As well as some dystopian stories that could goad the most sound-minded viewer into an existential crisis, you can always rely on Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror to serve up one thing: a whole lot of Easter eggs.
From blink-and-you’ll-miss-them references to some very subtle nods, season five of the anthology series is chock full of callbacks and treats for fans.
Are all Black Mirror episodes connected?
Sort of. Despite the standalone nature of each episode, creator Charlie Brooker has said that all instalments exist in a shared universe – whether thematically or physically. “We always used to say it’s a shared universe but then I started to say it’s a psychologically shared universe and now some of the episodes are definitely connected because there are specific references within that story to things we’ve seen in other episodes,” he told the Express.
In other words, there are loose links between every episode thanks to some clever Easter eggs. You can see the best references season five has below…
The Smithereens news feed
During a brief glimpse into the Smithereens building, you can see a social media board, which mentions Michael Callow (Rory Kinnear), the Prime Minister forced to have, um, relations with a pig in the show’s first ever episode.
And, not only is he still Prime Minister, but looks like he’s leading negotiations in Brussels, probably meaning Brexit still exists in the Black Mirror universe.
Alongside Bargain Hunt and Gogglebox (which are apparently trending at the same time for some reason), there are some winks to other episodes in the left-hand hashtag list):
#Snoutrage: this is the hashtag that appeared in Black Mirror’s very first episode in reference to the PM and pig-gate.
#SaitoGemuAnnouncement: Saito Gemu is the gaming company that appeared in Playtest. And, interestingly, it looks they’ve just announced a project with Netflix, judging by the #DaitoXNetflix hashtag. A TV project that users can control like a game? Sounds like a nod to Bandersnatch to us.
#SeaOfTranquilityReboot: Sea Of Tranquility is an in-universe “HBO moon Western” show that’s been mentioned several times before. It was first mentioned in Black Mirror’s debut episode (the VFX specialist brought in to fake the PM’s pig scene was from the series) and it featured in season three’s Nosedive (when Bryce Dallas Howard’s character runs into fans going to a convention for the show).
Chris Gilhaney’s phone contacts
Thought Andrew Scott’s schoolteacher was just a man pushed to his limit by horrible circumstances? Perhaps not. Before Chris attempts to call Smithereens we see a quick look at his contacts. And there are some very notable names:
Carlton Bloom: he’s the main antagonist in The National Anthem, the troubled artist who kidnaps Princess Susannah (Lydia Wilson).
Clayton Leigh: Played by Babs Olusanmokun, Clayton is the convicted murderer from Black Museum, the man who sells his post-death consciousness to help support his family.
Cooper: this refers to the Cooper (Wyatt Russell) from Playtest who becomes a video game tester for Saito Gemu.
Perhaps the most common Easter egg in Black Mirror, news vans from fictional broadcaster UK Network News Ltd arrive on the hostage scene. The station has appeared in episodes from The National Anthem to season four’s Crocodile.
Here’s a real blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nod: while the Smithereen bosses analyse Chris’ profile, we can see he’s previously posted about Victoria Skillane (Lenora Critchlow), the main character from White Bear.
Also appearing on the board: Michael Callow, the Black Mirror UK Prime Minister and #2014Wipe, a reference to Charlie Brooker’s satirical 2014 review.
In Chris’ mother’s house you can briefly see a pizza box with the word “Fences” emblazoned on the front. This is the company who own the automated delivery vehicles in season three’s Crocodile.
The VR gaming system
The most obvious reference to previous episodes, Danny and Karl use the same virtual reality TCKR system that features in USS Callister, another episode that heavily features a VR game. TCKR is also the system used in season three’s San Junipero.
But what is TCKR short for? Tuckersoft, the gaming company in Bandersnatch.
Rachel, Jack, And Ashley Too
Sea of tranquillity reboot news
During the episode you can see a news report describing a reboot of in-universe TV series Sea of Tranquillity. Fans of the “HBO moon Western” can be seen in season three’s Nosedive – Bryce Dallas Howard’s crosses a van-full of fans of the show.
The Sea of Tranquillity reboot also mentioned in the Smithereens news feed (see above).
The news ticker
During a news report about Ashley O (Miley Cyrus), there are several nods to other episodes in the text at the bottom of the screen.
Museum owner’s body found in smoking ruins – a nod to Rolo Haynes, the curator whose body was left in a burning building at the end of season four’s Black Mirror.
Saitogemu shares jump on Striking Vipers release – not only an obvious reference to season five episode Striking Vipers, but Saitogemu is the gaming company from season three’s Playtest.
Saint Juniper’s Medical Center
At first, it might seem like this just an obvious reference to San Junipero, but The Saint Juniper’s Medical Centre – the hospital that Ashley O is sent to – is a nod to other previous episodes.
In Bandersnatch, therapist Dr Haynes works out of Saint Juniper’s Medical Centre. Plus, Saint Juniper’s Medical Centre is the shady hospital where Rolo Haynes (a relation of the Bandersnatch character?) undertook his experiments in Black Museum.
Black Mirror season 5 is available to watch now on Netflix – check out what else is on with our TV Guide