The sixth season of Netflix’s ‘Black Mirror’ features ‘Beyond the Sea’ in which we follow two astronauts on a six-year mission in space. Cliff and David are the only ones on the spaceship, but unlike normal astronauts, they have replicas on Earth that they can log into to spend time with their families. While their bodies sleep in space, their replicas come alive on Earth, and they continue to live normal lives.
The existence of replicas is a boon for them because it would have been unimaginable to have just two people live with each other for six years, hurtling through space. The episode begins on a great note for them. However, things take a rather grim turn for both of them. In the end, the inevitable wait to happen. Does the ending mean one of them will die? Will Cliff kill David? Let’s find out. SPOILERS AHEAD
Will Cliff Kill David?
When Cliff and David went to space, they and their families were not the only ones who knew about the replicas. The entire world knew that while the real astronauts were in space, they visited their families in bodies tailored specifically for them. Some people consider it a triumph of science, while for some, it is an abomination. David feels the full force of this hatred when the members of a hippie cult break into his house, kill his family, and destroy his replica.
Because there was only one replica, David has no other way to come back to Earth. In space, when Cliff is off visiting his family, David starts to lose his mind. Cliff notices that his partner is becoming suicidal and becomes concerned because his own life depends on what David does next. Cliff’s wife, Lana, suggests that he should let David use his replica so that the man can get a break and properly grieve his family.
As expected, David feels much better after going to Earth, even if it is in Cliff’s replica. As a thank you, he offers to paint a portrait of Cliff’s house, which means he would need to return to Earth several times. Cliff and David agree to let the latter have one hour each week in which he can use Cliff’s replica to visit Earth and paint the portrait. With each visit, David seems to get better. He also develops feelings for Lana, who he thinks is lonely because Cliff is distant from her. David makes a move on Lana, which she rejects, but the problem starts when Cliff finds Lana’s sketches made by David.
Following his visits, David starts to fantasize about Lana and makes nude portraits of her. At first, Cliff thinks he and Lana are having an affair, but they both confess that nothing happened between them. Cliff realizes he hadn’t been as attentive and caring towards his wife and son as he should have been and decides to do better. However, he also hates David for making a move on his wife and trying to steal his life from him.
David apologizes to Cliff and asks to let him visit Lana one more time so that he can apologize to her in person. However, Cliff refuses his request and says some very hurtful things in anger. David tries to tell him to step into his shoes and imagine what he must be going through. But when Cliff doesn’t show any sympathy for him, a switch flips inside David, and he decides to teach Cliff a lesson. He steals Cliff’s tag, logs into his replica, and kills his family.
When Cliff finds out about it, he is devastated, and understandably, he would want to kill David. But things are not that simple. Cliff and David need each other because their mission is designed in such a way that Cliff cannot do David’s job and vice versa. If one dies, the other will perish too. This was why Cliff was so desperate to help David and stop him from killing himself. Had David died, Cliff wouldn’t know where to begin with the computer stuff that he handled. This means if Cliff kills David, he will die sooner or later.
All David wanted was for Cliff to understand what he was going through after the death of his family. Now, when Cliff’s family is dead, they are both in the same situation. However, it is unlikely that Cliff will sympathize with the man who ruined his life. Either Cliff’s anger will get the best of him, and he will kill David, or he will resign to his fate and prepare to spend the next four years with David. Considering how David broke down and almost killed himself back then, Cliff might become suicidal too.
He might feel guilty for allowing David near his family and being responsible for their deaths. It might make him kill himself. Should he go through with it, he will have sealed David’s fate too. If Cliff dies, David cannot survive. No matter how one looks at it, the outcome is always the same. Both Cliff and David are destined to die, no matter who kills whom.