If you’re like me, you can’t wait for this time of the year as it usually means one thing. A BLACK MIRROR EPISODE. Last year, we were fortunate enough to feast on Season 4, this year, bandersnatch takes over over screens and our minds.
There aren’t many writers can could pull bandersnatch off with such mind-swirling precision as Charlie Brooker. Hats off to Netflix for going along with to create a unique, and the first of its kind, interactive movie. When i first saw that this was going to be an interactive movie, i’ll be honest, i was a little apprehensive. Factors such as editing and how much gravity a choice carries really made me unsure on how this could be carried out effectively. I was particularly worried about the latter, were choices going to be primarily cosmetic and carry no weight, eventually leading to a pre-determined ending. Thankfully, after completing my first play through and having the ability to go back and change my choices, i realised this was definitely not the case. The most difficult choice comes at the beginning, Frosties or Sugar Puffs? I’m not prepared to make that decision and live with it.
Bandersnatch is a creative work of meta-madness, filled to the top with easter eggs for all the die hard Black Mirror fans. These easter eggs pay homage to some of the stand-out episodes that have come before it, but no way dictate or provide information that is needed to understand the story. This can be watched as a standalone episode. Each choice that is made ultimately leads to a different ending, the beauty of this is that once the end of that ‘tree choice’ has been reached, it prompts you back to the last choice that was made, allowing you to go down the alternative route. This no way feels like a cheesy gimmick, the content is filled with out-of-the-body experiences, the dark side of technology, and laugh out loud moments, together, making the Black Mirror recipe we’ve all come to love.
My favourite part of this is how meta the whole thing is, its almost like a tri-fector of decision making. You, the player, are making a choice for a the character, who is ultimately making the choice for the player in the game, who is under the impression that they are making their own choices (inception flashbacks, anyone?). The fourth wall is also broken multiple times, which feeds into an ironic, almost comical screenplay. If you’re under the impression that is is a ‘lighter-hearted’ black mirror episode, you are wrong, they are dark scenes embedded within the choices.
After my second play-through i am still completely consumed by curiosity to what the other endings/alternative choices maybe. Each path reveals a completely different contextual understanding of the world, straying away from the moral linear perspective of the main character, to a government controlled operation which is dictating the choices (ironic, i know). Furthermore, each choice carry weight and examines character relationships, how they are formed and to which trajectory they may follow. This may be one of the weaker areas of the episode, so much time has gone into the choices, character development can be very fragmented and limited. To fully understand and appreciate the relationships, multiple play-throughs are required.
This definitely stands on the shoulders of some of the Black Mirror greats, it matches the perpetual insanity created by ‘White Christmas’ and the gaming paranoia cyclone put forward by ‘Playtest’. Relax, you’re going to love it.