Spoiler alert: this story contains mild spoilers for Black Mirror Season 5. We haven't ruined any twists or endings, but you can never be too careful!
The just-released fifth season of Black Mirror, the Netflix series from creator Charlie Brooker, might only contain three new episodes - Bandersnatch was meant to be part of this season, but ended up as a stand-alone release - but it packs a lot in. As always, the emphasis is on the dark side of technology, with the episodes all set in a near, entirely plausible future. Watch the trailer for Episode 1, 'Striking Vipers', below.
Episode 1: 'Striking Vipers'
Starring: Anthony Mackie, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Beharie, Pom Klementieff and Ludi Lin
A virtual reality computer game is at the centre of this episode, in which college friends Danny (Anthony Mackie) and Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) reconnect, but not how either of them was expecting. In Striking Vipers X, the men have their consciousness dropped into their avatars, and they can feel everything that happens during the game - the punches, the kicks ... and the kisses. Playing as Lance (Ludi Lin) and Roxette (Pom Klementieff), Danny and Karl find themselves continually drawn back to the game, in which they have go on to have sex. But is it them or their characters who are doing the deed? And is Danny cheating on his wife, Theo (Nicole Beharie), if it's just a game? They're a couple of the questions considered in 'Striking Vipers', which also explores themes of sexuality and gender fluidity, and the prevalance and addictive quality of online pornography.
Episode 2: 'Smithereens'
Starring: Andrew Scott, Damson Idris and Topher Grace
A different type of addiction to technology underlies this tense episode, in which an Uber-style cab driver takes an employee of a tech firm hostage. Chris (Andrew Scott) forces Jaden (Damson Idris), who works for a company called Smithereen, to get him on the phone with CEO Billy Bauer (Topher Grace), and his reason for doing so is revealed during the police negotiation process. As he holds Jaden at gunpoint, Chris rails against people's addiction to social media and apps that demand our constant attention. What's also interesting about the episode is how the tech firm, due to the data it has amassed on Chris via his use of their programs and apps, are one step ahead of the police when it comes to working out who he is and what his motivations are. While most Black Mirror episodes seem to be taking place at least slightly in the future, it feels like 'Smithereens' could happen right now. (Watch the trailer above)
Episode 3: 'Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too'
Starring: Miley Cyrus, Angourie Rice and Madison Davenport
The episode that has had the most attention prior to this season's release, this instalment features pop star Miley Cyrus, well, just being Miley. Kind of. Cyrus plays a singer called Ashley O - all purple hair and cute dance routines. Lonely teenager Rachel (Australian actress Angourie Rice) is obsessed with Ashley and convinces her father to buy her an Ashley Too doll, an artificial intelligence toy that spouts platitudes and positivity. What Ashley's fans don't know is that she's desperately unhappy, keen to break out of her pop princess mould but forced to continue her bright and shiny career by her domineering manager (Susan Pourfar), who also happens to be her aunt. To say any more would be to give too much away, but this is the most fun of the three new episodes, as Rachel and her sister, Jack (Madison Davenport), come to Ashley's aid. (Watch the trailer above)
Black Mirror Season 5 is on Netflix now.