One of the problems with conventional storytelling on TV shows/movies is that all we have is access; it takes a few leaps from access to assume control. If you don’t like the way a narrative ends, you can rant and rave about it (think Lost) or you can write fan fiction, thus asserting ownership. If the sheer longevity of pro wrestling is anything to go by, it is clear that given a choice between a brilliant story which gives us no control over it versus a mediocre one that we can control, a surprising number of us will choose the latter. Think of the opening bit of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” where that choice is given to us: “Did you exchange, a walk-on part in a war, with a lead role in a cage?” Pacifism aside, the choice that one makes is supposed to be informed by the bigger picture which subsumes individual significance. The problem with playing the lead role in a cage is the same as we have understood so far. A cage is a controlled environment and thus, any access and scope for heroism is significantly curtailed. Knowing that full well, why would someone agree to that “exchange”? Is it just the opportunity to be a hero that is so tempting or is it also that the cage allows you to live to fight another day? You can’t be blamed for being in the cage as that was assigned to you; you can only be judged from what you did in there, thus creating a paradoxical situation where you let go of some of the control to retain a smidgen of heroism. But if the hero is detached from heroism and just rooted in control, something strange happens. Cut off from the moral high ground, hero and villain become seemingly interchangeable as they both vie for control.
And speaking of control, do you think of control in Bandersnatch as a video game, or a story?