Black Mirror 6 Beyond the Sea explained: why David snaps

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Beyond the Sea is definitely one of the most fascinating episodes of Black Mirror Season 6. It plays with some of the topics the series often touched on: the concept of depersonalization, the alteration of nature, and the use of artificial bodies to simulate normal life. The ending presents an unexpected plot twist that needs to be explained: let’s discover why David did all that and what happened in his mind.

You can watch the official trailer for Black Mirror Season 6 here on Youtube.

Black Mirror 6 Beyond the Sea explained: why David snaps

In the plot of Beyond the Sea we follow the lives of two astronauts, Cliff and David. Using a futuristic technology available in that reality, the two astronauts have the possibility to “enter” an artificial replica of their body while they are in the space station: using a special tag they constantly wear on the station, they fall asleep there, and their mind & spirit “wakes up” in the replica on Earth. This way, they can virtually spend time with their families, smell the fresh air, and be present on Earth, while they keep working on the space station.

One night, a gang of psychos breaks into David’s house and kills his wife, his children, and his replica because they are all going “against nature.” That drives him crazy. He enters a dangerous phase of depression, and his colleague Cliff starts to worry: he needs to rely on David and his mental stability; otherwise it’s a risk to his life too. For this reason, Cliff agrees with his wife to let David use his replica (the only one working now) to let David use a break. This becomes a regular appointment, where David spends time drawing and interacting with Cliff’s wife.

Soon, David develops an attraction (partially returned) toward Cliff’s wife: she evidently feels alone and appreciates the special attention David gives her while he’s in Cliff’s replica. However, the day David tries to kiss Cliff’s wife, she pushes him away, outraged. Shortly after, Cliff discovers a set of secret drawings David painted in the space station, portraying Cliff’s wife in intimate poses.

That breaks the relationship between David and Cliff, obviously. Cliff will no longer let David use his replica. He reconciles with his wife, promising to be more present. In the space station, David apologizes to Cliff, explaining that nothing happened between him and Cliff’s wife. He also asks if he can apologize to her in person and say goodbye, using the replica for the last time. But Cliff cruelly tells David that his wife is disgusted by the idea that David could be around again: it’s her wife, and David won’t see her ever again. From there, we quickly arrive at the plot twist at the ending of Beyond The Sea, a tragedy that needs to be explained.

David simulates an emergency in the space station, calling Cliff back. While Cliff checks the outer side of the space station, David quickly steals his tag, enters his replica, and kills his family. Cliff returns to the space station, understands that David used his replica, and runs to check what he did. Shocked, he discovers that his wife and his son are dead. Once he’s back at the space station, David gives him an evil look, suggesting he sits beside him.

Why did David snap at the ending of Beyond The Sea, how can his actions be explained? David didn’t look out of himself when he apologized to Cliff, and he seemed honest when he asked to say goodbye to his wife. This leads us to think that Cliff’s answer was what made him snap. Let’s put it into the context of his psychology: David is a man who lost everything. He considered himself a good husband, able to give his wife and family all the love they deserved. Nevertheless, his destiny has punished him with a cruelty he didn’t deserve. He was going mad, but the time spent in Cliff’s replica gave him a glimpse of hope: he felt alive again. He also kind of found purpose in his life again. He probably believed that he could make Cliff’s wife happy with the love he can give her.

Cliff’s wife refuses David, but we can easily assume that David wasn’t particularly discouraged by her reaction. He’s pretty confident that she feels something for him. For this reason, we can safely say that David still had hope when he asked Cliff to say goodbye to his wife. But Cliff’s despise words break him, especially if they come from Cliff’s wife (as Cliff claims): if really there is no longer hope for him, he’s again just a man who lost everything. While in front of him, another man, Cliff, has everything a man can wish, probably not deserving it (David believes he can be a better husband than Cliff).

David’s snap is probably just a direct effect of the hate he now feels for Cliff: Cliff has cut his hope; he impersonates everything David will never have again, the only element that prevents him from having a purpose again. Cliff said his wife is only his, and David will never see her again. David’s mind enters vengeance mode: if David cannot have it, neither will Cliff. So David evens the score, killing Cliff’s family. Now they are on the same boat, sharing the same space station, the same destiny, the same loneliness. And hating each other for the rest of their journey.

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