Black Mirror Season 5 pushed back by Bandersnatch


Black Mirror’s newly released episode Bandersnatch let viewers choose their own adventure, but they weren’t given a choice when it came to a delay in the release of Black Mirror, season 5.

When buzz started that more Black Mirror episodes would hit Netflix by the end of 2018, fans were ecstatic. It turned out the rumors referred to just one episode, however: Bandersnatch, the first interactive episode for adults released on the streaming service, premiered on December 28.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker and executive producer Annabel Jones said the episode ended up being far more complicated to execute than they originally anticipated. As a result, they had to push back the release of season 5 of the sci-fi anthology series.

In fact, Brooker said crafting Bandersnatch was the equivalent of making four regular Black Mirror episodes.

He explained:

"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. As the story expanded, I like to say that the story got longer and it got wider."

In fact, to make the choose-your-own-adventure nature of the episode work, Netflix had to work with Brooker and Jones to create new technology. This includes a Branch Manager tool that the streamer will likely utilize for future interactive stories.

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However, because Bandersnatch was the first to require such technology, Brooker revealed there was a great deal of trial and error to determine how the episode should work.

He said:

"It’s not like editing a standard film where you can often rearrange scenes or cut things. In some respects you have more freedom because you have so many different stories that you can be telling. But then you are restricted in new ways. There’s a whole new language you have to learn…"

Jones claimed that ultimately it was the truthfulness of the story that was the most difficult thing to maintain in telling Bandersnatch‘s interactive story.

Of the decisions left to viewers about the choices of the main character, Stefan, she said:

"You could have created something like this where there were very dramatic and very big, disparate decisions for Stefan to make. But you might have ended up with a sprawling and incohesive story, which wouldn’t have been very satisfying. A lot of the craft comes from keeping the world as small as possible, but also keeping the world as emotionally impactful for Stefan as possible."

Nonetheless, Brooker and Jones said they were working on episodes for Black Mirror season 5 while they were working on Bandersnatch.

Also, Netflix has announced that the new season will come out in 2019 although it provided no information on a specific release date.

Ultimately, Jones said she believed the chance to make Bandersnatch was worth pushing Black Mirror‘s fifth season back for. She explained,

"This is such a huge, interesting new opportunity for Netflix that we’re a part of. And there is so much fun to be had with it. That’s one thing that I hope people take away from it: I hope that you just enjoy the experience."

Bandersnatch certainly represented a unique challenge for the Black Mirror team and has intrigued fans of both the series and TV in general. While Netflix will no doubt want to make more interactive episodes in the future, the question will become if viewers will remain interested in engaging with them.

The experience is quite different from clicking a button to start a show and then sitting back and relaxing as it unspools. Also, viewers inevitably end up watching the episode multiple times as they make different choices in order to see what plot points they may have encountered had they made different decisions.

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So will this combination of video game and TV show ultimately stay popular with viewers, or will it become tedious after the novelty wears off? Only time will tell. For right now though, Bandersnatch has been a successful first foray into interactive TV.

Are you excited to see the fifth season of Black Mirror when it finally hits Netflix in 2019? Or are you really hoping to see more interactive episodes like Bandersnatch? Tell us what you think in the comments.