Black Mirror: Striking Vipers
Cast: Anthony Mackie, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Beharie
Director: Owen Harris
Black Mirror episodes almost always leave the audience with a sense of déjà vu. You might have seen something similar somewhere fully understanding that the alternate reality is not exactly a thing of the future or present. It might have already happened. Maybe not in the exact ways but definitely similar in the pattern of emotions it evokes.
Black Mirror’s success lies in its connectivity with the viewers and over the years, the makers have become only better in their game. With Season 5’s first episode titled Striking Vipers, they have stamped their authority in making you uncomfortable through augmented scenarios.
Danny (Anthony Mackie) and Karl (Yahya Abdul Mateen) are long-time friends with a common liking in video games, so much so that they are willing to overlook their cribbing partners. The show takes an eleven year leap and they meet again on Danny’s birthday.
They have different personalities—while Danny is mostly a bored husband waiting for something exciting to happen in life, Karl is dating much younger girls and struggling to adjust to their world. In a beautiful scene, Karl, who himself was a technology friendly chap in his younger days, looks strangely at his girlfriend who gets back to her phone right after sex.
Karl gifts Danny the latest version of the video game, Striking Vipers, on their reunion and it introduces the much needed excitement in the lives. Like old times, they select their favourite fighter templates, a woman and a man, but find out that they are actually projecting their sub-conscious thoughts on to the virtual fighters.
Striking Vipers gets more intense and detailed after that and you see the struggles of two people trying to strike a position of equilibrium. While questioning their own life choices and sexuality, they also explore the relationship angles between mankind and technology in its purest but very complex form.
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So far, we have seen shows trying to convince us that virtual and real are mostly same but Striking Vipers does exactly opposite. It tells us that both might have not any deep connection with each other, and that’s actually a good news. This may lead to a situation where even old-world can start looking at technology as an extension of real life.
Striking Vipers is very engaging and less terrifying than most of Black Mirror episodes but it makes the audience understand the cusp of life and technology in a simple way. That’s a win, right!
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