The new season of Black Mirror hasn’t been out for long, but it’s already being praised around the world for its horrifying twists on some well-known narratives – the overlooked ‘nice guy’, the controlling parent, and soulmates. Whilst the head-spinning plot twists and dark themes are nothing new to Black Mirror fans, the introduction of the first space-themed episode is.
But the new space setting wasn’t the only thing turning fans’ heads in the season 4 pilot episode – it was also one of the rare Black Mirror episodes to feature a vaguely happy ending. Once villain Robert Daly (Jesse Plemons) is trapped in his virtual game for eternity, essentially dead in the real world, and the protagonists have escaped through the wormhole into a universe without the cruel overshadow of their former space dictator, our heroes are free to wonder the undiscovered galaxy to their hearts’ content. This sort of ending is not often seen in Black Mirror – the villain getting his comeuppance and the protagonists prevailing, particularly being led by a woman.
However, there are also some questions still left open at the end of the episode. What happens to everyone stuck in the virtual reality – are they there forever and will Daly ever make his way back to them? In an exploration of the contrast between the real and fiction world too, what happens when Daly’s real dead body is discovered – especially since heroine Nanette Cole’s (Cristin Milioti) fingerprints are all over his apartment? In true Black Mirror style, it would make an utterly compelling plot-line — to watch the contrast between the happy protagonists flying through space in the virtual game, and real life Nanette possibly facing murder charges, either without any clue of what is happening to the other. Actress Cristin Milioti and Toby Haynes, director of USS Callister, both agree that this episode, in particular, would make for an interesting spin-off show.
Milioti comments on her fondness for the episode and the people within it, mentioning to the Hollywood Reporter how fun it would be to do a spin-off show with them:
I would die if they turned this into a spinoff series because I do want to see that group of people figure it out, because it’s so real. They’re very funny and very dysfunctional, but it’s also a group of coworkers from an office — it’s like The Office in space.
In the same interview, she also acknowledges possible plot-lines for a spin-off:
If this were ever a spinoff, in the fake world she would be kicking ass and battling aliens. And then there is the real world where her prints have been found inside Daly’s apartment. He’s dead in his apartment and she has to figure that out. It’s pretty remarkable, I can’t believe what comes out of [Brooker and Jones’] brains.
Director Toby Haynes similarly expresses his excitement at the idea of a USS Callister spin-off in a different interview:
I’d love to do a TV series of “USS Callister” — it’s probably one of the best pilots for a space show ever. And I made it! So I’m keen to see it as a TV series.
Whilst there have been mixed feelings from fans about the possibility of a USS Callister spin-off, it seems right to say that, when it comes to Black Mirror, you can never really predict what’s coming next.