Real and virtual worlds have a clearly defined boundary. For now, at least! The rules of this world don’t apply in the other. But can one keep both these lives separate? In the first episode of its fifth season, ‘Striking Vipers’, ‘Black Mirror’ asks the same question. Is it possible for a person to live two lives and keep them apart? Can your feelings for someone change with the stepping in and out from one world to another? If you haven’t yet seen the episode, you should go to Netflix and do something thinking of your own before coming back to this article.
Summary of the Plot
The story of ‘Striking Vipers’ begins with two long-time friends, Danny (Anthony Mackie) and Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) playing a video game Striking Vipers. Karl chooses to be a female fighter, Roxette (pom Klementieff), and Danny choose Lance (Ludi Lin). They spend the night playing the game. In the next scene, the story picks up eleven years later. Danny has settled down with Theo (Nicole Beharie) and they have a kid.
From what we see, the couple has lost the spark in their romance and the family life has turned bland and boring. Also, they have been trying to have another child. Karl unexpectedly shows up at Danny’s birthday party and we discover that they have lost touch with each other. It has been a year since they last met. Karl is in a relationship with Mariella, a woman almost ten years younger than him. Due to this age gap, he has trouble connecting with her.
As a remembrance for old times, Karl gifts Danny the latest version of the Striking Vipers game. This version indulges the player in a virtual reality where they find themselves in the body of the player that they choose, and the connection makes them feel every kick and punch that they give and receive. At night, they decide to go for a fight. Karl appears as Roxette while Danny is Lance. At first, they enjoy the fight but things heat up soon and they end up kissing each other. This leads them in a confused state. Things get a bit awkward and the next time they admit that it happened because they had been drunk. And then they have sex.