U.S.S. Callister

Black MirrorStardate not given: The stalwart crew of the starship U.S.S. Callister patrols the galaxy, constantly running into the evil forces of the tyrannical Baldak, and constantly defeating them thanks to the heroic leadership and tactical brilliance of Captain Robert Daly. But failing to praise or please Daly reveals the terrifying truth that he’s even more of a tyrant than his arch-enemy…

Stardates aren’t real: Callister, Inc.’s flagship product, the massively multiplayer virtual reality space adventure game Infinity, is a massive hit. The company’s chief technology officer, socially stunted software guru Robert Daly, is running behind on a major update to the game, but is distracted from the impending crisis by the arrival of a new programmer, Nanette Cole. But when Callister’s CEO wastes no time showing him up, Daly quietly grabs a lid from one of her coffee cups, and scans it for DNA.

Stardate still not given: Nanette Cole awakens in an unfamiliar (and alarmingly revealing) uniform, aboard what appears to be a spaceship. She explores until she finds the bridge, full of people who appear to be her new co-workers at Callister, Inc. …only to be told that, like them, she is an image of the real Nanette Cole, extracted from a DNA sample, who will now be left with no option but to play out Robert Daly’s twisted sci-fi fan fantasies. She immediately comes to the conclusion that the U.S.S. Callister needs a change of command.

written by William Bridges & Charlie Brooker
directed by Toby Haynes
music by Daniel Pemberton

Black MirrorCast: Jesse Plemons (Robert Daly), Cristin Milioti (Nanette Cole), Jimmi Simpson (Walton), Michaela Coel (Shania), Billy Magnussen (Baldak), Milanki Brooks (Elen Tulaska), Osy Ikhile (Nate Packer), Paul G. Raymond (Kabir Dudani), Hammed Animashaun (Pizza Guy), Tom Mulheron (Tommy), Aaron Paul (Gamer691)

Notes: Toby Haynes has numerous genre directing credits, including a series of very well-regarded episodes of Matt Smith‘s era of Doctor Who Jimmi Black MirrorSimpson is a regular on HBO‘s Westworld, while multiple Emmy winner Aaron Paul – heard in a voice-only role here – was one of the stars of AMC’s popular series Breaking Bad. This episode obviously spoofed the original Star Trek (and, toward the end, the J.J. Abrams retooling of classic Trek for the big screen), as well as a certain somewhat suspect subset of its fandom.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Arkangel

Black MirrorAfter her three-year-old daughter Sara causes a scare by wandering away from a public park looking for a stray cat, Marie has Sara implanted with a device called Arkangel, still in the trial phase, allowing Marie to look at a tablet and immediately see Sara’s location, vital signs, and even what Sara sees. She can even control what Sara sees with a filter system that can audiovisually censor any input causing the girl undue stress, though within a few years she drops the filter and lets Sara see the world as it really is. The Arkangel product line is eventually abandoned, and Marie puts away the tablet…until Sara’s rebellious adolescence arrives, and then Marie resumes surveillance of Sara’s every move and begins intervening in her daughter’s life, with disastrous consequences.

written by Charlie Brooker
directed by Jodie Foster
music by Mark Isham

Black MirrorCast: Rosemarie Dewitt (Marie), Brenna Harding (Sara), Owen Teague (Trick), Angela Vint (Anaesthetist), Jason Weinberg (Surgeon), Nicholas Campbell (Russ), Aniya Hodge (Sara, age 3), Sabryn Rock (Pippa), Edward Charette (Young Man at Park), Carlos Pinder (Man who finds Sara), Jenny Raven (Jasmine), Paul Braunstein (Anthony), Sarah Abbott (Sara, age 9), Nicky Torchia (Trick, age 12), McKayla Twiggs (Meryl, age 9), Kaleb Young (Cal, age 10), Matt Baram (Dr. Usborne), Michelle Cornelius (Schoolyard Teacher), Kaden Stephen (Boy in Fight), Abby Quinn (Meryl), Tosh Robertson (Hiro), Dempsey Bryk (Cal), Ronica Sajnami (Store Employee), Michelle Groux (English Teacher), Edie Inksetter (School Nurse)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Crocodile

Black MirrorIncident 1: Driving home across Iceland from a concert, young couple Mia and Rob run over a bicyclist, killing him. They drag the body, his belongings, and his bike over to the edge of a lake, throwing him in to get rid of any evidence.

Incident 2: 15 years have passed, and Mia is now a successful businesswoman with her own family. But Rob shows up to tell her that he’s finally found the identity of the man they accidentally killed 15 years ago, and intends to write an anonymous letter to his still-grieving family. An argument becomes a struggle, and Mia kills Rob and disposes of his body, witnessing an accident involving a pedestrian outside shortly afterward.

Incident 3: Shazia, an insurance adjuster, carries around a portable device that can retrieve and record people’s memories, a normal part of her job in settling accident claims. Her investigation into a recent accident involving a pedestrian leads her to Mia, unaware that attempting to probe Mia’s memories could be the last thing she ever does. But at what point is Mia finished killing?

written by Charlie Brooker
directed by John Hillcoat
music by Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross and Claudia Sarne

Black MirrorCast: Andrea Riseborough (Mia Nolan), Kiran Sonia Sawar (Shazia Akhand), Andrew Gower (Rob), Anthony Welch (Anan Akhand), Claire Rushbrook (Police Detective), Joshua James (Gordy), Noni Harper-Brown (Adelle Leonce), Brian Pettifer (William Grange, Dentist), Jamie Michie (Simon Nicholls), Armin Karina (Farshad, Hotel Receptionist), Stefan Orn Eggertsson (Finn Nicholls), James Eeles (DC Lydon), Olafia Hronn Jonsdottir (Felicity Carmichael), Diljia Imana (Ali Akhand), Sigurdur Sigurjons (Room Service Man)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Hang The DJ

Black MirrorAs arranged by an artificial intelligence called Coach, which handles dating and matchmaking, Frank and Amy are randomly paired together. As with all of Coach’s matches, an “expiry date” is set, giving Frank and Amy 12 hours in an isolated cabin to get to know each other, but regardless of how well it goes, in 12 hours each will be picked up by a self-driving car, and Coach will pick their next partner. Frank is then paired with a girl who seems to show irritation at everything he says, and is alarmed to finds that Coach has decided this relationship will last for a full year. Amy’s next relationship is predetermined to last nine months. But when Amy and Frank bump into one another at a party, it heightens their respective relief that their current relationships are only temporary. Some time after that, Coach puts Frank and Amy together again, and they mutually agree not to look at the expiry date of their relationship. But when Frank’s curiosity gets the best of him, it seems he and Amy have no future.

written by Charlie Brooker
directed by Tim Van Patten
music by Alex Somers and Sigur Ros

Black MirrorCast: Georgina Campbell (Amy), Joe Cole (Frank), Gina Bramhill (voice of Coach), George Blagden (Lenny), Gwyneth Keyworth (Nicola), Jessie Cave (Edna), Luke Manning (Mike), Tim Pritchett (Norman), Alex Tamaro (Butch), Che Watson (Silverfox), Bruce Chong (David), Anna Dobrucki (Patty)

Notes: The episode’s title is a lyric from the Smiths’ 1986 single “Panic” which coincides neatly with how Frank and Amy feel about their other partners – “Burn down the disco / Hang the blessed DJ / Because the music that they constantly play / It says nothing to me about my life”. The song’s closing refrain plays over the end credits.

LogBook entry by Earl Green