A review: Bandersnatch

Bandersnatch — for those you haven’t watched it yet — is the newest episode of a show called Black Mirror. Black Mirror is a show that centralises itself around narrowing premises that provoke emotion and/or thought through almost hard to watch episodes, most about a dystopia due to technology taking over; but in this stand-alone episode, you must make decisions for the main character Stefan.

As soon as you begin, you’re thrown into a choice between ‘sugar puffs’ or ‘frosties’ for breakfast, and even though the decision is trivial, you feel a great burden of making the right decision. Netflix offers you 2 choices at every crossroads, and these first choices introduce you to the choice system early on.

The story -as I’ve already written- is about Stefan, a young game designer, who we find out is about to pitch his new game idea to his favourite video game company ‘tuckersoft’, where his idol Colin Ritman works, who is a very successful game designer. His new game is called ‘Bandersnatch’ and as we learn through his morning conversation with his father, is based upon a choose-your-own-story book that belonged to his mother.

I don’t want to give away anything to those who don’t already know the story, so if you are yet to watch Bandersnatch I urge you to stop reading this article now, go on Netflix and spend a good few hours watching it, until you’re satisfied with how much time you’ve brilliantly wasted.

As we follow Stefan for the rest of the day, we learn that accepting an offer to continue working on Bandersnatch in the Tuckersoft office with a team results in the game doing terribly upon release, as it’s “too short” and gets 0/5 stars, essentially telling you that you had a bad ending, after which your day restarts, but things seem different, as you seem to remember what happened on your first version of that day, and this is where the brilliance shines through, as the story branches out from here.

The episode can then follow several paths; I wish I had the energy or time to go through all 10 endings, but sadly I feel it’s better if you find the endings yourselves. I sat down and ceremoniously got all endings, but as a reminder I ask you to please go watch Bandersnatch; follow as many different paths as you can, if you are willing to sacrifice the time.

Maybe you make Stefan go insane, or make him realise he’s being watched on Netflix, his decisions being made for him (by us)? Maybe he revisits the incident that killed his mother and changes his past, or maybe he explores an even darker path regarding what he does to his father… or maybe you flash forwards to the person writing the episode of Black Mirror? It’s all in your hands.

What I loved the most about Bandersnatch was how meta the story was, and how groundbreaking the concept itself was. I love talking to my friends about what decisions they made and would love to hear your thoughts about the show. Do you want more episodes like Bandersnatch? Or was it too much for you? Please write your opinion in the comments of this article, it would mean a lot to me. 🙂

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