Jodie Foster made a surprise appearance at New York City Comic-Con 2017, as moderator of the Black Mirror panel discussion with creator Charlie Booker and producer Annabel Jones. The trio shared a five-minute clip of the Arkangel episode Foster directed for Black Mirror season 4, and shared a few details about the upcoming season.
Last year, the Black Mirror episode Playtest from season 3 world premiered at NYCC 2017. This year, fans were treated to Foster revealing her favorite Black Mirror episode — The Waldo Moment— and Booker hinting at how deliciously dark the new season will be. “It’s like a box of chocolates, you don’t know what the filling will be, but you know it’s dark chocolate,” Booker told the audience, with a sinister grin plastered on his face.
Season 4 is expected to be released later this year, but Netflix has yet to announce a release date. Until then, here is what we learned at Comic-Con.
Jodie Foster’s dystopia
The episode Arkangel is named after a mysterious medical organization offering parents treatment for their children, free of charge. The treatment being offered is an implant in the child’s temple that allows the parents to control their child from a tablet. A mother, played by Mad Men‘s Rosemary DeWitt, takes her daughter Sarah in to receive the implant.
With the tap of a button, Sarah’s mom is able to look into Sarah’s optical feed and see everything her child sees. If she thinks Sarah is experiencing something negative, there is a filter button that allows mom to blur out what is causing it. The clip ends with the mother filtering out a barking dog, turning it into a mush of pixels and faint barks, much to Sarah’s apparent amusement.
To Foster, the episode is a look at the symbiotic relationship between a mother and child mixed with Foster’s personal views of where the world is going. “It felt to me, in this case, America might be struggling a bunch, and we’d gone back in time in a way. In our community lives, we’ve gone back in time to almost when everything was ruined, and yet we have these fabulous phones,” Foster explained about the episode. “I feel like, right now, I’m living in an alternative universe.”
The Black Mirror Universe
Each Black Mirror episode is independent of the others, but this season will be a bit more connected. “People would ask, ‘Are these stories set in one universe?’ and I would go, ‘No.’ Or, I’d say they’re set in one psychological universe,” Booker explained. “Actually, I’m starting to revive that opinion, and we’ve turned on the Easter egg hose.”
Foster’s Arkangel clip gave an example of what a Black Mirror Easter egg hunt will look like this season. In the clip, the doctor demonstrates to Sarah’s mom what filtering her child’s view looks like on the tablet by blurring out a soldier firing his gun in a video Sarah is watching. After the clip, Booker informed the crowd the video of the soldier is pulled straight from the Men Against Fire episode from Black Mirror‘s third season.
More Black Mirror
Aside from Foster sharing her five-minute Arkangel clip, Booker and Jones were mum on many details about season 4. Booker did reveal an episode entitled Metalhead will probably be the shortest entry of the new season. The episode will clock in at roughly half the time of an unnamed 64-minute episode that is also featured in the upcoming season.
The season 4 finale Black Museum would be the best guess for the 64-minute episode. Booker compared it to the 73-minute White Christmas episode, which centers on Matt Trent, played magnificently by Jon Hamm, telling his housemate Joe Potter about his life as a virtual dating coach and administrator of an artificial intelligence personal assistant. The episode ends with Joe telling his own story of his girlfriend dying after literally blocking him from her life. Booker says Black Museum will be in the same vein, calling it “three stories in one; kind of Russian doll-style.”
Booker promised more “playful” episodes this season, but his idea of playful is bit grimmer than most. “I do think The National Anthem is a tender romance,” Booker informed the crowd, referring to the series premiere where the British Prime Minister has sex with a pig on national television.
If that’s Booker’s idea of playful, then Black Mirror‘s new season may be darker than ever.