Aaron Paul’s ‘Black Mirror’ Cameo Is More Than Just An “USS Callister” Easter Egg
Just before the end of the year, Black Mirror Season 4 dropped six brand new stories full of horrifying tech and stunning twists, but only one ends with a celebrity voice cameo. Each of the new Black Mirror episodes includes its fair share of surprises, but viewers got a special treat at the end of the feature-length season-opener "USS Callister" in the form of a recognizable voice portraying a dedicated video game player. Spoilers for all of "USS Callister" ahead! Aaron Paul's Black Mirror voice cameo is definitely unexpected, but the actor has an interesting connection with one of the main cast members of "USS Callister."
After the digitally cloned crew of the USS Callister manage to escape Robert Daley's virtual prison, they discover that their journey through the wormhole did not end in death. Instead, they find themselves in the cloud, free to interact with other players of the game that they had been trapped in for so long. Before they have time to get used to their new surroundings, they're already confronted with another online player — a player who happens to be voiced by Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad and Bojack Horseman fame.
The faceless player is as crass and unwelcoming as one could be in an online game, threatening to blast the ship out of "his quadrant" when he discovers the USS Callister has "nothing to trade." The character is never given a name, but their attitude seems to indicate that Aaron Paul could be channeling the role that made him famous. The character's aggressive dialogue and the exhausted sigh of "king of space" that closes out the episode doesn't sound far off from Jesse Pinkman himself.
Paul has played a variety of roles over his career, from Corn Pops craver to cult leader Eddie Lane in The Path, but it's hard to deny that his angry gamer character sounds more like Jesse than any Paul's other prominent roles. While there's no direct correlation between the two characters, there's an interesting connection between the two series. Both Jesse Pinkman and the cast of the USS Callister found themselves at the mercy of characters played by Jesse Plemons. That connection may have been hard to spot, since "USS Callister" never provides a full-on Breaking Bad reunion by having the two actors interact.
SPOILERS FOR BREAKING BAD. In Season 5 of Breaking Bad, Jesse Plemons appears as Todd, an exterminator who proves himself handy to Walter White. However, Todd soon reveals himself to be a child-murdering white supremacist and, along with his cohorts, holds Jesse hostage. Jesse is forced to do Todd's bidding until he finds an opportunity to escape, and kills Todd for his own freedom. That way Todd's passion for control affects Jesse isn't far off from the way that Nanette and the crew of the "USS Callister" are treated, except instead of cooking meth they're forced to help Robert Daley play out his power fantasies.
Paul's cameo appears doesn't just nod to Jesse Plemons' past playing a manipulative, merciless villain — the Breaking Bad connect forces viewers to notice the similarities between the two stories' treatment of the pitfalls of masculinity. Much like Breaking Bad, "USS Callister" has a great deal to say about toxic masculinity and power dynamics. Aside from being a showcase for Plemons' range as an actor, Daley's real-life and virtual-life show how even quiet men can have loud, violent urges, which happened to be a major point of Breaking Bad and the main character of Walter White.
Aaron Paul's voice cameo in Black Mirror may just be a fun Easter egg on the surface, but it also contributes a few extra layers to Black Mirror's satire of male nerd culture.