REVIEW: Black Mirror S5E1 – Striking Vipers
Black Mirror is back on Netflix and they did a doozy with Black Mirror S5E1 called Striking Vipers which stars Anthony Mackie, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Beharie, Pom Klementieff, Ludi Lin and more. Striking Vipers is directed Owen Harris.
Without giving away important stuff from the story, it’s basically a look at married life, cheating, a bit of pornography and a lot gaming and virtual reality. Everything goes sideways the moment Danny becomes involved heavily in what should be a harmless game of Striking Vipers X and his virtual “sparring partner”.
There’s a lot of great cinematography in “Striking Vipers” from Danny and Theo’s suburban home, to Karl’s beautiful condo unit to the world of Striking Vipers where everything and anything can happen. The crew of Black Mirror needs to be commended for their work on getting the right places and even color grading for some scenes that appear in the episode. Even the symmetry works extremely well and helpful in telling this story of a cheating-ass fool. The graphic sex scene in the virtual world with a pagoda is a prime example of how far the producers of Black Mirror could work to the episode’s aesthetics.
I liked the pacing for the story. Not only does it use time as a part of the story, skipping anywhere from six months to ten years, it also helps the characters become more convincing of what they have grown into. Those slow intentional moments like Danny looking into the evening sky after a bout of lovemaking with Theo to those moments of being lost in his thoughts while washing the dishes turned a lot better because they took liberties with the pacing for the episode.
Real World Significance
Striking Vipers can be divisive because of how a certain topic has been tackled. I’m talking about pornography and sex online. Add a dash of LGBT topics for healthy measure. As always, Black Mirror does not shy away with topics that involves technology and real life themes and topics that may make people uneasy. But that’s what made the show such a beloved series.
That being said, oh man, the memes generated by this episode along the way is huge, especially for the fighting game community.
Kidding aside, topics like “its not cheating because its not physical” is a topic for a lot of marital encounters for a long period of time. Is porn really ruining marriage or its really the people in the marriage that don’t make it work.
Anthony Mackie as Danny Parker
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Karl
Nicole Beharie as Theo Parker
Pom Klementieff as Roxette
Ludi Lin as Lance
August Muschett as Tyler
Fola Evans-Akingbola as Mariella
I had fun with the notion that this was really a stealth Marvel vs DC TV series. On one hand we have The Falcon and Mantis and on the other we have Black Manta and one of those Atlantean warriors who fought Mera in James Wan’s “Aquaman”.
The acting was great especially by Anthony Mackie who plays a worn out Danny who also feels like his sex life and married life is draining the life out of him. I can’t wait to see him take over the role of Tak in the second season of Altered Carbon.
While I did enjoy the episode, did not shy away from the episode’s topic as well, I really feel that they could have done more. We don’t have much metaphysical or philosopical topics to explore here unlike other episodes like “San Junipero”. I really hope that the next two episodes for Black Mirror Season 5 would improve or pick up. Really hope.