On Friday, Netflix debuted what is arguably its most ambitious original project to date, the viewer interactive Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the first standalone Black Mirror movie. With a complex "Choose Your Own Adventure" style format, viewers quickly find themselves in a labyrinth of choices leading to one of five concrete endings.
But what if there were a sixth ending, one that is strikingly different from the five -- and that no one has found just yet? It's something worth considering.
Warning: while there are over a trillion unique versions of the story possible in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, we will be discussing some of the major endings and plot points of the film overall. If you haven't yet seen the film -- or haven't hit upon all of the endings yet -- be warned there will be spoilers beyond this point.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch follows the story of Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), a young video game developer in 1984 who descends into madness while working on a new game based on a fantasy book that itself is a "Choose Your Own Adventure" type story. As viewers play along, they discover more of Stefan's story -- specifically that his mother was killed in a horrific train accident when he was a child, an even that he blames both himself and his father for as it was his father's hiding of a favorite toy that led his mother to take the doomed train. This trauma is a defining moment in Stefan's life. It's why he's in therapy as we see during much of the film and its why he became interested in the Bandersnatch book in the first place -- the book belonged to his mother.
As the film progresses, viewers are prompted to make specific choices -- things like food, music, and even whether Stefan will kill his father or not -- that generally lead to one of five endings: Stefan dying with his mother as a child, Stefan going to jail, a character in the future creating a reboot of Stefan's game, Stefan being revealed to be on a movie set, and Stefan being dragged away by his father. None of the endings are particularly happy or even that conclusive -- most of them will continue to prompt the viewer to go back and make different choices, ultimately guiding the story down new paths over and over. It's similar in some respects to the way one can play a video game and end up with a different ending, higher score, or some other sort of "reward" of sorts. Considering that Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is centered around the creation of a video game and given the vast number of possibilities, it wouldn't be too big of a surprise if there was a sixth, "reward" ending tucked into the game somewhere.
What that ending might be, should it exist? One could argue that it might be the happy ending that eludes Stefan in every other known outcome and it's one that would actually make sense within the context of the film. You see, at one point, Colin (Will Poulter) tells Stefan that there isn't one timeline but many and that one can "fix" the past in one timeline while in another. That idea -- of fixing the past from the present -- is one that the film already touches on. In one ending, Stefan reclaims the toy as an adult, places it where his child self will find it, and then young Stefan goes along with his mother and dies in the train accident with her (adult Stefan drops dead in his therapy session). However, Stefan dying is only one "solution" to the trauma. Another is that it never happens in the first place, thus sending Stefan on a completely different path and breaking the movie's loop.
What would that look like? Perhaps in this theoretical sixth ending, adult Stefan goes back and replaces Rabbit so that his child self is quickly able to find it. Instead of being delayed and having to take the doomed 8:45 train, Stefan and his mother make their original 8:30 train. His mother never dies, his relationship with his father never strains, he never goes down the path leading him to create "Bandersnatch". While this sort of ending would be a "happy" ending, it actually could raise more questions for viewers, making it very fitting with Black Mirror's often unsettling commentary on society and technology and how people interact with it.
Now, to be clear, there has been no evidence that such an ending exists. That said, viewers have been finding more and more little details in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, including a secret post-credits style scene that in turn leads to its own curious Easter Eggs. That scene takes viewers back to the beginning, as it were, with Stefan shown on the same bus he rode to visit Tuckersoft. This time, though, he pulls out a tape of the finished "Bandersnatch" game which in turn plays some eerie sounds, sounds that ultimately lead to a page on the "official" Tuckersoft website and a downloadable version of Colin's "Nohzdyve" game from the film.0comments
Do you think there are further, hidden endings in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch that viewers simply haven't found yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is now streaming on Netflix.