TV Series Review – Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (With SPOILERS)
Here’s the second article for the new episode/stand alone movie from the Black Mirror series, called Bandersnatch. As I wrote on the previews article, this is the first interactive movie, which means that you can navigate the story, while you’re watching it, much like the famous choose-your-own-adventure books.
In this article, I’ll look into the choices, possible endings and in the end I’ll make a short anlysis of the movie in general. So:
1. What does the choices mean and how much do they matter?
The short answer is that they do matter. You’ll be presented with two types, primary and secondary. The secondary ones, doesn’t change the story or lead to any big differences, but only make remarks and will throw some Easter eggs at some points. Such choice is the very first one, about cereals. Whichever you choose doesn’t matter, but you’ll see a commercial later on about it. It’s a nice touch in general. Other secondary choices are the ones about music. Whichever you choose, that will be the soundtrack through the movie. One of the important secondary choices is the one, whether or not to speak about Stephan’s mother, when in Dr. Haynes’s office. If you choose to speak about her, you’ll learn that she died in a train wreck, years ago. Stephan dodged it, because he refused to leave without his toy, resulting in her catching the later train, which derails. That information might be crucial on later basis. The primary choices however, can change everything.
The first one you encounter is in the very beginning, when you have to decide, whether Stephan should make the game at home or in the company, with a team involved. Here you can reach the first ending as well, if you choose the latter, which will conclude the movie within the first 15 minutes. But for the possible endings I’ll talk in a while. The interesting bit is that, the primary choices will either bring the story to an ending or return you back to make a different choice. In this first example, if you choose to make the game at the company, the movie will end and you’ll be returned to make a different one. And if you choose to make the game at home, the main story will start.
The most important primary choices are:
1.1 Whether to make the game at home or at the company
1.2 Whether Stephen to throw coffee over the computer or yell at his father
1.3 Whether to enter Dr. Haynes’s office or follow Colin
1.4 Whether to choose the family photo or the book
1.5 Whether to choose PACS or TOY, PAC or JFD. The first two are given when you choose to follow Colin, the second two, when you choose not to follow him.
1.6 Whether to choose Netflix or PAC, PACS or PAC. The first two are given, if you choose Toy, Pac or JFD. The second pair will be given if you choose PACS for the safe password.
1.7 Whether to kill the father or not (it gets dark from here on). You will have this option, if you choose anything but PACS.
1.8 If you kill him, you’ll be presented with the options to bury the body or chop it. This is the final primary choice (quite dark).
2. Possible endings and what do they mean?
After watching the movie about 10 times, I’ve found out 6 definitive endings. Some of them have slight variations, depending on some of the choices made. Here they are:
2.1 The game is a total bust and Stephan receives a review with 0 stars. To this one, you get by choosing to make the game within the company. The reviewer says that it feels rushed and Colin advises you to make it again.
2.2 Stephan dies. To this ending you can get via two ways
2.2.1 First is if you choose to follow Colin in choose 1.3. There he’ll start talking about parallel universes and how people doesn’t really have any choices and everything is an illusion. To prove his theory, he proposes Stephan, one of them to jump from the balcony. If you choose for Stephan to jump, he dies and everything ends.
2.2.2 The second variation, for Stephan to dies is if you choose the password Toy. This way you’ll have the option to return the missing toy to little Stephan and he can go with his mom on the train. That will result in him dying with her in the wreck. In the present, he will die on the chair in Dr. Haynes’s office.
2.3 You complete the game, but it’s a bust with 1 star in the review. If you choose not to follow Colin and enter Dr. Haynes’s office, she’ll prescribe you more pills. Once home you can choose to take or flush them. If you take them, the movie will end. The reviewer will tell you that Stephan was on autopilot and the game feels incomplete.
2.4 Everything is just a movie set. If you choose the Netflix option from 1.6, as he’s paranoid as hell at this point, you can choose to explain him that he’s watched from the future. Once you do, he’ll end up in Dr. Haynes’s office. You get to the same outcome if you choose not to kill his dad in 1.7. In there he tries to explain her that he’s not in control. The doctor then asks him if he wants more action, which in general means asking the viewer. You have two options – “Yes” and “Fuck Yes”. Choosing “Yes”, will reveal that all of this is just a movie set, and Stephan is part of a Truman Show narrative.
2.5 Boss battle. In the above scenario, if you choose “Fuck yeah”, Stephan will start a fight with Haynes. It is quite exciting, really and in the end his father will drag him from her office, resulting with him breaking the 4’th wall. It’s interesting really.
2.6 Stephan goes to prison. You can reach this ending in several ways as well, but they all include killing his father. I’ll give away the two major ones.
2.6.1 If he buries his father, someone will always find him and will send Stephan in prison. In some variations the game is released and in other it’s not. The important thing here is that the game doesn’t get more than 2 stars in the review.
2.6.2 If you choose him to chop his father, then Stephan finishes the game and it receives 5 stars as he was in his right mind, when doing it (extremely dark). It rates as the perfect game. But since he’s presented as a murderer, the game gets revoked from the stores. This is followed by a scene in which Colin’s daughter gives an interview, about re-making the game for Netflix in the form of a movie, 20 years later. In general you see the creation of the movie.
3. What is the point of this movie then?
In my first time watching the movie, I chose to follow Colin and without knowing it, I ended up on the darkest possible outcome and ending. When you choose the PACS password, the follow up is quite a conspiracy ride, which left me little scarred to be honest. But in the end, what does all that mean? Whatever choices you make, the movie just doesn’t have a happy ending. The only difference will be either you get to the end by the most lighthearted or darkest path. And that is the point. As the movie unravels you understand that it’s made on a basis of a theory about parallel universes. What this theory says is that the choices we make through life doesn’t really matter as in the end, we’ll get the same result. In a parallel universe, your self will make a different choice in the same situation, but it will lead him down the same ending, with little alterations. It is actually a very depressing theory, which removes the free will as a factor. But let’s not forget that this is just a theory in the end and the Black Mirror series is made to shock and challenge our thinking. The truth is, although the movie doesn’t present a very interesting main story, it’s still brilliant, because your choices are the ones defining the outcome in some ways or others. This new genre – interactive movies, seems to be the future. I, for one, am looking forward to the them.