U.S.S Callister: A Feminist Triumph in Black Mirror’s Cinematic Universe

U.S.S Callister: A Feminist Triumph in Black Mirror’s Cinematic Universe

As a die-hard Black Mirror fan, I find myself eagerly anticipating new episodes and re-watching my favorite ones. Although the show’s creator, Charlie Brooker, hasn’t been in a rush to produce another season after a 2-year hiatus, we can still appreciate the television masterpiece that is Seasons 1-5. Since 2011, Black Mirror has been delivering cultural and societal commentary on how technology can negatively impact our lives in the near future. With our ever-growing dependence on smartphones and computers, Black Mirror taps into a very real fear that we all harbor, even if we don’t admit it. Black Mirror exposes what we’re genuinely afraid of—the unknown.

Let me be clear; every episode of this show is iconic. I’ve never encountered a series that consistently delivers greatness in every single episode, particularly when it comes to a 60-minute format. Among all the brilliant creations that Brooker and his team have crafted, “U.S.S Callister” might just be the crown jewel. Not only does this episode’s production and cinematography surpass its predecessors, but it also delivers a powerful feminist message. Set your phasers to stun, ladies; this one’s for us.

Meet the Crew of the U.S.S Callister

The episode introduces us to Nanette Cole, a new coder at the office. She’s intelligent, headstrong, and unafraid to voice her opinion. While the rest of the crew resigns themselves to obeying Daly, Cole refuses. She’s our heroine, the only one brave enough to stand up to Daly. Walton, the first clone created in Daly’s computer, has accepted his fate and is the most comfortable aboard the Callister. We later learn that Daly possesses Walton’s son’s DNA and forced Walton to watch his son being thrown into the vacuum of space. The two other women aboard the Callister, Shania Lowry and Elena Tulaska, have different reactions to their situation. Lowry is kind and caring, while Tulaska is indifferent. Lowry eventually sacrifices herself for Cole, demonstrating her willingness to protect another woman from Daly’s harm. Tulaska, on the other hand, is a silent observer, burdened by guilt. The two helmsmen, Nate Packard and Kabir Dudani, follow Daly’s orders for different reasons. Dudani obeys out of concern for the entire crew, while Packard complies out of fear for his own safety. Each crew member represents a type of person you might find in a toxic, misogynistic workplace. With that in mind, let’s analyze some key scenes.

Cole’s Awakening Aboard the U.S.S Callister

When Cole first meets the crew on the bridge, she’s visibly shaken. Lowry immediately offers comfort and support, while the rest of the crew, including Tulaska, indifferently reveal the grim reality of their situation. Cole’s frantic search for an escape route is met with concern from Lowry and indifference from the others. Upon Daly’s arrival, the crew members feign happiness, while Cole cowers in fear. Daly’s subsequent choking of Cole by removing her mouth and nose serves as a chilling reminder of his control over them.

This scene perfectly encapsulates the experience of being a woman in a toxically masculine workplace. Each character contributes to the toxic atmosphere in their own way, and their reactions mirror real-life dynamics in a misogynistic work environment.

Lowry’s Defense of Cole

After discovering that the crew members lack genitals, Cole decides to take a stand against Daly’s control. She devises a plan to free them all, starting with sending a friend request to her real-world self. Despite Dudani’s doubts, Cole successfully hacks the system and sends the message. In the real world, Cole confronts Daly about the friend request, prompting him to leave the office in embarrassment.

Back in the Callister, Daly returns in a rage, demanding to know who sent the message. Cole confesses, but before Daly can punish her, Lowry steps in to defend her. Despite Lowry’s pleas, Daly turns her into a giant bug and abandons her on a desert planet. This scene highlights the consequences of speaking up and defending others in a toxic workplace, with Lowry’s punishment serving as a reminder of Daly’s control.

Cole’s Coup and the Crew’s Escape

Cole devises a plan to escape through a wormhole during an update to the Infinity game’s mainframe. She convinces the crew to join her, promising to retrieve their DNA from Daly’s mini-fridge in the real world and trap Daly in his own game. The plan involves hacking Daly’s communicator, blackmailing real-life Cole, and swapping out Daly’s game receiver with a broken one.

As the crew races toward the wormhole, Daly catches up to them, threatening severe punishment. Cole orders Packer to fly through a dangerous asteroid field, barely escaping with their lives. With their systems fried and the wormhole closing, Walton sacrifices himself to restore power, allowing the crew to escape and trapping Daly in his private game world.

In the end, the crew of the Callister, now free from Daly’s control, embarks on new adventures in the updated Infinity game, with Cole taking her rightful place as captain. This triumphant conclusion serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of standing up against oppression and fighting for one’s autonomy.

Keep girl-bossing, Cole. You’re an icon.

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