Black Mirror Season 4 USS Callister Ending Explained- With Spoilers

            The newest season of Black Mirror hit Netflix earlier this year, and the first episode is a doozy. Join us as we look back and analyse the series, episode by episode and share your views on what you liked or didn't like in the comments section below.  The fourth season of this anthology sci-fi show is known for its dark and disturbing themes, and the first episode titled USS Callister, lives up to those expectations.  It's an excellent start to the fourth season, and is a perfect combination of frightening technology and social commentary.  The story is interesting, and a bit complex, so I'm here to help you understand the plot.  That means this article will contain full spoilers for the episode, so if you don't want to know the ending, watch the episode first!

            The episode opens up with a great sequence that resembles Star Trek.  Instead of crisp HD visuals, everything looks a bit grainy; like it was filmed back in the 70's.  A crew aboard the spaceship USS Callister are seen being led by their charismatic captain, Robert Daly (Jesse Plemons).  We quickly come to find out that Robert Daly is actually the creator of an immersive virtual reality game called Infinity.  When he's inside his own personal version of the game, he's a charming spaceship captain.  Despite being the CTO at his gaming company, Robert is seen as weak and is often disrespected.  He mainly holds resentment for his colleague Walton (Jimmi Simpson), someone who helped Robert create the game.  Walton is pompous and outgoing, whereas Robert is quiet and reserved.  In fact, Robert seems to be at odds with everyone in the office.  From the guy who gets his coffee in the morning down to the receptionist, he holds deep disdain for everyone he works with.
            When Robert gets home from work, he logs into his personal version of Infinity.  By placing a small and round piece of hardware on his temple, his physical body goes into a sort of “stand by” mode.  This allows his mind to place him within the world of Infinity, and aboard the USS Callister.  Instead of the bright and cheerful captain we saw in the beginning, Robert becomes a menacing and torturous villain.  Using small sources of DNA from around the office, Robert has been able to transfer digital versions of his co-workers into the game, and puts them to work as his crew on the ship.  These aren't just mindless copies of his hated colleagues, but conscious and aware people who have the same mind of their real-world counterparts.  Inside Infinity, Robert takes out his frustrations in numerous sickening ways. When he's bored of the torture, he plays out his personal fantasy of being the captain of a spaceship.  They take on various missions as a team, and if any of the crew step out of line, Robert changes them into horrifying monsters that he uses for target practice.

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This cycle continues for some time, until a new programmer shows up at Robert's real-world gaming company.  Attractive and intelligent, Nanette Cole (Cristin Milioti) seems to be the only person who respects Robert's work and his accomplishments.  Robert is immediately enamored with Nanette, and quickly gets a bit of her DNA to make a copy for his crew.  Back on the USS Callister, Nanette's copy awakens confused and scared.  Her other crew mates explain the situation to her, offering her a drink to help her calm down.  The situation is dire; the crew has been trapped in the virtual world for a very long time.  Robert eventually logs into the game, and after intimidating the crew, attempts to kiss Nanette.  She defies him and refuses to play along with his game, which causes Robert to become violent.  In an effort to show Nanette just how powerful he is inside Infinity, he removes her face, causing her to start suffocating.  He threatens to leave her in that condition, endlessly suffocating with no relief of death, unless she obeys him.  Nanette agrees, but only long enough to appease Robert before he logs off.  Before long, Nanette decides that this fake life is not worth living in, and spearheads a rebellion among her crew.
            In order to free her and her crew mates from the game, she needs to use a small device that Robert has.  This device allows him to tinker with the game from inside it, accessing his PC in the real world.  When Robert logs into Infinity after a long day at work, Nanette feigns interest in him, and invents a mission on a nearby remote planet.  Interested, Robert beams himself down to the planet with Nanette, intrigued by her forthcoming nature.  There, she seduces him into a playful swim in a beautiful lake, which causes him to disrobe a bit.  As Nanette and Robert enjoy their swim, the wickedly intelligent crew member Dudani (Paul G. Raymond) beams the aforementioned device back to the ship.  With the device him hand, they execute Nanette's plan.
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            By connecting to the internet and the outside world via Robert's device, they are able to blackmail Nanette's real-world counterpart with nude photographs.  They convince her to break into Robert Daly's apartment and retrieve the sources of DNA he keeps on hand.  This way, he won't be able to make more copies of them once they escape.  As a distraction, Nanette orders a pizza to Robert's house; something we've seen him do many times before.  When the pizza arrives at his hose, Robert pauses the game to go answer the door.  While he's doing this, Nanette sneaks into his apartment and swipes the DNA, leaving without being seen.  Inside the game, Nanette hurries off the planet, leaving Robert's game version behind.  Once back on the ship, the crew starts flying the USS Callister towards a giant wormhole, caused by an incoming update to the game.
            By the time Robert has solved the pizza dilemma and returned to the game, the crew is already on a direct path for the wormhole.  Robert hops into a nearby ship that is much smaller than the USS Callister, and attempts to pursue them.  Fortunately, he's not quick enough to catch up, and the ship makes it through the wormhole in time.  To make matters worse, Robert's ship malfunctions.  Without his ship and his crew, his device that controls the game, or any way to wake himself up, Robert is left floating endlessly in space.  In the real world, he sits in his apartment slumped in his chair, his body stuck in the “stand by” mode.  Being a social outcast with no friends or family and right before Christmas, it's very unlikely that anyone will come by his apartment to save him.  We're left without complete closure on Robert's end, but it's safe to assume he would die of starvation before long.
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            The crew, however, is not stuck.  In fact, the wormhole turns out to be a portal into the full version of Infinity.  Before, they were stuck in Robert's personal and private version of the game, closed off from anyone else.  The real game is connected to the internet, and populated by thousands of players.  Instead of wearing tacky outfits that resemble the Star Trek crew, our recently freed team sports a modern and cool looking get up.  With a look of discovery and awe on their faces, Nanette and the rest of the USS Callister crew realize that they're free at last.


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