Freewill is an illusion.
I realize I’m a bit behind on the Bandersnatch craze. This was actually my first Black Mirror episode ever. It’s one of those shows I knew I would probably like but just never got around to watching. Then I was browsing Netflix, saw this under my recommendations, and figured, “Eh, I’m procrastinating a workout anyway.”
I did get a bit more excited when the instructions for the video played. I knew the basics beforehand, I knew it’s interactive, but not to the extent it actually is.
And not to say everything before I even start but I love this concept. I’d love for other genres to try it out like romance and picking between different people or horror. I know there are video games like this, Until Dawn is a good example, but if you’re like me and not a huge gamer then something like Bandersnatch could be an alternative.
Sugar Puffs or Frosties
The film starts with the main character, Stefan, working on a video game he’s going to present to a company in the hopes it can be made and sold. At first, the choices are small, like which cereal he should have for breakfast or what music to listen to. There’s also a countdown and I actually never waited to see what would happen if you didn’t pick anything. My anxiety wouldn’t allow that to happen.
We also meet Stefan’s dad, whom he has a strenuous relationship with and becomes bigger later on.
When Stefan arrives at the company, he gets to meet a programmer named Colin Ritman. Stefan has played all of Collin’s games and even gets to pitch his game with Colin in the room. He explains it’s based off the book Bandersnatch by Jerome F. Davies and is interactive, like the book, being able to choose different paths with multiple endings. They love the idea and want the game and this is when the first big decision comes in: Stefan is offered the help of the company with his game or he can reject the offer and do it on his own.
Stefan’s excitement got me excited and I immediately went with accepting the offer…only for the game to turn out like shit because it was rushed and not what Stefan wanted…however, you get the option to do it over, so even if you picked the wrong option, you get to go back anyway.
This is when things start to get odd for Stefan. He and Colin remember small parts of their conversation from the previous yet same interaction, but can’t figure out why. If you choose to reject the offer, as most people would by this point, Stefan will spend the next few months turning into a ball of stress to get his game done.
I’ll be honest, I did whatever I could to get that damn game finished. Option to destroy his computer? Nope. Throw tea on it? Nuh-uh. Kill yourself or Colin? I love you Colin, but not today. His work will not be ruined during my play…but doing this also made his mentality worse and we also find out Stefan sees a therapist to not only help with the stress but what with happened to his mom years ago.
It is sad to see Stefan start to go down the track Jerome F. Davies did, who became delusional and murdered his wife (by the way he’s not a real person.) He becomes paranoid and convinced he’s being controlled by someone. Things start to get wild when Stefan resists what we tell him to do, like pull his ear lobe.
There are numerous endings you can get within Bandersnatch. Every time I got a chance to go back and do something over, I did. Toward the end when I stopped worrying about the game getting finished, I went through all the different choices I could. No, I didn’t get all of them but probably will go back at some point to see them.
The acting is great (I am a Will Poulter fan so I usually picked options with Colin involved…that’s not weird) the concept is great, and I had a fun time playing.
There are numerous themes like believing in free will but then it being an illusion or choosing a path and having to deal with the consequences. If you choose to spend an evening with Colin, then he goes into a speech about different realities and PAC-MAN being a metaphor. I loved that scene.
Like I said, this is my first Black Mirror episode so I can’t compare it or say if it makes more or less sense than any of the others. What I can say is it’s different and if you want to switch up your viewing experience or are getting bored with others shows, I’d give this a try.