The internet is abuzz with talk of Netflix’s new interactive movie, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. It’s the story of a young video game developer on a quest to create a “choose your own adventure” title. Have your remote ready because you make the choices for the main character, Stefan, played by Dunkirk’s Fionn Whitehead.
During the movie, the viewer is prompted to make choices with their TV remote (or mouse or touchscreen). At first the options are minor, such as choosing cereal or music. But they quickly escalate to morally and ethically challenging decisions involving drugs and violence.
When you make a choice, you see the consequences play out. But sometimes you hit a dead end. You are forced to go back and choose another path, or exit to the credits and end your experience.
Netflix has revealed that there are five possible endings (though I counted six) and more than a trillion variations. But after watching Bandersnatch three times, I’ve realized that you really have fewer options than you think.
In fact, that is the whole premise of this movie. You really don’t have free will or control of your outcome.
SPOILER WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead. I don’t think it will ruin the show for you, but if you want to know nothing, stop reading now.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch Choices
There are some choices in the show that they basically force you to follow, so you could save yourself time by just following them on your first watch. You won’t miss much and you could always go back and make the alternate choice when you have time.
- Accept or Refuse: When Stefan is offered a job at Tuckersoft, choose Refuse.
- Talk about Mom?: Choose yes. You’ll get important back story and choosing no does nothing.
- Throw tea or shout at Dad: While it’s kinda fun to see Stefan douse his computer in tea, this choice simply reboots you to choose again. So choose to shout at Dad.
- Follow Colin: Just do it. You’ll have to do it eventually and it’s an important story element.
- Be sure to choose “Netflix” when Stefan asks who’s there. And then choose fight. It’s SUPER FUN!
However, when you get down to the end choices (such as the photo or book or safe), I’ve discovered that going back and choosing the same choice again can even present you with new options. So definitely spend some time exploring all options at the end!
What if you want to see every possible outcome? Netflix has said that if you opt out of making any choices, it will autoplay the movie through to an ending. Then, if you let it continue to autoplay instead of choosing the “exit to credits” option, the movie will go through each of the major choices and you will see the end result of each one.
So if you want to be sure to see every option, do nothing. However, it’s way more fun to choose. And true to any video game, if you choose the wrong path, you’ll simply have to respawn.
And if you want to really dig in, check out this Bandersnatch flow chart!
Bandersnatch Easter Eggs
I caught a few of the obvious easter eggs in this movie, but found a few more on Reddit.
- Tuckersoft makes video games called “Metl Hedd” and “Nohzdyve.” These are clearly callouts to Black Mirror episodes Metalhead and Nosedive. I got to thinking that each of those episodes could conceivably have taken place in a video game, a la “Hang the DJ.” What if?
- A scrolling news banner on TV reads: “Former PM Michael Callow wins Celebrity Bake Off.” (The National Anthem)
- Another news banner reads: “Granular to unveil prototype ‘pollinator drone’.” (Hated in the Nation)
- In Playtest, the front cover of a magazine advertises a review of Bandersnatch inside.
- The White Bear symbol is seen throughout the episode.
Is Bandersnatch a Black Mirror Classic?
The Bandersnatch story line does not live up to the rest of the series. It was really good, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve seen much better stories from Black Mirror. This is a very simple story, but the cool part is in thinking about the element of free will and control – all in the context of a video game.
The drug scene with Stefan and Colin is one of my favorite parts of the movie. I’ve watched it several times in order to really hone in on the dialogue, which I think is the crux of the movie’s meaning.
While the story may not be as mind-bending as some other Black Mirror episodes, the interactive element and consideration of someone controlling everything we do makes it a classic in my book!