So, you’ve given Bandersnatch a go. You’ve scratched your head over whether choosing Frosties or Sugar Puffs really makes a difference. You’ve squealed in delight and rushed to find ‘Into The Gap’ by the Thompson Twins on iTunes.
You’ve been slightly annoyed that the option you’d choose hasn’t been available. You’ve wondered how on Earth they managed to make this work. You’ve marveled at the underlying themes presented in a way only Charlie Brooker can.
In essence, you’ve either loved it…or hated it.
Here at MyM, we definitely fall into the former category.
The story focuses on Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), a video game programmer in the 1980s working on a choose-your-own-adventure game titled Bandersnatch based on a branching narrative book of the same name. Choices you make throughout the experience affect the quality of the game (and it’s final review), along with the life of the protagonist, his family, his therapist, and various co-workers.
The first big decision asks whether you want to make the game with a professional team or go it alone. Picking the first option will result in an immediate game over (the video game is rushed to release and gets a zero out of five review score), sending you back to make the decision again and choose to work on your own instead. From there, things get predictably weirder. You can do LSD with a co-worker, get in a kung-fu fight with your therapist, and kill your dad. At one point, the protagonist even realizes he’s being controlled and you have to try to explain what Netflix is to someone in the ‘80s in a thoroughly entertaining sequence.
You can spend 90 minutes or so wandering through the game and experience most of what it has to offer, but if you’re looking for a definitive guide then Reddit has you covered.
Here’s a detailed flowchart from redditor u/alpine showing the results of each decision and how to get each possible ending:
It’s met with mixed reviews, however, the majority are positive. Plus…in true Charlie Brooker style, Bandersnatch is full of Easter eggs and nods to pop culture. There is a Valdack’s Revenge poster hanging in Stefan’s bedroom – this is a reference to Billy Magnussen’s character from Black Mirror: USS Callister. Plus, as well as showing the glyph from White Bear, the shape of the windows in Stefan’s house are reminiscent of Tetris block shapes, another game reference.
At one possible point in the movie, Colin (Will Poulter) explains to Stefan that the video game Pac-Man (1980) is related to mind control (PAC standing for Program And Control). There is an illustration called “The Madness of Mission 6” by designer Travis Pitt that shows a “human” Pac-Man as a desperate astronaut trapped on a doomed spacecraft, wolfing down anti-anxiety pills while his dead shipmates haunt his feverish mind. This is similar to what Stefan has to go through in the movie.
Oh yes, that’s how deep this rabbit hole goes…
In terms of experimental television and utilizing technology to tell a story and even convey a message, Brooker is unmatched – he was formally a technology journalist after all – and he has surpassed himself with Bandersnatch.
Scott Snowden is MyM’s US Editor. Follow him on Twitter.
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