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100% Match: Bandersnatch

Nancy Zuo, Staff Writer

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From personalized boba toppings and customized pizzas to pick-your-path games like Undertale and Doki Doki Literature Club, we are drawn in to things that give us a sense of control, of media that allows us to make a difference. Netflix’s latest episode of Bandersnatch, a special episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror, satirizes our fascination with control, cleverly weaving in the illusion of control through a pick-your-path interface that allows the viewer to control what happens next.

While each Black Mirror episode typically runs for an hour, Bandersnatch runs a range of times from 90 minutes to 2.5 hours, based on what choices are made. The story is told in the protagonist, Stefan’s (Fionn Whitehead), point of view. As a game-maker, Stefan looks up to the famed Colin (Craig Parkinson), who creates games for the company Tuckersoft. Stefan has recently read a book called “Bandersnatch” in which the reader flips to different sections of the book, and has been inspired to create a game like that. However, the book has a dark past of the author killing his own mother during the writing process of the book. After Stefan proposes to work on the game idea within his own home, the episode follows through Stefan’s game-creation process. We follow Stefan’s internal conflicts during the creative process, which resemble those from the author of the book “Bandersnatch.”

Though episode starts off rather slow, like the tutorial of a game with choices like choosing the type of cereal for Stefan to eat in the morning or the tape to listen to on the way to work, the choices later in the episode lead to five different major endings. Sometimes, a wrong choice may bring the viewer back to the beginning the episode, and speed through for the viewer to make the right choice.

While watching this episode, fans of the Black Mirror series may spot occasional easter eggs of the names of other episodes. Colin has recently released a game called “Metlhedd,” and is working on another game called “Nohzdyve,” alluding to the episodes named “Metalhead” from Season 4 and “Nosedive” from Season 3. The logo from a Season 2 episode “White Bear” repeatedly appears to represent the lack of self-control, as Stefan begins to lose himself by investing himself so deeply in the game-making process.

Overall, this episode of Black Mirror is a must-watch. Exploring the different endings of the episode is like a scavenger hunt. Netflix has done a phenomenal job at weaving the choices together into an immersive experience that shatters the fourth wall, pioneers a new aspect of streaming videos, and has set an even higher expectation for the anticipated Black Mirror Season 5 that will be released in the next few months.

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100% Match: Bandersnatch