Bandersnatch is the 2018 Black Mirror holiday special. It was written by Charlie Brooker and released on December 28, 2018.
In 1984, the young programmer Stefan Butler begins to question reality as he adapts a sprawling fantasy novel into a video game and soon faces a mind-mangling challenge.
The episode is a choose-your-own-adventure for us, the viewers. All of your choices lead to different consequences. There are many soft endings that lead you back to make a different choice. Additionally there are multiple final endings as well.
As is to be expected from an episode like Bandersnatch, there are many different choices to be made by the viewer leading to several endings. Although some of the choices (like what music to listen to or what cereal to eat) are inconsequential and will have little to no effect on the overall plot, others will lead the story on a completely different path. While some endings are 'soft' and will simply loop back to an earlier point in the story, others are considered 'hard' endings, although the viewer will be invited to go back and make different choices to affect what happens.
There seems to be a notable connection between the level of violence and the success of the game in the media.
- If Stefan chooses to work on Bandersnatch at Tuckersoft, Colin lets Stefan (and the viewer) know they made the wrong choice. The game is released on time for Christmas, however it has a 'made by committee' feel and comes out to a terrible 0/5 review. Stefan resolves to try again. If the episode is immediately replayed, the opening is condensed down with both Stefan and Colin feeling they've done it all before.
- If Stefan chooses to visit Dr. Haynes immediately instead of following Colin, he will have the option to take his medication. If he does, Bandersnatch is released on time (with nobody dead) however the reviewer states that the game feels only half-finished and gives it 2.5/5.
- If Stefan follows Colin and then jumps off the balcony himself, the game is released despite Stefan's tragic 'accident' but is considered to be too abrupt and dark. No rating is given.
- If Stefan chooses to kill his dad then chop up the body then the corpse is not discovered until much later, allowing Bandersnatch to be released to a glowing 5/5 review only to be pulled off the shelves soon afterwards when the murder is revealed with Stefan ending up in prison. The game is remade decades later by Colin's daughter Pearl for streaming services, only for her to start going insane as well as the viewer can decide on her final action. This appears to be the 'true' ending of the episode, as it leads into the ending credits.
- If Stefan chooses to kill his dad then bury the body, this will lead off into a few different endings depending on earlier choices:
- If Stefan didn't make Colin jump, then Tucker sends Colin around to Stefan's to help him complete the (already late) game. When Colin realises what's happened, he takes it casually and invites Stefan to kill him or let him go. Regardless of which, Stefan is soon caught (Colin either calls the authorities or the neighbour's dog digs up the body), Bandersnatch is never released, Colin is either dead or arrested for drug possession and Tuckersoft goes bankrupt.
- If Stefan makes Colin jump, then Kitty calls around to ask Stefan where Colin is. No matter what Stefan chooses to tell her, she leaves and Stefan buries the body only for the dog to still dig it up. As a result Stefan goes to prison, Bandersnatch is never released, Colin remains missing and Tuckersoft goes bankrupt.
- If the viewer chooses to bury the body three times, Stefan hangs up immediately on Tucker when he calls to ask where the game is. This causes Tucker to visit Stefan himself, walking in on him with the body. In this ending Tucker is killed by Stefan, who goes to prison for the two murders. Bandersnatch is never released, Colin is arrested and Tuckersoft goes bust.
- In some endings Stefan will try and call Dr. Haynes after killing his dad, meaning the phone will be engaged when Tucker tries to call leading him to give Stefan more time. Regardless of if Stefan gets through on not (depending on viewer choices) Stefan will still be arrested.
- There are four potential safe codes to try, depending on if Stefan chose to talk his mother to doctor Haynes and/or if he followed Colin:
- JDF and PAX are wrong choices, and will lead to jump scares.
- TOY will lead to Stefan finding his stuffed rabbit in the safe, seemingly going back in time to the day his mother died. Stefan's dad will put the rabbit back under the bed, however his mother will end up missing the train and taking the later one anyway. If Stefan chooses to go with her, it will be revealed he suddenly and inexplicably died during his initial session with Dr. Haynes.
- PAC will reveal that Stefan is part of a massive scientific experience testing the impact of severe trauma, which his father is in charge of. Stefan learns he has been drugged his whole life, Dr. Haynes is also in on the deception and his mother was just an actor. Stefan, in a fury from the revelation, kills his dad with the ashtray. However Stefan will then wake up having been dreaming this. This will unlock the 'P.A.C.S.' option when Stefan asks who is talking to him. If the viewer chooses this, Stefan believes there is a huge conspiracy going on. Stefan will then kill his dad (the viewer is not given the choice here) and will then try to call Dr Haynes. The phone number will be revealed to the viewer assuming that they've gone down the relevant story paths; if they have, it will lead to Stefan revealing to the receptionist he's killed his dad and intends to kill her next. If the viewer dials the wrong number, they are given an error tone. Regardless, Stefan is arrested and sent to prison with Tuckersoft releasing Bandersnatch unfinished to a 2.5/5 review.
- If the viewer decides to reveal to Stefan that he's being controlled by them and tries explaining how Netflix works, Stefan goes to see Dr. Haynes and attacks her. Dr. Haynes will then surprisingly get into a fighting stance and invite Stefan to come at her:
- If Stefan chooses to fight, he gets into a huge brawl with her and his dad. He eventually is dragged away, presumably to be sent to a mental institution.
- If Stefan tries to leave through the window, it will be revealed the whole episode is just a show being filmed, and Stefan is an actor called 'Mike' who has apparently gone so deep into the role that he believes it to be reality.
- In a couple of endings, Stefan will be given the choice to destroy his computer. If he does so, this will wipe out the Bandersnatch game, but presumably Stefan's mental state will recover.
- If the viewer chooses to back off from the confrontation with Stefan's dad instead of killing him, the episode just ends; presumably Stefan will recover, however it is never revealed what happens to Bandersnatch.
These choices will greatly influence what will happen in the episode.
- Stefan will be given the choice to talk about his mother during his therapist session. This will unlock choices for the safe later in the episode (assuming the player goes down that plot route).
- When arriving for his second session with Dr Haynes, he has the choice to attend or follow Colin. If he chooses to follow Colin, Stefan will get into a drug trip with him and will then be told by Colin about PAC (opening up another safe choice). Colin will then invite Stefan to choose which of them will jump over the balcony. If Stefan chooses Colin, then Colin will jump off to his death. Stefan will then seemingly wake up from a nightmare, however Colin will disappear for the rest of the story (although replaying certain elements will restore him, possibly a glitch).
Choosing either of these options will not largely impact the final ending.
- Cereal - Frosties or Sugar Puffs (an advert for whichever cereal chosen will play prior to the video documentary on Jerome F. Davis)
- Music - Now 2 or Thompson Twins (affects soundtrack, and Stefan will tell Colin which of these he listened to later on when asked)
- Vinyl - Phaedra or The Bermuda Triangle (affects soundtrack)
- At Dr Haynes’ - Bite nails or Pull earlobe (Stefan will resist the urge to do either)
- Destroy Computer or Throw tea over computer (Stefan resists again)
- Take drug while at Colin's (If Stefan refuses, Colin spikes his tea anyway)
A complete flowchart of all scenes and transitions generated from the official Netflix data is available here.
- Fionn Whitehead as Stefan Butler
- Will Poulter as Colin Ritman
- Asim Chaudhry as Mohan Thakur
- Craig Parkison as Peter Butler
- Alice Lowe as Dr. Haynes
- Bandersnatch was the name of a real game that was being developed for the Spectrum in 1984 but never saw the light of day.
- As has become standard for the series, Bandersnatch contains references to earlier episodes:
- The psychiatrist is named Dr. Haynes', a reference to Rolo Haynes, and she works at Saint Juniper's which was also where the former Haynes worked in Black Museum.
- Ritman's earlier game, 'Metl Hedd' is an obvious reference to Metalhead, with the Dog pictured on the front.
- The game Ritman is working on, 'Nohzdyve' was the name of an earlier episode.
- The symbol of PACS is the symbol first seen in White Bear but also resembles the branches of choices, what the whole episode is largely based around.
- The newspaper seen in the 'Pearl' ending mentions a futuristic new love machine being developed by BRB software, a new chapter of Space Fleet airing and the premiere of a new talent show named Hot Shots and Princess Susannah starting school.
- The news ticker on UKN (again, seen in the 'Pearl' ending) mentions Michael Callow winning Celebrity Bake-Off, Granular unveiling a new Pollinator drone, Liam Monroe entering Buckingham Palace and UK police testing a new memory recall device.
- A post-credits scene has Stefan listening to the Bandersnatch cassette. The resulting sound was put by fans in a Spectrum emulator, and revealed a QR Code featuring the White Bear symbol. When scanned, it lead to a Tuckersoft website with more games revealed, all with further episode references:
- Roachbusters: "You are responsible for the wellbeing of mankind. You must protect everyone. Kill the Roaches and collect the stars."
- Terror on Hannoch B: "You are still responsible for the wellbeing of mankind. You must protect everyone on an entirely new, far more terrifying planet. You know the drill: kill the Roaches and collect the stars."
- Rolling Road: "Think you've got what it takes, hot shot? See if you can ride your bike day in, day out, going absolutely nowhere, but everywhere at the same time..."
- Pig in a Poke: "Who'd have thought a ramble through the countryside would be so fun? You must escape from flying arrows and giant bees, squishing the little mice as flowers bloom all around you."
- Valdack's Revenge: Based on Space Fleet.
- White Bear: The cover has ice blocks in the shape of the famous symbol.
- One page has a banner linking to the Coach app website.
|Episodes in "Black Mirror"|
|Season 1||• The National Anthem • Fifteen Million Merits • The Entire History of You •|
|Season 2||• Be Right Back • White Bear • The Waldo Moment •|
|Season 3||• Nosedive • Playtest • Shut Up and Dance • San Junipero • Men Against Fire • Hated in the Nation •|
|Season 4||• USS Callister • Arkangel • Crocodile • Hang the DJ • Metalhead • Black Museum •|
|Season 5||• Striking Vipers • Smithereens • Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too •|
|Specials||• White Christmas • Bandersnatch •|