*Warning: There might be spoilers*
When techno-paranoia, cult-hit series Black Mirror announced its new episode, I think everyone posted it on their Instagram Stories. The new season has always been much-anticipated by many. And when its new episode, Bandersnatch, announced – it nearly broke the internet. Why? because the Netflix-produced series promises a new innovation of interaction from the audience like never before, where Netflix subscribers can take part in the episode’s story arch.
Since I got no Netflix (I am broke and stingy), I let my sister borrowed her friend’s Netflix password because apparently, when I tried to stream it online *cough* the episode just don’t play the same. And as I told one of my friends, he scolded and implored me to watch Bandersnatch on Netflix. Talk about being loyalist consumerism lol.
When the episode starts, viewer was asked to stay close to their mouse for this episode since we need to do a lot of clicking. Woo hooo… I was excited! Directed by David Slade, the episode -works also as a standalone- tells the story of Stefan, a young chap in 1984 (Orwellian ref) England whose own reality becomes distorted as he creates new video game based on a controversial novel.
The premise is promising and the first few scenes delivered. 10 minutes in, I was ask to choose which corn flakes for Stefan, followed by other countless decisions I have to make for him. The “meta script” about freewill given to humans is smartly embodied, mocked even. Halfway through, Stefan realised someone else, aka us the viewers, is controlling him. He even screamed “Who’s out there controlling me??” With this, Netflix did a funny brand insertion where we can choose Netflix logo to appear on Stefan’s screen to let him knows “we (Netflix watchers) are”.
However staggering this interactive development for streaming services is, the main plot feels redundant. Moreover, the ability to decide for Stefan becomes more chore-like to me after some time. Sure, I was excited when I could decide whether to kick Stefan’s dad in the balls or make him fight his shrink. But after sometime I just don’t care.
The draggy part continued till the end as there are few scenes to repeat over and over again, until, we get it right. I get the metaphor. Humans think they have freewill but maybe they don’t. This is the larger theme plays for Bandersnatch episode.
The plot about Stefan’s past and the novel-game he’s developing doesn’t help either. It doesn’t scares/bothers me as much as when compared to other Black Mirror episodes, let’s say: Nosedive, White Christmas, Shut Up And Dance, or even White Bear. For a fun, innovative episode, Bandersnatch lacks the creepy feeling that should make my skin crawls.
Maybe Netflix thinks the idea to have control over a fictional character on-screen would give us that, but for me, that sensation is ruined forever by video games. I mean, I made my Sims do more unspeakable things than this At the end of two hours or such (why isn’t there time stamp on Netflix?!!), I wished I could just go back and continue the remaining Season 4 episodes I haven’t seen. Maybe the Jodie Foster-directed episode is much better?
Total Ratings: 6.5/10.
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