Laurie Sparham/Netflix
James Hibberd
October 17, 2016 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Maybe you’ve only vaguely heard of Black Mirror. Maybe you’ve watched the previous seasons obsessively. Either way, this guide will help you prepare — spoiler free — for the new season, which Netflix dropped on Friday.

What is this show? It’s a sci-fi mystery-thriller anthology series like The Twilight Zone, except each episode has something to do with technology. If liked the movie Ex Machina and/or HBO’s Westworld, this show is for you. The season 3 trailer is below (and doesn’t really do the new season justice).

Don’t I need to watch the previous seasons first? No. Each episode of the show is entirely self contained — different story, different cast. Even the look and tone can vary significantly.

But should I watch the previous seasons at some point? Absolutely. There are only seven previous episodes total. My favorite is “The Entire History of You” (season 1, episode 3). Others that are generally considered terrific: “Be Right Back” (season 2, episode 1 — and perhaps best series introduction), “White Bear” (season 2, episode 2) and “The National Anthem” (season 1, episode 1 — but not the best to start with). Oh, and also there’s the excellent 70-minute Christmas special, titled “White Christmas” (it stars Jon Hamm, so there is that).

Is there anything different about season 3? Are there any famous people in it? Um-hm. First, there are six episodes whereas previous seasons only had three each. One is the show’s only 90-minute episode (“Hated in the Nation”). The season is also the first one that’s produced by Netflix and the episodes appear to have higher production values than past seasons. Stars include Bryce-Dallas Howard (Jurassic World), Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones), Mackenzie Davis (The Martian), Kelly MacDonald (Boardwalk Empire).

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