(WARNING: we obviously are going to discuss some big spoilers for “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” in here).
If you’re bored during your coronavirus quarantine, then this is as good a time as any to explore all the crazy branches of Netflix’s interactive film “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” But, take it from us, it can be quite a pain to manually navigate this whole thing without any sort of guide. So if you get tired of making different choices that end up back at the same endings you already got, we have you covered.
As best as TheWrap can tell — after an unhealthy amount of viewings and backtracks — the interactive story about ’80s video game programmer Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) and his attempts to develop the fantasy novel “Bandersnatch” into a video game, has 5 “main” endings. By which we mean, endings that trigger the closing credits — or rather, the option to “exit to credits” as an alternative to going back to an earlier point in the story.
Of course, there are over a trillion different permutations of the narrative, based on the various choices you make for Stefan — some of which represent major forks in the road while others are merely window dressing. So your path to getting here will vary from viewing to viewing. But, as far as we can tell, these appear to be the five main ways the story ends for poor Stefan:
1. Stefan’s dad drags him out of Dr. Haynes’s office, following a huge fight between the three of them: Stefan tells Dr. Haynes (Alice Lowe) that he thinks he’s being controlled in the early ’80s by, who else, you the viewer in the 21st century, because you told him through his computer about Netflix (bear with us). When Dr. Haynes goes along with Stefan’s theory, she asks if he were really in some kind of movie, it should get more dramatic. When you decide whether Stefan should climb out the window or fight her, and pick fight her, it ends with a crazy brawl between Stefan and Dr. Haynes, with Stefan’s dad, Peter (Craig Parkinson) coming in and dragging Stefan out of the office and Stefan him screaming about his “21st century friend.”
2. Dr. Haynes’s office is revealed to be a movie set: This ending features a very similar setup to the one above, except one of the decisions you make for Stefan, after Dr. Haynes asks him if things should get more dramatic, ends the story differently. This time, if you tell Stefan to climb out the window, the camera pans out to reveal that Stefan was more right than he thought. Dr. Haynes’s office is just a giant movie set, and her, Stefan’s dad, and (unknowingly) Stefan himself are all actors. The director comes up and says he wasn’t supposed to climb out the window because this is the “fight scene.” It ends with the director telling a very confused Stefan (or Mike, as he calls him) to take a break.
3. Pearl Ritman: After Stefan decides to kill his dear old dad and chop him up (and keep his head in his room) he is finally able to focus on finishing “Bandersnatch.” Then we see him a) lie to his psychiatrist, Dr. Haynes about his dad being on holiday and b) tell her he figured out he needed to make fewer options in the game and make more decisions for the player while letting them think they had free will. This leads to “Bandersnatch” getting a rave, five-star review from the gaming critic.
We then jump to a news report in the present day, which is intercut with the final credits. The segment reveals that after “Bandersnatch” was released, it was discovered Stefan murdered his father and the game was pulled from shelves, with all copies pulped. The report includes an interview with Pearl Ritman (Laura Evelyn), a coder who happens to be the daughter of Colin (Will Poulter) and Kitty (Tallulah Haddon). She explains she found Stefan’s game hidden in a crate and is rebooting it for a streaming platform, which is “rumored” to be Netflix (though she can’t talk about that).
Then there is a scene of Pearl mapping a decision tree with “Bandersnatch” choices that definitely appear to be ones from Stefan’s own real-life journey. She turns on her computer to check something and we see she’s watching footage of Stefan waking up in bed back in the ’80s. Then the screen scrambles with the White Bear symbol. The viewer is given the option to throw tea over the computer or destroy it, but either choice cuts to black.
4. Stefan goes to jail: This is one of the outcomes of Stefan committing murder, either killing Colin or his dad. What distinguishes this ending from the one above is that the murder is discovered before the “Bandersnatch” game is ever released — either because the neighbor’s dog dug up the body or because Stefan called his psychiatrist’s office to threaten to murder her.
In this version, with “Bandersnatch” unreleased and Colin missing regardless of whether Stefan murdered him, Tuckersoft ends up going bankrupt and having to liquidate. In the last scene, we see Stefan in his prison cell, scrawling the White Bear symbol on the wall.
5. Stefan dies with his mom as a child: In what may be the “true” ending, if Stefan enters the code “TOY” into his father’s safe, he can get the stuffed rabbit back that he lost when he was a child. This leads, somehow, to Stefan retroactively not losing the rabbit when he was a child on the day his mother died.
With 5-year-old Stefan finding the rabbit, you’re then presented with the choice to travel with his mom (Fleur Keith)on the train that derailed and killed her. This kills Stefan too — in the present (alternate?) timeline Stefan just spontaneously dies while meeting with his shrink. And that’s the end of his story.
Or is it? “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” actually has one additional, secret ending that is relatively minor on its face but which contains a huge Easter egg that took some significant digging for fans to figure out. And you can read all about this bonus secret ending here.