Warning: Contains spoilers for Black Mirror Season 4.
In a lot of ways, Black Mirror Season 4 is familiar territory.
You’ve got your gnawing tension, your twist endings. That same old sense of humanity’s inevitable, yawning doom, lurking just one or two iPhone updates away. All that good stuff.
There is one thing Season 4 has a lot more of than past seasons, though, and that’s Easter eggs.
From self-referential cutaways to subtle, easy-to-miss moments, here are some things you may not have spotted on a first viewing.
1. The “vehicle boot console” text hiding in “Metalhead”.
Computer text is always a good place to start your Easter egg hunt, and “Metalhead” doesn’t disappoint. If you pause the screen and zoom in when that guy’s desperately attempting to start that van near the beginning of the episode, the first thing you’ll see is this:
And, once he finally gets the thing working, this:
It’s tricky to read, but that text includes previous Black Mirror episode titles, a line reading “reddit\easter.egg” (in the first pic) and — best of all — some text at the bottom of that last screen that literally says: “WHY. did. you. bother. PAUSING. this. you. freak”.
2. And the significance of the box of bears at the end.
This one isn’t an Easter egg, but it’s the still the sort of detail that could be easily missed amongst all the other traumatic stuff happening at the end of “Metalhead”.
Basically, the reason for that final, lingering shot on the box of bears links back to this exchange right at the beginning of the episode:
Clarke: “This is mental, this is. I mean he’s — he’s dying anyway. Well, he is. It’s not like it’s going to save him. He’s got — what, days?”
Bella: “Well if what’s in there makes those days easier that’ll do for me. I promised my sister we’d help him.”
Then, right at the end of the episode, Bella says the following into the radio:
“I’m sorry I didn’t get the replacement like I promised. I know how dear it was to him.”
So essentially the bears were the main aim of their mission, and what they ended up losing their lives for. They were trying to get a replacement teddy for Bella’s sister’s son, to make his dying days a little easier.
The final miserable cherry on top of a truly dystopian cake.
3. The clip from “Men Against Fire” used in “Arkangel”.
That clip above is from the Season 3 episode “Men Against Fire”. If you watch “Arkangel” carefully, though, you’ll notice that the exact same footage appears on the iPad Sara is given to watch at the Arkangel offices:
4. The significance of Saint Juniper.
As one Redditor dives into in great deal in the thread above, Saint Juniper seems to hold a fair bit of significance in the Black Mirror universe.
Obviously we had the San Junipero episode in Season 3, but now we also have the “Saint Juniper’s” hospital referred to by Rolo Haynes in “Black Museum”.
A clue to the reasoning behind this name choice could lie in the history of St. Francis of Assisi, one of whose followers was apparently called Brother Juniper. The story goes that the Friar once went the extra mile to fulfil a dying man’s request to eat pig’s feet. Aside from the references to pigs and robots discussed in the thread above, this theme (helping to fulfil a sick person’s final wish) ties in pretty closely with the “Black Museum” and “San Junipero” storylines.
5. Aaron Paul’s cameo in “U.S.S. Callister”.
Aaron Paul’s brief voice appearance as “Gamer691” is the first of two fairly subtle celebrity cameos in the “U.S.S. Callister” episode.
This one’s definitely the easiest to spot, though — even though you don’t see him, if you’re a fan of Breaking Bad you’ll almost certainly have recognised Jesse Pinkman’s voice.
6. And Kirsten Dunst’s brief appearance.
This one is way more subtle.
If you skip to about 10 minutes in to “U.S.S. Callister”, you’ll spot Kirsten Dunst — currently engaged to Jesse Plemons, who plays Robert Daly in the episode — casually strolling through the shot with her arms folded.
7. The “San Junipero” postcard hiding in Metalhead.
One of the big Black Mirror theories that appears to be confirmed in Season 4 is that all the episodes are taking place in the same universe.
The brief appearance in “Metalhead” of a postcard for “San Junipero” — the resort that has a whole episode dedicated to it in Season 3 — is just one of the many subtle nods to this.
8. The smashed iPad from “Arkangel” that appears in “Black Museum”.
“Black Museum” takes the “one universe” theory to a whole new level. Pretty much all the artefacts in Rolo Haynes’ nightmarish museum are props that feature in other Black Mirror episodes.
The iPad above, for instance, is the console the mother in “Arkangel” uses to spy on her daughter.
9. And the bathtub from “Crocodile”.
That blood-stained tub is the same one in which Shazia’s husband gets bludgeoned to death by Mia in “Crocodile”.
10. Also the lollipop featured in “U.S.S. Callister”.
Yep, that’s the same lollipop Robert Daly uses to steal Walton’s son’s DNA in “U.S.S. Callister”.
11. Plus there’s a robot bee from “Hated in the Nation”.
It’s not just Season 4 that gets referenced in the museum, either.
Does that tiny little creature in the GIF above look familiar? It’s one of the mechanical bees used to murder people in the Season 3 episode “Hated in the Nation”.
12. And the man from “White Bear”.
The cheerful chap above is one of the masked hunters chasing the protagonist of the Season 2 episode “White Bear”.
13. The matching pizza companies.
Another favourite trick of Charlie Brooker’s in Season 4 is using the same fictional companies or brands in multiple episodes.
“Fence’s pizza’s a big company,” says Shazia in “Crocodile”. “They’ve been in the press claiming they’re driverless for years.”
They’re also the same company that deliver to Robert Daly in “U.S.S. Callister” (pictured above).
And they’re not the only brand name with multiple mentions, either. The game featured in “Playtest” also pops up in “Black Museum”, the TCKR company Haynes works for is the same one behind San Junipero, and even the porn company that originally appeared in “15 Million Merits” — “WraithBabes” — shows up again in “Crocodile”.
You can find a detailed list of similar connections on Reddit.
In Brooker’s nightmarish future, nothing, it seems, is accidental.