Black Mirror has returned, and in 70’s style fashion. Hold on don’t be alarmed, there’s still tons of modern-day technology and all it brings with possible outcomes. Charlie Brooker has delivered yet another fantastic episode in this season 4 premier where we board along the U.S.S Callister with Jesse Plemons, Michaela Coel, Jimmi Simpson and Oona Chapl…sorry Cristin Milioti.
This fantastic journey, a clear homage to Star Trek, has everything that’s made Black Mirror such a delight since it’s debut in 2011. The pacing is great and the plot is managed at such a soothing rate you’d almost forget you’ve spent over an hour on it.
In the “U.S.S Callister”, Plemons character, Robert Daly is a man fascinated with all things sci-fi as shown by the “space fleet” posters seen in his rather expensive room. He develops a game called “Infinity” where, as seen in previous episodes, your mind gets taken for a long trip only this time it’s involuntary at least to some of the workers at Callister Inc.
Jimmi Simpson’s character is James Walton. The CEO of Infinity and though Daly came up with the game and coding himself he has to make do with “just” a CTO position. Feeling betrayed, he obtains Simpson’s DNA and a group of his co-worker’s who he has declared may have done wrong by him including Nanette Cole (Cristin Milioti), the new girl on the job. She’s a big fan of Daly and sees things with him as platonic. Daly doesn’t see it that way though.
After obtaining their DNA, he transfers it to the game via his computer in his very luxurious apartment and the games commence. The trick though, is that these characters, Daly included, know they’re in a game and know of their existence outside the game prior to them being trapped inside it. I was hoping the characters won’t know they’re in the game; only Daly. Leading their outside counterparts to find that out themselves. Anyway it was still fun.
Plemons is on a very different planet, figuratively, literally and mentally when he boards the U.S.S Callister. He even changes his voice to match with the 70’s nature of film. Black Mirror stylistically tells a Star Trek story in a beautiful way and following on from his Emmy nominated performance on Fargo, Plemons steals the show here just like his fiancee Kirsten Dunst did on Fargo. She even makes a very quick cameo at Callister Inc.
U.S.S Callister doesn’t show the danger of technology once but twice as in their bid to get free from the dictatorial rule of Daly, the Callister crew led by Nanette and reluctantly followed by Walton – mainly because Daly threatened him earlier when it was just two of them on board by floating his son (in-game) and making him watch – devise a plan which involved Walton & Nanette threatening herself from the game to expose her real life nudes from her cloud. Just incase you weren’t paying attention online, about two years ago, many celebrities had their nude pictures leaked online. Iphone’s cloud service was hacked which ironically is a place you store items incase they get deleted or just generally for safe-keeping.
Aside from the fact that this is one of the series best offerings with timely comic reliefs, smart dialogues and great acting aided by wonderful leads, it also managed to replicate the first interracial kiss on TV between Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) in the 1968 episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” from the third season of Star Trek (TheHollywoodReporter). Though, when Daly and Shania (Michaela Coel) do so it’s under very different circumstances.
I’m excited to see where this season heads, it certainly didn’t disappoint and Brooker has managed to get viewers watching with even more enthusiasm with the cameos dropped in this episode.
*Imdb reveals that the gamer voice at the end of the episode belongs to Aaron Paul who Plemons also featured with on Breaking Bad.
Infinity Rating – 9.3