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Life Is Strange 2: Episode 4 verdict-o-chat

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Caution: Spoilers, duh.

Brendan: Hello, Alice. This is going to come as a shock but listen, you’ve been in a coma. Incredible I know, but while you were unconscious Life Is Strange 2 released the fourth episode of its road-tripping choice-o-rama, and now that you’re back in conscious reality I’d like to table a discussion on what the hell happened after the explosion on that sketchy weed farm back in June. All in favour, say “aye”. (This sounds like “eye”, which is a joke).

Alice B: I see what you did there — better than Sean Diaz can, anyway! Ho ho ho!

Brendan: For those confused, we are making insensitive jokes because Sean Diaz got a big shard of glass in the eye last episode. Basically, the Diaz boys were working on a weed farm and it all went bong wrong, and Danny boy lost his temper and did another psysplosion. In this episode, Sean wakes up in a hospital, with Danny missing.

I like how (even though this is a game about a psychic boy) it stays quite grounded. A lot of games would have their hero crack on, taking care of his own wounds like someone immune to shock and septicemia. But here, Sean goes straight to the hospital, they get the police involved, everything that would realistically happen. A whole two months have passed!

Alice B: I can’t remember if it’s possible for Seany to not lose his eye, but both of our versions did, so it seems quite a hard thing to avoid. And on that note, the way they dealt with it on a practical level was quite funny. Like, it’s the same character model but without the code for ‘left eyeball’, so the camera is always angled away. They flirt with showing it sometimes when he’s cleaning the wound, but it’s literally just his regular face with a hole in it. If it was an Ubisoft game it’d be a glitch. I applaud them for it.

Brendan: The nurse, Joey, gives you gauze and saline solution and tells you “clean this bad boy four times a day or I swear to god”. And that made me think we’d have a whole episode about making sure you keep this wound clean. But nah, it quickly moved on to being an escape room. No way is Sean “Cop Killer” Diaz going to juvie.

Alice B: Ah yeah! So, how did you escape? I went out of the window, which I quickly regretted due to how much of a deal they made about his depth perception being gone now. (While playing this episode I spent a lot of time at my desk holding one hand over my eye and picking up different things.)

Brendan: I also went out the window. As for Sean’s depth perception, I purposefully failed the vision test the nurse gives you, because I thought maybe he’d keep me in hospital a bit longer. But he just said: “Can’t rig the test, Sean.” Damn.

Alice B: I thought the depth perception thing was going to be much more of an issue, but throughout the rest of the episode he’s basically fine.

Brendan: He drives a car across country! You have to take license tests all the time if you’ve got one eye! An episode of Buffy taught me that.

Alice B: Right? I think it was just so at the start we could see that he can’t draw from life as well as he could before, which is obviously a big deal for him. But anyway. Out the window we both went. Did you wake up Drug Lord McCharismatic in his hospital room?

Brendan: Finn, from the last episode? I left that crusty boy to his fate. Didn’t even say hello.

Alice B: Oh dear, me too. We’d better start making some different choices at some point. Alright, what happened to you when you ran into the racist yokels, who were angry Sean fell asleep in an obviously stolen car on their land?

Brendan: I swallowed my rage and sang the song they demanded. But only after I insulted his mum in Spanish. Did you get into a fight with them?

Alice B: I, too, sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star en Español.

Brendan: Estrellita! It’s a good word. Fuck those guys.

Alice B: Yeah, I thought it was actually pretty well done? But I just didn’t want Sean to get the shit kicked out of him yet again. And it also made me suspicious of the truck driver who later offers Sean a lift. When he pulled over I was like “This is how people die out here!!”

Brendan: The writers are clearly messing with our faith in humanity.

Alice B: I’ve started to treat it a bit like a multiple choice test though. You know when you’re like “Well, C hasn’t been the right answer for a while”. In the same way I’m thinking “Well that guy was a racist asshole, so this guy is probably okay.”

Brendan: Ha ha ha. This is probably a testament to Dontnod’s forumla, to be fair. It’s like how Game of Thrones used to be in early series’. If someone seemed happy, they were probably soon dead.

Alice B: Thank God Sean’s life is misery compounded by misery in this episode. We have neglected to mention why he bothered to break out of hospital and hitchhike across the desert in the first place, though.

Brendan: Well, the short version is that Danny has been sorta-rescued by Jacob (who is the religious boy from the weed camp, and a person I 100% forgot existed). But he’s now in a Mega-Christian township under the care of a unhinged reverend. So now we have to save D-dog from a cult who thinks he is psychic Jesus. Classic stuff.

Alice B: Absolutely classic. I, too, completely new-phone-who-this’d on Jacob. And the first interaction with the cult established them as cartoonishly culty. They even have an enforcer, who goes from 0 to rib break really fast, and a small ill child who coughs a lot and drops bibles, clearly in dire need of medical attention. Luckily the day is saved by, dun dun dun… Sean and Daniel’s mother!

Brendan: MUM! I’ve missed you so. Wait, Daniel doesn’t like his mum. Go away, mum. Even though you are definitely the most interesting character to show up in the episode.

Alice B: She so is, I really liked her. As a character, if not a person. She sort of opens up about her reasons for leaving, if you’re not too angry at her, and her reasons are basically bullshit. It’s a lot of “I was never meant to be a mother/I needed freedom” kind of stuff. Well, too bad lady, you are a mum. So you don’t have to stay, but you shouldn’t just… disappear.

Brendan: I found it funny that Sean’s mum is basically an older version of the hippy girl he slept with last episode. She wants freedom and no obligations. Cass the skinny dipper is going to be your mum, Sean. GROSS.

Alice B: LOL. You know, I also thought it was really good that Sean and Daniel both look a lot like their mum, as well. I thought that was a great detail. So, I did work hard to try and give Sean a semblance of an air clearing with her. I sensed it would be helpful in future.

Brendan: I sort of made up with her as well, but I kept my Sean on a low-burner of resentment too. You get the choice to let mum help you clean your bloody eye socket, but I was all: “No, mum! Where were you when the glass went in from the psychic explosion!? Nowhere! You don’t get to clean my grotesque wound.”

Alice B: This is what I mean! He doesn’t have a grotesque wound! He got glass in his face and there isn’t even a scar! I’ll stop harping on about it now.

Brendan: There is one thing Mamma Diaz does that is bonkers though. After staying in a motel, Sean and Ma get together with Jacob the Forgettable Boy, and together the gang comes up with a plan to sneak into churchtown and save Daniel. But then, to distract Mr Ribreaker the cult enforcer, your mum sets a whole building on fire. Jesus, mum, steady on.

Alice B: Ah, I think just about the only thing you and I did differently was how nice we were to mumsie, whose name, incidentally, clearly neither of us can remember.

Brendan: Karen! I know because Seany always calls her that, instead of “mom”, in the style of angsty teenagers the world over.

Alice B: I stand corrected! I did like the creeping around the cult offices bit, because you got more of a sense of who the reverend mother is as a person, and how she’s that kind of person who truly believes what she’s doing is right, whilst also the things she is doing are terrible. But I thought the bit where it just casually dropped that Jacob was gay and was forced to do conversion therapy was a bit, well, casual. Like they were like “we should put in something about homophobia somewhere, too.”

Brendan: Maybe they just needed something to make whats-his-name a bit more memorable.

Alice B: I spose it worked, in a way? I said he and his deathly ill little sister could keep all of my weed money, anyway.

Brendan: Alice have you been looking over my shoulder during Dontnod’s multiple choice test? Because this is getting spooky. Did anyone die at the finale for you? The church starts burning down and Danny Diaz needs to be convinced by mum and bro that the God-loving woman is actually a wrong’un. I think it is possible for bad things to happen here and for folks to die. For me, nobody croaked it, but man, a lot of stuff definitely burned down.

Alice B: Ah, bollocks, I got everyone out alive too.

Brendan: Next time, I am being a grade-A jerk to everyone and doing an “evil” run.

Alice B: Okay, I will be good cop. But listen, moment of respect for Karen, who enters the church and sees her youngest son levitating a lot of large, lit candles around his head, and is like WAT? And Sean’s explanation is to say something like “I told you, Daniel is special,” and then Karen is just like oh, k, cool, whatev. I laughed quite a lot at that, during what is clearly the emotional denouement of the episode.

Brendan: At least this means mum might stay with us for the whole next episode. She’s in on the secret. If Kool Karen disappears for the final show, I am going to be raging. But not as raging as Sean, who has enough abandonment issues as it is.

Alice B: And Daniel, who has psychic issues. I think it’s possible for him to totally flip out at the end of this episode and kill the reverend mother. I liked how the scene was sort of set up to be mother vs. mother, but actually Karen has no play to make because Daniel doesn’t know her, so it became surrogate mother vs. actual brother.

Brendan: Sean is a bit like a mum, to be fair.

Alice B: True! Thus, when the reverend barred our exit and told us we would all burn to death together, I first tried threatening her with the gun as Sean, rather than immediately telling Daniel to toss her aside like a ragdoll. I didn’t want to put anything on Danny, y’know?

Brendan: Ha ha, I was right away like: “Danny, flyswat this bible basher.”

Alice B: I did flyswat her in the end, because I didn’t want to shoot her. I am trying to teach Daniel to use his powers sparingly! Anyway, quite a good episode, I thought, but mainly because of Kool Karen, as you say.

Brendan: And it wasn’t a total sadfest either. Let’s see what happens when the cops come for us at the mexican border wall. We have now stolen a car, burned down two buildings, and been involved in growing drugs. They don’t even need to pin that dead cop on us anymore, to be honest.

Alice B: It’ll be fine, Daniel will symbolically tear the symbolical wall apart, in a way that is steeped in symbolism.

The final episode of Life Is Strange 2 is due out on December 5th, 2019

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