Black Mirror director weighs in on potential 'USS Callister' spinoff
This post contains spoilers for Black Mirror season 4, episode 1.
Landing on Netflix just before the New Year, the newest season of Black Mirror arrived with six new tales of sci-fi techno-terror, inviting viewers to witness messed-up worlds only a few degrees removed from our own. But we might not have seen the last of one of those worlds, if the director of its spacefaring premiere has his way.
Speaking in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, director Toby Haynes talked about the possibility of spinning his "USS Callister" story into a sequel or its own series, calling the episode "probably one of the best pilots for a space show, ever."
The story of "USS Callister" begins with a Star Trek-style adventure in space, following the titular vessel under the command of Jesse Plemons' Captain Daly. All is not as it appears, however, as the episode pivots to the real world, revealing the space adventure to be a custom mod for a space-set computer game where Daly, a gifted programmer, rules as king.
The episode then twists into a battle for survival as the captain's crew—self-aware copies of the programmer's real-life co-workers, put into the game to torment for his pleasure—rise up to liberate themselves from the abusive captain, escaping into the game beyond the mod where they can shape their own destinies away from the tyrant Daly.
But while the episode itself tells a self-contained and satisfying story, according to Haynes, there's plenty of material for a sequel or even a spinoff series, which at least one Black Mirror producer is apparently keen to explore.
"I was talking with Louise Sutton, who produced this and 'Metalhead', and she cooked up a brilliant idea of spinning it off into a TV series," said Haynes. "I'd love to do a TV series of 'USS Callister'—it's probably one of the best pilots for a space show, ever. And I made it! So I'm keen to see it as a TV series. I think Charlie might revisit it as a Black Mirror. Whether I'm the one to do it, I don't know. Being a fan of the show as much as I am, and being a part of making it, I'd love to work with that crew and cast again. It's a gift for a director."
According to Haynes, the ideas that have been workshopped would involve a direct sequel to the episode, bringing back Plemons' Daly and the rest of his former crew after his defeat.
"There is this brilliant idea that he is still alive and his attempted murder gets pinned on someone," Daly said, referring to the ending that left Daly's real-life survival ambiguous. "Whose fingerprints do they find in the apartment? There's so much you could do. Fingers crossed, you never know."
Episode co-star Cristin Milioti, who plays a new recruit to the Callister who spearheads the crew's revolution both in real life and in-game, has also said she would love to see the episode's world continue—especially since the ending finds her in an enviable position as the captain of her own ship inside the game.
Part of the magic of Black Mirror is its anthology nature, with no two episodes being quite the same beyond the central thematic throughline of technology and our relationship with it. That said, there's nothing in the rulebook that says the series couldn't sequelize an episode or two throughout the course of its run—and this would seem to be a great one to do it with.
All four seasons of Black Mirror are streaming on Netflix now.