By now, you've probably made your way through Netflix's new, twisted, interactive story — Black Mirror: Bandersnatch — and if you haven't, you've at least heard of the new experimental TV episode. The premise makes for a fresh and intriguing viewing experience; viewers can actually make choices throughout the movie, controlling what direction the story goes in. That's fun and everything, but what if you just want to lay back and watch a movie? Luckily, if you make no choices in Bandersnatch, you still get a solid viewing experience.
Bottom line: the movie will eventually force a choice when the timer runs out, even if you don't click anything. And at least for me — watching on a PlayStation 4's Netflix app — here's what went down. The movie's protagonist, aspiring computer game designer Stefan, chooses Sugar Puffs for his cereal in the morning, and then flips on the Thompson Twins for his bus ride. These are the more mundane first choices the film presents you with, presumably to get you in the swing of how the whole thing works anyway. So far, so good.
When Stefan presents his Bandersnatch video game idea to the company looking to produce it, he accepts their first offer, prompting designer Colin Ritman to mysteriously tell him he chose the wrong path. Stefan's game is eventually a failure, he vows to try again, and the whole thing restarts. Next, as we inch closer to the same point the second time around, viewers realize Stefan has some information he didn't have before. Subtle differences are noticeable. And this time, the auto-response prompts Stefan to refuse the offer from the company, insisting he needs to work on the game at his own home.
Later, in therapy, Stefan chooses to talk to his doctor about his mother, and a flashback ensues. Here's where we learn that his mother died in a train accident that she might have avoided if he'd been a little quicker to find his stuffed animal, which his father had hidden. Then the next choice is up — Stefan chooses to buy the Phaedra record vs. the Bermuda Triangle one.
Then Stefan's father comes in and asks if he'd like to come with him to lunch. There's the option to throw tea over Stefan's computer, or to tell him to yell at his dad. The auto-generated response causes him to throw the tea, ruining his game, and prompting the movie to take you back and make another choice. The second time around, the movie chooses the option to yell at his dad, which results in the two of them making their way to Dr. Haynes' office.
Here, Stefan sees Colin walking down the street, but instead of making him follow him, Bandersnatch will have him go into the doctor's office. Inside there, the movie chooses for him to bite his nails instead of pulling his ear, but he denies the impulse. Later, he chooses to take the pills he's been prescribed instead of flushing them, and this leads us to another do-over situation. The film flashes forward to four months later, when Stefan's game gets a "disappointing" review, and he says he'll try again.
The film asks you to go back in time to the pills, this time, choosing to flush them when no choice is clicked. Stefan makes it further with the game now, but on the day it's due, it crashes. He's given a little more time to work, and Colin gives him a documentary to watch about the original author of the "Bandersnatch" book. He watches the documentary, gets a glitch in his game, and is given the option to hit the desk or destroy the computer. When no choice is made, he destroys the computer, ending the journey again.
Still, with all these instances of going back in time, there isn't an "exit to credits" option just yet, meaning that it's not necessarily an official ending. This time, the show chooses to go back in time to the computer. This time, he decides to hit the desk instead of destroying the computer. He then chooses to pick up his family photo, and takes a journey into a flashback of his childhood, after which you're sent back in time to the computer again.
Now, Stefan is onto the fact that something or someone is controlling him — and Bandersnatch gets even more meta than it has been up til now. He asks who's there — he's dying to know who's behind these impulses. The movie chooses to go the Netflix route when presented with a choice of what to tell him. The computer explains to him that he's being controlled by someone from the future, who's using a streaming platform from the 21st century called Netflix. Eventually, his dad comes in and a shaken Stefan asks to see Dr. Haynes again.
The doctor tries to help him decipher what exactly Netflix is, saying that if they were trapped inside a form of entertainment, wouldn't it be more action-packed? The choices that pop up are "yes" and "f*ck yeah." The film chooses the former, prompting a huge fight between Stefan and the therapist. Just when the film prompts him to leap through the window and escape, someone yells "cut!"
Stefan, confused, looks around, and finds that he's on a movie set of some sort. The producer tells him jumping out the window isn't in the script, and calls him Mike. When he insists his name is Stefan, she calls a medic, and the film finally ends with an option to either exit to credits, or go back and choose to follow Colin.
And there you are! In theory, you can totally watch Bandersnatch just like you'd watch any other movie, just with a few lulls where the film makes choices for you. Of course, that's not what you're meant to do, so have fun with it — there are certainly happier outcomes out there for poor Stefan.