Charlton “Charlie” Brooker, the Creator and Writer of all the Black Mirror episodes, claims to be a constant worrier. Apparently, these constant worries he harbours have been the source to some of the most original and insane ideas that have transpired into some of the best episodes of the destopian anthology series, Black Mirror. Mr. Brooker’s apprehension seems to have been shifted toward the deeply disturbing themes that his own show employs in providing a morbid, yet gratifying experience to the viewer. Hence, the idea of making this marvelous meta special episode, Bandersnatch.
Bandersnatch is an interactive book, where the readers can choose the plot twists, which would define the progression of the story, basing on the decision made. In 1980s, A young Game programer chances upon this book and is obsessed by the idea of creating a game out of it. We follow the story of this Programer, who, in the gruelling process of designing the game, loses his mind, thanks to us the viewer, as we make decisions ‘ for ‘ him, revelling in the whole excitement of it. We are given two options to select from at every plot twist and the decision you make by a click, will divert the story in a different direction. One cannot begin to fathom the genius writing it would take to create something as original and unprecedented as this, for the screen.
Charlie Brooker’s insatiable appetite for originality and diversity of content has produced the most eclectic show in Black Mirror but until this point, the innovation and variety were limited to the genre and the treatment of the episodes; with Bandersnatch, Black Mirror has forayed into an entity that it was earlier, paranoid of, Technology. Bandersnatch is a technological revolution in the entertainment world but the brilliance of Charlie Brooker has emboldened that this experiment is no mere gimmick but masterful work of a man who understands the world he has created and is in complete control of what he is trying to accomplish, emotionally and thematically.
The ambiguity at fore can lead to numerous mind-blowing theories but what jumped at me, while I was watching the insanity at display was a Meta world Brooker was creating with an unmissable thematic reference to White Bear. White Bear was perhaps the darkest Black Mirror episode and the last few seconds of the show break your soul, as we understand the amusement park kind of exhibition that was being conducted, of the guilty lady. Within its subtlety, the episode was shouting out questions about the Guilty and the punisher. In all its subtlety, it demanded you to question if the people punishing the Guilty were as guilty as her, for doing it. These societal introspections withstanding, another point it raised was about an innate sense of merry we find in mayhem. The ‘ amusement ‘ the people were seeking in ‘ playing ‘ with the guilty as if it were a video game. This theme is taken to a whole new level in Bandersnatch where the viewer is ‘ controlling ‘ the character, the Lady in White Bear is replaced by the Game Programer and the entrants of the amusement park is the viewer, controlling the Programmer, to top it all, the streaming Platform Netflix acts as the Amusement Park where all the mayhem ensues. This genius move of integrating the White Bear theme in an interactive show, lends credibility to this experiment, which could otherwise come across as a Digital Gimmick.
For all the Darkness we associated with Black Mirror, the show hands you the decision making chance and by the end, when you are unwillingly revelling in the wickedness that you have unleashed on the character, the show laughs at you and says, ” The jokes on you, viewer “. When a show defies all the genre trappings and breaks into a level of greatness where it becomes a Genre in itself, you know the writer/creator is a bonafied Genius. Charlie Brooker is a bonafied Genius.