Annabelle Goettl

The main character, Stefan Butler, surrounded by yes and no choices

Annabelle Goettl, Media Editor

Netflix recently came out with an interactive episode as an addition to their famous techno-paranoid Black Mirror series. Collaborators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones, were able to create one of the first ever popular interactive episodes that endowed the viewers with the ability to singularly choose the plot’s path and progress, which lead to a specific ending. This soon turned into an interactive experience rather than a viewing, or imagine a TV show that is also a video game, of sorts. I feverishly invested my time and thoughts on this new genre of entertainment. This Netflix presentation sends the viewer on a path, exploring all the possible endings through trial and error. The more I invested in the show, I was able to acknowledge the true meaning behind Bandersnatch- False Choice.

In comparison to every other show that Black Mirror has released, I noticed that all of their other shows had a deeper meaning behind them which Bandersnatch seemed to lack, until it did not. I came to the conclusion that despite the numerous choices interwoven into the storyline of the film, there really was no choice at all.

To fully understand this metaphor you have to start with the story itself. Beware of spoilers ahead: The main character, Stephan, is a young video game programmer who throughout the duration of the film is seen regretting his previous decisions, and due to the interactive tool we, as the viewers, can help him go back into time and change his story to better his future. The more changes we implement, the more he gets confused and starts to question reality. He even asks the universe, “Who is controlling me?” Now this is awkward! The creators of this new format claimed that the audience would essentially be able to choose the way the story proceeds by picking different options at the bottom of their screen. The movie would take you back to an earlier moment if you were not happy with your ending; allowing you to find your personal favorite outcome. Universally, we all want Stephan to have a happy ending as we are basically responsible for it, and we feel there has to be one somewhere. So, we keep choosing and re-choosing for hours. Unfortunately this is all a lie.

No matter how many times you try, and despite the different variations of choices you set into place, there is no happy ending for Stephan. This parallels our realities and all the choices we have on a day to day basis. Everyone on Earth does everything with a goal of ultimate happiness. Although, seemingly our choices: our career, education, living location, etc., are really shaped by society and are not truly our choices at all. We all follow, to the best of our abilities, societal norms and adhere to “the system.” The true meaning behind Bandersnatch is that the creators wanted to convey to audiences that within this world we believe we have control of our choices. But, the reality is that our paths are controlled by the influence of others, an underlying theme in Bandersnatch.