6 questions we have after watching Black Mirror season 4

Black Mirror season 4 hit Netflix last year (yeah, that’s a scary thought, isn’t it?), but we still can’t stop thinking about it. It’s not just the creepy storylines that are keeping us up at night, it’s the questions we have about each episode and the series as a whole. Why doesn’t the USS Callister crew shut down when the game does? Why wouldn’t you be able to share food in the Hang the DJ universe? And how did Rolo Haynes get his hands on all those exhibits for his Black Museum? Unlike most TV shows, a fifth season probably won’t answer these questions for us, but that doesn’t stop us guessing. Read on (with spoilers) to find out the six major questions we have after watching Black Mirror season 4.

1. Why does the USS Callister crew stay alive when Daly’s computer is off?

Callister’s Chief Technical Officer Robert Daly seems to pull out all the stops when it comes to constructing an Infinity mod based on his favourite show, Star Fleet. So, why, oh why does the crew go all Toy Story and then launch a mutiny against him? There are a couple of reasons which would not only expand on Daly’s megalomaniacal delusions, but also excuse a plot(worm)hole. Of course, there is an offhand comment about the mod still being connected to the internet while Daly is away, so that adds up to the crew still plodding around. Plus, Daly is clearly a disturbed guy acting out a toxic power fantasy. It’s not a stretch to suggest that he wants to make these carbon copies suffer in a never-ending torture chamber just like they’ve made him feel looking out in the real world from within glass-plated, suffocating office. If it wasn’t so awful, it’d be a brilliant revenge scheme. Bradley Russell

2. Why wouldn't Arkangel recall its products when it failed to get licensed?

Given how potentially dangerous and cutting edge the Arkangel technology is… surely any government or licensing body which forbade its wider use would also insist on the decommissioning and ceasing of support for existing services. We know that Sara is on some kind of Beta test, but we also hear it described as “fine-tuning our subscription model before launch” too, implying continual support for as long as Arkangel exists. The technology simply wasn’t allowed to launch and was banned in both Europe and the US so - again - surely that would necessitate some kind of product recall? It would certainly mean the products weren’t supported after it failed to launch. While the chips couldn’t be removed from the patients, the control devices can be returned and destroyed, too. Given the in-built GPS capabilities, it seems unlikely Arkangel would lose track of their tech, so there are a whole bunch of reasons why Marie simply shouldn’t have been in possession of the control device after it was banned. The most plausible reason for its lack of recall is maybe down to poor or irresponsible corporate control by the world’s governments. Again, given how dangerous the tech is… that seems wildly irresponsible to the point of being unbelievable. Andy Hartup

3. Why wouldn’t you be allowed to share food in Hang the DJ?

It’s weird enough that no-one questions the armed guards or the giant wall or the fact there’s nothing to do in The System aside from go on dates or exercise. But it’s more weird that the only thing protagonists Frank and Amy do question (at least at first) is whether they’re allowed to share food on their date. As the man in the black suit with the taser stares on, Frank asks if he can try some of Amy’s pre-determined pasta, to which she answers “Are we allowed to do that?” They, of course, do share a little dinner but it’s clear the armed goon isn’t pleased, as there’s a lingering shot of his glare and tapping finger. But why? Surely, in a world designed purely to find you ‘The One’, feeding each other and discovering the germs of a budding romance would be positively encouraged. Isn’t it kind of the entire point? It seems sharing one night stands, your hopes and dreams, and your freedom is allowed inside the System, but sharing food is not. Sam Loveridge

4. Where did the dogs in Metalhead come from?

It’s part of the beauty of episode 5, Metalhead, that the ‘dogs’ which hunt down Bella (Maxine Peake) are never really explained. Hell, we don’t even know why she, along with her companions, is in the warehouse until the very end, and we don’t need to. It’s a simple, yet well-stylised, cat and mouse game and the episode is all the better for it. It does leave us with the burning question of where exactly those killer metal dogs game from? Like everything in Black Mirror, it’s clearly something to do with a technological advancement made by humanity, rather than an alien invasion or Bella’s just gone mad and is in a mental hospital somewhere. I feel like they were meant to be the ultimate guard dogs which would protect your home and family from any intruders, but something went wrong and just when almost every household in the world had one, they started attacking their owners. Ok, that’s a fair bit of weaponry to put on a household guard dog so maybe they weren’t a domestic invention but a military one. Designed to be dropped into enemy territory and take out the opposing side? Scarily, there’s actually already something very similar out there... just image if the military got its hands on this and weaponised it! Lauren O’Callaghan

5. How did Rolo Haynes get all his exhibits for the Black Museum?

File this one under: who the hell knows? It’s implied that Rolo has overseen a bunch of Black Mirror’s most sinister tech, but surely he couldn’t have been involved with all the stuff featured in his museum. Yes, he’s a collector, but many of the items on display are ripped from apparently different versions of the near future, where one piece of tech simply couldn’t or wouldn’t exist alongside the other. He’s also got items that were either disposed of (the lollipop from USS Callister) or would have been involved in criminal investigations as evidence (the bathtub from Crocodile and the tablet from Arkangel). But ok, let’s assume he somehow managed to collect all the items on display because they do exist in the same universe and he somehow managed to find them all and acquire them… what does that make Rolo himself? And how did he end up as the curator of a failed museum in the middle of nowhere? Perhaps the most likely explanation is that Rolo is the unreliable narrator of Black Mirror itself, telling us embellished or apocryphal stories about the items he’s collected as we take - via Netflix - a virtual tour of his museum. Black Museum is actually the show itself explaining its process of storytelling, with Nish representing the viewer. It’s a classic Black Mirror headfuck, if you think about it too hard. Andy Hartup

6. Is every episode part of the same black future?

Seeing as every episode is a standalone story, it might seem a bit bonkers to ask whether all of them are actually taking place in the same universe. But is it? Looking at season 4 alone, there are certain elements that tie them all together - and not just the fact all are looking at futuristic tech. In four out of six of the episodes in Black Mirror season 4, a device is placed on or in the temple to affect the mind. USS Callister fits futuristic VR tech to your noggin; Arkangel’s child tagging tech is fitted by a quick needle to the temple; Crocodile features memory recalling tech that’s powered by a device and needle combo on the temple; and Black Museum’s consciousness transferral also works by placing a device on the temple. But it goes deeper than that. The device used in both USS Callister and Black Museum are the same damn bit of kit. Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself and just tell me I’m bonkers. 

And that madness is also backed up by writer Charlie Brooker himself. "When people used to ask me, ‘Are these all set in the same universe?', I’d go, 'No," says Brooker in an interview with our sister publication Total Film magazine. "But now explicitly some of them are. There are nods and winks, and sometimes direct references to things." If you're very eagle-eyed and really know your Black Mirror, there's even a reference to season 1's 15 Million Merits in Crocodile. When Mia's browsing for a spot of porn to watch, she flicks past a channel called Wraith Babes, which is the same porn channel from 15 Million Merits. How far this connection goes will probably remain in the confines of Brooker’s mind, but forgive me if I keep hunting for clues of this shared, and horrifically plausible, black future. Sam Loveridge

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