Black Mirror 'Striking Vipers' Review: Novel, Interesting, Average [Major Spoilers]Last updated on Jun 07, 2019, 04:13 pm
One of the most intelligent series of all time, Black Mirror is back with a new season.
Striking Vipers is an episode about friendship, relationships, exploring sexuality, and how a slight infusion of technology could affect everything around you.
While the concept (as always) and the performances are impressive, the ending makes the episode a tad average.
Here's our review of Striking Vipers.
Watch it with friends to experience a world of discomfiture
If you like awkward moments, the episode has plenty. It does apply to straight male viewers only though.
The story focuses on a couple, Danny and Theo (Anthony Mackie and Nicole Beharie) and their dynamic with a common friend Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).
The two males are shown bonding over a video game called Striking Vipers.
The story then takes an 11-year leap.
Two friends trying to adjust to their new lives
We meet the friends again on Danny's birthday where he's now a married man with a toddler and Karl is single, trying to date younger women.
Both are still adjusting in their lives.
The story takes a turn when Karl gifts Danny a new, futuristic VR version of Striking Vipers where players can project their consciousness in the game's characters, stimulating all physical sensations.
Is it gay though?
Karl plays as a female, Roxette (Pom Klementieff) while Danny chooses a male, Lance (Ludi Lin).
In typical Black Mirror fashion, the two prepare to have a part-virtual part-conscious battle.
Sexual feelings, however, overpower them and they end up making out with each other.
This turns into a full-blown virtual affair where they start having regular sex with each other inside the game.
Is it cheating though?
The two clearly seem to enjoy the affair which results in Danny neglecting his wife and feeling guilty about it.
He tries to stop but can't because it feels too good. They do not, however, feel the same attraction in real life.
Danny even says that it doesn't "feel like a gay thing."
Theo gets really affected by the lack of intimacy.
An abrupt end and an awkward birthday dinner
Seeing how the affair is affecting his marriage, Danny stops everything abruptly and declares that he is done with the game.
Everything returns to normal but Theo invites Karl home a few months later.
Karl insists they do it again because nothing can compare with it. He tells Danny, "I f***d a polar bear and I still couldn't get you out of my mind!"
The final test of friendship and a confession
Danny and Karl have sex one more time in the game when Danny realizes that he has to make a decision.
To settle it once and for all, he meets Karl and the two kiss in real life.
It becomes clear that there's nothing between them but they get into a fistfight.
Later on, Danny confesses everything to Theo while Karl goes away.
Epilogue: An unexpected compromise
In the epilogue, it is shown that the three have come to an arrangement.
Danny and Theo have two kids now and are in a semi-open marriage where Danny plays Striking Vipers (read continues his affair) with Karl on stipulated dates while Theo goes out to meet other men.
It is a happy ending of sorts with everyone accepting each other, flaws and all.
Opinion: This ain't no San Junipero
While the episode is entertaining and explores sexuality in a different manner, it lacks the nuance of San Junipero.
The actors have performed to the best of their abilities but Striking Vipers doesn't seem like other, better episodes of Black Mirror.
I found it too uncomplicated and lacking in the deep, exploratory nature the show is known for.
Verdict: Good for a one-time-watch.