In four seasons of Black Mirror, creator Charlie Brooker has leaned into the idea that many of the show’s stand-alone episodes exist in the same shared universe, dropping hidden Easter eggs that connect one chapter to another. Brooker & Co. take this habit to a new level in the fourth season, now available on Netflix, including no less than two dozen references to previous episodes in the six new installments of his technological twilight zone. We’re here to break them down, episode by episode. Of course, spoilers ahead.
It’s hard to say if casting alone can be considered an Easter egg, but there’s some definite playfulness in the way “USS Callister” was put together. First, there’s the fact that co-star Michaela Coel appeared in a previous Black Mirror episode, as the airline employee who helped drive Bryce Dallas Howard crazy in “Nosedive.” Then there are the cameos by a pair of actors with ties to star Jesse Plemons. Early in the episode, his Fargo co-star (and fiancée) Kirsten Dunst walks by in the background of the office, and Aaron Paul, his Breaking Bad co-star, voices “gamer691” in the clever closing sequence.
More direct Easter eggs are littered throughout “USS Callister.” Elena, the receptionist at Callister Inc., uses the same dating app that Cooper uses in “Playtest” and that appears in this season’s “Hang the DJ.” The neural device that Daly uses to construct his virtual Space Fleet fantasy was made by TCKR Systems, the company that created the afterlife software in “San Junipero.” Two of the planets mentioned in “USS Callister” — Rannoch B and Skillane IV — are “White Bear” references. (That season-two episode featured characters named Iain Rannoch and Victoria Skillane.) Finally, Daly drinks a brand of milk called Raiman. The name is a nod to the protagonist from season three’s “Men Against Fire,” in which a character named Raiman mentions that her family owned a farm.
Brooker often connects technological advancements throughout Black Mirror, so perhaps the “memory wheel” concept from this cautionary tale about parental interference was developed from the recording technology in season one’s “The Entire History of You.” Of course, there are a few more direct Easter Eggs as well. Teenage Sara has two posters in her room that draw direct lines to pop-culture items from previous episodes: There’s a poster of Tusk, the rapper from “Hated in the Nation,” and there’s also one of Harlech Shadow, the deadly game from “Playtest.” Also, when Marie is considering the Arkangel technology, she’s shown a demo that includes footage from “Men Against Fire,” another episode about the dangers of blurring reality.
Before season four even debuted, Black Mirror fans knew that at least one episode would feature Irma Thomas’s “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand),” which was previously essential to “Fifteen Million Merits,” “White Christmas,” and “Men Against Fire.” This time around, “Crocodile” is the chapter that gets the musical honor.
The song is far from alone in this Easter egg–filled hour. When Mia looks through porn options in her hotel room for a quickie alibi, we see Best of WraithBabes as a choice; WraithBabes was the adult film that Abi wound up doing in season one’s “Fifteen Million Merits.” (The hotel clerk also makes a reference about a tabloid story around the host of Hot Shots, which is the title of the show from that same episode.) At one point, Mia burns an article from UKN Online, which featured prominently in “The National Anthem.” And Fence’s Pizza, the company whose automated truck features prominently in the chain of events that lead Mia to more murders, is the same company that delivers a pizza to Daly in “USS Callister.” (It’s apparently not tech that will be our undoing, but our addiction to pizza.)
“Crocodile” also contains the season’s most playful Easter egg: When Rob hands Mia a newspaper story about the murder they covered up, eagle-eyed viewers spotted this message inside the publication: “Of course the real question is why anyone would pause what they’re watching just to read a sentence in a printed out newspaper article, says a voice in your head — before advising you to go and share this finding on Reddit.” Obviously, that’s exactly what happened.
This optimistic (at least in Black Mirror terms) chapter includes the fewest Easter eggs. The only one of note: The dating app that appears after the twist at the very end was first seen in “Playtest” and it also pops up, as mentioned above, in “USS Callister.”
This dark episode is also light on Easter eggs, but there are a few small references that have been caught by die-hard fans. When Maxine is going through a drawer, we see a postcard from San Junipero. That season-three episode is again referenced by a truck with “TCKR” written on the side: That’s the name of the company that started the San Junipero Project. Finally, there’s a very analog-looking computer screen in a car that includes the word “Callister.”
The title alone should tell you that “Black Museum” is a 12-egg omelet of Black Mirror references. As proprietor Rolo Haynes tells his cautionary tales of technological crimes, Brooker drops visual and story references to a dozen episodes in the past. And then, tellingly, he burns it all down, indicating either the end of the show (it technically hasn’t been renewed yet) or perhaps a fresh start if it returns for season five. Here’s the full list of references, arranged by episode.
“The National Anthem” (Season 1, Episode 1)
Carlton Bloom’s hanging is an exhibit, and we see a glimpse of a newsreel that reads “PM Callow Marries Pig.”
“Fifteen Million Merits” (Season 1, Episode 2)
There’s a shot of a graphic novel called 15M Merits.
“Be Right Back” (Season 2, Episode 1)
Is the name of the charging station, BRB Connect, a shout-out to this brilliant episode?
“White Bear” (Season 1, Episode 2)
In Rolo’s museum, there’s a video of Victoria Skillane and a mannequin version of the man who chased her.
“Playtest” (Season 3, Episode 2)
A copy of the Harlech Shadow game is one of the exhibits.
“Shut Up and Dance” (Season 3, Episode 3)
Rolo has two lab rats named Kenny and Hector, the two main characters from this horrifying episode.
“San Junipero” (Season 3, Episode 4)
First, we learn that Rolo Haynes worked at a hospital called St. Juniper. Did he borrow that name when he went to work for TCKR Systems, the company that also developed the San Junipero Project? Meanwhile, the dresses worn by Yorkie and Kelly also appear in Rolo’s museum, which is an interesting twist given that it’s supposed to be about crimes, and “San Junipero” was essentially a crime-free episode.
“Hated in the Nation” (Season 3, Episode 6)
There’s a bee on display. Those damn bees.
“USS Callister” (Season 4, Episode 1)
An exhibit contains young Tommy’s lollipop, a container of Raiman’s milk, and Daly’s DNA scanner.
“Arkangel” (Season 4, Episode 2)
The tablet that Sara used to bash in Marie’s face is one of the exhibits.
“Crocodile” (Season 4, Episode 3)
In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, Nish walks past the bloody bathtub that appeared earlier in the season.
Of course, here’s the real mindblowing question to consider: What if the other exhibits in Rolo Haynes’s museum are references to episodes that Brooker hasn’t even made yet? Given how interwoven these Easter eggs are, it seems likely that “Black Museum” contains nods to future stories. Now we just have to wait and see if Black Mirror will actually return.