Black Mirror S5E1: Striking Viper – Episode Discussion, Ending Explained

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Black Mirror: Season 5 Episode 1 Striking Viper

The first episode of the three new Black Mirror episodes that make up season 5 got off to a quick start. It saw some familiar themes from Black Mirror. Let’s break down the episode, look at the themes, explain the ending and look at how the episode connects to the rest of the Black Mirror universe. 

A few have referred to this episode as being “Brokeblack Mirror” with fitting memes following. The episode has some major themes that have been covered several times before but also featured some new ones.

It also tackles identity a little and gender, in particular, showing how the future will blur the lines with virtual reality. Without a physical body, it allows you to explore sexuality and fluidity in a virtual world.

Back in U.S.S McCalister, Robert Daly (played by Jesse Plemons) struggled with his real-world self and projected who he wanted to be in the game.

The episode also raises questions about what qualifies as cheating in the modern world.

We’ve seen back in U.S.S McCalister that VR worlds are particularly addicting and allows you to lose your self-identity, something Danny and Karl were struggling with.

A lot of the episode focuses on escapism. Danny clearly looks unfulfilled with his job and that potentially spills into his marriage too.

Black Mirror: Striking Viper Ending Explained

Were Danny and Theo separated at the end of Striking Viper?

Somewhat it seems. We see Theo able to live out her evenings being chased at the bar while Danny is able to live out his sexual life inside the video game.

Theo does look like she continues wearing her wedding ring suggesting the pair are still married but have a free pass to date outside the marriage.

Danny said earlier on in the episode he’d do anything to keep it working for his now two kids and they’ve clearly come to some arrangement.

Striking Vipers video game – Pedro Saad

Was the relationship foreshadowed?

At the beginning of the episode, Karl is seen air humping Danny on the couch which as one Redditor points out, was fantastic foreshadowing for events that followed.

Did Danny lie about how he felt after Karl kissed him?

Some have speculated that thanks to a long-delayed response, Danny lied about “fireworks” when the two kissed.

Is Striking Vipers actually a sex simulation disguised as a video game?

OK, this theory is going to sound a little crazy. We know the video game was actually featured earlier on in the episode as an actual PS3 game. Note we say a PS3 game because they were playing with older Dualshock controllers.

The theory we have that this was, in fact, a video game disguised so it wasn’t necessarily obvious that you’re in fact cheating on your partner.

On one of Black Mirrors satellite sites, specifically Tuckersoft, it has an advertisement at the bottom.

As you can see above, the advertisement refers to the trailer release date. The language on the left seems particularly strange. It somewhat implies that the videogame was meant for other purposes.

That’s just a theory that probably doesn’t carry much weight but it adds a different spin on things.

Black Mirror: Striking Viper Easter Eggs

White Bear reference?

At the dinner table, Danny and Karl were having a tense conversation and Karl reveals he “did” a polar bear. As one Redditor recounts, that’s technically a white bear. ‘White bear’ is an episode from season 2.

TCKR system has featured several times on Black Mirror

The little round device that sits on your head has been seen multiple times before. It’s not really an easter egg at this point as much as it’s just a consistent device seen in the Black Mirror universe.

The TCKR’s themselves are built by Tuckersoft which is the video game company that Bandersnatch was based on but several decades ago.

The TCKR was also the virtual reality machine used in San Junipero too.

What did you think of Striking Vipers? Let us know in the comments down below.

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Founder of What's on Netflix, Kasey has been tracking the comings and goings of the Netflix library for over a decade. Covering everything from new movies, series and games from around the world, Kasey is in charge of covering breaking news, covering all the new additions now available on Netflix and what's coming next.

 Poster Rating: TV-MA
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Cast: Daniel Lapaine, Hannah John-Kamen, Michaela Coel
Season Additions:
  • - Season 6 was added to Netflix on June 15th, 2023
  • - Season 5 was added to Netflix on June 5th, 2019
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