Black Mirror’s “Beyond the Sea”: Inside the Making of Season Six’s Standout Episode


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Black Mirror is back on Netflix following a four-year hiatus with five new episodes and a star-studded cast, including Salma Hayek, Zazie Beetz, and Michael Cera. The season’s standout installment, “Beyond the Sea,” is, in typical Black Mirror fashion, dark—among the most sinister of the series’ six seasons, which is really saying something. The sci-fi anthology’s most obvious predecessor is The Twilight Zone, and the rich premise and grim final resolution of “Beyond the Sea” strike the same tone pioneered by the iconic ’60s series to pitch perfection. A triptych of settings, all within an alternative 1969, couldn’t be more separate in atmosphere, location, and aesthetic, but all weave together in a symphony of horrors starring Aaron Paul, Josh Hartnett, and Kate Mara in what might be considered a sort of love triangle.

Series creator Charlie Brooker envisioned his reimagined 1969 as one still characterized by boundary-pushing space travel, but with the addition of technology that allows astronauts on long-term missions to beam their consciousnesses back down to earth-dwelling surrogate clones, giving them the best of both worlds. If it sounds like a rather lovely workaround to the isolated life of an astronaut, wait a few more minutes for the episode to take the trademark turn that makes Black Mirror, well, Black Mirror.

“I tried to find a way that working on this spaceship is not just like walking down the hallway,” says Production Designer Udo Kramer. “They’re kind of going through panels and tiny airlocks and stuff like that to get around.”

Photo: Nick Wall/Netflix

Laconic father-of-one Cliff Stanfield, played by Paul, resides with his wife and son in a quaint rural farmhouse in Massachusetts; starring opposite Paul is Hartnett as the affable David Ross, in a picturesque California mansion with his wife and two kids, the stereotypical happy family. The two storylines converge when it’s revealed that both Cliff and David are colleagues on a spaceship traversing the cosmos on a mission that spans years, living out their daily lives in shifts via replica bodies while their real bodies work the rest of the time in outer space.

All three of the episode’s sets were masterminded by Production Designer Udo Kramer, who joined the series for season six early last year. He had a number of boxes to check off to fulfill the narratives as laid out by the script. Kramer was in search of both “a great house that looks stunning, that fits the actors and the story, but also delivers the story points such that the conflict is shown through it, in a way.” His hunt for the quintessential all-American countryside manor for Cliff and family took the team, unexpectedly, to the UK. 

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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