You open up Netflix, a streaming entertainment platform with hundreds of options to choose from. You pick Bandersnatch.

Then you get a lot more choices.

The latest episode (Movie? Video game? All of the above?) of the acclaimed sci-fi series Black Mirror is a riff on choose-your-own-adventure stories and classic console gaming of the 1980s. Its hero, Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) is an aspiring programmer who wants to adapt a dense, branching novel called Bandersnatch into a similarly conceived video game. The viewer gets to decide what Stefan does at various points in the narrative; options include whether to take psychoactive drugs, commit murders, or whether to karate chop your dad in the neck or kick him in the balls. (The balls, come on. It’s gotta be the balls.)

Some choices don’t really affect the flow of the story; others send it careening down paths that can’t be recovered from. If you choose “wrong,” Bandersnatch will loop back and let you choose again. But there are some definitive “endings” to the story. And here they are (I’m numbering them but that’s just so I can keep track of them; many of these can be reached in a different order than they’re listed here):

Black Mirror Bandersnatch

Ending #1

The game ends almost as soon as it begins if you choose wrong. Stefan brings his Bandersnatch demo to Mohan Thakur (Asim Chaudhry), the owner of video-game company, Tuckersoft. He loves it, and offers to set him up with all the tech and support he’d need to finish the game. If you accept the offer, another programmer at Tuckersoft, Colin Ritman (Will Poulter) tells you you’ve chosen the “wrong path” and the film jumps forward to the release of Bandersnatch, which is given a 0 out of 5 by the television show Micro Play. Harsh.

Ending #2

One of the most common endings throughout the story lets you destroy your computer. At various points Stefan grows frustrated with glitches in his code or his father’s increasingly overbearing behavior. Give in to the temptation to smash your computer or pour tea all over it and it’s game over right there.

Ending #3

Maybe the key branch in the entire story comes when Stefan’s father (Craig Parkinson) takes him to visit his therapist Dr. Haynes (Alice Lowe) right as Colin happens to walk by. Choose to follow Colin and he takes Stefan back to his apartment, where he lives with his girlfriend and daughter. He also — whether the viewer chooses it or not — doses Stefan with LSD, and then in the midst of a paranoid monologue about the nature of reality, the existence of alternate timelines, and the government’s use of mind-control substances, claims he can prove his theories with a test: One of the two of them will jump off Colin’s balcony. If the viewer wants Stefan to jump, the story again leaps forward to Christmastime and the release of Bandersnatch. Without Stefan around to finish it, the game is incomplete and this time Micro Play gives it 2.5 stars out of 5.

Black Mirror Bandersnatch

Ending #4 

If the viewer decides to visit Dr. Haynes instead of following Colin, that leads down a path where you learn about Stefan’s tragic backstory (he blames himself for his mother’s death, because she was searching for his lost toy and wound up missing her train and then taking another that resulted in a fatal crash). Dr. Haynes prescribes Stefan more medication to help with his increasingly disturbed mind — and then you get to choose whether to take it or flush it. Take it and Stefan’s clouded judgment improves, at the expense of Bandersnatch. Once again the game comes out as a 2.5 out of 5 star misfire according to Micro Play.

Ending #5

Not taking Stefan’s medication opens up a new host of possibilities. In one, Stefan’s deadline to deliver Bandersnatch continues to deteriorate his sanity, and he starts believing he is not in control of his actions (ha ha). He asks his computer to give him a sign, and the viewer can choose between the Netflix logo and the branching symbol that has begun to consume Stefan’s thoughts (and is also a Black Mirror easter egg). Pick Netflix and Stefan will, after arguing with his computer about what Netflix actually is (Bandersnatch takes place in 1984, before it exists) wind up back at his therapist. She claims if this were really some kind of television program or game, it would have more action. Cue the action! Haynes and Stefan and his father all get into a crazy fight, which leads to Stefan getting dragged away from the office while he screams like a madman.

Ending #6

If you don’t want to fight, the viewer can opt to send Stefan out Dr. Haynes’ widow — or they can at least try. Pick the window and you unlock an even more meta ending to the story, where a director calls “Cut!” and then talks to the “actor” playing Stefan, who appears to have lost his grip on reality. The director calls a medic to the set to take a look at her ill leading man.

Black Mirror Bandersnatch

Ending #7

Rewind a bit. If you choose the White Bear symbol instead of the Netflix logo, then the sign Stefan’s computer sends him drives him into a murderous frenzy. (You get at least one more chance to back down, but whatever.) Stefan kills his poor dad and then gets maybe the grisliest choice in Bandernatch: Bury dad’s body or chop it up. Gross. If you’ve got the guts to chop up dear old dad, then you’ll wind up back at the therapist’s office, where Stefan explains how he succeeded in finishing his game. The solution, he says: Remove the choices. “I just went back, stripped loads out. Now they’ve only got the illusion of free will. But really, I decide the ending.” This time Micro Play calls Bandersnatch “the perfect game.” It gets a 5 out of 5.

Then the film leaps into the future, where Colin’s grown daughter is now trying to adapt Bandersnatch into an interactive film for Netflix. (Who else?) She begins to suffer her own mental breakdown and the viewer gets one more choice of how to destroy her computer. The end!

Ending #8

For those who prefer burial as their method of bodily disposal, you’ll get a phone call at this most inopportune moment. This section has a few variations depending on who is still alive in the narrative at this moment, but the outcome remains basically the same: Stefan’s dad’s body is found, Bandersnatch never comes out at all, and Stefan winds up in jail, scratching the White Bear logo into the wall of his cell.

Ending #9

The final major branch involves Stefan’s research into the original Bandersnatch novel. At one point during the development of the game you can choose between examining a book about the psychotic author of Bandersnatch or an old photo of Stefan and his family. That eventually leads to the dreamlike discovery of a safe, and some password options. One route brings you down the “Netflix or White Bear” path; another leads you to discover that Stefan’s father implanted his core trauma using drugs (essentially confirming what Colin had told Stefan during their shared LSD trip). Stefan still kills his father, but in this case he calls Dr. Haynes after the deed is done. Her receptionist alerts the police and Stefan winds up in jail, scratching the walls like in Ending #8. The difference here is that Bandersnatch is still released — albeit in unfinished form. It gets a 2.5 out of 5 from Micro Play.

Ending #10

Last but certainly not least: If you type “TOY” into the safe, it opens and reveals Stefan’s lost childhood toy that went missing all those years ago. In this dreamy sequence, Stefan reverts to his childhood self and is reunited with his mom shortly before her death. She invites Stefan to join her on the doomed train. Say no and he’ll wake up and have more chances to commit horrible murders. Say yes and ... this is what you get:

Is this a happy ending? Or is this the bleakest one? (The only way — at least that I’ve found — that results in a perfect score from Micro Play involves not only murder but bodily dismemberment.) That’s for you to choose. You can watch Bandersnatch on Netflix now.

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