Black Mirror Season 5: 18 Easter Eggs Hidden In The New Episodes
By Kevin Wong on
For all the hype around Jordan Peele's Twilight Zone reboot, it's Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker who is the reigning, defending inheritor of Rod Serling's crown. There has never been an objectively bad episode of Black Mirror (no, not even "The Waldo Moment" descends to the level of bad). Every one of them has a specific, clever commentary on modern times, and a few of them, like "San Junipero" and "Nosedive," rise to the level of art.
The anthology format helps. Every Black Mirror episode is a fresh opportunity to astound audiences anew, with a new premise, a new twist, and a new moral. Every episode jolts us because there simply isn't enough time to unpack all the clues and foreshadowing in real time and guess at the result.
Here are 18 tiny details and Easter eggs that were tucked away in "Striking Vipers," "Smithereens," and "Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too." The worst part of Black Mirror is that there's not enough of it. Season 5, now available for binging on Netflix, only consists of three episodes. That's down from the six episodes of Season 4 and the six episodes of Season 3.
We'll have to wait a while longer--too long--before we get more.
1. Striking Vipers: Friendly Horseplay
Danny and Karl's physical scuffle on the couch mirrors their later scuffle in the virtual reality video game, when they kiss for the first time. In both real life and in virtual reality, Karl ends up on top of Danny.
2. Striking Vipers: Familiar Tech Companies
The company that publishes Striking Vipers is SaitoGemu. The company and its founding namesake are featured in the Season 3 episode "Playtest," in which a man gets an augmented reality chip planted in the back of his neck.
The company behind the virtual reality headset is TCKR Systems. The company first appeared in the Season 3 episode "San Junipero," which was also about people who became immersed in virtual reality as though it were real life. That episode also featured a similar, circle-shaped tech wearable.
3. Striking Vipers: An Updated Classic
Danny plays Tetris Effect (2018), a remake of the original Tetris, on his couch after his wife and son go to bed. Apparently, this remake will be considered a classic in its own right in the near future. Similarly, when they were young Danny and Karl used to bond over the classic Striking Vipers. They are now about to play the "new and improved" VR version and bond in a whole new way.
4. Striking Vipers: Chun Li Legs
Karl's Roxette has several moves that are clear homages to Street Fighter II's Chun Li. Most noticeable is Roxette's "Lightning Kick" move. Danny's Lance roughly corresponds to Ryu, and he tries to throw a Hadouken fireball with little success.
5. Striking Vipers: Ryu's Ultra Move
In Street Fighter IV, you can perform an Ultra Move late in the match to mount a comeback. Roxette pays homage to Ryu's second Ultra finisher by delivering a jaw-crunching Dragon Punch.
6. Striking Vipers: No More Games
In this scene, Karl tells Danny he loves him, and Danny pulls away. It's at this point that the relationship becomes something more serious and real than it's previously been. The "Game Over" text in the background humorously reinforces this change. Also, Roxette's costume in this scene has the same colors as Delta Red Cammy's costume in Super Street Fighter II.
7. Striking Vipers: A Dark and Stormy Night
Danny and Karl's final, in-person battle takes place on a dark city street, with lots of rain pouring down in the background. It's the sort of stock visual that many fighting games and animes would use as the setting for the final, epic confrontation.
8. Smithereens: GPS Locations
There are numerous past episode references on Chris' phone when he's looking at his GPS. Here are some of them: The Bandersnatch Theatre is a reference to the Black Mirror interactive movie Bandersnatch. Raiman is one of the anti-roach soldiers in "Men Against Fire." Vanessa Dahl is a Granular employee in "Hated in the Nation." And Victoria Skillaine is the protagonist in "White Bear." There are actually two references to Skillaine in "Smithereens; she appears as part of Chris' Internet search history, which implies that the events of the two episodes take place in the same universe.
9. Smithereens: Contact List
A Smithereen employee goes through her phone to call Penelope Wu, and every name on her contact list is a reference of some sort. Here are just the D's: David Cox is a science reporter for the Guardian, who's worked for the BBC. Dominic Mayer is a visual effects artist who worked on the show and also did effects for Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2. Dr. Peter Dawson is the neurological test subject who went mad in "Black Museum." And Dudani is a crew member in the episode "USS Callister."
10. Smithereens: The Newsfeed Wall
In Smithereen headquarters is a massive, streaming wall of updated news and trending hashtags. We see more references to SaitoGemu. Ashley O is a main character in the episode immediately proceeding this one. St. Juniper is another reference to the "San Junipero" episode. And Prime Minister Callow is the same man from the series premiere, who was forced to have sex with a pig on television. Apparently, his political career has continued, but his critics continue to mock him. Notice the #oinkoinkcallow and #snoutrage hashtags that are trending.
11. Smithereens: Need to Destress?
There are 11 songs on the Stressbuster playlist that Smithereen uses to put Chris on hold during the hostage crisis. Here they are, in case you're having a particularly bad day:
- "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You"
- "Turn Around"
- "Where Love Lives"
- "Can't Fight This Feeling"
- "Long Train Runnin'"
- "Kiss From a Rose"
- "Can't Stop Loving You"
- "Go Your Own Way"
- "You're The Imagination"
- "Return to Innocence"
12. Smithereens: More Hashtags
When Chris checks his phone in the middle of the hostage situation (it's right after the cops think the gun is not real), you can see a list of trending hashtags. Some of them are the same as the ones on Smithereen's wall; some are different. Tucker could be another reference to the TCKR tech company; it could also be a reference to Tucker's bar in "San Junipero." The System is the tech-driven dating service that drives the plot of "Hang the DJ."
13. Smithereens: The Dog
We learn, via Chris' teary-eyed confession, that his fiancé died in a car accident, for which he blames himself. Even though the other driver was drunk, he was checking his Smithereen account, on his phone, at the time of the crash, and he was distracted by a picture of a funny dog.
Earlier in the episode, a Smithereen employee was examining his account activity. We learned that he hadn't been active on the site since 2015. And in June 2015, in his last post, he liked a picture of a dog wearing eyeglasses. We can assume that this is the picture that caused the accident.
14. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too: An Aptly Named Hospital
When Ashley goes into a coma, she is taken to St. Juniper's Hospital, yet another reference to the popular "San Junipero" episode from Season 3.
15. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too: The News Ticker Tape
During the breaking news report about Ashley's condition, you can read several headlines that resolve past Black Mirror episodes. Apparently, Stefan goes missing after the events of Bandersnatch; is there an official, canon ending? There's also a new Striking Vipers game (which edition?), about to be released by SaitoGemu.
16. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too: Ashley O Superfans
In this second screenshot from the breaking news report, we see two Ashley O superfans crying for their fallen idol. These are the same fans we later see at the end of the episode; they're the ones who run out of the club in fear due to Ashley's rock music.
There are also more news ticker tape tidbits. Apparently, Rolo Haynes' body was discovered in the remnants of the museum in "Black Museum." And Mia the architect was arrested, as we suspected, for her crimes in "Crocodile."
17. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too: Coma Song
The song "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)" by Irma Thomas is played in every season. Abi sings it for her audition in "Fifteen Million Merits." It recurs again in "White Christmas" as Beth's karaoke song, and again in "Men Against Fire" when Raiman sings it. When a man is hit by a pizza delivery truck in "Crocodile," he recalls this song in the background of his memory. In "Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too," it's the song that Ashley O. composes while in a coma.
18. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too: Nine Inch Nails
Ashley O, played by Miley Cyrus, performs two Nine Inch Nails covers. The first is "Right Where It Belongs" from With Teeth; she sings it while she's at the piano near the beginning of the episode. And the second cover is of "Head Like a Hole" from Pretty Hate Machine. It's the song that Ashley and Jack are rocking out to at the end of the episode. Trent Reznor gave his blessing to Charlie Brooker to reimagine his breakout song with female empowerment pop lyrics, If you'd like an official NIN T-shirt commemorating the Miley Cyrus collaboration, you can buy one here.