Black Mirror: USS Callister
December 29, 2017 8:11 AM - Season 4, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Capt. Robert Daly presides over his crew with wisdom and courage. But a new recruit will soon discover nothing on this spaceship is what it seems.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (93 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, that was creepy. :) I saw Star Trek:TOS, Redshirts, Reboot, and an episode of Star Trek: TNG in there. Also the world's most aggressive copy protection.
posted by Mogur at 9:06 AM on December 29


Forgot to mention: +10 points for having a Described Video track. My wife and I thank whoever decided that. :)
posted by Mogur at 9:10 AM on December 29 [3 favorites]


William Gibson Easter egg in the first ten minutes!
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:58 AM on December 29 [1 favorite]


Wonder if Harlan Ellison is gonna sue?

Nice Breaking Bad connection
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:19 PM on December 29 [5 favorites]


ASSIMILATING: 4%

Some nice Twilight Zone nods also. The over-the-top praise of everything he does as captain and turning rebels into horrifying monsters are pure "It's a Good Life" (don't send us to the cornfield) and the faceless girl bit is straight from the TZ movie retelling of that story.
posted by Flannery Culp at 2:04 PM on December 29 [6 favorites]


Also: we just watched Colossal the other night, and this episode makes an interesting companion piece.
posted by Flannery Culp at 2:12 PM on December 29 [1 favorite]


Anyone remember the Tranquility Lane Simulation in Fallout 3?
posted by yoHighness at 3:03 PM on December 29 [4 favorites]


Fantastic episode. I couldn't stop thinking about all those guys on Reddit who post clips of themselves murdering Nazeem in various ways. But at least Nazeem isn't sentient. Probably.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:28 PM on December 29


Did I miss the point where they explained how conscious experience and memories are cloned from DNA?
posted by iamck at 6:43 PM on December 29 [7 favorites]


That was RIVETING. The tension! It really could have gone either way. I say this every time it happens because it still feels like a novel experience to me but seeing a smart woman as the protagonist just blows my mind.
posted by TheLateGreatAbrahamLincoln at 7:21 PM on December 29 [11 favorites]


Did I miss the point where they explained how conscious experience and memories are cloned from DNA?

I loved this episode and thought it was basically a perfect example of the storytelling being good enough to breeze right by unexplained or counterintuitive details like this. I registered this thought when she first came online in the game, but let go of it immediately as the momentum of the story pushed me along. Trying to plug this hole probably would have undermined the episode.
posted by snofoam at 7:40 PM on December 29 [23 favorites]


I figured it was related to the technology demonstrated in the White Christmas episode from 2014, where it is shown that they have the ability to create self-aware virtual copies of a personality that think they're the originals. If I recall correctly, it's never explained how they do this, but it's a direct callback to the idea of simulacra in philosophy.

This one was also a "Christmas" episode of sorts, in-universe, which I took as another nod to that previous White Christmas episode.
posted by glonous keming at 7:58 PM on December 29 [15 favorites]


Literally just watched so I'm not clear - did Daly die in real life?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:18 PM on December 29


I think it's left open-ended. He apparently can't extract himself from the game, but I don't think he's immediately dead in real life, and if someone notices him missing in time they might check on him and be able to extract him. But, I think there's a remark towards the end along the lines of "see you in ten days" or something from another woman to Nanette in the office, so if everyone in the company gets time off after Christmas and no one notices Daly missing for several days, he might starve/dehydrate in real life before he's found.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:29 PM on December 29 [6 favorites]


I think the implication is that his mind is trapped in infinite nothingness, so basically comatose? I think it's an open question whether he could be rescued if somebody found him in time, but it doesn't seem that anybody likes him enough to check in before he dies of dehydration.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:30 PM on December 29 [1 favorite]


REG BARCLAY’S NO EXIT

Or I have no mouth and I must fanfic

I wrote something ...like this called OOC
posted by The Whelk at 8:30 PM on December 29 [4 favorites]


Plus he put his door on "do not disturb" after the pizza guy incident. Daly is toast IRL - he will die of thirst before anyone finds him. I love that this is a Christmas episode - such a great antidote to the sickly sweet stuff that's the usual fare this time of year.
posted by hazyjane at 8:43 PM on December 29 [15 favorites]


Ooh, this was good! I just watched the White Christmas episode last night after realising that I hadn't seen it yet, so this was the perfect start to the new season for me. I was still recovering from the idea of one's consciousness existing in torture forever so this adds to the joy.

Congratulations, Black Mirror. I now can conceptualise Hell. You beat out all the major religions!
posted by h00py at 8:49 PM on December 29 [11 favorites]


Did I miss the point where they explained how conscious experience and memories are cloned from DNA?

This is a complete episode ruiner for me, unfortunately. It's utterly nonsensical and everything hinges on it.
posted by gerryblog at 10:14 PM on December 29 [4 favorites]


The actor who plays Daly played Todd in Breaking Bad. Todd was a remorseless neo-nazi child murderer. Few fans of Breaking Bad would see that face and think he's the hero. Few tears were shed for him in the finale. I'm not into typecasting, but this was good casting. There are parallels with Todd and Daly which you can't untangle from the actor, because they're familiar.

In summary, fuck Todd and fuck Daly, and praise Jesse Plemons for a wonderful performance. Also praise Cristin Milioti.

And not least, Charlie Brooker. This technohorror genre is wholly his, and that bastard made me cry with Be Right Back and San Junipero.
posted by adept256 at 10:20 PM on December 29 [4 favorites]


The conscient digital clones thing was a bit of a deal breaker on a otherwise solid episode, particularly since it wouldn't even be that hard to explain - just make up something like Daly using a hacked game device to "perform some testing" while in reality creating a digital copy of the mind.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:26 PM on December 29 [2 favorites]


The actor who plays Daly played Todd in Breaking Bad
and Ed in Fargo S2E8, which also featured Cristin Milioti.
posted by Thella at 11:29 PM on December 29 [4 favorites]



This is a complete episode ruiner for me, unfortunately. It's utterly nonsensical and everything hinges on it.


eh, I thought about it, and any attempt to explain it would go flat, I took it as the one impossible thing a story needs to work ( I thought "Oh a scene where he gets brain scans of people cause he can might work but it seems easier to just say in this world you can make perfect to the moment digital clones of people) everything else is just expanded existing stuff.
posted by The Whelk at 11:41 PM on December 29 [4 favorites]


"Hello, do you have anything to trade at all? Get the hell out of my quadrant or I'll blast you to shit."

The asshole gamer from the very end is voiced by Aaron Paul. JESSE PINKMAN!!!!

That's brilliant.
posted by adept256 at 2:07 AM on December 30 [24 favorites]


They did the faceless female crew member thing way back in the Star Trek: TOS episode Charlie X, which I assume this episode was referencing. (It was creepy as hell then, too. We eventually find out that everything on the ship has been restored to normal, but we never actually see this poor woman get her face back and when I was a kid that fucked my shit up good.) Trek also did the empowered women thing, too.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:34 AM on December 30 [1 favorite]


What happened to the poor monster lady marooned on the planet (and others mentioned)... will nobody think of the monsters?!

(I assumed they got blanked out with the rest of the universe)

(Other boss guy had to sacrifice himself coz he would not want to be a game character forever without his son.)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:35 AM on December 30 [1 favorite]


Ok, I've slept on it and I've decided that he uses the DNA to hack into an unmentioned existing database of frequently updated total-body-scans which he manipulates using his dev tools, so now the episode is good again.
posted by gerryblog at 4:49 AM on December 30 [11 favorites]


In Be Right Back the manbot is recreated from his social media profile. The critical difference in that story was that he was embarrassed by liking the Bee-Gees and never included that in his social media, but he did confide with his wife this information. Also he had a freckle only his wife knew about.
posted by adept256 at 4:54 AM on December 30 [2 favorites]


That's a fair point too. We know these are a shared world despite appearances.
posted by gerryblog at 4:55 AM on December 30


Todd, Jesse. What, they couldn't get Walter White to make an appearance too? Maybe something pizza-related?

I liked it.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:19 AM on December 30 [1 favorite]


gay gasped when I saw the brilliant Michaela Coel in Uhura drag
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:23 AM on December 30 [10 favorites]


Husband said there are a bunch of really good JJ Abrams reboot references at the end.

Meth Damon was so sweet as Landry on Friday Night Lights--I hope he can be back to nice castings soon!

Felt really tense at the end, I'm so worried the whole season will be this tense?
posted by armacy at 10:57 AM on December 30 [1 favorite]


Did I miss the point where they explained how conscious experience and memories are cloned from DNA?

He's got a gizmo. A Science gizmo.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:51 PM on December 30 [24 favorites]


Jesus fucking Christ. Let’s watch an episode of Black Mirror, I said. New seasons’s supposed to be good, I said.

Well, it IS good but now I’m so horrified that I’m going to have a hard time going to sleep. Daly was perfectly believable, goddamn.
posted by lydhre at 7:05 PM on December 30 [3 favorites]


This was brilliant. Love the riff on toxic gamer masculinity.
posted by Nelson at 9:31 PM on December 30 [3 favorites]


Wow... my first Black Mirror episode and it's an extended riff on Star Trek and a pisstake on MMORPGs. Such fun! I'm another who mostly thinks of Plemons as being Todd from BB, and although I thought that they were going to go with the angle of Daly being like Flynn from TRON at first, this is really very much like what Todd might have been like if he'd gone into game development rather than meth. And I totally got the "Charlie X" angle; in fact, it's easy to think of a headcanon for the TOS episode in which Charles Evans is a kid who gets the cheat codes for a retro-SF MMORPG, and terrorizes guilds until his parents get an email from one of the online moderators and take away his net access. Even before the JJTrek ending (complete with lens flare), I thought it was striking that, when Daly logged off, most of the primary colors disappeared from the bridge and it became considerably less TOSsy. (The well-stocked bar even reminded me a bit of Quark's from DS9.) The Khan/Klingon enemy was also spot-on. Having Aaron Paul do the voice of the other ship at the end was just the cherry on top.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:49 PM on December 30 [5 favorites]


I enjoyed this episode, even though I'm super squeamish about any sort of body horror.

In addition to references already mentioned, there were a couple of striking similarities to The Cookie Monster by Vernor Vinge.
posted by Tabitha Someday at 9:56 PM on December 30 [2 favorites]


This and the memory one were my least favorite episodes. This felt like The Oroville rather than Trek and I deeply dislike the former.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 1:52 AM on December 31


Couple of other things:

- The planet that they explore near the end, "Rannoch 4", is probably a reference to the home planet of the quarians in Mass Effect.

- DAE think that Nanette's eyes seemed bigger in the game than the real life version of her? Not cartoonishly big, but just enough to notice?
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:33 AM on December 31 [1 favorite]


DAE think that Nanette's eyes seemed bigger in the game than the real life version of her?

I noticed her eyes but I think it's just a trick of the strong make-up she has a game character and lack of visble make-up she has in 'RL'. Plus a bit of wide-eyed acting.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:51 AM on December 31 [3 favorites]


Oh and did I wonder if she had coloured contact lenses in but I think that's just the lighting
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:52 AM on December 31


Thinking about this more the next morning two things stood out to me.

It's a remarkable inversion of the "misunderstood nerd" stereotype. Usually in this kind of story Daly ends up being the hero who saves the day, finally is given the respect he deserves, and gets the girl. It's interesting to see a show like this just explore what happens when the nerd is a malevolent monster.

It seems a bit off to me that his virtual world lacks genitals. Why is that? I assume it's not for technical inability. I think it may be a sign of arrested sexual development, Daly's childish understanding of how men and women relate. Or maybe it just set up some good plot beats, the look on Shania and Nate's face at the end when they realize they can finally screw is hilarious.
posted by Nelson at 10:04 AM on December 31 [13 favorites]


Because it's not about sex for Daly, it's about control and esteem. Same reason he made clones of men like Walton, Nate, and Kabir to dominate instead of just having a crew composed entirely of women. He certainly could have left the genitals intact, but more likely he deliberately left them out so he could tell himself that he's just "letting off steam", it's not like he's not doing anything weird in there, etc.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:14 AM on December 31 [7 favorites]


No one's mentioned yet the clever casting of Jimmi Simpson as Walton. Because of course he's William from Westworld as well, and is more or less that show's Daly. In case you want another whole TV series about creepy power fantasies exerted over sentient slaves.
posted by Nelson at 10:50 AM on December 31 [15 favorites]


Walton reminded me vaguely of James Watson of the double helix, noted for his Mad Men-era casual misanthropy and rise to fame on the basis of someone else's work. I figured the name was James Watson + Sam Walton. Market domination through stolen science!
posted by Flannery Culp at 2:49 PM on December 31 [1 favorite]


I've watched the whole series and this is the episode that is sticking. It's been a long time since I felt such absolute horror. It found it terrifying. So good. Supernatural type horror does very little for me these days and I have started to wonder if I would ever experience a show or movie that gave me the type of chills again. I generally like the horror genre but not much actually scares me anymore.

I've been working out why exactly because it was really unexpected. I've found many other episodes creepy and unsettling but not scary. I think maybe because I've played mmos and other roleplaying games for years and am a general sci-fi nerd it took place in type of world that engage with. And just the thought of suddenly being stuck like that in one of those games by any number of actual creepy, threatening men that I've come in contact with over many years of playing in these worlds is horrifying. I've been remembering particular ones and shuddering and gagging.
That is actual hell.
posted by Jalliah at 3:19 PM on December 31 [5 favorites]


For me this episode was really scary because I could easily relate to some aspects of it. At work it's necessary for most women to "play nice" to some extent with some clearly pretty misogynistic male coworkers. It's terrifying to think given half a chance and thinking they wouldn't get caught some unknown percentage of them would happily torture people for the tiny perceived slights that happen in every workplace. Added to the fact that in some forums (reddit I'm looking at you) people admit to feeling little compassion for the clones on this episode as they're "just avatars" - it made for a truly chilling episode for me.
posted by hazyjane at 3:23 AM on January 1 [4 favorites]


Charlie Brooker is the interviewee on the next edition of Desert Island Discs on January 7th! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09kx840
posted by hazyjane at 7:15 AM on January 1 [3 favorites]


I loved this episode so much. Loved the way that Daly went from the supposed hero of the story to the monster. Loved the "I Have No Mouth" vibe and the extension of the "White Christmas" and "San Junipero" concepts. Also a good companion piece to the Doctor Who episode "Extremis."

I was happy to completely dismiss the memory-from-DNA thing, though it did bother me that Daly wouldn't have backup files of every character rather than having to re-scan their DNA every time, making the heist aspect kind of pointless. Speaking of which, how did Nanette even get into his apartment? Went to a neighbor and said "Howdy stranger, mind if I climb from your balcony to the adjoining one?" I mean, that could very well work, but it still was weird she just cat burgled herself in like that.

Regarding Daly's fate, Avatar Nanette's first message to IRL Nanette included "Call cyber police!" Since at the end of the episode she's been convinced of the avatars' imprisonment but doesn't know they escaped into Infinity, it seems she'd then call the cyber police as requested, thus saving Daly's life. (Assuming he can escape from the game.)

Similarly, since the avatars are free to interact with IRL people now, and probably don't know that Daly is stuck (please correct me if I'm mistaken), I think they'd try their best to get Daly arrested as well, so he doesn't do this all again, saving his life.

Also, why didn't Walton make it through when they specifically pointed out he wouldn't die from being torched in the Jefferies tube?

But yes, fantastic episode. Looking forward to the rest of the season!
posted by ejs at 1:57 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


I had some thoughts, but other mefites have beaten me to most of them above. I will say that given the role of Elena as the receptionist in the office, there is something perfect about her being the one in the simulation that is monitoring the strength of the shields. High-tech force fields, like office receptionists (and castle walls and border control officers and the walls of a cell) are there to keep the Bad Stuff out.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:37 PM on January 1 [9 favorites]


"Stealing my pussy is a red fucking line."
posted by Pronoiac at 4:58 PM on January 1 [15 favorites]


Speaking of which, how did Nanette even get into his apartment?

Probably with the collective help of the other simulacra who all know him, in particular the co-founder who probably shared a lot of ramen and late nights with Daly.
posted by adept256 at 6:07 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


if you like virtual, synthetic hell stories, you'd love Surface Detail by Iain Banks (RIP)
posted by lalochezia at 8:46 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


On Halloween Jack's recommendation, I just watched this (having only previously seen the first episode of Black Mirror). Great stuff. And though it's not so much about Star Trek as it is gaming… I couldn't help thinking, about halfway through, that "This feels like it could have been written by Terry Farrell about Rick Berman."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:03 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


No one's mentioned yet the clever casting of Jimmi Simpson as Walton. Because of course he's William from Westworld as well

He'll always be a McPoyle to me.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:00 AM on January 2 [9 favorites]


And Plemons is Landry Clarke.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:42 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Daly is dead. Don't overthink a plate of beans.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:58 AM on January 2


Fully immersive VR sim where the only other thing in the universe is a plate of beans for you to think about.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:35 AM on January 2


What if beanplating but too much?
posted by tobascodagama at 8:35 AM on January 2 [7 favorites]


Also, why didn't Walton make it through when they specifically pointed out he wouldn't die from being torched in the Jefferies tube?
I would imagine that this is because Daly's mods were what were keeping him alive, and those were wiped out when they went through the "wormhole".
posted by Tabitha Someday at 9:34 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]




TBH, the spinoff I want to see is just about the crew of virtual avatars fucking around in the Infinity MMO. It would necessarily have to jettison a lot of the themes that made this episode so great and would be an objectively inferior piece of television as a result, but the cast had such great chemistry that I think it would be a joy to watch anyway.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:34 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, the only person I'd trust to make a tvshow around a videogame and actually get it right is Charlie.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:10 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


There's apparently some talk of a spinoff series.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:02 AM on January 3 [+] [!]


in general, in practice, and in theory I have long supported both earnest and satirical recasts and reimaginings of Trek, definitely including Saturday Night Live shenanigans and Galaxy Quest. News of a Tarantino-helmed Trek-film possibility and the actual in-production series led by Seth McFarlane appear to have pushed past my tolerance.

I can't, I don't even know my own mind on this. YES to workers getting paid for making Trek-derived work, especially that which is not controlled by Paramount! NO to high-profile artists (amazing, genius, stupid, troglodytes, or I DO NOT CARE) re-imagining Trek for the studios! No offense, Simon, we gave it a go and it was a bust. Go beat up wossname, the gangster flick guy, and tell him to leave it lay. If you see McFarlane on your way out put the boot in for me, won't you?

Wait, I do know my own mind on this, and I want Trek to become - again - a low-budget, faintly embarrassing utopianist hobby that is net-revenue negative for large-scale capitalists. After all, in the future, we don't need money. Or I guess that's what Nog told Jake.
posted by mwhybark at 1:12 AM on January 4


Thanks for reminding me that what's-his-face was in Westworld. I was thinking "oh hey, it's Mary from Psych!"
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:10 AM on January 4




One thing it reminds me of is that short story where gravity is sideways. Which I think was linked from Metafilter but I've forgotten the name.
ejs : Since at the end of the episode she's been convinced of the avatars' imprisonment but doesn't know they escaped into Infinity, it seems she'd then call the cyber police as requested, thus saving Daly's life.
Did they ever explain anything to her? She was completely puzzled by the DNA sucker, and the one guy was disguising his voice in the phone call. So I think from her point of view, she was just blackmailed by unknown hackers, like the Shut Up And Dance episode. So I hope there's a safety timer or something on the brain disc, for her sake at least, so she doesn't think she was tricked into murdering someone.
posted by RobotHero at 8:58 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


I too don't think that she knew of the avatars imprisonment or existence; rewatched that scene twice but I think she just is terrified of being found out, not of Daly himself.
posted by olya at 5:30 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Finally got around to seeing this.

I gotta say I was grateful for the desexing of the avatars - as monstrous as it was, I could see a potential added layer of hell there.

I mean, the perpetual suffocating thing is about as hellish as you can get - I wonder if they considered showing a perpetual torture victim. Super happy they didn't as that comes across to me as the worst thing I can think of. Similarly, watching a loved one die over and over again like bloody groundhog day would be unthinkably horrible. Man, Charlie really has thought about what the most horrible experience in the world would be when certain absolutes are negated by technology.

So I think from her point of view, she was just blackmailed by unknown hackers, like the Shut Up And Dance episode. So I hope there's a safety timer or something on the brain disc, for her sake at least, so she doesn't think she was tricked into murdering someone.

This was the other thing from the episode. We rightly see these avatars as conscious simulacra, but if we're looking solely at the actual physical humans, he's been locked into his computer by his own short-sightedness and she's just been blackmailed into murdering her coding idol.

Except for this thread , I haven't read any other discussion about this episode online. Since they are no longer bound by Daly's special rules, does that mean they are able to die? Will they age? They know they're copies and that they can contact the outside world but would they? Would they let the real world them know what had happened?

It would seem that being stuck in a MMORPG would be it's own kind of hell so where to from here? Maybe they'll find San Junipero and live happily ever after.

If they're free agents on the cloud would they be seen as rogue code or as a virus? I agree with above that there's definitely some of Reboot in there.

Okay. Going to sleep on it. I may be back.
posted by Start with Dessert at 3:25 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


I love at the end there's the Black Mirror twist that Daly is stuck in infinite nothingness and will die in a couple of days, whereas the immortal digital clones are free to explore an infinite procedurally generated universe! Except it's full of Gamers. Which is the real hell?

The thing I found hardest to believe was the terrible initial message that Nanette sent herself. THERE ARE PEOPLE TRAPPED IN THE COMPUTER CALL THE CYBER POLICE not "Daly cloned your personality into a private server by stealing your DNA, I am you, here is proof [insert secret fact]".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:05 AM on January 11 [7 favorites]


It seems a bit off to me that his virtual world lacks genitals. Why is that? I assume it's not for technical inability. I think it may be a sign of arrested sexual development, Daly's childish understanding of how men and women relate.

I think there was that, and it was also to really pointedly address the underlying fear of this being a place where Daly acts out all his fantasies. My wife expressed relief at the scene where the lack of genitals was revealed because the sexual component was building in her head as part of the horror of the situation, so to have it so plainly and baldly addressed meant she could enjoy the rest of the episode (in terms of all the other horror on display). For me, it also made the swimming scene both tolerable (because the sexual threat was absent) and also tense - because Daly can change people's bodies at a moment's notice.

Really good episode. Tense all around. I really liked the decision to leave the final fate of Walton ambiguous, because he was also an example of toxic masculinity in the real world; I wouldn't be comfortable with his digital self getting to ride into the sunset...but I would have loved it if what his digital self had learned could have been ported to his analogue self.

Anyways, a very timely episode in so many ways in the themes of entitled & toxic masculinity, workplace sexual harassment, gamer culture, etc.
posted by nubs at 9:49 AM on January 11 [8 favorites]


I found it interesting how reluctant he was to go swimming and that he seemed bewildered that she expressed interest in him. Even in his fantasy world he has an inferiority complex when it comes to romance.
posted by AFABulous at 10:41 AM on January 11


Cloned from her own DNA, Captain Nanette Cole was sucked into the world of Infinity and and vanished... She woke to find herself trapped inside Infinity, the digital frontier. These are the voyages of the USS Callister. Mirror images of themselves from the real world, Captain Cole and her crew find themselves leaping from quest to quest, striving to carve out a real life from a virtual game and hoping each time that their next quest will be the leap home.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:07 AM on January 11 [6 favorites]


..striving to carve out a real life from a virtual game and hoping each time that
they're not going to get ganked by xx_w33dgamer420_xx again.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:38 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]


The thing I found hardest to believe was the terrible initial message that Nanette sent herself.

"(S)he's a coder; (s)he's not infallible."
posted by Start with Dessert at 12:07 AM on January 12 [3 favorites]


I found it interesting how reluctant he was to go swimming and that he seemed bewildered that she expressed interest in him. Even in his fantasy world he has an inferiority complex when it comes to romance.
It came off to me, personally, as suspicion over how quickly she seemed to have "change[d her] attitude", rather than inferiority complex -- the whole time I was on tenterhooks that he would see through it.
posted by inconstant at 5:12 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


[One deleted. No spoilers (or spoilery hinting at stuff)! That's only okay with rewatch threads.]
posted by taz at 6:50 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


I thought the point of the no genitals was so they couldn't have sex amongst themselves. So no motivations to act beyond the thrust (pun intended) of the narrative Daly sets. I never stopped feeling anxious that that he had absolute control and could have enacted violence in this way had he chosen to. The fact that character appeared sexually arrested was entirely separate from the potential horror set up by the context - ie it's only not happening right now because he hasn't gone there...yet.
posted by freya_lamb at 9:42 AM on January 18


With regard to Walton's fate, it seems the bottle universe server runs roughly 1:1 time with real life. The characters do things while the captain's gone, the game's actions take place in real time, etc.

So either the universe blew up when the Infinity server detected a "rogue server" and it was deleted, along with Walton, or the rogue server is operating for anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months before it's shut down due to electric bills not getting paid, or Daly's condition being discovered or whatever.

Walton isn't stuck forever, he's stuck for a little while.
posted by explosion at 10:57 AM on January 18


I don't generally watch Black Mirror - a few episodes here and there - but I watched this last night. I'm glad the lack of genitals was explicitly pointed out because otherwise that would've been just too much existential charnel-house of horror going on for me to enjoy it. I had a moment of "wait, how are they getting the user's state from their DNA" but chalked it up to storytelling simplicity and took it as a handwave. I'd rather spend the time on seeing what's up with the characters than, eg, having the pairing protocol for the forehead disks explained to me.

I really liked the progression of Callister establishing shots, from 1960's style SFX through modern SFX, like a progression through the iterations of Trek. (Also reminds me of a tiny kiwi SF movie I saw a couple of years ago).
posted by rmd1023 at 9:36 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


"wait, how are they getting the user's state from their DNA"

The VR chips they stick on their temple are close enough to the personality-copying tech from the Christmas special that I'm head-canoning that Walton hacked the office chips to record brain-states of his victims. The DNA was just for the character model.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:52 PM on January 19 [4 favorites]


I support this headcanon!
posted by rmd1023 at 5:08 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


Wait, no, Daly was the asshole god and Walton was the CEO in the jeffries tube, right? So presumably Daly hacked the chips. But, yeah.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:09 PM on January 19


That's a solid headcanon. I like it.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:24 PM on January 19


Sorry, Daly, yeah.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:24 AM on January 20


It just occurred to me, when Daly turned off the genitals, did he turn off the digestive system too? Or is everyone in a permanent state of having to pee super bad?
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:55 AM on January 20


It just occurred to me, when Daly turned off the genitals, did he turn off the digestive system too?

So not really the comment I expected to be making but...

There was that line about missing being able to take a really good shit. Seeing as it's all just digital I imagine Daly tweaked their coding so that they don't need food or drink and anything ingested merely disappears.


The funny thing to think about for me is that the hidden drinks bar existed on the bridge in the first place. If you consider that Daly would have had to have coded that there himself (I'm assuming they're not in the standard game) it leads to interesting questions.

For me, it first suggested that Daly had earlier used the secret bar as something to impress anyone caught in the web - like some creepy bachelor pad. Perhaps these were copy Shania's early days in the mod.

But then I thought: he's a god in here, what need does he have for impressing anyone? I guess Daly realised he could get what he wants far easier through fear than through love. He doesn't seem to care that his crews adoration isn't genuine but maybe he did once.

I mean there's also the disturbing possibility that digital drinks only get the digital copies drunk. What use would Daly have had for that? Extracting information? Anything he could use to get the upper hand in the real life office? More likely to get accurate information/compliance this way than through torture? Is it merely an example of a carrot/stick approach?

Or maybe it was just another salvo in Daly's quest to break Walton. Perhaps these aren't the first personality copies he'd used for his game (he keeps the DNA samples in the fridge.) Maybe he'd driven past iterations insane and the drinks bar was the panacea he needed to stop them cracking up.

Pretty dark implications to that hidden bar is all I'm saying.
posted by Start with Dessert at 2:47 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


I just assumed the bar was there on the ship in the original show. Certainly Star Trek is no stranger to shipboard bars. Putting it on the bridge rather than in a separate room is not something Trek would do, but it sort of made sense for me as something that would happen on Space Fleet, since the latter is intended to read as a broad (out-of-universe) parody of Star Trek TOS. Parody Kirk would totally have a bar on his bridge.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:50 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


That sounds right seeing as there are galactic named drinks.

Goes right along with the weird making out with the female crew at the end of each "episode." It seemed like Daly didn't do it for the pleasure but because it was all part of playing the role. Man, Space Fleet was messed up.
posted by Start with Dessert at 5:04 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


One thing it reminds me of is that short story where gravity is sideways. Which I think was linked from Metafilter but I've forgotten the name.

I'm really late to this thread, but I believe you're thinking of "Bit Players" by Greg Egan.
posted by teraflop at 11:06 PM on January 20


I liked this. My only problem with it is the very clear story formula underlying it. Things like the new . But I appreciate concerns like this make enjoying a lot of movies/tv difficult. I did really enjoy how they setup a sympathetic nerd protagonist and completely undercut it.

To chime in on the "no genitals" thing. I think it speaks to the sexual qualms of some in the alt right/gamergate movement. Like men-going-their-own-way or anti-masturbation activists. Not the traditional stereotype that they have no sex, but that their whole attitude to the subject is just downright weird.

Also the element of childhood nostalgia to the thing. A barbie doll like innocence. This is a strong negative aspect of a lot of geek culture as a whole. The best games were on the Atari etc etc. The fact that the parody was of the original series Star Trek plays into this. But among the gamergate types it's a radical nostalgia, a call for a return to an era before "videogames were ruined" (i.e. made by women).

In retrospect it's not at all surprising that they threw their lot in with the fascists. One could imagine them making an exhibition of degenerate videogames.
posted by Erberus at 3:39 PM on January 22


One could imagine them making an exhibition of degenerate videogames.

An interesting Google search in that direction, where most of the hits are pre-/non-GG white supremacist sources dismissing games as a degenerate medium entirely. (I have distinct memories of Milo in particular taking that kind of stance before he decided that leeching off of the media attention around GG would be an easy way to raise the profile of his brand.)

As for GG types themselves, experience tells me that they're more likely in general to attack specific games that cross their radar as degenerate than they are to put in the time and effort to curate an actual list of degenerate games.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:53 PM on January 22


Though it does seem kind of backward to me that the vanilla version of this game has genitals, while the modded version does not.
posted by RobotHero at 6:25 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


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