Black Mirror Season 6 Episode 4 Review: Mazey Day

Many Black Mirror episodes have surprising endings. But season 6's paparazzi parable "Mazey Day" really goes the extra mile.

Zazie Beetz in Black Mirror season 6's "Mazey Day."
Photo: Netflix

This article contains spoilers for the Black Mirror episode “Mazey Day.”

Black Mirror Season 6 Episode 4

So werewolves are in Black Mirror now! Who could have seen that coming? Probably very few of us and that’s because the best narrative work in “Mazey Day” comes before the episode even actually begins.

While Black Mirror has dipped its toe in horror before, most notably in the season 3 installment “Playtest,” the first trailer for season 6 revealed that one of the upcoming five episodes would be so horror-inspired as to fall under a new “Red Mirror” label.

Notably though, the Red Mirror logo in the trailer appears before only the season 6 capper “Demon 79” and not the werewolf-saturated episode that precedes it. In a pre-season interview with Den of Geek, Black Mirror creator and this episode’s writer Charlie Brooker revealed that he went back and forth as to whether Mazey Day should get a Red Mirror branding.

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“[Mazey Day] was a Red Mirror then a Black Mirror then a Red Mirror – I kept changing my mind. We even made a title sequence that was like the Red Mirror titles. We hemmed and hawed like ‘do we spoil this for people?'”

Ultimately, Brooker and company opted to keep Red Mirror away from Mazey Day. In the process, they created season 6’s most shocking ending by far – albeit an ending that caps a generally slight and inessential episode in the show’s impressive canon.

Mazey Day falls firmly in the middle of the pack of season 6’s offerings and maybe all of Black Mirror‘s offerings overall. There’s nothing tremendously offensive about it. It features a breezy running time of 40 minutes, some stellar mid-2000s vibes, a solid performance from Zazie Beetz, and that aforementioned shocking ending. All of those elements are appreciated but don’t quite add up to a classic Black Mirror. And that’s OK. They don’t have to all be San Junipero.

Faults aside, Mazey Day hits the ground running and respects its viewer’s time. We experience what will come to be the core of Beetz’ Bo’s internal struggle early on. She has all the appearances of an amoral paparazzo photographer working in 2006 Los Angeles (we know the exact date thanks to the birth announcement of Ms. Suri Cruise…who is now somehow 17 years old IRL), but the nature of the work clearly gets to her. After one of her candid expose subjects kills himself, Bo retires from a life of taking famous people’s pictures for something less exploitative.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in the Czech Republic, uber famous actress Mazey Day goes on an ill-fated late night drive where she seemingly runs over and kills a civilian. Much of the tension throughout the episode derives from the question of how Bo and Mazey’s paths will eventually cross and if it will be the redemptive experience for each that you’d hope it would be. The answer, satisfyingly, turns out to be “yes, but not in the way you think.”

Mazey Day is the rare Black Mirror episode that probably plays better on a repeated viewing. The scenes in which Mazey appears to struggle with her guilt and addiction but is really grappling with her incoming lycanthropy are really fun. It turns out that pedestrian she ran over was actually a werewolf that passed along the curse to her. Slightly less fun is Bo and her paparazzi frenemies quest for the elusive $30,000 photo of their prey. Bo’s peers are properly slimy but also quite tiring. A trip to try the best pecan pie in California feels like an unnecessary discursion even if the diner does eventually end up as the site of a werewolf bloodbath.

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Still, a banger ending and a reasonable running time will get you far in life and Mazey Day has both. This episode’s script has exactly the correct amount of “wait, what?” moments before finally getting into its reveal. Wait, why does that guy have a rivet gun? Wait, why is Mazey’s rehab doctor guy described as a voodoo practitioner for the stars? Wait, why is Mazey this sick? Wait, why are there goats in the room? All of these little off-ramps allow for the viewer to come to the moment of realization on their own schedule.

The execution of Mazey’s transformation is also really well done. It’s impressive from a technical perspective (thought Hollywood creature-makers never fumble the opportunity to craft their own unique werewolves) but from a narrative one as well. The constant shutter flashes are nerve-shredders remedied only by Bo’s base level of humanity on display as she rescues who she perceives to be a very sick person. Similarly effective is the melee at the diner moments later where Werewolf Mazey bloodily dispatches everyone but Bo and then requests the mercy of death. Bo gives her just that … while steadying her dead friend’s camera for the perfect shot, of course.

Mazey Day is understatedly revolutionary for Black Mirror in that it’s the first episode (chronologically for viewers, that is) to completely abandon any pretense of speculative fiction. A reality like the worlds of “Nosedive,” “15 Million Merits,” or “Joan Is Awful” can conceivably exist. A reality with a werewolf movie star cannot (unfortunately for Den of Geek‘s resident werewolf enthusiast Mike Cecchini). That unexpected paradigm shift in storytelling imbues this episode with a sparkly energy that largely makes up for the fact that it’s just your standard creature feature, for better and worse.

All five episodes of Black Mirror season 6 are available to stream on Netflix now.


3 out of 5