For those of us who've spent the weekend watching-slash-playing through all the possible scenarios and hunting for Easter eggs in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, it might seem like this is a game-changer (no pun intended).
Whereas all the prior episodes of Black Mirror only winked at the meta nature of audiences sitting before a hunk of tech to behold the dangers of those exact devices, Bandersnatch made viewers a collective fourth-wall character that participated in the narrative.
In one sense, we were these omniscient futuristic overlords making all these decisions for poor Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) who was duly freaked out by the introduction of us 21st century types; in another, we all were the people getting played, since even though it felt like we were exercising free will in clicking on that brand of cereal or choosing whether it was Stefan or Colin (Will Poulter) who took the plunge, the various fates were as predetermined as the game-within-the-game that Stefan wanted to create.
In other words, Bandersnatch is the first time the show really reached through the black mirror and pulled us into the action to give us our own consequences, and it might now be hard to imagine a future of this show that reverts back to viewers simply pressing play and putting the remote down for the rest of the runtime. And yet, it looks like we'll have to.
Speaking to The New York Times, the show's evil genius/creator Charlie Brooker has confirmed that Season 5 won't become some sprawling choose-your-own-adventure-style set of episodes or even include a single other interactive installment. In fact, when asked to give advice for others who might follow in the same vein (as Netflix has apparently been eying this prospect as a model for other shows as well), Booker said simply, "Run away. It's harder than you think."
No word yet on whether he went full-on Jerome F. Davies while writing Bandersnatch (uh... maybe someone should send a hound to check the garden just in case), but Brooker said he has other ideas for how to move forward from here and push Black Mirror in unexplored directions.
"We're doing more optimistic episodes and stories, rather than just dystopian and negative ones," he told the Times. "We want to keep the show interesting for us."
So, if you're the Black Mirror fan who prefers the "San Junipero," "Hang the DJ" and "USS Callister" episodes over some of the drearier material, like "Crocodile," "Metalhead" and "White Bear," well, it seems like Brooker is with you right about now.
Until then, there's still plenty to do with Bandersnatch, and we've put together a handy-dandy guide for helping you find all those intricate extras.