Become bewildered by ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’

Black Mirror is a huge success for Netflix (Variety)

If you’re looking for the typical befuddlement, entertainment and even frustration that accompanies Netflix’s “Black Mirror” anthology, “Bandersnatch” is the latest installment you should look to for the streaming service’s series that comments on society’s relationship with technology in an eerily realistic near-future. However, there’s a catch: “Bandersnatch” isn’t presented like the other self-contained episodes in the series that all have their own unique plot lines and characters. Released on Netflix on Dec. 28, the movie-length episode allows its viewers to play a pivotal part in the eccentric narrative, based on the ‘bandersnatch’ character that appears in Lewis Caroll’s works, as well as the fictional choose-your-own-adventure “Bandersnatch” novel in the episode. 

Although “Bandersnatch” does carry a similar “Black Mirror” format of employing a fantastical, yet realistic setting with a more often than not sinister plot, as well as a vivid cast of characters, the episode has been touted as Netflix’s first foray into the interactive film genre aimed towards adults. A tutorial prefaces the viewing, demonstrating the simple system of choosing one option versus another when a decision is presented to you; if you don’t choose an option within 10 seconds, the system selects for you. The bounty of decisions throughout the narrative creates a plethora of different ways the plot can go. The creators have confirmed a variant of five different endings, but in reality, your mind is going to be fried after going through only a few iterations. There’s almost 300 minutes of unique footage, and each viewing takes an average of an hour and a half, so if your goal is to be able to see every part of “Bandersnatch,” you better start now.  

The plot comes across as a psychological thriller coupled with “Black Mirror’s” social commentary on technology at its most potent. When the main character begins to address you, the viewer, about the atrocious nature of controlling his every move, which eventually devolve into immoral territory, you are bound to be shaken from your typical stupor that often accompanies watching TV or movies.  

Taking place in 1980s England, young video-game producer prodigy Stefan is haunted by his mother’s death, still attending therapy sessions with fears of his culpability in her passing and left with his overbearing father. He seeks to recreate the choose-your-own-adventure novel, “Bandersnatch,” but when he begins to realize his actions are not his own, Stefan’s own mental decline begins to mirror that of the author’s.  

Although the episode was not as mind-blowing plot-wise as some of “Black Mirror’s” predecessors, “Bandersnatch” does draw purposeful attention to technological responsibility, and its story is one that can only be uniquely told through the interactive story format. It does extremely well for the creators’ first attempt at interactive stories, and although I would not want all of “Black Mirror” to be told in this format, it was enjoyably frustrating to be able to go back and see all that the episode has to offer. There are Easter eggs and secret scenes that are exciting to search for. It’s impressive how much detail went into the episode. I know I definitely will want to see more in the interactive format, and more from “Black Mirror,” even if not together.  

Rating: 4/5


Hollie Lao is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at hollianne.lao@uconn.edu.