Can you help Carmen Sandiego?

With the extension of spring break, it’s understandable and expected that plans are going to shift. So, as you hang around the house watching TV this week, here’s a new show you may want to try. 

In 2018, Netflix came out with its very first interactive movie: “Blackmirror: Bandersnatch.” On March 10, Netflix dropped a new interactive experience, called “Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal.” 

“Carmen Sandiego” was a media franchise started by mystery video games. The game center is based around various themes, but the main objective is to find Carmen and her henchmen. Carmen, the main character, is the A.C.M.E. Detective Agency’s most wanted thief. The first game was released in 1985 while the first televised series was released by Netflix in 2019. The show features different characters from the games that were developed in the franchise’s 35 years of existence. 

The “Carmen Sandiego” television series has risen in success since its release on Netflix. It has gained 125 awards which include three Emmys. Before getting into the interactive episode, it is important to note that some backstory needs to be given in order to not be confused while watching. 

The main character, Carmen Sandiego, is hard not to recognize since she opens the episode. Player, Carmen’s hacker, gives her valuable information in order to help her pull off heists. The brother-sister duo Zack and Ivy round out Carmen’s crew. Ivy gets to put her engineering skills to use and Zack acts as Carmen’s getaway driver. With the essential characters sorted out, it’s time to come back to the organization mentioned before: A.C.M.E.

A.C.M.E. is a detective agency that works in the shadows. This means its existence is not widely known about by the public. Its mission is to capture criminals whose crimes can vary from petty theft to tampering with the financial market. Led by the chief, the organization is set on capturing Carmen to use as proof that V.I.L.E. exists. 

V.I.L.E. is another secretive agency that is cloaked by the shadows. Unlike A.C.M.E., it is a criminal organization that will do anything to keep itself out of the public eye. Its existence is seen as a myth to most people and many members of A.C.M.E. merely have an inkling that V.I.L.E. exists; that is how V.I.L.E. wishes for it to stay. V.I.L.E. has its own island where it operates from and trains criminals. It was here where Carmen was instructed on thievery. Since Carmen uses the skills learned from V.I.L.E. to also steal from them, she is not only at odds with A.C.M.E. but with V.I.L.E. as well. 

Like any interactive show, you are given different choices and each choice has a major effect on the way the story will play out. An example would be when you’re asked whether Carmen should infiltrate a building from the ground floor or the top floor. Should she attempt to rescue her stolen teammates or comply with the orders given by V.I.L.E.? This episode allows you to explore these choices and more. But beware, if the wrong answer is chosen, the lives of Zack and Ivy are at stake.