IGN was in attendance at the fifth annual PaleyFest New York on Friday for a screening of a full episode from Season 4 of Netflix’s Black Mirror.

While reviews of the episode were strictly forbidden along with any kind of spoilers, I can say that, if this one episode is any indication, Black Mirror’s streak of solid seasons is unlikely to be broken anytime soon.

Titled “USS Callister,” the episode — which panel moderator David Itzkoff laughingly referred to as “Black Mirror’s idea of a Christmas episode” — had by far the highest production values of anything the series has shown so far. The CG effects are top notch and parts of it were shot on location in the deserts of the Canary Islands, which could not have been cheap.

I can’t talk about what exactly I saw but, as photos already online reveal (see above), clearly the episode takes a number of cues from Star Trek. I can also say that, while possibly not the deepest or most insightful episode in the show’s impressive run, it’s probably the funniest one I’ve seen. The audience was laughing so hard at points I missed entire lines of dialogue if that gives you any idea.

The cast featured Jesse Plemons (Fargo, Breaking Bad), Jimmi Simpson (Westworld, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Cristin Milioti (The Mindy Project, Fargo), and Michaela Coel (who previously played a brief but memorable role in the Black Mirror episode Nosedive), all of whom are fantastic.

A group of actors this talented combined with jaw-dropping special effects more than compensated for any moments when the story seemed to drag. That doesn’t mean the script, again written by series creator Charlie Brooker, isn’t up to Black Mirror’s lofty standards. It is and there aren’t really problem areas. But — and this is more a testament to just how good Black Mirror consistently is — compared to some other episodes, this one’s plot trajectory locks in a little on the early side, leaving the third act more predictable than spoiled fans of the series like me might be accustomed to.

Which is not to say the show doesn’t have any surprises. In fact, it’s a great example of one of Black Mirror’s chief delights: its ability to get the audience to fall for a head fake in one direction, only to make a sharp turn into unexpected territory. USS Callister does just that, leading the audience along what feels like a familiar path (especially to fans of a certain Star Trek: The Next Generation episode), only to draw back the curtain on a much darker and more layered journey.

After the screening the cast, Executive Producer Annabel Jones and series creator/writer/Executive Producer Charlie Brooker participated in a panel discussion about the show. Most of the talk centered on the episode itself and therefore must remain under wraps for now. (Though, what the heck, I will reveal that some of the cast reported not being able to go to the bathroom due to their tight-fitting costumes. You heard it here first, folks!)

Brooker said his inspiration for the series came from growing up watching similarly anthologized series like Tales of the Unexpected and Hammer House of Horror. He said he asked himself what Rod Serling would be writing about today and decided the answer was technology. He didn’t agree with those who say the show is anti-technology, however. He just said, “I kind of wish technology was created by people who worried more.” When asked if the show has reduced his trust of technology he laughed, “Well I’ve always been paranoid and a mess so nothing’s changed.”

At one point the show’s Emmy-winning episode from last season, “San Junipero”, came up. Brooker said it was the first episode he wrote after Netflix acquired the property and he wrote it as a counterweight to the generally dark tone of most of the previous episodes. He also said definitively that, while some elements from previous seasons would be revisited or reused in Season 4, there would be no “San Junipero” sequel because he wanted keep the episode’s happy ending intact. He added, “And f**k anyone who says it’s not a happy ending!”

No news yet on a release date for Black Mirror: Season 4. In the meantime, you can check out what we thought of Season 3 right here, and stay tuned for all of IGN’s coverage coming out of New York Comic Con.

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