Black Mirror fans received a late holiday gift this year with the release of the movie Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Netflix’s feature length choose-your-own-adventure style installment. Let’s get one thing out of the way quickly: you need to watch/play this! Even though it’s at times very frustrating there is no denying the entertainment of an interactive, at times self aware film. Like, that’s some next level stuff right there. Fans and even those who don’t watch Black Mirror religiously will get a kick out of the experience of Bandersnatch.
In 1984, a young programmer begins to question reality as he adapts a sprawling fantasy novel into a video game and soon faces a mind-mangling challenge. Welcome back. (Official Synopsis)
Now, if you’re like me, once you find a story line that is particularly interesting you tend to fall down a bit of a hole. Provided that you don’t have anything else to do obviously. Thanks to a few hours of playing around with Bandersnatch and the glorious internet, it’s been confirmed that the movie has at least 10 “main” endings. Ending in this case means the triggering of the closing credits and even the option to “exit to credits” as an alternative to going back to an earlier point in the story as sort of a second chance. Though there are whispers of secret endings that even the movie’s creator can’t access. And what are these main ending’s? Let’s take a closer look. Consider this your major spoiler warning!
Probably the quickest way to end the game is when given the option to have our main character, Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), pour tea on his keyboard or shout at his father (Craig Parkinson). At this point Stefan is beyond strung out. His father is constantly on his back, the anniversary of his mother’s death is steadily approaching and the cherry on top of it all? The new game he’s programming just won’t work. As his father is trying to get him to come to lunch one afternoon the game glitches yet again. So, out of frustration, does he shout at his father or pour tea on his keyboard? When the tea option is selected it’s no surprise the tea ends up all over his computer, resulting in all of Stefan’s work being lost. A literal game over.
Now at this point, the film is becoming self aware. Stefan knows he isn’t in control of the decisions that are being made. This is confirmed when he begins shouting for a sign to know what’s happening. You then get the option to show Stefan either the cross like symbol or the words Program and Control (PAC). Either option will result in Stefan’s father coming in the room to see what all the noise was about. If you select PAC then Stefan will confront his father about PAC, the argument will result in the two men in the kitchen where Stefan kills his father automatically.
Select the symbol and his father will come into the room, they end up in the kitchen where you are given the option to have Stefan kill his father or to back off. If you pick kill then Stefan hits his father in the head with an ashtray. You even get a follow up choice to cut up the body or bury him. Pick cut him up for…well, you know what happens. Slightly altered details results in the same ending of Stefan heading to jail and you get the option to go to the end credits.
Back Off, Stefan
A cliffhanger-ish ending is when you have Stefan back off from killing dad. This results in Stefan having what looks like a panic attack over the kitchen sink while his father tries to calm him. You get the impression that Stefan dropped out of the Bandersnatch project and that’s that.
Possible Murder Spree
If you play your cards right and decide to bury Stefan’s poor father things go a little differently. You get to choose if the MIA Colin is still missing. Depending on what you select either Colin (Will Poulter), Kitty (Tallulah Haddon) or Thakur (Asim Chaudhry) will show up at Stefan’s house. You can choose to kill them or simply let them go. Either way this story line will end with Stefan going to jail.
You or Me?
Let’s back up; instead of spilling tea all over his computer you have Stefan yell at his dad. Despite his apology his father still forces him to come with him to lunch. Only problem is that the promise of food was a big fat lie. Instead the two end up outside of Stefan’s therapist’s office. You are given the choice to have Stefan go inside Dr. Haynes’ (Alice Lowe) office or to have him follow fellow programmer and professional mysterious guy, Colin, who has conveniently walked by. Pick the Colin option, end up at his apartment and take LSD. Now high as a kite Colin rants about how the government controls us all in various ways. The conversations moves to Colin’s balcony then informs Stefan that one of them must jump over. Which prompts the question of “is it gonna be you or me?” Pick Colin and he goes over, falling to his death and doesn’t seem to reanimate outright.
“I like your style!”
However, if you pick for Stefan he laughs a bit as he jumps over the ledge. It’s not a big shock that Stefan dies thus resulting in another quick ending.
What is Netflix?
Now we are back to the film becoming self aware. Stefan knows he isn’t in control of the decisions that are being made. This is confirmed when he begins shouting for a sign to know what’s happening. If this is at least your second time seeing this scenario you get the option to show Stefan the Netflix logo. This time you get to explain the very meta situation, that you are watching and controlling him via Netflix. Freaking out, Stefan winds up at Dr. Haynes’ office where he tries to explain. Dr Haynes tries to show Stefan what he is saying logically. Eventually she will ask Stefan about kicking up the action where you get to pick between Yes or F*** Yes. This is actually a trick question because the action is the same either way.
Stefan prompts a fight by throwing tea in Dr. Hayne’s face, things quickly escalate and you have to pick between Stefan jumping out the window or continue to fight the good doctor. Pick the window option? This triggers a director yelling cut because this fight sequence is actually part of a scene probably being shot for Netflix. Stefan- who is actually called Mike in this timeline- looks confused as he stands around on the set/ his therapist’s office.
If you decide to have Stefan and the doctor fight it out things get real crazy. Eventually it ends with Stefan being dragged out of the office kicking, screaming and laughing like mad about the conspiracy that is Netflix.
After Colin jumps Stefan hears a horrible ringing in his ears. This causes him to wake up to give the impression that the whole thing was just a dream. This time around you have Colin have a proper chat with his therapist where, during the session, you can choose whether Stefan bites his nails or rubs his ears. This is another trick question as nothing happens except for Stefan receives an increased dose of his medication. Back home, Stefan is holding his medication in the palm of his hand. You get to pick what he does with them. If you didn’t follow Colin already, you will be able to swallow them. This triggers probably the “happiest” ending where Stefan completes Bandersnatch no problem, it’s released and game over.
Okay, so after you decide to have Stefan chop up dear old dad, he seems to have a creative break. With his father out of the way Bandersnatch is not only finished but is given a great review. That is until everyone discovered what he had done. Then we jump to a news report in “present day” about the infamous history behind Bandersnatch and we meet the new programmer who is creating a reboot Stefan’s game for a major streaming platform which is rumored to be Netflix but she can’t talk about that. And just who is this programmer? None other than Kitty and Colin Ritman’s daughter, Pearl (Laura Evelyn).
Then there is a scene of Pearl making a flow chart of choices that look an awful lot like the ones Stefan makes in his own journey. She continues to work until the screen glitches. You either get the choice to make Pearl throw tea over the computer or destroy it. This is yet another trick question as either choice cuts to black and gives you the option to go back.
The 8:45 Train
Early on in the film we learn about Stefan’s mother (Fleur Keith) who died when he was five years old. In this scenario you are able to literally go back in time. Instead of picking up the family photo, you pick up the book. This prompts the selection of TOY or PAX, picking TOY helps to send Stefan back in time to attempt to change the past and you get to pick whether or not he goes on the 8:45 train with her. If you pick to follow her then you do just that! He’s willingly gone with his mother and with his favorite stuffed rabbit. It looks real sweet until you realize that doesn’t change the fact that the train is still going to derail. The only thing that’s changed is the fact Stefan is now there too. This self sacrifice results in him literally dropping dead in the middle of his session with Dr. Haynes in 1984.