We're breaking down Season 3 of Black Mirror, which is now streaming on Netflix. You can read our interview with series creator Charlie Brooker and sift through our recaps and analyses of other new episodes "Nosedive," "Shut Up and Dance," and "Hated in the Nation." Here, we take a look at Episode 5, "Men Against Fire."
There's a hard-to-swallow-away spasm in the back of a human throat that twitches whenever dystopian visions of the future blur into the present. This is the sensation Black Mirror lives for, and I certainly suffered from it during "Men Against Fire," an episode that even creator Charlie Brooker says spooks him. In "Fire," mankind views the world through second screens glued to their faces, the line between military and police is completely faded, xenophobia ignites a silent genocide, and authority figures strong-arm the little guys into executing immoral plans. Remember: This is dystopian fiction, not the 2016 election season.
With shades of 28 Days Later and The Parallax View, "Men Against Fire" is a shaggier entry of Black Mirror that ends with a violent punch to our noggins. Our hero Stripe (up-and-comer Malachi Kirby) spends a large chunk of the episode blowing away "roaches," ravenous mutated humanoids who, according to marching orders, can infect the pure-blooded. Equipped with MASS, a computer eye implant that displays maps, auto-targets weapons, and makes ex-Google Glass employees very, very depressed, Stripe and his troop plow through the infected countryside with a rowdy remorselessness that makes the satirical soldiers of Starship Troopers look like the do-gooders from M.A.S.H. They want to kill roaches and they want to kill them now, now, now.