Black Mirror’s Bleak “Beyond The Sea” Episode Has Twitter In Shambles

“Even by Black Mirror standards this episode was messed up.”

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Kate Mara as Lana, Aaron Paul as Cliff in 'Black Mirror' Season 6, Episode 3, "Beyond the Sea," via ...
Nick Wall/Netflix

Spoilers ahead for Black Mirror Season 6, Episode 3, “Beyond the Sea.” Ahead of Black Mirror Season 6, creator Charlie Brooker warned fans to expect “the bleakest stories” yet. When those five new episodes dropped on June 15, viewers knew exactly what he meant — particularly in the dark “Beyond the Sea” episode. Set in “an alternative 1969,” the plot centers on astronauts Cliff Stanfield (Aaron Paul) and David Ross (Josh Hartnett), who “grapple with the fallout of an unfathomable tragedy back on Earth” while on a perilous, six-year space mission, per Netflix’s official synopsis.

In reality, “Beyond the Sea” highlighted multiple tragedies. Though Cliff and David are physically on a spaceship, a technology called “link” allows their consciousnesses to transport to replica bodies on Earth (while their real bodies sleep in space pods). One night two years into the mission, David’s replica is forced to watch a Charles Manson-like cult leader named Kappa (Rory Culkin) and his followers brutally murder his wife and children as punishment for “defying nature” by using the abominable link technology. Aside from witnessing the horror and navigating the resulting grief, David is also no longer able to visit Earth because Kappa destroyed his one-of-a-kind “machine man” replica in the slaying.

Though initially hesitant, Cliff eventually takes his wife Lana’s (Kate Mara) suggestion and allows David to borrow his link and get a break from space. A complex love triangle ensues, but after Lana rejects David, he steals Cliff’s replica and murders her and her son, leaving his fellow astronaut to grapple with the same devastation he had.

Nick Wall/Netflix

“I did not expect that outcome,” Mara admitted in a interview, adding that the team wanted viewers to feel surprised. Hartnett, for his part, added that he didn’t see any other possible ending. “It’s sad, but what was the other option?” he posed while discussing the episode that Brooker wrote during COVID-19 lockdown. “I mean, it could have been self-inflicted harm. But that would have been [a case of] David killing Cliff as well. I mean, he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place here. It might have been his only option.”

Regardless, the episode devastated viewers, and the majority of fan reactions on Twitter included the phrase “just watched Beyond the Sea” and included a meme or gif of some person or character in extreme emotional distress.

Meanwhile, other Twitter users couldn’t quite wrap their heads around how “f*cked up” the episode truly was — and several needed some time to process what happened.

Emotional roller-coaster aside, several fans also praised the actors’ performances, with one joking that they wished at least one of Paul’s characters could catch a break and he should maybe try his hand at a comedy next.

Despite Paul’s character returning to the spaceship, fans imagined their own ideal endings, which would’ve played out much differently than how it did on screen.

In sharing some final thoughts, several fans also asked the same question: Why didn’t they send the replicas to space and let the humans remain on Earth?

And after all that, emotionally drained viewers still had four other new Black Mirror episodes to make it through, though perhaps none of the others carried quite the same weight as “Beyond the Sea.”

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