Hi everyone, it's incredibly cold (but snowy, yay!!) outside, so there's nothing better to do than snuggle in and watch a probably unsettling episode of Black Mirror. Rolling S4:E01 USS Callister after the break.
We open into an episode of Star Trek, where a chubby Matt Damon lookalike is directing a number of stereotypes to avoid something crashy. I see one face I know! It's Walton (Jimmi Simpson who is also known as That Guy? You Know, The Guy With The ...Face? from everything or the jerk from Loser. I loved Loser, sorrynotsorry) and chubby Matt Damon is Robert Daly (Jesse Plemons), we'll get to everybody as we go!
Nerdy crewman Kabir Dudani (Paul G. Raymond) Sexy Alien Crewperson Elena Tulaska (Milanka Brooks), Nate Packer (Osy Ikhile) and Shania (Michaela Coel - the only person who made a minute of S3:E1 Nosedive watchable) help the Captain save the ship and defeat a shouty guy Valdack ((Billy Magnussen) looking very Ricardo Montalban!). There's a crystal at stake? Plus lots of kissing
Annnnd we're back in reality where Robert Daly is fighting a receding hairline and being invisible to sexy now-non Alien Elena. He has a little bit of trouble entering Callister (not renewed?) then he makes Nate Packer get him a coffee. Wtf?
It's just like real life because everyone just stares at their phones!
Okay, quick runthrough: Walton is actually CEO, Daly is CTO (which I didn't know was a thing until Mr. Robot) and Valdack and Shania are people who ignore Daly, then laugh lots at his back.
Enter Nanette Cole (Cristin Milioti), who is almost breathless getting to meet her idol, the creator of Infinity. Apparently the "procedural algorithm is amazing" and it has "beautiful....code." Daly is wary but receptive and they talk about his VHS collection of Star Fleet (streaming on Netflix) until Walton bursts in and steals her away for a tour.
There's an update due this weekend but Bob is too busy staring at Nanette getting along with everyone famously and being handed Bob's vanilla skim latte by Nate. Bob isn't listening to Kabir saying "no way this weekend." He heads home to abuse Walton in his system.
Captain Daly has LOTS more hair when he's in the system. And is clearly working out some issues.
Nanette offers to get Bob his vanilla latte with skim milk! He's so happy. Nanette gets the 411 on Walton from Shania at the coffee machine.
But also warned off from Daly, even though Nanette loves Bob's beautiful code (Bob is totally listening), she should give him a wide berth because he gets starey.
I kind of hated Shania right then.
One person. One person who respected and liked him. One.
Okay, so Bob's kinda starey. He's been looking at Nanette ALL DAY. Then he snags the cup she was drinking from, does he need DNA to put her in his game system?
That is so creepy.
And there she is, in his game system.
But like Black Mirror S2:E4 White Christmas, she doesn't seem to know she is code, she thinks she's a person! She's on the USS Callister!
She makes it to the bridge, where she's greeted by all the people she's pretty sure she's met already, someone says something about a new girl in the office and we laugh out loud.
Except it's not really funny, Bob's trapped all of these bits of AI here thinking they're people with no connection to the outside world. Nate's bummed he's still an intern but Walton just wants to know if he looks thin.
Basically: it's "a bubble universe ruled by an a**hole god." And nobody can get out, ever.
The lights dim, "Daddy's home!" and Nanette makes a run for it, to be brought right back to the bridge.
She defies Captain Daly, losing her face and the ability to breathe or see. Does she submit? She won't die.
I bet any number of his captives wish he would let them die.
I no longer feel bad for Robert Daly and his existence on actual earth.
Time for a mission! Science Officer Nanette Cole is brought along to prove her mettle and submission (course). Valdack is there with his giant crabs (not a euphemism) but Bob's gotta pause for a minute.
Oh that giant crab is Jillian from Marketing who refused to play along and now I want pizza.
We're back! Listening to the crew deal with Bob's ridiculous endless masturbatory roleplaying is almost as funny as watching Nanette roll her eyes and try to figure out her unarmed martial artist stance.
She draws the line when he tries to kiss her during For He's A Jolly Good Fellow but after a tense standoff he creepily shows her mercy. Daddy's out!
The crew relaxes and drinks, she'll get used to the kissing, honest! There are no tongues in space, and hey: no lady or man parts either! There's no sensation, everyone's a Barbie doll but guess what everyone misses more than sex? Pooping.
Nanette's heard enough, she's furious. "Stealing my p**** is a red f*cking line!"
She's thinking now, there must be some contact with the outside world because we all saw Bob's pizza arrive. She hacks expertly and...can contact one person, 140 characters or less. But who will she tell?
She tells herself, BUT the message looks like an Infinity Game invite from Robert...so Real Nanette asks Real Robert...and yeah.
Robert is very angry on the USS Callister. They aren't appreciating his wholesome universe!! Shania steps in front of Nanette and is turned into a giant crabby-thingy. Nanette can just stay there and think about her attitude.
Nanette cries as we remember how we felt sorry for Robert and his exclusion at the hands of his more-confident co-workers.
She spies a flash far away, that's the Christmas Eve update patch! They could fly into it and hit the firewall and die!
All they need to do is get Daly's phone-thingy and call Real Nanette, who will do anything to protect her Photo Cloud pics from going public.
Walton's out, out but oh the reason.
Daly made a digital clone of Walton's six-year-old son Tommy (Tom Mulheron) and then murdered him in front of Walton to bring him in line. And he can do it again and again, because he has Tommy's DNA in his mini-fridge, where he has ALL of them.
Science Officer Cole wangles a solo trip with the Captain to check on a downed shuttle, she takes off her dress and jumps into a body of water, maybe they could play Captain Rescues The Grateful Science Officer!
The bridge crew contacts Real Nanette with Daly's phone-thingy and threatens her with some super cute photos so she's off to Daly's apartment to empty the mini-fridge, join the game and switch out his headbud thingy while an unexpected pizza shows up.
Now I really really want pizza.
The bogus headbud buys them a few minutes, it's full speed ahead to the wormhole. Seriously, Nanette is the best Star Fleet captain ever! she's great at motivating and decision-making, honestly. She's excellent.
Daly makes it back to the downed shuttle as the USS Callister flies through an asteroid belt, he monologues over the intercom about getting biblical on their collective arses until Elena shuts him off with an eff him.
They lost all thrust right before the wormhole, they need Scottie!!! They do have a Walton, who wants to be patched through the Daly right before he dies a fiery never-ending non-death.
Not to gloat, but rather to talk about how he would like to say sorry for not appreciating Daly, for exploiting his genius and living off Daly's lifework, but...then Daly threw his son out an airlock, so "f*ck you to death!"
They make it!! They die! Except not, they look like themselves and Daly's code has been deleted, which means he's stuck in his world and has no control anymore. He can't exit, he can't do anything but drool as he sits in front of his computer, brain locked an infinite world away.
But Nanette and the rest of the gang are online! Gamer 691 (you KNOW there's always a 69 - hey, it's Aaron Paul!) wants to know what they have to trade? Nothing? Then get the eff oot of his quadrant!
Bravo Jimmi Simpson, I didn't know you had the Tommy scene in you! Kudos! I absolutely adore watching Michaela Coel, here as Shania, her face is so wonderfully expressive and her comic timing is perfect.
It's interesting that this was written in the time before #MeToo because it addresses all the main points. The abuse of underlings by any means necessary to flex muscles but not for sex, just power. The inability to report anything. How much better it would be if women were in charge, you know, the basics! Okay okay, not everything needs to be run by women, but you can see how much better things go when you work on a model of empowerment and WITH your team as opposed to ruling through fear.
A couple of notes struck false (stealing my...) and when Nanette took over hacking, proclaiming boldly that it hadn't yet been hacked by her. I'm not entirely sure men know how to write an empowered female, it seems to always involve using bad words, staredowns and allusions to genitalia and / or promiscuity. None of those things are exclusive of empowerment, but they aren't also ALL of it, which you might mistake from watching such shows.
Storywise, it was a pretty basic Black Mirror episode, I've seen the Sentient Code episode already, it was called White Christmas and I did it on Christmas this year! Yaaay. It also set us up in making the bad guy seem like the good guy, which is a Black Mirror hallmark, seen in Shut Up And Dance, White Bear and Men Against Fire which was slightly more complicated than that but still. I am looking forward to enjoying the rest of this season, cheers!