The first episode of Season 4’s Black Mirror had a pretty straightforward ending, didn’t it? Well, not exactly. Viewers who are taking some time to think about the episode are realizing that the ending isn’t quite as happy as we were led to believe. In fact, much like San Junipero, there’s a twist to this ending that might leave it darker than you realized when you first finished the episode. This post, of course, will have spoilers for Black Mirror’s USS Callister episode.
The entire episode was dark enough without considering a different viewpoint on the ending. Just consider the premise. Capt. Daly was actually CTO Daly, and he was taking the DNA of coworkers who had “wronged” him, creating digital cookie copies of them, and inserting them permanently into his game. He was god there and could torture them however much he wanted. And if Callister takes place after cookies had been granted human rights, then Daly knew they had sentience and was doing this anyway.
In the end, our heroes break free, enter the real online world of Infinity, and Daly is stuck locked into a tiny section of his game. He had set his door to “Do Not Disturb,” so by the time anyone finds him, he’ll likely be dead. He won’t have any way to give himself water to stay hydrated, and since everyone’s leaving for Christmas break, it could be a while before anyone even realizes something’s wrong and breaks through his “do not disturb” door setting.
And sure, after everything Daly did, we’re not too upset about this. But we’re forgetting about Nanette in the real world. Yes, her digital cookie is free and enjoying her online freedom. But real-Nanette was just blackmailed into breaking into Daly’s house and stealing items from his refrigerator and switching out the headpiece he uses to connect to the game.
What if Daly has security cameras in his home? The CTO of a company this huge likely does. Will Nanette be accused of murdering him? He did get caught in the game, which will cause him to die. And security footage may show that she was the last one there, and she switched out some of his tech. Even without security footage, they’ll likely find her fingerprints if they investigate at all. And even if that doesn’t happen, she’ll always live with the guilt that someone blackmailed her into causing Daly’s death. She may live in fear of being caught. (Does that sound like another episode from this season?) So things aren’t looking so great for Real Life Nanette, who kind of liked Daly until she was warned away from him (and part of her might still like him.)
And consider this… Daly was the genius who programmed the world of Infinity. What if no one else can quite do what he’s done? There’s a chance his death might end up breaking down the Infinity world, hurting our heroes. Of course, they were ready to die just to get away from him, so they’d likely prefer this possibility to Daly still being around. But still… I can’t shake the feeling of Real Life Nanette and where all this may leave her. Hopefully, her digital clone in the game will reach out to her and let her know what happened. If digital cookies now have human rights at this point in the timeline, the police might even listen to Digital Nanette if Real Life Nanette gets arrested… Provided they find out what happened.