Bandersnatch: Is it a commentary on our reality?

Bandersnatch: Is it a commentary on our reality?

Nafisah Fathima

If you’ve played Bandersnatch, the Black Mirror interactive movie-game, you’ll know that it’s… intense. If you don’t know what it is, Bandersnatch is about Stefan Butler, a video game programmer portrayed by Fionn Whitehead, trying to make it big in the industry by basing his video game on a choose-your-own-adventure gamebook that lets the reader decide what choices the characters make. This gives the “player” more control and multiple different endings. In a very Black Mirror-esque manner, that’s also how the interactive movie is, too. This makes us, the players, in control. In different situations, you are given two options and a timer. Choose before it runs out and watch as your decision plays out before you.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Black Mirror production without a groundbreaking, mind-blowing plot twist that changes the way you look at everything. Eventually, players stumble upon another plot that shows Stefan becoming paranoid as he believes someone or something is controlling him and what he does. He looks to the sky and asks for a sign. Two options come up, one of which is Netflix. In this fourth wall break, he’s introduced to Netflix, a 21st-century entertainment streaming device: “it’s like TV, but online,” it says.

In addition to the multiple endings, there’s insanity that comes with playing the game. Stefan goes insane and snaps, killing his father and sometimes either Colin (played by Will Poulter) or his boss, Mohan Thakur (Asim Chaudhry).

Players tried to get Stefan 5 stars on his game and give him a happy life to eventually find that to get 5 stars means his downfall. Stefan doesn’t necessarily get a happy ending. Take what you will about any hidden meanings Black Mirror is trying to tell us.

If alternative realities exist and other versions of ourselves exist in other planes of reality, this movie could be representing that possibility. It constantly goes back in time to Stefan’s childhood (depending on what you decide). Colin, another video game programmer, shows Stefan the truth of the universe when they do drugs together in Colin’s apartment. What he believes could just be someone high on LSD rambling, but although his conspiracies about reality and the government are abstract, there are some understandable accusations made. The more the game is played, the more confusing it becomes. It has the main five endings, a secret ending, and an even more secret of an ending that even the Black Mirror creators can’t remember how to get to! For all we know, there could be more. There seem to be a lot of possibilities especially considering the magnitude of different choice patterns that exist. Some endings are sad and some are horrifying but many are quick to point out that if your decision is “wrong” Netflix will make you go back and redo it or choose something else. So who is controlling who?

Bandersnatch has the ability to make players pursue Stefan’s story for hours until they see all of his endings. Not only is Bandersnatch impressive due to its complexity and attention to detail, but it’s also the first of its kind and starting a new level of entertainment.

Fans have taken to Instagram to post Bandersnatch memes that accurately describe how almost every person felt playing: