Here’s your weekend reading assignment: a few days ago, Vulture published a wide-ranging, exhaustive oral history of the excellent Black Mirror episode “San Junipero,” a stunning fable about queerness, love, and second chances.
It’s a great piece, and Brooker says some interesting things in particular about the twisty nature of the episode, which I, for one, absolutely did not figure out ahead of time.
“I thought we gave some huge clues, but people generally didn’t pick on them!” he said. He went on to explain:
There’s a moment in Tucker’s when the guy shows Yorkie this arcade driving game, and a car crashes on the screen. She has this horrible visceral reaction because it reminds her of the car crash that paralysed her. Once you know what’s going on, it makes perfect sense. We even put the noise of a car crash on the soundtrack, so I thought people would immediately go, “Oh, she’s been in a car crash in real life.” But no one ever picks up on it, until maybe a third viewing.
The other big clue was playing the Smiths’ “Girlfriend in a Coma” over a shot of Yorkie. You see, I seem to think that viewers are writing all these small details down! But they’re not. People only notice when a plot doesn’t make sense. It’s good to give the audience a chance to get it, though, because otherwise it might feel like a complete cheat.
Writing surprising plots like in Black Mirror has to be a constant challenge, and Brooker apparently didn’t think he was pulling it off. The whole story is full of fun tidbits like that—or like the fact that, to get a feel for each other, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who played young Kelly, traded lines with Denise Burse, who played older Kelly, and read each others’ parts together.