If you’re anything like us here at GEEK, you’ve either already binged the latest season of Black Mirror, which debuted on December 29th, or you want to. And because we hate to spoil things… beware of spoilers below.
This season started off with a zinger, an episode that fully embodied the trials of tech that are the show’s bread and butter. USS Callister, written by Charlie Brooker & William Bridges, and directed by Toby Haynes, tells the tale of the crew of a virtual ship run by a seemingly sympathetic captain which quickly turns into a thing of nightmares. Jesse Plemons embodies the just-over-the-top swagger of William Shatner, with a dash of total creepazoid. The ship and costumes are a fun homage to the classic look of Star Trek, though James T. Kirk didn’t need to go to such lengths to get a girl. Haynes approached the theme as a fan:
I’m probably a bigger Star Trek fan than [creator] Charlie [Brooker] is. As a kid, I was a super-geek for all things sci-fi on TV, particularly Doctor Who. I knew the original ‘60s Star Trek show very well. I was such a fan that I’m kind of reverential about it, so I was happy to play fast and loose with this version. I knew stuff that Charlie didn’t know, which is why we put Michaela Coel in a red outfit. Michaela had to be in a red outfit because she’s the first of the crew to get killed.
At first, we find Robert Daly to be a sympathetic character, but it doesn’t take long before his darker side is revealed. Plemons puts on a nuanced performance that has you wanting to both comfort the quiet CTO and run from him all at once. Of course, every captain needs a good crew, and the rest of the cast – Cristin Milioti, Jimmi Simpson, Michaela Coel, Billy Mangussen, Milanka Brooks, Osy Ikhile and Paul G. Raymond – all give equally stellar performances, creating distinct personalities for the real world and game world in which they have been tortured by their captor.
While the episode itself was one of the shows best, it isn’t all that has fans talking. Two big name stars appeared in the episode, but if you weren’t paying attention you may have missed them. Kirsten Dunst, who happens to be engaged to Plemons, was onset to visit her fiance when Haynes told The Hollywood Reporter she asked to “play”:
She was sitting on set with Jesse and was like, ‘Can I play?’ I said, ‘sure,’ and we placed her in the background.
The cameo is mere seconds, but some sharp-eyed fans were quick to catch it,
Kirsten Dunst deserves an Emmy for this quiet, nuanced performance in Black Mirror pic.twitter.com/CR3jF32m86
— * (@UmbilicalKordei) December 31, 2017
Dunst wasn’t the only one to lend a moment or two to the episode, but the other cameo came in the form of a voice. After defeating the uber-creepy captain, the crew and their newly minted Captain Cole (Milioti) come in contact with Gamer691. “So are we going to blow each other, or are we going to trade?” he says, warning the ship to get out of his quadrant before he “blasts them to shit.” The voice belongs to none other than Breaking Bad alum Aaron Paul. Haynes talked about having Paul, a fan himself, on the show:
We went through about three versions looking for the right accent. Initially we were a bit broader in the comedy and Charlie was uncomfortable with it; he didn’t want to talk down to gamers. It was a hard balance to get; where the voice wasn’t patronizing and yet was still a letdown. You get this idea of a slacker voice and when I asked Charlie what kind of accent he wanted he said, ‘How about Jesse from Breaking Bad, like, ‘Hey ya’ll’? We mentioned that to our casting director and she suggested we just ask Aaron, so we picked up the phone and he said yes. That shows you the power of Black Mirror.
Paul had one stipulation to his involvement, “He very sweetly said he would only do it if it didn’t take him out from doing another episode,” said Annabel Jones, co-producer.
The final moments, when Captain Cole hits the hyper-warp into a potentially awesome future in which the DNA replicas live on inside the game, leaves you with a sense of promise, and fans are hoping that promise could mean a spin-off. Haynes isn’t doing anything to dissuade them:
I was talking with Louise Sutton, who produced this and “Metalhead,” and she cooked up a brilliant idea of spinning it off into a TV series. 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. I think Charlie might revisit it as a Black Mirror. Whether I’m the one to do it, I don’t know. Being a fan of the show as much as I am, and being a part of making it, I’d love to work with that crew and cast again. It’s a gift for a director.
A space show staring Milioti as the wicked smart and totally badass Captain Cole? That sounds like a gift for an audience! Did you catch the cameos? Want a spin-off? Let us know in the comments below, and visit us on GEEK FB.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter