Black Mirror Bandersnatch: Who is controlling whom?


The long-rumored interactive movie from the Black Mirror universe is finally here, and it brings some interesting questions to the table.

As entertaining, mind-blowing, and full-on terrifying as Black Mirror can be, the main point of it is to make viewers question their bond with technology and the media. It’s science fiction, yes, but we are closer to some of the scenarios presented in the series than you might think.

An interactive episode seemed fitting for the series, and even kind of meta, but a lot of questions arose: how were they going to achieve that? Netflix has already done it with kid’s content, and a Black Mirror movie is much more complex, so would this format actually work? And what could it be about?

All these questions have already been answered with the release of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, but it has also brought a bunch of different questions. I went through the whole Bandersnatch experience – well, almost the whole experience, as I learned that I missed one ending, but still, it was a ride. A trippy one.

Set in 1984, Bandersnatch follows a young programmer turning a fantasy novel into a video-game. The “Netflix event” has 312 minutes of footage and, essentially, five different endings. The trick is: even these endings have variations, and to be honest, some are more satisfying than others. You can get over with it in 40 minutes or so (probably less) or you can invest a good amount of time to explore even the most meta endings it has to offer.

Going through every possible ending might be too much for some, and it’s completely understandable, but every ending and every path taking you to them has details that complement each other, giving the viewer a broader understanding of the movie and its themes.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – Courtesy of Netflix

But even with all the options, loops, and the story taking you back to certain points, there are a few plot points you won’t be able to change, no matter how many times you change your decision. However, there’s one ending that doesn’t change a particular event from Stefan’s past but instead adds to it – they weren’t kidding when they said “Change your past” on the trailer.

Some decisions will force you to take a different option, whether by insisting and making you doubt the choice you just made, or by taking you back. This can be frustrating to some as they have to re-watch certain parts over and over, but this also unlocks other paths.

After being sent back for the third time, I began to wonder if I was going to lose my sanity along with Stefan, more so when the line between dreams and reality began to blur, and the “parallel universes and realities” theory began to make sense within the story (how your decisions and actions in one universe affect what happens in others). By this point, I also began to wonder if we were both being controlled. Or maybe he was the one controlling me?

As the story goes on, Stefan becomes more and more aware of a power controlling him. This is where the most meta stuff begin to unravel, especially with the inclusion of Netflix. The “cameo” of the streaming service is there to give a twist and, again, depending on your choices, the fourth wall can be broken. It also unlocks a moment that is there for mere entertainment more than anything else.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – Courtesy of Netflix

Were we really in control of the story? No, of course we weren’t. We weren’t the puppeteers here, and no, Stefan wasn’t the puppeteer either. Actually, Charlie Brooker is the master as he is just leading us where he wants us to go, under the illusion of us taking the decisions; just like Stefan was doing with the Bandersnatch game. Brooker even has the help of some characters to lead us – early in the story, if you choose a particular option, Colin Ritman (Will Poulter) will let you know you made a bad decision.

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In the end, and aside from being quite entertaining, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is an interesting experiment on many levels: filmmaking, streaming, story-telling, and a big social experiment on how easy we can fall into something or someone else’s control. No matter the ending you get, it’s a good experience to sit back and reflect on everything it involved.

Have you watched Black Mirror: Bandersnatch yet? Did you get to the “real ending?” Let us know in the comments!