Black Mirror (Season 6), Episode 3 “Beyond the Sea” Recap and Ending Explained: “Black Mirror” is back for a sixth season, in all its dark glory. Streaming on Netflix, the Charlie Brooker series is notoriously brilliant at depicting a myriad of emotions. Whether through technological advancements or societal degradation, the series has been prolific in finding the most innovative failings of humanity throughout its number of seasons.

The sixth season’s Episode 3, “Beyond the Sea,” is no different in that regard. With an excellent cast, led by Aaron Paul, Josh Hartnett, and Kate Mara, “Beyond the Sea” is “Black Mirror” at its top gear. The episode’s feature movie duration (eighty-odd minutes) just flew by. 

Black Mirror (Season 6), Episode 3 “Beyond the Sea” Recap

The Tragedy

Astronauts David Ross (Josh Hartnett)  and Cliff Stanfield (Aaron Paul) are in a spaceship, chartering towards the unknown for an unspecified mission. However, they are not truly away from their family. They have their earth replicas. The earth replicas allow the astronauts to transfer their self/soul/mind to the replicas from the spaceship, using a specific predetermined link. In this way, David and Cliff could spend time with their family when they are not at the ‘job.’ Just like any average office worker. 

Now, the lives of the two men could not be more different. David’s family lives in a California Villa, whereas Cliff has his family living in a country house. The relationships between the two family members are significantly different too. David is much more at ease with his wife and two children. All of them seem to be quite comfortable with David’s replica too. On the other hand, Cliff’s relationship with his wife, Lana (Kate Mara), seems quite frosty. Cliff seems to be much more formal with his only son too. There is palpable tension in Cliff’s family with his replica. 

Regardless of the difference in nature, both men work well together for that two-man spaceship job. As if right on cue, tragedy strikes David. A home invasion by four cult members who regard the concept of earth replicas as unnatural. The “hippy gang” brutally kills David’s wife and his two children, all the while ensuring that David sees this through his replica, which they tied up. After that, they set fire to David’s replica too. Ensuring he could not get back to earth anymore. 

The Glimmer of Hope

Although Cliff is not shown to be David’s best friend, he is the only one David now has up in the lonesome spaceship. Understandably, David struggles to cope after that brutality. Cliff could not offer any hope either. David’s condition, however, makes Cliff concerned about his well-being too. If something happens to David, Cliff will be alone in that spaceship which needs two persons to operate. It would mean an uncertain end for Cliff as well. 

Black Mirror. (L to R) Kate Mara as Lana, and Aaron Paul as Cliff in Black Mirror. Cr. Nick Wall/Netflix © 2023.

That is when Lana gives Cliff this idea. What if David uses Cliff’s link to come to Cliff’s house and just “breathe the air,” as Cliff called it? David accepts the offer. His first visit goes well. He breaks down in front of Lana, and she comforts him.  Soon, David longs to go back. He tells Cliff that he would like to do an oil painting of Cliff’s house and gift him. Initially hesitant, Cliff agrees to it, thinking it would help David with his depression. 

Soon, the increasing number of visits starts to have an effect on both men. Remember, David, is using Cliff’s replica. So, when David visits Lana, she sees her husband, only in a different demeanor with much more artistic sensibilities. An avid reader, Lana seems to be drawn toward the David-Cliff combination more than the real Cliff-Cliff one.

Black Mirror (Season 6), Episode 3 “Beyond the Sea” Ending Explained

Why did Lana fall for David for a moment?

When David’s sexual advances, through Cliff’s replica, are rebuffed by Lana, things start to get tense. Cliff also finds some of David’s portraiture works. They were nudes of Lana. An enraged Cliff confronts David. Amidst the shoving and pushing, David claims it is only fantasy. “I mixed up,” were his words. However, he also tells Cliff that he does not care for Lana as much as he should. She is lonely with him. 

The confused and angry Cliff confronts Lana, and she says that she never cared about David, despite some obvious similarities of interests. She only liked David because, through him, her husband’s replica seemed to be more excited to see her. And that is what she missed from the real Cliff. David made her feel that her old Cliff is back. 

What did David do at the end?

When Cliff comes back to the spaceship, he tells David that Lana was, is, and always will be his. And he says he will never see her or that part of the earth. David seems thoroughly displeased. He seems to want to make amends and open that avenue to Lana and the earth. 

Later on, David calls Cliff and tells him to check on coolant pressure. For that, Cliff has to leave the spaceship. Just when it seemed that David had left Cliff deserted in the space, David pulls Cliff in, to the surprise of him and the audience. But then, we understand his even darker motive. When Cliff sees that the key to his link to his home is missing, he asks David. David gives it from his pocket, indicating that he has paid another visit to Cliff’s home. 

Cliff runs to his house via his link. He is astounded to wake up in his replica, covered in blood. When he follows the trail of blood, he is faced with murdered bodies of his wife and son. 

Is there any possibility that Cliff’s family is not dead?

A far-fetched theory does come to my mind, especially because no bodies (of Lana and Henry) are shown on screen. David, being an artist, knows how to mimic blood stains. He could have staged all this while making Lana and Henry leave the house by threatening to kill them instead of killing them. This way, he could drive home his point about how Cliff is lucky to have his family.

But knowing “Black Mirror,” the possibility of that is slim. Also, the expressions of both Cliff and David reek of the darker reality. That Lana and Henry are really dead, and David killed them. David did this out of sheer jealousy, borne out of a tremendous tragedy. He does not have a family, he does not have any future back on earth. It seems only fair to him that his partner also does not have that. 

David offered the chair to Cliff coldly when Cliff came back from seeing the bodies of his family. It is a statement from David that now both men, who started this episode so differently, are equal. Trapped in an endless journey with an uncertain future with a companion who you would want to kill but can’t. Because that would also mean the end of your life in this vast nothingness. 

Who are the Hippy Gang members?

The Hippy Gang members are alluded to be like Mansion Killers, and the massacre at David’s house is reminiscent of Sharon Tate’s murder. The gang here looked and talked like Charles Mansion’s followers. The members here channeled a cultist ideology. To them, a human replica walking on the earth while the actual human being is thousand of miles away seemed as unnatural as possible. 

For them, David’s family sinned by giving the replica the same importance as they would to David. 

Episode 1 “Joan is Awful”Episode 2 “Loch Henry” | Episode 4 “Mazey Day” | Episode 5 “Demon 79”

Black Mirror (Season 6) Episode 3 “Beyond the Sea” Links – IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Black Mirror (Season 6) Episode 3 “Beyond the Sea” Cast – Ben Barnes, Michael Cera, Rob Delaney
Genres: Sci-Fi, Drama
Network: Netflix
Air Date: Jun 15, 2023
Directed By: John Crowley
Written By: Charlie Brooker
Where to watch Black Mirror

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