Black Mirror season 5 premiere recap: Striking Vipers

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Credit: Netflix

Seven Months Later

Theo is finally expecting their second child and it looks like Danny has been able to cement his family life back together. Theo invites Karl over for Danny’s birthday, not knowing the history between the two friends.

Theo tries to be the life of this small party, but the tension is palpable. The moment Theo walks away, Karl begs Danny to join the game again. Karl hasn’t been doing so well. He has tried to recreate the in-game experience several times, but it’s not about the game – it’s about Danny. Whatever Danny did as Lance has Karl hooked, but Danny refuses to relent.

Karl has a game open at midnight, and despite himself, Danny joins him and regrets it. Karl as Roxette blurts out she loves Lance, and now the two are at a crossroads. Unable to figure out where this relationship will lead them, Danny comes up with a plan. He and Karl meet and see if sparks fly when they kiss in reality.

Well, nothing happens, so Danny thinks it’s all good. But it isn’t, because Karl can’t get the game out of his head. The two of them end up fighting and are soon arrested. Theo bails Danny out, and asks him what he and Karl were fighting about. Danny opens his mouth to speak, but the scene ends before we hear what he has to say.

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The premiere episode of Black Mirror season 5 ends with Danny and Theo, parents of two, still happily married. How have they kept their romance alive? By opening up their relationship. One night a month, Danny plays Striking Vipers X with Karl, while Theo goes to a bar to enjoy a hook-up. At least everyone’s happy now.

As a season opener, not only does ‘Striking Vipers’ have big names to propel Black Mirror’s popularity, but the episode is a nuanced look at the struggles of middle-age relationships. Despite focusing on Danny and Karl, it’s great that the Black Mirror writers provided Theo’s perspective on her sacrifices as well. The show has matured from shock value to sharing a message.

What did you think of this episode of Black Mirror? Let us know in the comments!