Over Christmas, the Black Mirror rumor mill started to churn. It seemed like Netflix was going to release Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, which, as far as we could tell, was the long-rumored choose-your-own-adventure style movie installment of the franchise. Past seasons of the series had dropped between Christmas and New Years, and already having a Season 5 confirmed with few further details fueled the rampant speculation that we'd be getting more sci-fi fables this winter. Now, Netflix has released a trailer for Bandersnatch, a presumably standalone installment, punting a full season into the new year. And while the streaming service still hasn't confirmed the exact form Bandersnatch is taking -- a movie, a holiday special like 2014's "White Christmas" with Jon Hamm, something else -- at least now we have a slight sense of the plot and a definitive date: December 28, as people had predicted.
The themes in the latest creation from Charlie Brooker don't seem that dissimilar from ones he and his team have explored in earlier episodes. It follows a young man (Fionn Whitehead, previously seen stranded on a beach in Dunkirk) who gets mixed up with a video game based on the work of a "genius" author, who also apparently once cut his own wife's head off. There are some unsettling looking pills that get flushed down the toilet (Or do they???), and the sounds of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax." Because, yes, this all takes place in 1984. Huh, you think there's anything significant about that year maybe?
It's not like Black Mirror hasn't explored malicious video games before -- see, for example, "Playtest," about blurring the lines between reality and a gaming world, in Season 3, where a magazine actually promoted "Bandersnatch" in a very tiny font in its coverlines (good eyes, redditors). Nor has it exactly stayed away from the subject of violence against women inflicted by tech-obsessed men. Just watch last year's Emmy-winning "USS Callister," where Jesse Plemons's sadistic programmer imprisons colleagues' consciousness in a Star Trek-inspired universe. Mind-altering substances also aren't a foreign concept to these dystopian fictions.
So the question with Bandersnatch will be how it tells its story, and the trailer 100 percent hints that it's going to be an interactive experience. The words "change your mind" flash on the screen as the refrain "don't do it" echoes, all heavily implying the viewer has some level of agency. As for the rest, we'll just have to wait until December 28 to see how it all shakes out as fans race to consume what could be 312 minutes (that's more than five hours) of content, if every piece of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch evidence pans out to be true.