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USS Callister is the first episode of season four of Black Mirror. It was written by Charlie Brooker & William Bridges and was released on December 29, 2017.

Short Summary[]

Capt. Robert Daly presides over his crew with wisdom and courage. But a new recruit will soon discover nothing on this spaceship is what is seems.

Full Summary[]

Captain Robert Daly (Jesse Plemons) and his crew are aboard a spaceship, the USS Callister, trying to defeat their arch enemy Valdack (Billy Magnussen). They destroy Valdack's ship, but he escapes. The crew celebrates, Daly kissing both female crewmates.

The real-life version of Daly is Chief Technical Officer at Callister Inc. The company was co-founded by Daly and James Walton (Jimmi Simpson), the company's Chief Executive Officer, which produces the multiplayer game Infinity, in which users control a starship in a simulated reality. Daly is treated poorly by his fellow employees, who appear identical to Captain Daly's crewmates. New programmer Nanette Cole (Cristin Milioti) praises Daly's work on Infinity, but the more assertive Walton interrupts to take her on a tour. When Daly returns home, he opens a development build of Infinity which is modded to resemble his favourite television show Space Fleet. As Captain Daly, he berates the crewmates, strangling a subservient Walton, who eventually takes his apparently-expected position as Daly's footstool.

After employee Shania Lowry (Michaela Coel) warns Cole to beware of Daly, he takes a disposed coffee cup of Cole's and uses her DNA to replicate her consciousness within his development build. Cole awakens aboard the USS Callister, confused and distraught. The crew is kind and welcoming; Lowry explains that they are digital clones of Callister Inc. staff members. Cole attempts to escape the ship but is teleported back. She refuses to cooperate with Daly's commands, so he removes her facial features, calmly explaining that she won't die, but will sightlessly, continuously suffocate. Eventually, she relents and takes her position at a console.

The crew embark on a mission in which they apprehend Valdack but spare his life. After Daly leaves, Cole finds a way to send a game invite containing a message for help to the real-world Cole. The real-life Cole asks the real-life Daly about the message, and he dismisses it as spam. Daly enters the game to interrogate his crew, and transforms Lowry into a monster when she defends Cole. Once he departs, Cole identifies a distant wormhole as an uplink to Infinity's next update; she surmises that by flying into the wormhole, the firewall will delete them and they will die. Walton is very hesitant to help; he explains that Daly once recreated his son Tommy within the game, and threw the boy out of an airlock to punish Walton. Daly vowed to repeat it as often as necessary to secure Walton's compliance. Cole promises they will destroy the lollipop containing Tommy's DNA, eventually gaining Walton's agreement to help the plan.

When Daly next arrives, Cole plays fully into her role and convinces him to take her on a mission to Skillane IV alone. She strips to her underwear and runs into nearby water; Daly reluctantly follows her in, leaving behind the omnicorder which allows him to control the game. Based on a plan of Cole's devising, the crew teleport the omnicorder onto their ship, and use it to access sexual images of Cole on her PhotoCloud account. They use those photos to blackmail the real-life Cole into ordering a pizza to Daly's apartment, then breaking-in to steal the DNA samples when he answers the door. They teleport Cole onto the ship using the omnicorder. As Daly returns to his body on Skillane IV, he discovers the crew are attempting to escape to the wormhole. He commandeers a crashed spaceship to pursue them through an asteroid belt. The Callister collides with an asteroid, disabling the engines, allowing Daly to close the distance. Walton repairs the engine manually, knowing that it will incinerate him, but not kill him. This allows the the ship to accelerate into the wormhole, which closes before Daly can traverse it.

The crew reawakens in an updated, but non-Space Fleet version of Infinity with re-humanized Lowry and Valdack. The firewall has detected Daly's modded build and locked his controls, rendering him physically unable to exit the game as it is destroyed around him. Meanwhile, the crew continues their adventure with Cole leading them, after interacting with an annoyed real-world user "Gamer691" (Aaron Paul).


Notes and Trivia[]

  • Kirsten Dunst (Jesse Plemons' fiance) makes a cameo appearance in this episode as a Callister employee.
  • Gamer691 is voiced by Aaron Paul.
  • Jesse Plemons (Robert Daly) and Aaron Paul were famous working together previously on American TV show "Breaking Bad". They later returned to their roles (Todd Alquist and Jesse Pinkman, respectively) in the film "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie".
  • The two planets named in this episode are Rannoch and Skillane, which were the surnames of Jemima Sykes' killers in White Bear.
  • Lowry being transformed into a monster references the popular "Red shirts die first" trope prevelent in many Star Trek adventures, wherein characters with red uniforms would often die first at a much higher rate compared to those with blue or yellow uniforms
    • This reference is compounded by Daly, the only other member of the crew with a red uniform, being the only character to actually die in the real world, unlike the others who were simply code
  • In Black Museum, one of the exhibits is the lollipop with Tommy's DNA in the assimilation machine.
  • There's a poster for the fictional video game Skinned Alive (similar to the one seen in Playtest) in Robert Daly's apartment.
  • The dating app that Elena is briefly seen using will later appear in Hang the DJ.
  • Michaela Coel previously appeared in Nosedive as the check-in manager who refused to let Lacie Pound on the plane.
  • In Men Against Fire Raiman mentioned she grew up on a farm and here we see Robert drinking Raiman brand milk.
  • Bandersnatch first references Space Fleet briefly in an article in the Sun newspaper, where it reveals that the third chapter of the series has just been released(during the events of the 80's segment of the story). Later during the present day segment, the UKN news ticker reveals that the cast of Space Fleet has reunited to appear at the Emmys.


Co-creator Annabel Jones disclosed the following information about the episode: "USS Callister is a space opera. The challenges of trying to create that world, and obviously getting to play with the genre, opened a whole new opportunity. But I think we’ve put a clever spin on it. It’s a romp – it’s big and ambitious with lots of CG. It’s an absolute visual feast and really high octane. There are obviously more unsettling, poignant and slightly more melancholic moments, but at the same time, it is a romp. It’s such a treat for a filmmaker to be making a film this epic."


Episode Stills[]