What might be considered the first episode of Black Mirror’s fifth season, Bandersnatch, is out now on Netflix. But thanks to that episode and what a huge undertaking it was, we’ll have to wait for the rest the next installment of creator Charlie Brooker’s sci-fi series.
Bandersnatch debuted on Netflix on December 29 after a two-year effort, and anyone who’s spent a little time with it can see why its creation took so long: it’s a choose-your-own-adventure story, in which the viewer makes decisions about how the story will go at key intervals. Certain decisions trigger endings to the story, or automatically dial the viewer back to earlier points to make different choices so things don’t go quite so badly (or, since this is Black Mirror, sometimes worse).
All those choices and alternate storylines meant that Black Mirror is more like four episodes of the show, Brooker told The Hollywood Reporter. And making it took so much doing that the rest of the season has been pushed a little deeper into 2019–although just when this year it’ll actually see release on Netflix has not yet been announced.
“We knew going into it that it would be difficult and challenging and more complicated than a normal film that we would do. Even then, we underestimated,” Brooker told THR. “As the story expanded, I like to say that the story got longer and it got wider. So the whole thing started expanding a bit like an inflatable life raft in a small room.”
Though, like all Black Mirror episodes, Bandersnatch is a standalone story, it may well have an influence on the future of the series. Brooker said in the interview that Colin Ritman (Will Poulter), one of the characters in Bandersnatch, could show up in future Black Mirror episodes.
That discussion is a bit of a spoiler, so read on at your own risk.
In Bandersnatch, Colin suggests that the various choices and different storylines viewers are seeing are the result of multiple realities that influence each other. That would play into the meta view of the Black Mirror series as a whole, which is filled with self-referential Easter eggs even though all of the stories seem to take place in versions of our world that don’t share common technology or people. If Colin is right about his idea of multiple realities existing together, as Bandersnatch suggests, then seeing him in other Black Mirror episodes could extend that multiverse theory to the entire series.
“Ostensibly, he could go on forever, because he’s both dead and not dead,” Brooker said. “I like the idea that he could show up anywhere. I could see him popping up in ‘San Junipero’ or running around in ‘White Bear.'”
Still, we’re stuck waiting to find out when we’ll see any more Black Mirror, whether Bandersnatch’s characters make it into the rest of the season or not.