Black Mirror’s Striking Vipers has managed to walk the series fine line between the real and fake once again but left viewers baffled with what exactly happened.
The episode, which was written by series creator Charlie Brooker, saw two best friend Danny (Anthony Mackie) and Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) start a sexual relationship in a computer game – a virtual reality fighting game.
As their intense relationship gets heavier, Danny’s wife Theo (Nicole Beharie) remains completely unaware – suspecting her husband of an affair but never in what capacity. When confronted, Danny insists that he’s not cheating on her.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Charlie explained: ‘I think there’s a bit of a porn analogy going on. There’s definitely a commentary on male awkwardness or trying to negotiate what this friendship is in this big curve.
‘The big spanner goes in the works and they’re not quite sure who they are in a way and what they mean to each other and how they express that, and there is a way where you can communicate.’
However, Charlie added that this isn’t just an issue with Danny and Karl – but Theo as well.
‘It’s not just between the men – the three of them, there’s a problem with communication, there’s some sort of block that goes on throughout the episode. So all of the above.
‘There’s definitely similar tech to San Junipero and the way it plays out is very different. We were sort of thinking of things like porn and an analogy for that that hopefully isn’t grubby.’
The series ends with everyone discovering the truth and the effects the game has had on their real lives – with Karl acknowledging Danny doesn’t have a romantic interest in him away from the game, Danny realising the trouble he’s caused and Theo deciding to let him continue with the game under restricted circumstances.
‘One of the things I found fascinating about writing it, is that I don’t quite know where I stand on a lot of the issues,’ Charlie continued. ‘I don’t have an answer to that. Yes and No is the answer to a lot of those things. Is he being unfaithful? Yes he definitely is, but also no he isn’t because it’s not really happening.
‘Then again, it sort of is really happening… Is this a homosexual relationship they’re having? Yes it is, but also no, it isn’t. So there’s all sorts of stuff going on.’
As a result, it’s something that Owen Harris, who directed Striking Vipers as well as fan favourites Be Right Back and San Junipero, deliberately kept ambiguous.
Speaking about his choice to Hollywood Reporter, he said: ‘We looked at a bunch of different endings and this was the one that we settled on. It was always written to end with ambiguity.’
‘I think that’s a good description for this one — pragmatic,’ he continued. ‘You could have taken it in quite a number of different directions, but this ending probably asks no less and no more questions than any other routes.
‘We had extra elements that we tried with the ending that pushed in slightly one direction, in terms of how successful this solution is for the marriage.’
On what lies ahead for the trio, especially the state of Danny and Theo’s marriage, Owen added: ‘A sacrifice is being made.
‘They are challenging themselves to see whether this is actually going to save their marriage and I do like the idea that they are going to take that challenge.’
Black Mirror’s Striking Vipers is available on Netflix now.
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