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Playtest is the second episode of season three of Black Mirror. It was written by Charlie Brooker and was released on October 21, 2016.

Short Summary[]

An American traveller short on cash signs up to test a revolutionary new gaming system, only to discover the thrills are a little too real.

Full Summary[]

Cooper, a man living with his mother, leaves home to travel the world. He keeps ignoring his mother's calls, feeling unable to connect to her following his father developing early onset Alzheimer's and dying. In London, shortly before he plans to return home, he meets Sonja. After spending the night with her, he goes to withdraw money only to discover that someone has stolen his banking information, and he does not have enough money in his account to buy a return flight back home.

He goes back to Sonja's flat where she asks him what he's going to do. He shows her an app he uses when he's run short of money before, Oddjobs, which gives him various jobs he can complete for money. Sonja looks through it and finds one for gamer testing and shows it to him. He sees it's for a video game company, SaitoGemu. Sonja explains that they make horror games, and he recognises the one she mentions by name. She points out that if he can get pictures of what the company is currently working on, it could make him rich.

At the company's building, Katie meets him and takes him to a white room where he can test out a new technology that the company has. She has him leave his backpack in the waiting area and confiscates his phone, turning it off before they enter the white room. When the signature page is missing from the NDA agreement, she leaves the room and he jumps up, turns his phone back on and takes a picture of the equipment, sending it to Sonja. He quickly sits back down before Katie comes back. He signs the form and injects a piece of tech into the back of his head. Katie starts the tech, and his phone suddenly vibrates from his mom calling because he didn't turn it back off. Katie says she thought she turned it off and does so again.

Cooper plays a game of Whack-a-Mole using the 3D graphics technology of the chip and enjoys it massively. After it is over, Katie asks him if he wishes to participate in another experiment at the company and introduces him to Shou Saito who runs the company. He talks to Cooper about the new technology, which is designed to read his brain and use his own fears to scare him. Cooper agrees to take part in the next trial since it involves more money. Katie takes him to a mansion identical to one that appeared in another SaitoGemu video game and gives him an earpiece to communicate with him before leaving. After a few small jump scares, interspersed with a nervous conversation with Katie, the earpiece stops working and Sonja turns up at the house unexpectedly, telling Cooper that he is in danger. He thinks she is another hologram created by the technology but can actually physically touch her. She finds a knife and Cooper starts getting worried. She stalks him with the knife, he turns to run to be confronted by a mutant spider and she stabs him in the shoulder with it as he yells in pain. They struggle, fall to the floor and he eventually impales her, now a skinless skull, on the knife. After a minute of intense pain, the knife disappears, as does Sonja.

Katie resumes talking in his earpiece, telling Cooper he needs to go to the "access point" in the house, as he wants the test to stop. Convinced she is just trying to scare him, he makes his way to the access point. Katie starts asking him questions and he realises he is losing his memories, to the point where he does not recognise himself in the mirror. Katie and Shou burst through the door, saying the technology has gone too far into his brain, and cannot be shut off.

He seemingly wakes up, back in Shou's office where they started the experiment; Shou apologises for the terror he caused Cooper, saying that the game was not designed to go that far. Cooper returns home to his mother, who does not recognise him. She repeats over and over that she needs to call Cooper and starts dialling his number on her phone.

It is revealed that Cooper is still in the white room where Katie first took him. He experiences some sort of electric shock and falls to the floor, dead, as Katie watches. Cooper's phone is ringing. Shou enters the room, asking what happened, and Katie says that the phone must have interfered with the technology. Shou tells Katie to report the test to the database. Katie does so, as Cooper's body is being disposed of in a bag. She notes that the experiment lasted 0.04 seconds, the cause of death was Cooper's phone and that he called "Mom" as he died.


  • Wyatt Russell as Cooper Redfield
  • Hannah John-Kamen as Sonja
  • Wunmi Mosaku as Katie
  • Ken Yamamura as Shou Saito
  • Elizabeth Moynihan as Cooper's Mum
  • Jamie Paul as Rick Peters
  • Jessica Nell as Scared Girl on Plane

Notes and Trivia[]

  • The phrase Katie uses late in the episode, "Would you kindly open the door?," is likely a reference to the video game Bioshock.
  • A news ticker in the episode Loch Henry makes mention of Cooper Redfield's death, seemingly placing the events of Playtest as occurring at some point simultaneous to the events of Loch Henry which in turn is shown to occur in 2019 by a newspaper shown in the episode.
  • Cooper's surname Redfield is possibly a reference to brother and sister Chris and Claire Redfield, long-serving protagonists of the Resident Evil franchise.


Episode Stills[]