Black Mirror Bandersnatch: Starting A New Style Of Media

It would be an understatement to say Bandersnatch flew under the radar regarding Netflix’s portfolio. However, as soon as it was close to release, the premise it laid on the table spurred media attention. Bandersnatch is a spin-off special formally under the franchise of Black Mirror, so audiences would expect a story which delves into a possible future we could experience. However this special provides more interaction than any other Black Mirror, conjuring the question: are we watching a lot of media or are we living it? Here’s a deeper dive into the one-off special: Black Mirror Bandersnatch!


What really sets Bandersnatch apart from the rest of the series is the way it interacts with the watcher. Bandersnatch plays more on the side of a video game than a movie where watchers, or in this case players, control scenarios given to them through the movie. Although the watcher doesn’t have full control over what happens, they have far more control than usual.

Fans of video games that work in the interactive media, for example, the Tell Tale series’, will expect there to be many (and we mean many) different scenarios and paths the watcher can take. Watchers get around 10 seconds of choice time with each option they are provided, however, if the player can’t or choices not to make a decision, then this will set them on the path of the default story. This implies there are multiple stories to watch, and Netflix stated that it has a total of 5 different endings the watcher could reach. This is perfect for replayability and not one person is going to reach the same outcome.

However, the producer of the episode,  Russell McLean, said there are a possible 10 to 12 endings a watcher can achieve. This exemplifies the amount of options and versatility with this one standalone story.


The story is set in the 1980s and follows the life of Stefan Butler (played by Fionn Whitehead), a young programmer and game developer who is adapting a choose-your-own-adventure book titled “Bandersnatch” into a video game. Stefan is haunted by the death of his mother, for which he feels responsible, and struggles with mental health issues. As he works on the game, he becomes increasingly paranoid and obsessed with creating a perfect, branching narrative, mirroring the interactive nature of the film itself.

Throughout the film, viewers are presented with various decision points where they must make choices on behalf of Stefan. These choices range from seemingly inconsequential decisions, like what cereal Stefan should eat for breakfast, to more significant ones, like whether he should take his medication or what action to take in a critical moment. These choices lead to different outcomes and ultimately determine the course of the story.

As the narrative unfolds, Stefan becomes aware of the viewer’s presence and begins to question the nature of his reality. He starts to believe that he is being controlled by an external force, which he calls “Netflix” or “the PAC-Man.” This meta-awareness blurs the lines between reality and fiction, and Stefan’s mental state deteriorates further.

Depending on the choices made by the viewer, the story can take various dark and surreal turns. Stefan can discover disturbing secrets about his own past, confront his therapist (Dr Haynes, played by Alice Lowe), or even go down a path of violence and paranoia. The film has multiple endings, some of which are more hopeful than others, but all of them are thought-provoking and unsettling in classic “Black Mirror” fashion.


It’s not hard to see that an interactive film like Bandersnatch is a niche idea, something that not everyone is going to like. Although the majority of first-time viewers enjoyed the change of pace and overall interaction, a second play-through would fall short. The themes of meta-awareness that set in for Stefan fell short if you knew those ideals after playing it through once.

In any case, Bandersnatch scored 71/72% on both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb alike. It was also able to win 5 awards, for example, winning 2 awards at the Primetime Emmy Awards.

How about you? What did you think about Black Mirror Bandersnatch? We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you might want to know:

How many endings does Bandersnatch have?

Bandersnatch has 5 main endings, each with its own variations and uniqueness.

What order should I watch Black Mirror in?

Although each episode stands alone in its own self-story, watching season by season might help keep a consistent watch.

Why does Black Mirror play out of order?

Black Mirror Season 6 is said to be better if you watch the episodes in reverse order, however, each episode is its own story so it’s up to you.

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