Black Mirror season 4 first episode ‘USS Callister’ treks us off into space for another intriguing adventure. A bright and colourfully clad crew are under the command of Captain Daly, going to corners of the Universe that this Netflix series has never gone before.
It is soon revealed that Captain Daly (played by Jesse Plemons) is a suave, charming version of nerdy game-designer Robert Daly. With considerably less hair and charisma that his virtual counterpart, Robert is ostracised and often spoken down to in his office.
As the sole creator of an expansive game ‘Infinity’, Robert recreates genetically accurate copies of his co-workers in a closed-off section of his game. Here, he has the power to control and punish his colleagues as he sees fit – playing out his game in a world where he gets to play the hero he sees himself to be.
You’ll Never Play Sims The Same Way Again…
In many ways, Daly’s Infinity programme almost become a large and more perversive version of games like ‘The Sims’. Virtual characters are created and manipulated in a world designed for a creator’s enjoyment – except, this time, they are real people! With their DNA captured and uploaded to a system, these unwilling prisoners must live a computer programmer’s fantasy world, bowing to his every will.
The Black Mirror episode ‘USS Calister’ shows yet again how technology is certainly becoming a huge way us living out of lives we may never have in the real world. Daly’s co-worker’s virtual existences are simply there to appease his bruised ego mixed with an obsession with a sci-fi TV show. Daly is often snubbed and bullied in the outside world, so he creates an alternative in his own game where he makes the rules and calls the shots.
The tech in this game gives him one thing he craves most in real life: power! Daly can enforce a system of etiquette and power over his co-workers who regularly disrespect him. Ultimately, he can also suffocate, murder and transform his characters. He can create digital life and just as quickly take it away: giving him almost god-like status in his own little universe.
Takin’ Tech To A Trekkin’ New Level
Technology is vastly becoming an escape from real-life problems, making it addictive and somewhat dangerous. We will continue to indulge our time and efforts into creating a perfect virtual world for ourselves where we can live content and seemingly perfect lives. Sounds good, right?
Why not create perfect worlds where all of our needs, desires, and obsessions are catered to? However, this is Black Mirror and therefore everything has its dark consequences.
‘USS Callister’ nods at how our online behaviour can become more and more perverse; as we believe all of our actions take place behind closed doors. However, with all Daly’s crew actually knowing what he’s up to, it makes the game even more messed-up. What was Daly’s ‘closed off’ part of the gaming system, becomes exposed demonstrating yet again that nothing we do online is 100% private and unfindable.
As Daly becomes more and more invested in his new world he starts to bring physical elements into the virtual game. The border between technology and real-life clearly start to blend. The inclusion of each co-workers conscience in the game make for an even more uncomfortable overlap. As the real world and digitized life seemingly get closer and closer together – where will one end and the other begin? Just how far we will go to satisfy our human needs?
Closing Question: Consider a reality where this technology exists – just how many co-workers games would you be locked away in? Let me know in the comments below!
Black Mirror Cameos: Final note! The beady-eyed amongst you may have noticed Kirsten Dunst disappearing across the office or even the familiar voice of Aaron Paul at the end of the episode. Check out the details on the Hollywood Reporter.