The Netflix original series made its return earlier this week.
An episode set in space was not what most people expected from the new season of Netflix original series 'Black Mirror', but that's exactly what the show's creator Charlie Brooker delivered in the first episode of the anthology series, in the form of 'U.S.S. Callister'. It did of course however come with a few twists and turns along the way, pushing many viewers into an anxiety-ridden state before all was said and done.
Charlie Brooker has taken awards home thanks to his work on 'Black Mirror'
Though 'U.S.S. Callister' does take part largely in what's revealed to be a virtual space world, the narrative is much larger than that. It tells a story in the not so distant future of a chief technical officer who's berated by his peers, and so turns his anger into a misogynistic and tyrannical reign over virtual clones of them in his own space universe. There, he is the master of all; a god, that can bend the world around him to his will. The clones have a consciousness within the world, but must do everything that the Captain asks of them, or face very real pain and trauma.
The themes running throughout are those we have seen in 'Black Mirror' episodes of the past, but Brooker isn't afraid to admit that inspiration has also come from other places in the creation of 'U.S.S. Callister'.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, the creator explained: "We were on the set of an episode from last season, 'Playtest', and we were talking about virtual reality and video games, and the conversation went to, “Well, you could be the king of the castle in there, you could have an evil emperor or tyrant.” Which reminded me of that episode [of 'Twilight Zone'], a story they revisited again in 'The Twilight Zone' movie. I watched the episode again not that long ago and it’s still utterly terrifying. It’s like a depiction of what it must be like living under King Joffrey. You’ve got to watch your step. That was the starting point. What if we do a story about an all-powerful tyrant who cast himself as the hero?"
The comparisons between 'Black Mirror' and shows like 'Twilight Zone' in the past haven't been completely ignored, but it would be fair to say that Brooker's show has far and away cemented itself as a completely unique and new product. Inspirations may have been taken from other places, but that doesn't in any way mean the series is a carbon copy. All of the ideas used in the show have felt fresh and relevant, and that's a huge part of why 'Black Mirror' has become such a major success.
'Black Mirror' seasons 1-4 are available now on Netflix.