warning! mild spoilers: I try not to go too much into plot details but this review still has spoilers on settings and premise of the episode. so if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want to be spoiled do not read.
“Shut up and dance” is the third episode in series 3 of Black Mirror. The premise for this Black Mirror episode is pretty blunt but still has some mystery to it. It focuses on Kenny, who seems like a normal teenage boy, but his private life soon erupted when he gets hacked and filmed masturbating through his webcam, then gets a series of threatening text messages telling him to do exactly as “they” say or the footage will leak to everyone he knows. Kenny’s overreaction to the situation made it clear that he may have been doing something more than masturbating, so he leaves work very early the next day to perform a series of tasks the hackers have commanded him to do. Along the way, he meets other unlucky victims of these mysterious villains who hack photos, webcams, text archives, whatever it takes to find something incriminating enough to force their targets to act out dangerous and/or debasing acts.
This is definitely the most bleak episode of the new Black Mirror season, and also it’s most suspenseful. The episode flows well from start to finish, nothing feels rushed or dragged out, everything given a natural time to breathe. The episode also had some well built tension. “Shut Up and Dance” does not carry an overt message like so many of these other episodes, which made it a bit more refreshing, and able to focus purely on the self-contained story alone. As such, it has one of the best twists in the entire season.
One of the strongest elements this episodes possesses was the acting. The central pair of actors ‘Alex Lwater’ and ‘Jerome Flynn’ were flawless. As Kenny, Lawther is quivering, desperate, heartbreaking. Being able to sympathize with his terror as unseen puppeteers manipulate him is crucial, and the fact that I could was almost entirely thanks to Lawther’s incredible, vulnerable performance. Flynn’s depiction of Hector is all coiled anger. Caught in the act of ordering a prostitute, Hector is gruff and to the point, furious at his total helplessness in the face of his invisible tormentors. Lawther and Flynn together gives the episode much energy.
“Shut up and Dance” is one of the best in the new season, but would be likely to fall at #5 or #6 if I do an overall ranking. It is a very entertaining hour of TV and most definitely a must-see.
Rating “Shut up and dance”:
- Premise: 9/10
- Writing: 9/10
- Plotlines: 9/10
- Acting: 9.5/10
- Production: 9/10
- Cinematography/Visuals: 7/10
- SOundtrack/Editing/efx: 7/10
Overall Rating: 8.5 ★★★★★★★★★☆