"USS Callister" uses simulated reality to explore fictional escapism, fandom, abuse of power and the dominance of male-driven narratives. Robert Daly (Jesse Plemons) is a tech genius, responsible for crafting an immersive, virtual reality multiplayer video game, Infinity. Despite his hard work and creative talent, Daly is overlooked at the company he co-founded, Callister, Inc. His colleagues show little respect for his authority, his co-founder, James Walton (Jimmi Simpson), shames him in front of others.
To offset his frustration and lack of social skills IRL, Daly creates a bespoke version of the game, one only he can access. This universe is based on Daly's favourite TV show, Space Fleet. In-simulation, the confident, outgoing and powerful Daly takes out his anger on the fleet's crew, who are consciousness-clones of his real-life colleagues. He threatens harm if they don't obey his orders, forces female members to kiss him, and is generally abhorrent and power hungry as the leader of his very own sci-fi dictatorship.
"USS Callister" is grand in scope, making full use of Netflix's budget to create a world that doesn't feel like a tacky imitation. Perhaps most impressive is how "USS Callister" humanizes the digital clones. Their revenge over Daly, both simulated and real, is worth celebrating, even though Daly didn't cause them harm in real life.