Hey guys! Today we’re looking at a major Black Mirror episode, Bandersnatch. This was very different from the others, but I loved the concept all the same.
Today, instead of doing a play-by-play, I’m just going to talk about the stuff that I enjoyed, as well as some of the Easter eggs that may fly under the radar.
As you probably know, Netflix got into a lawsuit because of the Choose Your Own Adventure thing, which, interestingly enough was used by a lot of authors over on Twitter back in 2020 (see my good friend Tim’s Project Tasman, for example, now adapted on Wattpad). But I was very intrigued by this episode, and it was the first Black Mirror episode I actually watched, considering its gimmick.
On watching, I was unable to actually see the choices on the screen, so I had to watch this video where the commentary discusses every ending. It had been a while since I’d watched the episode.
Stefan is the main character. They brought in one of the many probation workers from Misfits into it. It’s set in the 80’s, so like San Junipero, I get major nostalgia vibes from it. Stefan is basically trying to program and sell his game based on the CYOA book Bandersnatch. He goes to Tuckersoft to sell it, and Tuckersoft was the company in charge of the San Junipero systems, which highlights the 80s nostalgia all the more.
There’s a huge emphasis on mental health dysfunction in this episode, referring to the author, and the glyphs that show up, the same as those in White Bear. For this, it’s used as the signal for choice. There’s also the Pax demon, noted in different aspects of the episode. In this episode, the endings vary wildly, from the murder of Peter by Stefan, his own son, to Colin Ritman’s daughter, Pearl, being a programmer for Netflix and working on the very Bandersnatch that we are watching, who is also affected by the issues that Stefan suffered. There is a hallucinatory experience, and the safe hidden in the house, and visiting flashbacks, including Stefan actually dying in the train accident with him mum as a child. Don’t get me started on the PAX and JFD passwords that result in jump-scares.
One of my favourite endings had to be the one where Stefan talks to his therapist about Netflix, and tries to jump out of the window but is unable to, and it turns out they are on the set of Bandersnatch that they are filming for Netflix.
Altogether, the whole story is a lot more to it than the creation of a video game. It also delves deep into Stefan’s psyche.
There are several hidden Easter eggs, such as:
- The poster for Metl Hedd, based on the episode Metalhead
- The glyphs, as mentioned earlier, were present in White Bear
- Colin Ritman’s game, Nohzdyve is a reference to Nosedive
- The Saint Juniper clinic are nods to San Junipero and Black Museum
- The Tuckersoft website itself shows game concepts based on episodes such as Fifteen Million Merits, USS Callister and Men Against Fire.
- A newspaper article features Easter Eggs from Hang the DJ (but could also be Be Right Back), Fifteen Million Merits and USS Callister.
- In Pearl’s ending, there are nods to The Waldo Moment, The National Anthem, Hated in the Nation and Crocodile.
Also, you can actually download and play Metl Hedd and Nohzdyve using a ZX Spectrum emulator.
Overall, this is a very fun episode to sink a few hours into, and just grasp the complexities of free will and choices. Of course, you don’t see this one in the usual Black Mirror section, it’s one you have to find separately, but it’s there! Considering the way that the series goes on with the next season, it’s more like the beginning of a…Nohzdyve.
Next time, we’re kicking off season 5 with Striking Vipers. And honetsly, season 5 has a lot to answer for.