Bandersnatch Alternate Endings

Unlike traditional movies, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch makes the viewer an active participant in the story, forced to decide the fate of the main character. As a result, there are a slew of alternate conclusions, depending on which decision you make. In a new interview, Black Mirror producers Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones break down some of the Bandersnatch alternate endings, and confirm that the movie was so complicated that it delayed the release of Black Mirrror season 5. Spoilers follow.

Everyone is talking about Bandersnatch, the new Choose Your Own Adventure-style movie set in the world of Black Mirror. The minute the movie arrived, buzz began to build around how innovative and, well, weird it all was. The story involves young video game designer Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), who quickly discovers he’s not in control of his own actions. Someone is making him do the things he does, and here’s the kicker: that someone is you, the viewer. What a twist! By choosing one of two options presented on the screener, the viewer forces Stefan to perform certain tasks and engage in certain storylines. As a result of this, there are several alternate scenarios, and endings, awaiting the character.

Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones, the producers behind Black Mirror, sat down with THR to delve into some of the alternate Bandersnatch endings. While there are officially five different endings, there are also variants of all of them, primarily because there are “millions of unique story permutations.” The one ending most people seem to end up with, though, is called the Pearl Ending. This sequence, which usually plays out during the end credits, follows a new game designer, Pearl Ritman. Pearl is the daughter of another game designer in the movie, Colin Ritman (Will Poulter). Now, all grown up, Pearl is developing a new Bandersnatch game…but, of course, there’s a twist. Just like Stefan, Pearl finds out she, too, is being controlled.

“The Pearl ending is quite meta, where it sort of pulls out to reveal someone who has been writing all of this to appear on Netflix,” Brooker tells THR. “To be honest, the whole thing was extremely meta. Throughout the whole process, we’ve often commented on how life has been imitating art, or the other way around.”

Regarding the Pearl Ending, Bandersnatch producer Russell McLean adds:

“[Pearl] thinks she’s just found her dad’s program and she’s reinventing it as Bandersnatch the interactive film…but then she’s starting to go into the same hole that Stefan went into and she’s forced to do something which would be mad at this point: to destroy her computer, which is the same thing Stefan was forced into. She’s losing control. And she’s almost representing Charlie [Brooker].”

While there are multiple endings, the folks behind Black Mirror are keen to stress that there’s no one “correct” conclusion. In fact, you shouldn’t think of them as separate experiences at all. Rather, try to picture them as alternate worlds, where alternate timelines are playing out.

“It’s a little bit crude to think of it in terms of specific endings, because they could all co-exist,” says Annabel Jones. “We tried to create it so that all of the endings make sense for Stefan. He would like a few of those experiences to come true. And then we want people to experience it and have their own emotional reactions.”

When it came to creating all these alternate experiences, Brooker developed a tool called Branch Manager, which Netflix now plans to use for future CYOA experiences. Per THR, “The final product — which looks like islands of flowcharts that branch out to include series of if-then options — creates an infinite number of variations to the story because of the “state tracking” technology that tracks viewer choices as the experience progresses.”

This technique was so damn successful and complex that there are both “golden easter eggs.” Eggs buried so deep that they’ll probably never be discovered by viewers. “There are scenes that some people just will never see and we had to make sure that we were OK with that,” Bandersnatch director David Slade told THR. “We actually shot a scene that we can’t access.”

And what of Black Mirror season 5? It’s been confirmed that the latest season is still coming, and will hit Netflix in 2019. It’s just been delayed a bit because Bandersnatch required so much work. As Jones told THR, “Bandersnatch took an ‘enormous’ amount of creative time and, as a result, the forthcoming fifth season of Black Mirror has been shifted back.”

So be patient. More Black Mirror is on the way. Unless it isn’t… What a twist!

Cool Posts From Around the Web: