One of the five endings to “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” contains a twist that is more or less a meta joke that brings the 1984-set story into the 21st century. The conclusion finds Fionn Whitehead’s aspiring video game creator Stefan being told by Dr. Haynes (Alice Lowe) that a higher power is pulling the strings of his life, and that power happens to be the Netflix viewer. Bringing Netflix into “Bandersnatch” might have seemed like an initiative from the streaming executives, but that’s hardly how the twist ending was created.
“It was our idea,” “Black Mirror” co-creator Charlie Brooker recently told The Wrap, denying Netflix had anything to do with touting its own product in “Bandersnatch.” “And it came about genuinely as a consequence of us talking it all through. As we were working out ways the story could go, we thought, ‘Well, you know, this is about somebody who becomes aware that there is somebody there controlling them.’ So there’s going to be a moment where he turns around and goes, ‘Who is it? Who is there?’”
Brooker decided on making Stefan aware of the Netflix viewer not to make some grand statement about control but because it just seemed funny and accurate to the character’s larger predicament in the story. “We wanted some branches to be funny, some to be horrifying, some to be dramatic — we thought it’d be funny if you just told him the truth,” Brooker said. “If you just said, ‘I’m watching you on the television and it’s Netflix and I’m from the 21st century.’ The more you try and explain it to him, the more crazy it sounds, and the more crazy he sounds trying to explain it to anyone else in 1984. So it literally just came as a consequence of that.”
“I remember writing it into the outline and almost being embarrassed to show it to Netflix and go, ‘Is that all right to do that?’” Brooker continued. “And they just thought it was quite funny.”
“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” is now streaming on Netflix.