The premiere episode of Black Mirror Season 4 establishes itself as an obvious homage to Star Trek right from the get-go (the episode itself borrowing elements from Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Hollow Pursuits) with the introduction of Captain Kirk analogue Captain Robert Daly (Jesse Plemons) and his Space Fleet crew aboard the USS Callister.
The USS Callister, as it turns out, is not what it seems; minutes into the episode it’s revealed that real life Robert Daly is Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of Callister Inc., creators of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Infinity — which players link to with neural interfaces. Daly, who is bullied by his co-workers, develops a surreptitious modded corner of the game where he has uploaded digital clones of co-workers at Callister Inc. after obtaining their DNA. As you can imagine, Daly’s actions aboard the Infinity-based USS Callister are largely effected by how he’s treated in real life at the office — and as it turns out, it’s not all fun and games. Nanette Cole (Cristin Milioti), the newest employee uploaded into the game by Daly looks to free the clones (who have the corresponding thoughts, emotions and memories of their real-life counterparts) of their digital slavery.
In a recent interview with Hollywood Reporter, Milioti sang praises for her character’s role (which she accepted after reading only a few pages of the script) and discussed the possibility of resuming it in the future:
… It’s amazing to see this woman fight to win this battle against this small-minded, misogynistic bully. Especially because we shot this episode right after Trump was elected. To say that wasn’t going through my mind would be a lie.
I get to play this woman who is not fixated on who she’s dating or whose love interest she is. To play that is, regrettably, so extremely rare, but it is getting so much better. It’s incredible, it felt like flying. I’ve been really lucky that I’ve gotten to play a lot of very strong women, but I’ve also been pretty picky because a lot of what comes around is not that. And not that I have some sort of decree that I will only play strong women — because, really, every woman is strong. But it’s an incredible thrill to play a fully realized person and not just some foil or sex object.
When informed that episode director Toby Haynes was interested in developing ideas for a spin-off based on the USS Callister episode, Milioti expressed her strong approval:
We would talk about that a lot at the end of filming. I would die if they turned this into a spinoff series because I do want to see that group of people figure it out, because it’s so real. They’re very funny and very dysfunctional, but it’s also a group of coworkers from an office — it’s like The Office in space. They’re stuck in this thing they didn’t even create and they would just have to battle aliens. It’s such an incredible concept. Maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part, but I would love to see that.
What did you think of Black Mirror Season 4, Episode 1 “USS Callister”? Would you watch a spin-off series based on the episode if Cristin Milioti and others were to resume their roles? Sound off in the comments.
More: 3 Star Wars references you may have missed in Black Mirror S4E1 “USS Callister.