encourage more interactive movies like this in the future, but at the same time, I can also see that it's a very problematic way of writing a story, and can leave the viewer unsatisfied depending on the kind of ending they reached, or the amount of time they spent to reach it. I spent at least four hours just rewinding the episode, hoping to get a happier ending.
Alas, such is not the nature of the twisted world that is Black Mirror.
Footnote: Hype for season 5 regardless! I'm still excited for the new episodes!