Throughout five seasons (and one interactive movie) Black Mirror has had some pretty terrifying episodes, but people who aren't fans of horror will be pleased to know Black Mirror Season 5 isn't that scary. That's not to say it won't make you a little fearful of the world — that's kind of the whole point of the show. In fact, you may find yourself thinking of Chris' (Andrew Scott) monologue from "Smithereens" about how often and compulsively he looks at his phone — and what that cost him — every time you look at your own. But overall, Season 5 feels like a walk in the park compared to past seasons of the series.
Rest assured: there's no story nearly as horrifying as Season 3's "Playtest" or Season 4's "Metalhead" to be found in Black Mirror's three new episodes. "Smithereens" and "Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too" certainly have their fair share of action, but they're more suspenseful (and in the case of "Smithereens," sad) than actually scary. And both "Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too" and "Striking Vipers" end pretty optimistically.
Perhaps Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker used up all of his most horrifying ideas with Bandersnatch, the interactive movie released in late 2018. The fact that the production of Bandersnatch was responsible for a delay in the premiere of Season 5, even with the shorter episode order, suggests the film may have been intended to serve as a part of, or at least a companion to, Season 5. Bandersnatch is horror to its core, combining the existential dread of the average Black Mirror episode with blood, monsters, and authors driven to madness. The number of scares and shocks in Bandersnatch are more than enough to make up for the lack of terror in Season 5 — and who knows, maybe there's an ending you missed from your first viewing of Bandersnatch still waiting to scare you for the first time (it's been a few months — fresh off a Season 5 marathon seems like the perfect time to revisit it).
Part of Black Mirror's appeal is that in some ways it is incredibly predictable, but in other ways there is no telling what will happen. Each episode centers around some kind of futuristic technology, but you never know where the story will head or what kind of genre the episode will fall into. In Season 5 alone, fans are treated to a domestic drama, a crime-thriller, and a YA-tinged heist story.
Perhaps the scariest thing about any episode of Black Mirror, then, isn't the monsters or jump scares or terrifying circumstances, but instead the fact that, no matter where you think the story is headed, it can always drop a huge twist at the end and flip the whole tone (see: Season 2's "White Bear"). Even reading this ahead of watching, you may not be able to shake the anxiety that some unexpected turn in events will pop up and totally mess with your head. But trust us! If you're not a horror fan, this is the one Black Mirror season you can watch worry-free.