‘Black Mirror': So What Is a Bandersnatch, Anyway?

New installment of Netflix anthology series, dropping Friday, has a Lewis Carroll connection

Last Updated: December 27, 2018 @ 4:27 PM

Alright, “Black Mirror” fans, it’s high time we get to the bottom of this whole “Bandersnatch” mystery. Well, as much as we possibly can before the eagerly-anticipated movie drops on Netflix on Friday.

Widely expected to be the “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style “Black Mirror” we’ve been waiting for, the standalone film installment of the Charlie Brooker-created anthology series finally got a trailer in the wee small hours of Thursday that offered a few answers and left us with even more questions, like who or what is Bandersnatch?

The 1-minute, 40-second video reveals that, within the “Black Mirror” universe, “Bandersnatch” is a fantasy novel by an author named Jerome F. Davies who, we’re told, “went cuckoo and cut his wife’s head off.”

In the trailer, we learn Stefan (“Dunkirk” star Fionn Whitehead) is a young man working for a gaming company that is making an adventure game based on Davies’ book, who decides to stop taking some kind of medication so he can get a “bit of madness” while developing “Bandersnatch.”

Here’s the synopsis that was released with the trailer: “In 1984, a young programmer begins to question reality as he adapts a sprawling fantasy novel into a video game and soon faces a mind-mangling challenge. Welcome back.”

But the Netflix film, and the adventure game within the film, and the book within the film, are all named for a creature that predates “Black Mirror” by almost 150 years. So follow us and we’ll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

The Bandersnatch is a character created by author Lewis Carroll. It first appears in Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” (which is included in the novel “Through the Looking-Glass,” the 1871 sequel to “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”), when the narrator instructs his son to “shun / The frumious Bandersnatch.” The creature is mentioned again when the White King says to his wife, the White Queen, “runs so fearfully quick. You might as well try to catch a Bandersnatch!”

Carroll wrote of the character and his “frumious jaws” once more in his 1874 poem, “The Hunting of the Snark.”

The term “Bandersnatch” has appeared in pop culture several times since Carroll’s day, with one of its many uses being the term for several enemies in the “Final Fantasy” video game franchise, beginning in 1987. And, of course, the creature has popped up in several adaptations of Carroll’s works.

How does Lewis Carroll tie into “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”? We have no idea. Netflix has declined to comment about the film, which has made piecing together details quite frumious.

And if all that weren’t enough to hurt your head, then there is this bit of info shared by one serious “Black Mirror” fan on Twitter last month, before we even had confirmation about the project: “Turns out there was an ill-fated game named ‘Bandersnatch’ developed by a UK studio back in 1984, which is the year ‘Bandersnatch’ the Black Mirror episode takes place (we know this because a set photo shows Bob Marley’s ‘Legend’ at #1 on the charts in a record store).”

The user then pointed out that “Bandersnatch” was first referenced in Season 3 of “Black Mirror,” when the name of the game appeared on the front cover of a magazine in the episode “Playtest.”

Here’s a brief timeline of the “Bandersnatch” saga:

Bloomberg first reported a “Choose Your Own Adventure” episode was coming before the year was out back in October, though the streamer never confirmed the news.

In November, an official Netflix Twitter account revealed “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” would hit Dec. 28, though that tweet was deleted and many fans believed the leak pointed to a premiere date for the upcoming Season 5 as a whole. But some took the “Bandersnatch” clue and dove into the interactive narrative rumor again, once they figured out it was a Carroll character and the literary connection fed many a nerd-out.

Then last week, a landing page for “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” quietly went live on Netflix, with the service labeling the project “A Netflix Film.” But representatives for the streamer still declined to confirm or comment on details about the film, including its runtime, which could vary dramatically from viewer to viewer because of that whole “Choose Your Own Adventure” thing.

According to the Korean Media Rating Board via the Independent (because that’s how deep the hunt for clues on this movie has gone), “Bandersnatch” is directed by David Slade, who previously helmed the “Black Mirror” Season 4 episode “Metalhead.”