The Netflix Path In 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch' Is The Funniest Thing The Series Has Ever Done
Spoilers ahead for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. An anthology series like Black Mirror can shift between its tone and genre from episode to episode, but despite having told over a dozen individual stories over four seasons, it's hard to describe any single episode of Black Mirror as funny. There are episodes that are more amusing then others, but the show never quite goes for gut-busting laughter, until Bandersnatch. The interactive film isn't always hilarious — in fact things get pretty tense and bloody in most endings — but the Netflix storyline in Bandersnatch marks the single funniest moment of Black Mirror's run so far, and could mean that there will be more absurdly hilarious episodes are on the way. And it's actually sort of pivotal to some of the movie's endings.
Now, I know what you're thinking: How do the characters in Bandersnatch, a film set in the 80's — know about Netflix? Well, be warned that there are spoilers for this specific storyline ahead. In Bandersnatch, if you go to your therapist (instead of following Colin), flush your pills (instead of take them), and read a book (instead of looking at a family photo), Stefan will look up to the sky, convinced that someone is watching him.
The viewer is prompted to answer him with a mysterious glyph, or with "Netflix." If the latter is chosen, his computer will type a message that says "I am watching you on Netflix," and a series of events unfold that turn Bandersnatch into a meta-textual nightmare the likes of which Black Mirror has never seen.
The computer, serving as a voice for the viewer, tells Stefan "I am making choices for you" and Stefan, rightfully, has some questions. When Stefan asks "What the f*ck is Netflix?" the computer explains that it's a "streaming entertainment platform from the early 21st century." Stefan explains that he has no idea what a "streaming entertainment platform" is, and the computer responds "It's like TV, but online. I control it." When the messages stop, Stefan explains to his father that he's being controlled by someone from the future. Stefan's father asks if he wants to see his therapist, and Stefan immediately replies "Yes, please."
"So, you've being controlled by someone on Netflix. What is Netflix, is it a planet?" Dr. Haynes asks, attempting to understand. Stefan doesn't have any answers for her, but Dr. Haynes applies logic to the situation to try and help Stefan realize it's a delusion. Dr. Haynes points out that if his life were a show on Netflix, why is it just about him talking to a therapist? Why isn't it more interesting or action-packed? Dr. Haynes asks "Wouldn't you want a little more action if you were watching this now on Telly?" which prompts the viewer to choose between two answers — "Yes" or "F*ck Yeah".
Both choices lead to the same result, in which Colin throws his tea in his Dr. Haynes face, and throws the contents of her desk onto the ground. Dr. Haynes, ready to fight, pulls out two police batons and the viewer is given the choice to jump out the window or fight. If the viewer chooses fight, a complicated and ridiculous fight sequence between Dr. Haynes and Stefan occurs, with his dad bursting in eventually and joining the brawl, which includes a choice to "Karate Chop Dad" or "Kick Him In The Balls." Stefan's dad eventually drags him away while Stefan cries out "How's that for entertainment, you psychiatric f*ck?"
The whole thing is ridiculous, but the bonkers meta plotline doesn't end there. If you go back through and choose to jump out the window instead of fight, a director calls "cut" and the scene comes to an abrupt halt. The director explains to Mike, which seems to be the name of the actor playing Stefan, that it's not in the script for him to jump out the window because this is the fight scene.
However, Mike insists that he's Stefan, and the director chooses to put a hold on filming so that a medic can come to the set and examine Mike. These meta endings are the most thing Black Mirror has done yet, and prove that the team behind Bandersnatch was interested in getting the most use out of the format as possible. While Black Mirror may be a dour and often depressing show, it's also a show that has a goofy streak that can go to bat with some of television's funniest programming. With content like Bandersnatch available for viewing, it's a good time to be a resident of the planet Netflix.