From Netflix. Anthony Mackie plays Danny and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II portrays Karl in Striking Vipers.
I’ve loved the British sci-fi anthology series “Black Mirror,” for years. The way it takes our current technology and social media obsessions and extrapolates on how they could take us down roads we really don’t want to go.
But I never thought the series would hit home in the way it did until I watched the fifth season episode, “Striking Vipers,” which is airing on Netflix.
In the episode Anthony Mackie plays Danny, who reunites with his old roommate Karl (actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). The two always had a smoldering, just-under-the-surface attraction for each other.
They would playfully hump on each other. And really, what straight guy talks about his buddy’s “taint,” or that sensitive area between a man’s scrotum and genitals.
Danny gets married and has the good job, the great house and the beautiful wife. And loses contact with Karl. But life is getting boring and his wife Theo (Nicole Behari) decides to give her husband a needed spark by inviting his old chum to a birthday party.
Watch the trailer for Striking Vipers:
Karl gives Danny a virtual reality game that connects to your brain and senses and and enables the two to to become street fighting figures. Karl invites Danny to play and Danny does – but Karl’s avatar is a sexy Asian female fighter and Danny a muscled-up Asian male. And before you can say “What the fuck?” they are kissing, and having sex. And soon Danny is cheating on his wife in virtual reality, stealing time away to be with Karl, and twisted with guilt.
Danny tries to stop but Karl can’t let it go. He tells Danny he knows he wants to fuck his “sweet, wet pussy” some more in the virtual game.
“Nothing matches it, does it,” Karl asks. “I tried replacing it man. I tried.”
I was watching the episode and almost breaking out in a cold sweat. I was a married, family man too and remember all too well what can happen when you open up to a desire you always wondered about and it starts to take over more and more of your life, becoming more and more real.
I empathized with Danny totally.
But when the two friends slip away and meet on the street on a rainy night to try to kiss and see if they are really gay the attraction that is so hot in the virtual world just does not translate into the brick-and-mortar universe.
That’s where, to me, the episode copped out. In order for the attraction to work so well as avatars it had to have started in real life. So the episode never really adequately answered are the characters really gay. Or is Karl just getting off on experiencing sex as a female and Danny is really attracted to Roxi, the street fighter Karl inhabits in the virtual world?
Still, I think the episode was very brave in exploring the fact sexuality is fluid and maybe without all the constraints of the real world (wife, family, religion, toxic masculinity) more men would experiment and push their sexual boundaries.
And the end has a neat twist. Danny and his wife reach a compromise. If only more “straight” couples struck the same deal maybe there would not be so many down-low men creeping.