Guys! Black Mirror is back for it’s 5th season and things wouldn’t quite feel the same without fans pointing out a bunch of Easter Eggs online. It’s a tradition show runners Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones have honored in the last several seasons. And they’re usually pretty damn clever. While this season may only have 3 episodes total, there are still plenty of hints and nods to previous episodes for fans to pick up on. So, in the spirit of tradition, it’s only fair that I fall down the rabbit hole for the sake of pointing out these awesome tidbits episode by episode. Check out the trailer below and take this as your major spoiler warning for everything below that.
The episode “Striking Vipers” follows old friends Danny (Anthony Mackie) and Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) who reconnect at a birthday party. This party is where Danny is gifted the latest version of the duo’s favorite video game, Striking Vipers X. This game has been given a major upgrade as it is now played in a virtual reality setting via a small disc. Once this disc is placed on side of the player’s head, their consciousness is transported into the game which makes them fully experience the violence of the fighting game. Things are all well and fine until Danny and Karl’s bromance takes a strange turn through the game.
The game is manufactured by a company called TCKR Systems. TCKR is a neurotechnology company that is also responsible for the virtual reality software in the “San Junipero” episode. And, in the “Black Museum” episode it’s the same company behind the experiments at St. Juniper’s hospital.
This next bit might be a stretch however I do find it interesting that TCKR is only a few letters away from spelling Tucker, a potential reference to Bandersnatch’s video game company, Tuckersoft. Perhaps Tuckersoft did a complete re brand after the events of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch? Eventually evolving into the more modern TCKR Systems?
The VR Disc
Another thing to point out is the fact the Striking Vipers X VR add on seems to work the same way as the Infinity VR add on in the “USS Callister” episode. Both games require players to put a round grey disc to their temple which then, as previously stated, transports your consciousness into the game.
The Ride-Share App
The season’s second episode, “Smithereens”, turns the all too common task of getting an Uber or Lyft into a nightmare. When taxi app driver Chris (Andrew Scott) picks up young Jaden (Damson Idris) outside the Smithereen building, things quickly take a strange turn. Without Jaden noticing, Chris drives them to a remote location where Jaden is then held hostage. Irritable and unhinged, Chris finds himself in a stand off with police that will only reach a conclusion when his one demand is met; to speak with Smithereen’s CEO, Billy Bauer (Topher Grace).
In the beginning of the episode, we rarely see Chris on his cellphone with the exception of the ride share app he uses to pick up his victims – I mean, customers. In the two times we see the app’s map, long time Black Mirror fans might note there are plenty of juicy Easter Eggs to be find in the locations. First we can see SaitoGemu Arcades, a callback to the “Playtest” episode. There’s a place called Arquette’s, which is a reference to “Men Against Fire” as it is the name of the episode’s antagonist as well as Stripe’s Cocktail Bar. We get another Bandersnatch reference when we see the Bandersnatch Theatre. Raiman’s is yet another “Men Against Fire” reference, Dahl’s Shoes is in connection to “Hated in the Nation”, The Redfield Theatre is for “Playtest” and Huq’s is a nod to Charlie Brooker’s spouse, Konnie Huq.
Penelope Wu’s Contacts
Another cell phone that holds some interesting Easter Eggs belongs to Smithereen’s American executive, Penelope Wu (Ruibo Qian). At one point we see her thumbing through her contacts, where quite a few familiar names are saved. If you pause at just the right time you can quickly see Abi Khan (Jessica Brown Findlay) from “Fifteen Million Merits”, Michael Callow and Carlton Bloom from “The National Anthem”, Naomi Blestow from “Nosedive”, Nate Packer and Dudani from “USS Callister”, Nish, Clayton Leigh and Dr. Peter Dawson from “Black Museum” and Blue Coulson from “Hated in the Nation”. Quite the interesting company Penelope Wu keeps.
When the police gets to Chris’s place later in the episode they find the house in disarray. Among the mess one can make out an old pizza box from Fence’s Pizza. This same pizza chain can be briefly seen in the episodes “Crocodile” and “USS Callister”.
Here is another gem that can be found if you pause at just the right moment. When a receptionist at Smithereen answers a call, you can see the day’s trending topics on her screen include #HotShot and#Cuppliance. These are references to the episode “Fifteen Million Merits”. Hotshot is the talent completion that Abi Khan participates in and Cuppliance is the drink that makes the contests of Hotshot more compliant. Hence the name.
The episode “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” goes on a deep dive into the hidden horrors of a pop star, self-perception and, of course, more freaky technology. We meet shy girl Rachel (Angourie Rice), her punk rock loving sister Jack (Madison Davenport) and beloved music sensation Ashley O (Miley Cyrus). Essentially the story starts off slow, first we see the sisters try to fall into a somewhat normal routine after the death of their mother. Meanwhile, we get a behind the scenes look into the less glamorous lifestyle of pop star Ashley O; which consists of very controlling management, popping pills and cliche songs.
Early in the episode Ashley is promoting some merchandise, an A.I. doll called Ashley Too that has an artificial copy of Ashley’s personality so it can do cool stuff like respond when you ask it a question or provide you with inspirational quotes. Naturally Rachel asks for the doll for her birthday and it doesn’t take long for her to get a little too attached to Ashley Too. The paths of our main characters finally cross in the final leg of the episode when Ashley O “mysteriously” falls into a coma which causes Ashley Too to malfunction.
This definitely isn’t the first time we’ve seen a perfect digital copy created in Black Mirror. In “USS Callister” we didn’t see 1 but 6 perfect copies. Also in “White Christmas” we saw Greta (Oona Chaplin) become a “cookie” to help with organizing her personal life and her household chores. Could the “cookies” be an early model of the technology that would be later used in the Ashley Too?
Ritman High School
Rachel’s loner status is made apparent when we see her eating alone at school. During a transition scene we get a glimpse of the local high school’s name, Ritman High School. This could be a reference to Bandersnatch’s video game programmer Colin Ritman (Will Poulter).
The News Ticker
The news broadcast announcing Ashley’s coma has the most Easter Eggs in the episode, specifically in the news ticker. First we hear the comment that Ashley has been rushed to the infamous St. Juniper’s hospital. Next we see “Striking Vipers” make a brief appearance. The ticker mentions that SaitoGemu’s shares have jumped since the release of Striking Vipers X. SaitoGemu is a reference to the “Playtest” episode where a video game tester gets implanted with a familiar looking disc. This implant was a prototype of some kind as it malfunctions horribly, resulting in the death of said test subject.
The ticker also reads ‘Architect Arrested on Multiple Murder Charges’ a nod to the “Crocodile” episode. ‘Museum Owner’s Body Found in Smoking Ruins’ is obviously referencing “Black Museum”. ‘…ng Narrative Creator Still Missing’ is another potential callback to Bandersnatch.
At one point the same news channel announces the reboot of a franchise called Sea of Tranquility that was first mentioned in “The National Anthem” and mentioned again via cosplay in “Nosedive”.
After announcing the Ashley Too doll we briefly see Ashley’s aunt/manager using the now infamous Smithereen App.
What was your favorite Easter Egg this season? Were there any we missed? Let us know! Black Mirror season 5 is currently streaming on Netflix.