Charlie Brooker's 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch' has provoked quite the reaction since its release on Netflix yesterday. The interactive, 'choose your own adventure' movie has won rave reviews for its unique, macabre take on the intersection between technology and reality, psychology and free will. You can read our review here.
Directed by David Slade, and starring Fionn Whitehead, Will Poulter and Craig Parkinson, Bandersnatch has all the dark, twisted elements we've come to expect from a Charlie Brooker-penned Black Mirror offering but with an extra twist: there are multiple endings to the movie. According to Netflix, there are five definitive or 'true' ways the movie can end. But as this tweet explains, it's a little bit more complicated than that:
My talented twin brother’s interactive design team @netflix worked on the new Black Mirror 90-minute special, Bandersnatch.
This ‘choose your own adventure’ movie for adults, has five possible endings, 312 minutes of content and more than 1 trillion unique story permutations ? https://t.co/uPXScddqJ2
— Steve Schlafman ? (@schlaf) December 28, 2018
Here are some of the main ways that 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch' can end. Again, if you haven't seen it, and plan on doing so, be warned that there are spoilers below.
The Sudden Ending
When Stefan Butler (Whitehead) gets to meet his idol Colin Ritman (Poulter) near the start of Bandersnatch, and is asked if he wants to create his dream video game, users are given the chance to refuse or accept the offer. If viewers accept the offer, we flash forward to find that a critic pans the new game with Butler resolving to 'try again'.
The Broken-Computer Ending
When Butler has been working on the game alone for weeks, his father Peter (Parkinson) enters his bedroom. Viewers are faced with the option of either having Stefan shout at his father, or having Peter tip a cup of tea over the computer. Although this may sound tempting to some, the 'tea' option actually ends the story.
The Balcony Ending
Another decision for viewers: do you make Stefan attend his therapy session or follow Colin and partake in a night of acid taking. If you choose the latter, Colin will convince Stefan that there are multiple realities and that it doesn't matter if one of them jumps off the apartment balcony. Viewers can force Stefan to take the leap or make Colin tell him to do it.
The Medicated Ending
If you do decide that Stefan should attend his therapy session with Dr Haynes (Alice Lowe), you can then choose whether he takes or flushes the medication that she prescribes. If he does pop the pills, we flash forward to Christmas and Stefan has been on the medication for months. The game has been released but received only two and a half stars and a critic commenting that it was written by someone on 'autopilot'.
The Meta/Netflix Ending
In one of the most surprising endings, Stefan actually demands to know who or what is controlling him. If the user chooses to tell him the truth, he ends up in Dr Haynes office telling her about “a streaming platform from the early 21st century” i.e Netflix. She then challenges Stefan to a fight and the viewer is asked to either accept, or jump out the window. If you choose the window option the fourth wall shatters to reveal Stefan on a Black Mirror set getting shouted at by the director.
The Bloody Endings
If wouldn't be 'Black Mirror' without a bit of blood and guts, right? Well, have no fear. There are several endings in which Stefan is imprisoned for murdering his father. In these versions of the story you are forced at some point to kill Peter if you want the story to progress. If you choose 'Back Off' in the kitchen confrontation you will eventually have to choose the 'Kill Dad' option. You then decide whether his body is buried or chopped up. If you choose 'Chopped Up' we then learn that Stefan has finished the game and it gets a 5-star rating from critics.
The Train Ending
If you work out that 'TOY' is the password that Stefan needs to get his beloved teddy bear from his father's safe, you can travel back in time and place it under his bed. However, we learn that his mother will still miss her train. But this time viewers can decide whether he joins her on the next train. If you choose yes, he's on the train with her when it crashes and in a bizarre twist ends up ultimately dying in his therapist's office.