Structured similarly to “White Christmas,” which featured three nested stories, the episode begins with Nish (Letitia Wright) stopping by the titular Black Museum, a roadside collection of interesting items. Only instead of dusty antiques, the Museum showcases “authentic criminological artifacts,” each with their own grisly history. There’s a webbed helmet that allows a wearer to transmit medical symptoms to another party, a teddy bear with its own conscious inhabitant, and most horrifically, a digital captive, wrongly accused of murder, subjected to unending torture. “Black Museum” is the show at its most self-referential, a throwback kind of fan service. It’s a treat for dedicated viewers of the show, tending to rely on tried-and-true tropes of episodes past: stored consciousness, the nested, three-story arc that somersaults back to reference itself.
But to that point, “Black Museum” seems to be “White Christmas” Part II, an unwanted sequel. A rehashing of prior concepts, it might have succeeded if it had reassessed its subject matter, or revisited it in a different way. But it fails to say anything new. A worthy, albeit risky, direction could have pursued the mass incarceration angle: further exploring the symbolism of an innocent black man, unlawfully and eternally tortured, all for sadistic public entertainment and a profit. The “Black” in its title feels particularly pointed. After all, “Black Mirror” already tests the ethical limits of technology—why not justice, too?