David (Josh Hartnett) sits in a medical-looking recliner, preparing to be transported to space.


"Beyond the Sea" transports Josh Hartnett and Aaron Paul to a retrofuturistic world.

15 May 20243 min read

Black Mirror has consistently impressed viewers across its six anthology seasons, weaving suspicious technology, political mischief, philosophical musings, and elements from nearly every cinematic genre into expertly crafted pieces of storytelling by writer Charlie Brooker. Set in the 1960s, the Season 6 standout episode “Beyond the Sea” transports viewers back to an idealized decade before defying our expectations with one of Brooker’s signature surprising and skin-tingling plotlines.

Directed by John Crowley (Brooklyn, Boy A), “Beyond the Sea” centers on Cliff Stanfield (Aaron Paul) and David Ross (Josh Hartnett), two astronauts on a space mission who are able to continue experiencing their lives on Earth through a new technology. “When I’d first envisaged this, it was set in the near future,” says Brooker. “But in keeping with shaking things up this season I thought, Fuck it, what if it’s set in the 60s instead? Doing that immediately gave it a slightly different tone.”

The actors both jumped at the opportunity to take a role in the series. “I would have done anything to be in an episode,” says Hartnett (Oppenheimer), who says he’s been a fan of Black Mirror since its first season. “Charlie’s scripts are so beautifully subtle, full of complex character relationships, and brimming with emotions.” Paul, previously a voice actor in the episode “USS Callister,” which received four wins across its seven Emmy nominations, was glad to have the chance to fully immerse himself in the Black Mirror world. “I’m a massive fan of Charlie and his beautiful mind,” says Paul (Breaking Bad). “Every season of Black Mirror is so different, but they are all linked tonally.”

“Beyond the Sea” grazes the intersection of human psychology and technology, creating an experience that’s just as terrifying as it is satisfying. Paul and Hartnett carry their characters to the episode’s stunning conclusion and leave viewers reeling, just as the best episodes of Black Mirror always have.