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S05.E00: Bandersnatch

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In 1984, a young programmer begins to question reality as he adapts a dark fantasy novel into a video game. A mind-bending tale with multiple endings.

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I've gotten one of the five endings so far, a "happy" one! It's such a cool experience. The action doesn't even pause as you make decisions; it's super smooth. You can "lose" multiple times but keep going, as it's sort of a time travel story, and sometimes the decision trees change based on stuff you've learned/experienced in the different branches. At one point I made it go super weird and meta (without getting spoilery, "Netflix" is one of the decision tree options!), but I suspect it can get even crazier. Gonna play around with it more tonight. The amount of work (including programming) that went into this is impressive.

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I've gotten 2 (or was it 3? I'm not even sure.) endings so far and the last one was bonkers and highly "entertaining".  Lol!  If I didn't have to get ready for work, I'd keep watching/playing.  I really enjoyed it despite not being able to watch on or cast to my TV (which was really annoying).

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Okay--that was fun.   I got "stuck" and had to backtrack twice and so it took me about an hour and a half to get through to my first ending.  I'm going to try it again now. Screw the housework! 

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This is super impressive, the amount of work that must have gone into this is mind boggling! Not only that, but they tie the story fully into exploring the concept of Choose Your Own Adventure and multiple time lines, and the way that previous timelines, even from "endings" you already had, still affect the story later on,which keeps it from feeling like just a gimmick. I cant wait to have some more free time, so I can play some more and try for more ending!

I got two endings, one being super meta, and one seeming very Black Mirror. I wonder how many endings actually exist? Guess I will have to find out!

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Man, no matter how hard I tried I always had a bad ending.  LOL.  I had four really bad endings (except the one where I jump out the window  ... that went somewhere I totally didn't expect.)

My real goal was to get that video game reviewer asshole to like the game.  How sad is that?  I finally did in one of them, woo!

Interesting message about choices being made for you because there were some places where to proceed you really had no choice in the choice you made.

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Also, No matter what, I always chose The Frosties cereal and The Thompson Twins because I love 'Hold Me Now' and I figured (rightly so the first time) that would be the song they'd play.

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What a fascinating and fun experience.  Very cool idea.

I think I trigged one or two of the endings (It really is like the Choose Your Adventure books) thought the episode ended with a scene I didn't expect.

I recognized the actor who plays Anderson in Sherlock, Jonathan Aris.  He plays a reporter.

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I think I finally triggered one of the endings.  Yay me if I did.

I enjoyed this it was meta has hell but fun.  

This is Black Mirror don't expect a rosy ending.  I was just happy it wasn't a gut wrenching ending either.    

I thought it was hilarious when Stefan tried to tell his psychiatrist that he was being controlled by Netflix.  Been their kid.

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How do we even discuss the story? So different for everyone! Love it!

When Colin and Stephan were on the balcony, I was filled with dread - I didn't want to choose! When Stephan realized someone was controlling him, I felt creepy. Black Mirror, how do you top this?

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The two endings I like best (behind spoiler bars to not ruin the experience for anyone):

Spoiler

First, the one where you are forced to kill and chop up the father, which leads to the game receiving 5 stars and a flash-forward to Colin's daughter.

Second, the one where Stefan guesses TOY to open the safe and retrieve his rabbit, and he returns to the flashback.  I had him go with his mother this time (since saying no would have just led to the usual events happening, I guess), and it turned out to be a quasi-happy ending that actually ended the movie. *sob* 

 

My sense is that the most entertaining sequence, without having to cycle back, is as follows:

Spoiler

1. Stefan refuses the offer.

2. Stefan talks about his mother.

3. Stefan follows Colin.

4. They take the drugs.

5. Stefan lets Colin jump to his death.

6. Stefan flushes or dumps the medication.

7. He chooses the book over the photograph.

8. He chooses the password that lets him find out he's being controlled. [Here, you could also potentially choose the TOY password that takes you to the almost-happy ending.]

9. He spills/doesn't actually spill tea on his computer.

10. He sees the umbrella-like symbol on his computer.

11. He kills his father.

12. He chops his father up and figures out how to finish the game. [He removes the illusion of choice, essentially turning him into a Telltale designer.]

13. His game gets 5 stars out of 5, but he is arrested for murder.

13. There is a flash-forward to Colin's daughter trying to bring the game to a modern audience. 

Edited by Brn2bwild
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By "endings" do you mean credits roll? Once they roll do you have to start over and make different choices to get a different ending?

I got stuck in a loop several times and it took me back to a previous choice. I went through most of the choices, but only got one "ending".

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I guess I am in the minority. I thought it was an awful gimmick and the story was dull.  I had to watch this nonsense on my pc because my television wasn't compatible with this process. Waste of time and energy. I hope they never do this again.

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4 hours ago, MyRealName said:

By "endings" do you mean credits roll? Once they roll do you have to start over and make different choices to get a different ending?

I got stuck in a loop several times and it took me back to a previous choice. I went through most of the choices, but only got one "ending".

There are 5 main endings for the which will lead you to credits.  I have found a few of them.  It will end the show end make you start over.  

Spoiler

Ending one

Stefan discovers that his father and his therapist have been using him in a psychological trial called PAC (Program And Control) controlling his behaviour with drugs. He then kills his father.

Ending two

Stefan goes back in time, after discovering his toy rabbit in the safe in his house, to the day his mother died and gets on the same train with her. He dies, too.

Ending three

The viewer urges Stefan to kill his father, despite Stefan not wanting to. If you choose to cut his body up, he gets away with the murder for long enough to complete the game and for it to be labelled a great success. At the credits, a very meta clip from a documentary set in the present day sees Colin’s daughter attempting to recreate Colin’s game for Netflix, only to smash up her computer when she realises she has lost her free will, too.

Ending four

The viewer urges Stefan to kill his father, and instead of cutting his body up, he buries him. His dog then discovers his father’s remains, and he is thrown in jail before getting a chance to perfect the game. It receives a bad review.

Ending five

The viewer tells Stefan that he’s in an interactive Netflix show, and that is why his decisions are being controlled. After a fight with the therapist, he jumps out a window, only to discover he’s on a set, and that he’s an actor.

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3 hours ago, Sparger Springs said:

I guess I am in the minority. I thought it was an awful gimmick and the story was dull.  I had to watch this nonsense on my pc because my television wasn't compatible with this process. Waste of time and energy. I hope they never do this again.

Agreed. I'm a big BM fan, but me and my wife both got bored with it pretty quickly. Aside from the gimmick, the story was just a bunch of nonsense. We gave up after devoting about an hour to it.

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The more I think about it the more I like the idea of a chose your own adventure but I am not sure it works well for Black Mirror.  It was a great first showing but one of the drawbacks was that there was no "happy" ending few actual ending anyway.   I mean which one of us hasn't complained when the main character of a show does something stupid?  Who wouldn't want to chose two different paths but the problem with this show is that your really aren't chose two different paths.  Both paths lead to the same outcome.  More or less.  It will be interesting if Netflix tries it again and it actually does have two completely different paths played out.  

Again I am not saying I didn't like this.  I really really did.   Also I am not a huge fan of Black Mirror.  I find it too depressing to begin with.  I think that is my major issue though.  The story despite the choices was too linear and too depressing.   

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When the therapist asks Stephan if this were entertainment shouldn't it be more entertaining, I yelled at the screen “Yes!” Because my god, that was by far the most boring episode of Black Mirror yet. The concept was clever. The writing and story were not. 

 

Choose your own adventures were adventures. Watching someone’s writing code is not an adventure. 

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I’m of a similar opinion. I’m an hour in. I’ve just encountered the therapist. And I’m just not invested in these characters at all. I love the architecture of the Choose Your Own Adventure bit but the story is boring me to tears. Am I going to have to spend another hour just to have to get the game reviewer to give it three stars, then four and five?

in short: Great gimmick wasted on a dull set of characters. At least so far. 

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18 hours ago, MyRealName said:

By "endings" do you mean credits roll? Once they roll do you have to start over and make different choices to get a different ending?

There were a couple of routes that took you to a place where you could loop back and make a different choice, but I wouldn't call those endings, imo. 

I think of endings were when Stefan had a definitive fate.  There were times where there was a very abrupt ending

Spoiler

Like if you had Stefan jump off the balcony where he dies right then, it is over and that is an ending.

Then up in the upper right hand corner it gives you the option to exit to credits or to cycle back and pick a different choice.

I tended to get these 'loop back' options when I tried to make choices that I would make for myself.  But when I decided to go for broke and make some decisions that felt counter to what I would do, then that is when I think the story took off for me.  Which BTW led to my favorite ending -- the one with flash forward.

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Maybe I have just got dud endings.......

 

But I'd give this an A in idea and execution but a C in actual writing and interest. 

The whole idea worked well, went smoothly but just found myself underwhelmed with the story itself. 

Now I only went through it once.  I suppose if I go back and watch again and find other better endings it might be different. 

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7 minutes ago, DrSpaceman73 said:

Maybe I have just got dud endings.......

 

But I'd give this an A in idea and execution but a C in actual writing and interest. 

The whole idea worked well, went smoothly but just found myself underwhelmed with the story itself. 

Now I only went through it once.  I suppose if I go back and watch again and find other better endings it might be different. 

I found you don’t even have to start from scratch.  If you make a wrong turn you can start from a certain point and make the other choice and sometimes Stefan rememberers.  And yes there are better endings then others.  I found two that I actually liked.  The rest are kinda poor or just depressing.

But this is an interesting idea that just needs a little more work.  And the concept itself is interesting.  

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For a first time concept, I liked it. Now that they have the code they can make another one with a better story. 

I think I only got 2 endings if by endings the mean you get the credits. I also apparently got some bonus scene that if I had an emulator I could play Noysedive the game that Colin made. I think for a Black Mirror happy ending

Stefan dying as a kid and therefore never suffering as an adult or making the game was a Black Mirror happy ending.

. As for the other ending

I automatically killed the dad because I thought he was an asshole and that was before I knew about the taking the bunny from a 5 year old thing.

.

Also do we need to spoil tags these, how would this even work for this new type of tv watching. Lol. 

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So, after a couple of days, I finally got started on this movie. I love Choose Your Own Adventure stories so I knew I would enjoy this, even though I also realize that, with so many different ways to go, the writing wouldn't be super spectacular. It would simply be enough to get the CYOA point across, which this did. 

I made several wrong choices and probably went back quite a few times before I hit any credits, and my first ending definitely didn't end pretty, though likely the best outcome.

Spoiler

I, too, got the train ending where I chose for Stefan to find his rabbit and go with his mother on the train, ultimately killing him in the present day time as well. 

I don't necessarily even want to look up what the other four endings are because I feel certain that I didn't hit them (I assume, by endings, it really does mean that it rolls right to credits and doesn't loop back to make you choose a different option, such as my Netflix path option forcing me to eventually choose a different path). 

I do think the CYOA portion was done way better than I thought they would do it. There were a lot of little moments from previous choices that seemed to be acknowledged in these new alternate paths, which I thought was neat. I'm going to go through my second watch now to see if I make my secondary choices as my primary to see what is exactly different. It does feel like I went through a lot of the paths already, but didn't hit the other four endings. 

ETA: Ok, so I did give in and look at the endings and I did seem to hit three out of five of them. Some of those endings don't loop right back to the credits, at least from my viewing, and it let you choose a different path right away.

Spoiler

I avoided the Killing Dad option as much as I could so I avoided those two endings. 

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 I am also confused at how many "endings" there are and how the whole thing determines when your story is "over". 

It seems I encountered about 4 or so actual "endings", or at least 3, but then one of them, it finally went to the end credits.  The others it went back to earlier time points so I could make another choice

I wonder how they determine when the story is over and they show the credits.  Maybe there is a time limit, so if you reach an ending before watching a certain amount of time, it goes back and lets you keep going, but after so much time, it final stops doing that?

Since the element of time being non-linear seemed to be part of the story, I was confused about if some of this was part of the story or if it was simply allowing me to keep watching for more results. 

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14 minutes ago, DrSpaceman73 said:

 I am also confused at how many "endings" there are and how the whole thing determines when your story is "over". 

It seems I encountered about 4 or so actual "endings", or at least 3, but then one of them, it finally went to the end credits.  The others it went back to earlier time points so I could make another choice

I wonder how they determine when the story is over and they show the credits.  Maybe there is a time limit, so if you reach an ending before watching a certain amount of time, it goes back and lets you keep going, but after so much time, it final stops doing that?

Since the element of time being non-linear seemed to be part of the story, I was confused about if some of this was part of the story or if it was simply allowing me to keep watching for more results. 

I think there IS a time limit. I think, once you reach roughly an hour and a half, it sends you right to the end so you have to start over. I seem to hit quite a few definite endings before my hour and a half time limit was up. 

I think there are definitely more than five endings. I'll spoiler tag these endings and untag them at a later date, once people have a chance to get through them:

Spoiler

I don't know how many specific endings there are, but what I consider endings are this:

1. You can get the ending where Stefan decides to work for the company right off the bat, instead of working from home. This triggers the first official ending, since it skips to his game coming out and it getting a 0 star review. That ends that timeline in about ten minutes. 

2. You can get another ending where Stefan follows Colin, gets high, and decides to jump off the roof instead of Colin. That technically triggers the ending where his game, again, gets put out and reviewed by Robin with Stefan being dead. 

3. You can get the ending where Stefan sees the word "PACS" on his screen, he's driven mad by his confusion and paranoia, kills his dad, threatens his therapist's secretary, buries his father and then gets arrested and put in jail. 

4. You can get the train ending where he finds his Rabbit in his father's study, so that you can actually have him choose to go with his mother and essentially die with her on that train, although I've seen some discussions where people are convinced he didn't actually die but he saved her, but ended his actual timeline through death in order to start a new one.

And, of course, there's the Kill Dad different endings, which are at least two different endings. I also think there are more than I haven't thought about or come across.

I think what's confusing is being able to go back and make different choices, and that being uncertain about an ending being an official ending or not. But if you consider that the end credits are finally triggered by the time limit, rather than there only being a few specific endings, it does make more sense. 

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I got one where

 

Stefan kills his dad and the Tuckersoft boss. Then I got another one to kill Colin. 

Edited by Sakura12
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I have a question: when I chose to make Colin jump out the window, his girlfriend was in the apartment and saw his body splattered. Later on, she stormed into Tuckersoft demanding to know where her boyfriend was. Stephan does the same, he gets asked where Colin is and acts like he doesn't know he's dead. It seemed like the storylines weren't alligned. Am I missing something here?

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Just now, trudi-tru said:

I have a question: when I chose to make Colin jump out the window, his girlfriend was in the apartment and saw his body splattered. Later on, she stormed into Tuckersoft demanding to know where her boyfriend was. Stephan does the same, he gets asked where Colin is and acts like he doesn't know he's dead. It seemed like the storylines weren't alligned. Am I missing something here?

I think we're all missing something, and unfortunately the story does not give us answers.  I think this Kitty doesn't remember because she is in a different reality from the Kitty that saw dead Colin, but that doesn't explain why Colin has disappeared in this reality. 

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6 hours ago, trudi-tru said:

I have a question: when I chose to make Colin jump out the window, his girlfriend was in the apartment and saw his body splattered. Later on, she stormed into Tuckersoft demanding to know where her boyfriend was. Stephan does the same, he gets asked where Colin is and acts like he doesn't know he's dead. It seemed like the storylines weren't alligned. Am I missing something here?

I think there's definitely a disconnect and it SEEMS to imply that Colin doesn't actually stay dead somehow? From my first watch, they never really explain it. In my first go, I had Stefan jump first and then Colin. But then, later on in the story, the employees at Tuckersoft are questioning where Colin is and I'd think his death by jumping would have hit the news. So it seems like his death was somehow turned back at some point, but it's very unclear. I think they were trying to explain it in the scene before the jumping, where both boys were high and Colin was blabbering on about parallel worlds and how someone jumping off the roof won't matter because of differing timelines or something. However, it is not actually explained well. You can't even really say that it was part of Stefan being high and he just imagined Colin jumping, as if you choose Stefan jumping, he actually dies. 

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When Stefan gets arrested for his dad's murder they talk about Colin's disappearance and never explain what happened. However when Stefan kills his dad and the Tuckersoft boss they are interviewing Colin about what happened to Stefan to make him snap. 

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Did anyone notice that the sign form this episode was the same as from White Bear? I mean this one -

170px-White_Bear_Black_Mirror.png

2 minutes ago, Madding crowd said:

I just started this and am wondering when do the choices start? I am at the funeral scene and haven’t seen any choices yet.

Are you watching on Netflix? First choice is early in the beginning, which cereal should Stefan have for breakfast

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I think there's definitely a disconnect and it SEEMS to imply that Colin doesn't actually stay dead somehow? From my first watch, they never really explain it. In my first go, I had Stefan jump first and then Colin.

In my watch, I also had Stefan jump first and then Colin. After Kitty saw the body, Stefan woke up with a start in the car with his father outside of the mental institute. So it played like I'd shifted to a timeline where following Colin was just a dream and didn't really happen in the timeline I was now in. My version of choices ended up very coherently philosophical about branches, parallel worlds, and alternate timelines (with the train ending), so I felt Colin's disappearance was an acknowledgement that there had been a timeline where Colin jumped but that the literal act of jumping/death didn't happen. It worked pretty well for me. 

I think the explanation Tuckersoft's boss gave us was supposed to be taken as the literal explanation, though. Colin was just being a neurotic-genius-employee who occasionally disappeared because he could.

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2 hours ago, Zuleikha said:

 

In my watch, I also had Stefan jump first and then Colin. After Kitty saw the body, Stefan woke up with a start in the car with his father outside of the mental institute. So it played like I'd shifted to a timeline where following Colin was just a dream and didn't really happen in the timeline I was now in. My version of choices ended up very coherently philosophical about branches, parallel worlds, and alternate timelines (with the train ending), so I felt Colin's disappearance was an acknowledgement that there had been a timeline where Colin jumped but that the literal act of jumping/death didn't happen. It worked pretty well for me. 

I think the explanation Tuckersoft's boss gave us was supposed to be taken as the literal explanation, though. Colin was just being a neurotic-genius-employee who occasionally disappeared because he could.

Ah, right, that's what happened in mine as well. I forgot that it jumped right back into a different timeline. Again, there are a lot of little changes, depending on what choices you make, and that many people's versions will be slightly different.

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Not a good format for my impatient, spoiler-prone self. I got about 10 minutes in with one bad choice that took back to the beginning, then quit and read a recap of all the endings. Done!

I admire the time and meticulous writing, acting, and filming that went into it, but from afar.

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On 12/31/2018 at 11:40 AM, Madding crowd said:

I’m watching on Netflix but all I can get is a trailer for Bandersnatch then it goes automatically into an episode from season two. 

 

On 12/31/2018 at 2:54 PM, 17wheatthins said:

What device are you using to watch? The movie will only play on a device which is compatible with the interactive aspect.

https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/28/18159096/black-mirror-bandersnatch-apple-tv-chromecast-netflix-devices-support

I've tried various devices, and so far it works on my ancient desktop  (with an up-to-date browser, though), and on my teeny-tiny (by today's standards) iPhone, but it doesn't on an Amazon Fire stick or on an Amazon tablet.  Huh, it's almost as if Netflix considers Amazon a competitor...

_________

1/5/19 - In the interest of fairness, I need to come back and edit... after I installed a pending update to the Netflix app on my Amazon Fire tablet, I can now watch on it.  The update had been telling me I needed to grant access to a whole new list of stuff, and I kept putting it off till I could look more closely at what it was doing, but I finally figured, might as well...

Edited by SoMuchTV · Reason: new info

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11 hours ago, Snow Fairy said:

Did anyone notice that the sign form this episode was the same as from White Bear? I mean this one -

170px-White_Bear_Black_Mirror.png

 

Yes, there are a few Easter eggs from other episodes - White Bear (of course), Nosedive, the one with the killer robot dogs, probably others that I missed...

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I didn't recognize the sign from other episodes

I assumed it was just a reference to the typical format of the "choose your own adventure" type stories, representing a duality that occurs on different timelines after you make a choice, you go down one path or the other.  Its the symbol that is all over any such stories "graphed out" plot.

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In addition to the Easter eggs, one of the first programmers/developers who became known outside of industry professionals was John Romero. Who looks a lot like the head of Tuckersoft.

330px-John_Romero_-_Jason_Scott_intervie

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On 31/12/2018 at 7:13 PM, Zuleikha said:

In my watch, I also had Stefan jump first and then Colin. After Kitty saw the body, Stefan woke up with a start in the car with his father outside of the mental institute. So it played like I'd shifted to a timeline where following Colin was just a dream and didn't really happen in the timeline I was now in. My version of choices ended up very coherently philosophical about branches, parallel worlds, and alternate timelines (with the train ending), so I felt Colin's disappearance was an acknowledgement that there had been a timeline where Colin jumped but that the literal act of jumping/death didn't happen

Watching again, you are probably right. The “follow Colin” sequence happens on a parallel reality or in Stephan’s head.

I have to admit that although the Netflix choice was a bit on the nose, the action sequence in the doctor’s office made laugh out loud. I also found it a clever response to the anticipated criticism that there wasn’t enough action in the episode. 

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Has anyone else started getting the glitchy half second cut-scene flashbacks immediately after making a choice? I have this flashback theory and wonder what other peoples thoughts are.

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I feel like I was doing this wrong. I've not read all the "endings" because I may try again, but it felt like I "lost" at least four times, sending me back to make another choice but basically forced me into a particular one.(For example I tried to not kill dad but he did anyway and then some other choice made me go back to that moment so the next time instead of "back off" I just chose kill him since he ended up doing that anyway the first time). So when it forces you to loop back , is that "successfully unlocking" more? Or was it more like I lost the game and it made me go back? Knowing there's a time limit I'm almost certain my credits roll was induced by that. It felt abrupt and weird, given I'd already looped back so many times.

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