Netflix's 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch': A review

Entertainment

30 Dec 2018

'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch', post-modern masterpiece or trippy gimmick?

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch released on December 28, and has marked a different direction for the entertainment industry.

The Netflix event allows you to choose between two options within the story and your choices determine how the character arc progresses.

Your choices guide Stefan, a game developer, as he attempts to make an ambitious game titled Bandersnatch while keeping his mental stability.

Warning, spoilers ahead!

Movie plot

Your mission is to make the best game possible

The story starts with Stefan taking on the task of making an ambitious game Bandersnatch based on a book by fictional author Jerome F. Davies.

We discover Stefan blames himself for his mother's death in a train derailment, which happened when he was 5. He also resents his father.

Our choices should help Stefan's game get a 5-star review while keeping him mentally stable.

Choices

Choices range from breakfast cereal, to covering up father's murder

There are several unique in-event choices and based on them, you can reach 5 possible conclusions (yeah, yours truly tried them all).

While some choices are mundane like your breakfast cereal and music you listen to while going to work, others have consequences, like deciding whether to take back a childhood toy Stefan's father hid and, covering up the murder of his father.

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Your choices affect the runtime of 'Bandersnatch'

Depending on some choices Bandersnatch could be over in 40 minutes though most people will require 90 minutes to finish the story. As for me, having completed all conclusions, it took me a few hours, and three pages of frantically noting down my choices.

Freedom of Choices

Are we really free to choose in 'Bandersnatch'?

Three pages of frantic scribbling later, this author has figured out the choices in the event put you in multiple loops at the same time.

Some choices are unacceptable to the progress of the story and will force you to choose the other option.

One example is choosing to work with a team, at the office. It forces you to work alone, at home.

Multiple choices

It should be entertainment, not exercise

Bandersnatch tries to make choices exciting but viewers might lose patience.

They get stuck in loops, since some choices spawn further options. For example, when Stefan's father drives him to the psychiatrist, he can visit her, or follow Colin, his game developing mentor.

Since these have more choices, for viewers wishing to experience all endings, Bandersnatch might be more of an exercise than entertainment.

Why we felt it was a gimmick and an exercise

Choosing in Bandersnatch becomes a gimmick and an exercise since the choices are limited and force you to choose certain options for the story's progress. Further, getting stuck in a loop and seeing the same clippings repeatedly, just to choose a different option is irritating.

Layers of awareness

The post-modern brilliance of 'Bandersnatch'

Okay, we disliked the choice system, but we loved the post-modernity of Bandersnatch.

Stefan makes a choice-based game, based on a choice-based book, while we choose how Stefan's life progresses. The viewers, Stefan and Jerome realize choices are pointless.

What is better is Stefan's realization that someone is controlling him, as Jerome realized it, and viewers realize the show is controlling them, not vice versa.

Netflix goes meta

A really meta reference in 'Bandersnatch'

One of the best choices we liked was when Netflix went meta, and viewers could choose to tell Stefan he was being viewed on a 21st-century streaming device for entertainment.

If you make certain choices after that, you can get a conclusion where the shooting is cut since you went off-script.

The nod to this show being a Netflix entertainment event is highly intelligent.

Is 'Bandersnatch' a post-modern masterpiece?

Bandersnatch is a brilliant post-modern event. Apart from the previous reasons, it refers to the real 1984 game which was never released since the company went bankrupt. Here, if Stefan doesn't deliver Bandersnatch, the company will go bankrupt, having already spent a lot on advertising.

Details

The 'no' of the symbolic father in 'Bandersnatch'

One of Bandersnatch's best aspects is the father-Stefan relationship.

The father figure is symbolic (in certain choices) and lays down the prohibitive law of what Stefan cannot do. His toy is taken away by the father, he is controlled through drugs by the father figure, the father figure directs the show where Stefan stars.

All choices put Stefan against the 'no' of the father.

Overcoming the father's 'no', in 'Bandersnatch'

Overcoming the father's prohibitive 'no' through choices in Bandersnatch results in violence. Stefan in most choices kills his father, then chops up or buries his body. Only in one choice can Stefan take back his toy, accompany his mother, and die in the train accident.

Opinion

How 'Bandersnatch' could be better and future of interactive entertainment

In my opinion, Bandersnatch could have followed interactive games and not allowed viewers to return and choose differently. This would have made it less repetitive. However, this would have required multiple viewings to know all conclusions.

Further, interaction is a step in the right direction and could revolutionize the entertainment industry, if Virtual Reality and interactive entertainment became mainstream. We could literally live movies.

Final Review

Does 'Bandersnatch' live up to expectations?

Bandersnatch had us excited about the choice-system, which was not completely successful.

The story itself is straightforward, except for a few notable aspects we mentioned.

On my list of favorite Black Mirror things, it would rank in the middle. While the ambition of Bandersnatch must be praised, it could have had a more polished execution.

Try it for the new experience, not the story.

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Most asked questions

Can I watch 'Bandersnatch' on smart tv?

Which is the best conclusion in 'Bandersnatch'?

Can I rewind and choose again?

What happens if you choose the same option again?

More questions

Can I watch 'Bandersnatch' on smart tv?

Asked 2018-12-30 13:12:33 by Reyansh Jhadav

Answered by NewsBytes

Unlike normal Netflix shows where there is one data cache, the choices in Bandersnatch need 2 data cache creations, thus cannot be seen on older smart TVs.

Which is the best conclusion in 'Bandersnatch'?

Asked 2018-12-30 13:12:33 by Parakram Verma

Answered by NewsBytes

It depends on which arc you find the best for the character. If you want to get a 5 review in the game, you can chop up your father and call your therapist. This leads to a successful game, but your crime is discovered. I liked the ending best where he died on the psychiatrist's sofa. It was the most peaceful.

Can I rewind and choose again?

Asked 2018-12-30 13:12:33 by Aradhya Dasgupta

Answered by NewsBytes

No Netflix forces you to play out a scenario once the choice is made then redirects you to the choice screen in Bandersnatch.

What happens if you choose the same option again?

Asked 2018-12-30 13:12:33 by Rajesh Patel

Answered by NewsBytes

If Netflix sees you are stuck in a loop they give you 2 options, 'Go Back' or the other option which will move the story forward.

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