san junipero

Black Mirror's San Junipero episode could've featured a Heavenly theme park, but then Westworld debuted

Contributed by
Nov 26, 2018

Out of all the episodes of Netflix's normally bleak sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror, Season 3's "San Junipero" is one of the most acclaimed. It's also one of the few with a legitimately happy ending, which may be a factor with its popularity. 

The episode follows two women, Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) and Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who meet in an '80s-set simulated reality while their relationship spills over into the considerably less idyllic real world. 

In a recent interview with Vulture, series creator Charlie Brooker explained that the world created in "San Junipero" was originally much more ambitious, but that another heady sci-fi show forced a last-minute re-write. 

"Something else that we’d discussed was a way of expanding the world of 'Be Right Back,'" said Brooker, referring to the Season 2 episode where AI can play the role of someone you've lost in your life.

"We couldn’t do this now because of Westworld, but we had the idea of a theme park you went to that was essentially Heaven. All your dead relatives and friends would be there, and you’d pay to go and visit them. So that thought stayed around for a while — this notion of Heaven that you go to as a holiday."

Essentially, HBO's Westworld had premiered right before Netflix was going to drop Black Mirror's third season, which was also about an immersive theme park that challenged the notions of morality, identity, and mortality itself. As a result, Brooker and company decided to scale back their story.

It's not the first time that Black Mirror fundamentally changed an episode between the script and the screen (as we discovered in the new book about the show), particularly by telling a story that's smaller in scope. But it's the first one that's been revealed to have been re-written to avoid veering too close to another show's story. Given the outside-the-box storytelling and similar themes explored by both Black Mirror and Westworld, though, it makes sense that there'd be some unintentional overlap.

The fifth series (aka season) of Black Mirror is expected on Netflix sometime in December, and will continue to push boundaries with an interactive episode. 

Do you think the original idea behind "San Junipero" was more interesting than the episode we ended up with? Let us know in the comments. 

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