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Topher Grace spills on Black Mirror Season 5's link to Bandersnatch
Unlike a lot of anthology series that tell discrete stories with no relation to one another, Netflix's Black Mirror takes pride in its shared universe of sorts. In any given episode, a hawk-eyed member of the audience can spot Easter eggs that kick back to previous narratives and characters. For example, did you know that Episode 2 of the newly released Season 5 ("Smithereens") is connected to Bandersnatch?
** WARNING! The following contains spoilers for Season 5 of Black Mirror. **
The story of a disgruntled ride-sharing driver (Andrew Scott) trying to reach Billy Bauer (Topher Grace), the founder and CEO of a major social media platform, was alluded to months ago in the show's first-ever Choose Your Own Adventure Episode that broke the streaming mold and lent itself to plenty of Twitter memes.
"When I watched Bandersnatch, I went, 'Oh!' I didn’t know that Easter egg was going to be there. I just love the connections," Grace told The Hollywood Reporter. "I’m so tickled that I can now talk to people about it! It’s been so secretive: my part maybe more than others, because it enters the episode later. And the appetite for these things. Friends of mine don’t care what I’m in. This is the first time they've tried to get information out of me. I’m like, 'What would you do if I told you? It’s just going to spoil it.' And they’re like, 'I gotta know!' "
Look closely at the news ticker from the end credits of Bandersnatch below and you'll see that Billy was questioned by a Senate committee about alleged "Russian bots." Many quickly drew parallels to when Facebook honcho Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress about the privacy of user data last spring.
By the end of the episode — which was written by series creator Charlie Brooker — Bauer is able to defuse the situation with the angry driver, allowing his hostage, Jaden (Damson Idris as an intern at Billy's company), to go free. However, the driver plans on killing himself, which Jaden tries to stop. As the two struggle for the gun, a police sniper takes their shot and the audience is left in doubt as to whether or not both were killed. The only clues we have are the expressions of people like Billy, who learn the news over the phone or via social media.
"I think it’s probably better [to not answer]," Grace said. "What’s great about the system that Charlie works in is that Netflix has been so wonderful about letting him and [executive producer] Annabel [Jones] do their thing and have their autonomy. And maybe this is more true of British broadcasting too, is that there are levels of ambiguity. And I don’t want to spoil any of that. It would be the American who would ruin it, right?"