Is There A Right Way To Watch 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch'? Some Endings Are More Satisfying Than Others
Spoilers for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch follow. A choose-your-own-adventure TV movie sure seems like an exciting endeavor, but it can also cause anyone who has decision-making problems a whole lot of stress. There's no one right way to watch Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and, of course, that's kind of the whole point. But considering that Netflix revealed that there are more than a trillion variations in Bandersnatch, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. And while that doesn't mean there are actually a trillion different storylines, you may be seeking for the purest way to watch this movie. But, as any Black Mirror fan should already know all too well, you can't expect the Bandersnatch journey to be clean and simple.
As fans have discovered when Bandersnatch dropped on Dec. 28, there are multiple endings to Stefan's journey to create his own choose-your-own-adventure video game. The official tally provided by Netflix is that there are five true endings. But there are so many opportunities to make decisions and do do-overs that you can get bogged down in finding one of those endings. And it certainly doesn't help that the mundane decisions that start out Bandersnatch — choosing which cereal Stefan should eat and what cassette he should listen to during his commute — seem monumental when you first embark on the movie. Oh, the (pseudo) autonomy!
You have 10 seconds to choose each time and if you don't respond in time or are torn on a decision, Bandersnatch will default to the answer that's on your left-hand side of the screen. For the cereal and music questions, it doesn't really matter what you choose. But you'll want to be prepared to click when Stefan previews his video game for Tuckersoft since the first official decision that really matters is whether Stefan will agree to Mohan Thakur's terms. It sure seems like a great idea to ACCEPT, but you'll soon discover you come to a rather unsatisfying ending if you reply in the affirmative.
When Stefan works in the office, the video game reviewer Robin on the show Micro Play determines that the game Bandersnatch feels rushed and mercilessly gives it no stars out of five. There are little changes if Stefan immediately says yes than tries again, but if you are trying to streamline the story, you may want to select REFUSE, right off the bat to skip that unnecessary and immediate failure.
Your next decision will be whether Stefan wants to discuss what happened to his mother with his therapist. There's a reason that if you say NO the first time that Dr. Haynes will ask again. Because if you try to avoid this backstory, you'll eventually be forced to say YES. So reveal Stefan's past sooner rather than later to discover why he's not on great terms with his father.
You'll also inevitably have to visit Dr. Haynes again at some point where she will increase Stefan's medication. While you may want to follow doctor's orders with the pills and TAKE THEM, it's better to FLUSH THEM since Stefan will just want "to try again" if he stays on his medication.
A detour certainly worth taking is to FOLLOW COLIN. Whether you say YES or NO to the drugs, Colin will force them on Stefan. So although Colin claims Stefan has free will, this scene is a brutal reminder that everything in Stefan's life is beyond his control. As for who should jump off the apartment's balcony, go with COLIN since if you pick STEFAN, Bandersnatch never gets finished for a bleak (even for Black Mirror) ending. And hey, Colin himself knows this is "fair enough" since it was his idea for someone to jump anyway — although you'll certainly feel bad for Kitty and his baby daughter Pearl.
Another major dead end you'll get is when you have the choice to DESTROY COMPUTER after watching the documentary about Jerome F. Davies, the author of Bandersnatch. Instead HIT DESK to bypass an inevitable loop. And, unfortunately, if you want to have an interesting end to your story, you won't want to BACK OFF when you have the choice to KILL DAD. But didn't you always know Bandersnatch would have to end in death and despair just like the fictional book it's based on?
From there, you're pretty much set up for an entertaining rest of your choose-your-own-adventure movie no matter what (and it will get extremely entertaining if you enter the NETFLIX portion). And while one ending claims to be a "happy" and "perfect," that's never really the case for Black Mirror. But for Bandersnatch, perhaps more than any other Black Mirror story, it's truly about the journey rather than the destination — though you'll encounter plenty of disturbing destinations along the way. And just like Stefan, you'll learn you never were really in control anyway.