Black Mirror’ director opens up on series’ first happy-ending

As the episode’s popularity grows, so have alternate theories about its ending

News Desk November 24, 2016
San Junipero stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis. PHOTO: FILE

There is only one place in the Black Mirror universe that viewers would want to visit and that’s San Junipero. The 1987 California-set town, with its neon palette and nostalgic soundtrack, came out of nowhere for dedicated viewers of Charlie Brooker’s dystopian anthology series.

Halfway through season three, Black Mirror time-hopped to tell a feel-good love story that — unlike every other episode in the tech-horror series — came with a happy ending. The episode ‘San Junipero’ plays out like a star-crossed romance for Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) and Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Viewers eventually learned that San Junipero is “nostalgia” therapy and a virtual reality the couple can visit by uploading their consciousness to a cloud. In the end, the just-married pair — who could not have legally wed in the real 1987 — spend afterlife together, driving off to Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven Is A Place On Earth.

As the episode’s popularity grows, so have alternate theories about its ending. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, director Owen Harris confirmed that Kelly and Yorkie do indeed spend eternity together. He imagined how a parallel San Junipero could exist within Black Mirror and explains why anyone hoping for a sequel should think twice. “Brooker might not want to do two happy endings,” he said. “San Junipero has a bittersweet one but we’ve learned a lot about Kelly and the decision she had to make. There’s something interesting in terms of choices. Would you go there if the people you loved weren’t able to join you?”

Harris revealed that the team and he never considered a non-happy ending for ‘San Junipero.’ “That’s what makes it so nice!  It felt like we’d be doing people out of a happy ending if we changed things. By setting up this 80s world, there’s a promise of something good and just like every film from that decade, you hit some big bumps on the way but end up feeling good,” explained the director. “The ‘80s genre was a nice way to pay it off. There’s some big bumps that make it contemporary, but it still ends up with this nostalgic, feel-good appeal to it.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2016.

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