On Dec. 28, 2018, Netflix presented the world with a belated Christmas gift in the form of “Bandersnatch,” the ‘choose your own adventure’ extended episode of the show “Black Mirror.” The film, set in 1984, allows the audience to choose the actions of the main character Stefan, who is a hopeful video game designer working on an intricate ‘choose your own adventure’ video game.
At first glance, “Bandersnatch” looks like it could be a quick business ploy; directing each viewer to the same ending. However, after experiencing the intelligent decisions and intricate scenes, it’s clear that “Bandersnatch” is blazing a trail for a brilliant and exciting genre of entertainment. Netflix stated that there are five ‘main’ endings, however, viewers can experience multiple endings or pseudo endings.
“Black Mirror” creator and writer Charlie Brooker said that he has “lost track” of how many different endings viewers can come to. The director, David Slade, also told The Hollywood Report that there are scenes that viewers may never reach.
“There are scenes that some people just will never see, and we had to make sure that we were OK with that,” Slade said. “We actually shot a scene that we can’t access.”
To new or potential viewers, please let me help explain to you what you’ll be getting into. If you want to enter the episode with an inkling of a plan like I did, I implore you to decide who you want to keep safe or sane. Personally, I vowed to keep the main character and his father alive as long as I could. And, even though a heroic plan, “Bandersnatch” might not let you achieve every goal you had in mind. In some instances later in the episode, you may not be presented with a choice at all; a nod towards the construct of free will given to the main character.
If viewing on a TV, keep the remote close since you’ll frequently be making different decisions for the main character. The first decision that is extended is a simple choice between breakfast cereals to introduce you to the new journey/genre you’ve just embarked upon. Later, your choices will influence the story line, the character’s fates, and which ending(s) you reach.
“Black Mirror” has colonized an enticing new style of entertainment that could dominate future entertainment production, that is, once actors are able to overcome the intimidating prospect of immense hours of filming for perhaps an hour and a half of run time. At times, the acting in “Bandersnatch” seemed stilted due to its unique design. It seemed Stefan had only a few emotions: scared, confused, crazed. And such stunted acting may be unavoidable given the very nature of an interactive episode.
“Bandersnatch” was certainly an exciting episode, no matter which path you traipsed, but “Bandersnatch” is only an infant creation in the avant-garde frontier of non-linear television. Netflix had already released several interactive films. However, unless you’ve spent a lot of your time musing over “Minecraft: Story Mode,” “Bandersnatch” is probably the first multiple ending program you’ve ever watched or heard of, allowing this new genre to finally gain headway among your average, established linear genres.
Overall, “Bandersnatch” is a must-watch, even if you’ve never been a fan of “Black Mirror” and their thrilling dystopian episodic style. “Bandersnatch” isn’t merely another episode of “Black Mirror.” In fact, comparing it to the rest of the series seems unfair given the importance and impact of a production like “Bandersnatch.” Even if it isn’t your usual kind of show, you’ll still be wildly entertained by the intrinsic complexity of the show as well as the enthralling prospect of witnessing the first major release in this potentially potent new genre.
By: Katie King, Copy Editor