Striking Vipers is the first episode of Season 5's Black Mirror. It aired on 5 June 2019.
Twenty-seven-year-old Danny Parker (Anthony Mackie) and his girlfriend Theo (Nicole Beharie) go to a bar and pretend to be strangers. After they have sex, he plays the fighting game Striking Vipers with his friend Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Eleven years later, Danny hosts a barbecue at his house with his now wife Theo, with whom he has a 3-year-old child. He has fallen out of contact with Karl, who is in a relationship with a woman called Mariella (Fola Evans-Akingbola). Karl arrives at the party and gives him a birthday present: Striking Vipers X along with the virtual reality disc needed to play the game.
The pair play the game—Karl chooses the character Roxette (Pom Klementieff) while Danny plays as Lance (Ludi Lin). As they enter the game, they fall back motionless on their couches. Danny gets accustomed to his new body of Lance and the pair play Round 1 of the game, in which Karl uses his character's special powers against Danny. Danny feels real pain as his character is hurt, though his injuries immediately disappear at the end of the round. After the game, Karl and Danny's characters fall onto each other and the pair kiss. After a few seconds, Danny pulls away and exits the game.
Over the next few weeks, Danny and Karl have sex with each other in the game as the characters Lance and Roxette. Theo notices a change in her relationship with Danny as he stops wanting to have sex with her, despite their plan to conceive another child. On the pair's wedding anniversary, which Danny had forgotten, Theo takes him to dinner and talks to him about the newfound distance in their relationship, asking him if there is anything going on. Danny promises that nothing is. Later that night, he locks the Striking Vipers X game in a cabinet. Karl continues to message Danny until he finally accepts a phone call, saying that the pair's activities in the game need to stop. Karl denies that it is cheating but Danny says that they both know it is not right.
Seven months later, it is Danny's birthday and Theo invites Karl for dinner as a surprise. When Theo leaves the room, Karl describes how he has tried to have sex in the game with the automated characters and with other players; he says nothing can recreate the feeling of having sex in the game with Danny. The pair enter the game and have sex again. Danny asks to meet up in real life; they kiss in their normal bodies to see if there is any connection between them, but both of them say they feel nothing. As Danny says what they are doing must stop, Karl becomes angry and the pair fight. A passing police car notices the pair and arrests them.
The next day, Theo picks up Danny from the police station. She is frustrated in the car ride home as Danny is silent. In the final scene, it is Danny's birthday. He and his wife have an arrangement where Danny can play Striking Vipers X and have virtual sex with Karl on his birthday, whilst Theo can go out to a bar and meet up with a stranger.
- Anthony Mackie as Danny
- Nicole Beharie as Theo
- Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Karl
- Pom Klementieff as Roxette
- Ludi Lin as Lance
|Episodes in "Black Mirror"|
|Season 1||• The National Anthem • Fifteen Million Merits • The Entire History of You •|
|Season 2||• Be Right Back • White Bear • The Waldo Moment •|
|Season 3||• Nosedive • Playtest • Shut Up and Dance • San Junipero • Men Against Fire • Hated in the Nation •|
|Season 4||• USS Callister • Arkangel • Crocodile • Hang the DJ • Metalhead • Black Museum •|
|Season 5||• Striking Vipers • Smithereens • Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too •|
|Specials||• White Christmas • Bandersnatch •|