Black Mirror season 5 premiere recap: Striking Vipers

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Photo Credit: Netflix

Striking Vipers X

While playing, Danny gets an invite from Karl to play Striking Vipers X, and the two of them plug in the VR controller to start the game. Karl chooses his favourite avatar, Roxette (Pom Klementieff), while Danny selects his – Lance (Ludi Lin). Before proceeding with this recap, lets marvel at the fact that Black Manta himself, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s character has a Marvel actor as his avatar (Klementieff plays Mantis in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), while Aquaman actor Ludi Lin is the new Captain America’s (Mackie) avatar.

Karl as Roxette and Danny as Lance are both very impressed by the VR experience of the game, especially since all in-game sensations can be felt in the real world. Roxette still beats Lance hollow, just like she did when Karl and Danny used to play when they were younger. The effects and editing of the fight scene perfectly captures the Street Fighter style of in-game action, it’s so much fun to watch.

When Roxette has Lance pinned down, she makes a strange move, she kisses Lance. Horrified, Lance pulls away and Karl and Danny exit the game, still reeling from their intimate encounter. Danny is pre-occupied the following day as well, but successfully puts his son to bed while Theo is out for the night.

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When Danny returns to play his Tetris-like game, Karl invites him to play Striking Vipers X again. They both brush off their previous encounter as the result of too much alcohol, and promise to play a ‘serious game’ this time around. Yeah, that doesn’t work out so well. Neither avatar even lands a punch before they passionately fall into each other’s arms. Before Karl and Danny can talk through ‘this gay thing,’ Tyler wakes Danny up asking for water. Talk about unfinished business.

The Family Man

Danny is obviously struggling with his hum-drum life. He and Theo are apparently trying for a second child, which means their love life is dictated to by calculations rather than romance. It’s the same old routine everyday for Danny, so Striking Vipers X is a welcome change of pace for him. In the game, Karl is delighted to be in Roxette’s body, assuring Lance that her experiences are far more enhanced. Danny and Karl start escaping into the game more often, and Danny begins neglecting Theo. Of course, this feeds into Theo’s insecurities about not being desirable enough as an older woman.

Danny is so caught up in this virtual reality, that he forgets his wedding anniversary. Theo makes plans for the evening, organizing a baby-sitter so the two of them can go out. Danny shows up late, and while waiting a younger man offers to buy Theo a drink. She declines, of course, but this sets up Theo and Danny’s confrontation over dinner.

Theo lays bare her soul to Danny – she agrees that family life is boring, but Theo is heart-broken that Danny refuses to even touch her. She’s feeling unwanted and wants to understand why Danny won’t pay attention to his wife. Danny assures her that there’s no one else, but we know the truth.

Karl’s love life is suffering as well, and it’s evident now that both Karl and Danny are addicted to their virtual romance. Though Karl pleads with Danny to keep the game going, Danny makes a clean break to support Theo.