This week marked the release of the fifth season of Netflix's critically acclaimed anthology series, Black Mirror. The new installment contained a total of three episodes, but only one ended with a true cliffhanger. "Smithereens," starring Andrew Scott, Damson Idris, and Topher Grace, left the final moment very open for fans to interpret. It honestly could have gone either way once the screen cut to black, and Grace is glad that things were left open to interpretation.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers from Black Mirror Season 5! Continue reading at your own risk...
"Smithereens" is about a rideshare driver who kidnaps a social media employee, resulting in a standoff with the police. The drive is considering ending his own life when a struggle occurs and the police make the call for a sniper to pull the trigger. When the gun is fired, the screen goes to black. A couple of additional shots throughout the credits show the reactions of various people to the incident, including Grace's Billy Bauer. However, their reactions are such that you can't tell if the sniper made the shot and killed the driver, or if the sniper missed (which had happened earlier in the episode).
Grace spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the episode following its release, specifically about that cliffhanger ending.
"Well, that's what's great," he said. "I get to go out with [creator] Charlie [Brooker] and get a little bit more than the viewer with what he tells you, which is great because you're performing it. But when people ask, I think it's probably better [to not answer]. What's great about the system that Charlie works in is that Netflix has been so wonderful about letting him and Annabel do their thing and have their autonomy. And maybe this is more true of British broadcasting too, is that there are levels of ambiguity. And I don't want to spoil any of that. It would be the American who would ruin it, right?"
After a few reactions from people on their phones and at the scene of the standoff, Billy is seen going back into his retreat and closing his eyes, returning to his meditation.
"All I thought about was how great it feels when my wife convinces me to turn off my phone on the weekend," Grace said of that final moment. "You go, 'My gosh, I feel great.' That is some of that negative stuff we were talking about that comes along with all the good things about technology. So I'm sure Billy is experiencing that times one thousand."
Black Mirror Season 5 is now streaming on Netflix.