'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch': Some of the Best & Worst Endings
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch]
If you're a Black Mirror fan, then you've likely seen the show's latest Netflix installment, the feature-length Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
The special episode was released December 28 on the streaming service and featured the show's first interactive story, allowing viewers to choose where the characters ended up. Needless to say, with various different choices to make, the episode can lead in many different directions.
Acknowledging the meta aspect of the episode, characters repeatedly mention a feeling of lacking control — in particular, the show's protagonist, Stefan (Dunkirk's Fionn Whitehead). Throughout the hours-long, '80s-set story, fans are asked to choose Stefan's cereal, music, and high-stakes decisions like whether to jump off buildings or kill others. Depending on what you choose, the story can either be short, or rather lengthy, but also ultimately lead down dismal paths.
So which are the best endings and which are the worst dead-ends? It all comes down to the preference of the viewer behind the controls, but for myself, after exploring a few options, there are some opinions to be shared. Ultimately, it's impossible to say that I reached every possible ending and dead-end — I'm sure I did not — but there are at least a few intriguing ones that I came across during viewing.
Initially, Stefan begins Bandersnatch on his way to pitch his game with the same title, which is based on a choose-your-own-adventure novel. During the meeting with CEO Mohan (Asim Chaudhry) and gamemaker Colin (Will Poulter), Stefan is given the option to take Mohans' offer to complete the game for a fall deadline or deny it. Originally, I chose to take the offer, but that leads Stefan's story to a quick and abrupt dead-end as we see his game released in time for Christmas, but receiving zero stars from critics.
This halfway ending is ultimately the least satisfying of the dead-ends in which Stefan's story comes to an unsatisfactory conclusion. Among one of those other dead-ends is a path in which Stefan follows Colin to his apartment after opting out of a psych appointment.
Partaking in some psychedelic drug consumption, Colin discusses predetermined fate and the uncertain construct of time, prompting viewers to choose which man will jump from Colin's high-rise balcony. If you're like me, you chose Stefan — this ends the current path and prompts you to go back and choose another one.
It is dead-ends like those that make for a less-pleasing experience, but if you go back and make alterations to your decisions, you could be led to one of the most satisfying conclusions. In particular, one in which Stefan ultimately murders and dismembers his own father (Craig Parkinson) but completes Bandersnatch to receive rave reviews.
Eventually, though, he is found out and jailed for his crimes, leaving the game to be removed from shelves due to its dark association. Despite the grim tone, Stefan's fate in this scenario is parallel to that of the fictional novel's writer, who also turned to killing during the creation of his book. Eventually, Stefan's game is picked up years later in a time parallel to the present by Colin's now-grown daughter Pearl (Laura Evelyn), who plans to adapt the game into something for Netflix — but is driven mad by the game like the creators before her.
Then there's the Netflix ending, in which viewers are given the option to choose the glyph associated with Stefan's game or Netflix to answer the man's questions about who is controlling him. As letters scroll across his screen, Stefan is being told that people are watching him on Netflix and viewers are eventually lead to a psych appointment where he engages in discussion with a Dr. Haynes (Alice Lowe). During that talk, viewers are asked if they would like to make the scene more exciting in which they're only given one option — essentially, "Yes" and "F**k yeah."
Following this storyline is definitely an entertaining alternative to the dark conclusions that could be reached but is overall a little less satisfying for the more open-ended quality of it. With these being just a few of the possible endings and dead-ends, it serves to ask the question, should viewers have control over the story?
There isn't a right or wrong answer, but considering the varying possibilities giving viewers the option to choose where Stefan's path leads could be detrimental to the overall product. Depending on the choices made by viewers, the story can be good or bad, as proven by the few outcomes discussed above. It's a gamble trying to find the perfect combination of answers for the "right" ending, but maybe that's also the advantage of the episode's unique quality — by getting to choose, Bandersnatch becomes many different things.
Eventually, viewers will find their favorite ending, if they haven't already — it's essentially an almost never-ending story.
So what do you think about this new way of watching TV and Bandersnatch's other endings? Let us know in the comments below.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Streaming now, Netflix