With episode four just around the corner, join Jaylee and Stacey at the Push to Smart Water Cooler to refresh and discuss The Wolf Among Us: “A Crooked Mile.”
Decisions are made, and many of them are instantly regretted–for good and for ill. How did your playthrough compare?
As usual, a transcript is under the cut.
This episode contains spoilers for The Wolf Among Us and the Fables comic book series.
Welcome back to the Push to Smart Water Cooler! Today we’re returning to Fabletown to see how Bigby fairs in his investigation.
The Wolf Among Us’s third episode, A Crooked Mile, picks up in the bloody motel room right after the previous episode left off. With the magic mirror broken and Crane on the run, it’s a race against time to retrace his steps–a race made more difficult by the infamous Crooked Man’s intervention.
JAYLEE: To start off, can we just talk about that funeral scene? I mean, what a freaking tense way to open the episode. And it’s not, like, traditionally high-stakes or anything, it was just like, nobody really likes each other in this situation. And you don’t really belong? But at the same time, you have to be there.
STACEY: But the key tension and the reason that works is because you KNOW that you don’t belong there, and the way that they kind of… knead that was really well done—I thought.
JAYLEE: And then when the Tweedle brothers came, I was just kind of like, “No!”
STACEY: Yeah (laughs) “They’re gonna blame me!”
JAYLEE: Yeah, it’s like I’m gonna start breaking out in hives or something. It’s too awkward. I can’t do this. But yeah it was very much like the “oh god, they’re going to blame me! This isn’t my fault!”
STACEY: “This is not my intention. I came here because I had a lead, and the game made me come here so… Don’t blame me.” (laughs)
And that was one of my big problems with the episode I guess we can get into more later… was I felt that every choice I made was wrong. And were some parts where that was a very narratively satisfying wrong like at the funeral where everything was just slowly spiraling out of your control. And then there were other times when I’d choose something, and he’d say it, and I’d be like, that was not what I wanted to do. That’s not my Bigby that I was trying to mold here. But that opener was definitely really well done.
JAYLEE: So, and then from that we find that the mirror is broken, Crane’s taken a piece—or someone’s taken a piece, we don’t quite know. Um, and then we have to choose between three options: the bar, Crane’s apartment, and then Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum’s office. So which did you choose?
STACEY: I went to the Trip Trap Bar, which gave me some interesting closure with Grendel and Holly, but I was very surprised to see what you got when you went to the apartment first. ‘Cause that seems to change a lot.
JAYLEE: Yeah. So, um, I originally played—I went to the bar and the offices—
STACEY: Me too!
JAYLEE: But then I just had to know, because if you show up to the apartment later, you know, the fireplace—there’s been stuff that’s been burned. And there’s just—evidence is missing! Which is very like, “what have I done?!”
STACEY: (laughing) Yeah! “I chose poorly!”
JAYLEE: Like, exactly. So I went to Crane’s apartment and it was weird. On one hand, there wasn’t as much as I was expecting to find.
STACEY: Oh, really? OK.
JAYLEE: Yeah, other than the “Joy of Love Making” and the kamasutra on his book shelf, and then Bigby cracking the joke, like, “Oh, must not of came in handy.” And I was like, “uuuh, that’s not a very appropriate joke right.” (laughter)
STACEY: That’s like a Resident Evil-style burn. Which is like, “What?”
JAYLEE: Actually you hear about Bloody Mary first at the apartment.
JAYLEE: Yeah! So, you get a message on Crane’s answering machine, and she’s like, “I’m going the need the money. The Crooked Man needs it.” And so you kind of get to know about his embezzling a bit more.
JAYLEE: And then you find a love letter that he’d written to Snow, and it’s really creepy.
STACEY: Oh my god!
JAYLEE: And, and then you kind of get to the Jack of it all, where he is trying to leave with, like, the glamor tubes and stuff.
STACEY: The black market magic.
STACEY: Interesting. Is he the one that burns everything? Or is that still, um, Bluebeard?
JAYLEE: No, it’s still implied that Bluebeard is the one who did that. But you meet Jack, and you basically… you can let him go for information on the witch. But one thing that I thought was most interesting—and it might just be throwaway. I’m not sure. But, um, Snow comes in, and, as you’re leaving, there’s this tiny little scene where Jack is about to leave and Snow’s like, “no, I need to talk to you first.” And then it switches off to the next scene. And so I’m really curious if that has any narrative implications, like if they’re going somewhere with Snow and Jack, or if it’s just, you know, they’re just covering the same bases that Bigby did.
STACEY: Right. Oh, so you don’t know what they said. It just cuts with her pulling him aside?
STACEY: Interesting. I really liked the way it kind of set off this investigation sequence with the timer. Because, everyone reiterates in dialogue, like, “you only have a set amount of time! Before he gets away!” And when you choose your location a timer counts down, kind of, in the corner where it says you’ve arrived? And I wasn’t sure how they would deal with that because everything in TellTale Games is so measured and timed because they’re so cinematic. You don’t really have a choice to rush through things. But then when I got to the bar, and Grendel’s drunk and he’s just, like, wasting time, I started getting really anxious thinking like, “did I choose the wrong path? Is this going to result in a game over, like, after I do all this work, because he’s wasting my time?” So that I thought was really interesting and provided some dramatic tension that we don’t normally—and from a way we don’t normally see in games? And I’m really kind of disappointed that I didn’t choose the apartment route because it lays that, kind of, seed with Bloody Mary and—I don’t know about you, but when they first started talking about the Crooked Man, I had no idea what they were talking about. And I actually-because everyone is acting like they know who he is—I actually went—like, paused the game, went to, like, a wiki to see, like, is this a character from the comics that I forgot about? Like, why does everyone act like they—
JAYLEE: And its not, right?
STACEY: It’s not! Everyone’s just acting like, “oh, yeah! The Crooked Man!” It’s like, “OK, I’m supposed to know him.” But I don’t think that’s established very well.
JAYLEE: So how did you respond to groggy Lily (Holly) interaction at the bar?
STACEY: Maybe that’s one of the other things that… kind of.. was putting me off. The idea that nothing really seemed, like… Bigby-y to me? Like, there were some that were coddling, and there were some that were just really cold. And it’s like, neither of those are really him. Like, he’s kind of in the middle. Like he does care about everybody and his job, but he’s not going to… make it seem more hopeful or happier than it actually is, I guess. He’s not going to mince words, I suppose.
STACEY: Let’s talk about Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee’s apartment—or office. Cause you get to meet Flytrap! Or, um, Flycatcher!
JAYLEE: I actually really enjoyed that entire segment. Just seeing how their office was laid out and how they had the stupid little, like, letters to each other and whatnot.
STACEY: Right (laughs)
JAYLEE: Um, it added a lot… just because, like, throughout the game, I just hate them so much. And it kind of added this level of humanity that I think—in the end—kept me from killing him at the end of the episode. Um, but Flytrap was great—
STACEY: Flycatcher. I think I keep saying—I said the wrong thing to start.
JAYLEE: That guy with the flies was great. Um…
STACEY: I really liked finding Cinderella’s dossier. And the idea that, like, nobody knew what was going on with her. And I keep thinking—like, this is the second time we’ve found something linked to her that was classified and it’s like, please be like, Season Two: The Adventures of Cinderella. Please! That was the enjoyment I got out of that. And Flycatcher. But… and THEN you go to the witch! Which was just a weird sequence.
JAYLEE: It was one of those things where it’s like, “I know you’re the witch. They know you’re the witch. Can we just get to the part where you’re the witch?” (laughter) And I don’t know. It was kind of difficult. Because, this is her livelihood. And again, you’re kind of playing into what we talked about in the last episode where you kind of have the haves and have-nots, and this is how she sustains herself. And this is also a huge part of her identity and who she was before they migrated to Fabletown. And so, would you take that away? Would you destroy, kind of, what makes her… her? For the sake of, you know, it’s not within the law of Fable…verse.
STACEY: Right. And Snow White is so adamant about it. I was listening to the Polygon Friend’s List podcast, and they made a really good point about how Snow is kind of this moral barometer for it? And “Snow will remember this” kind of becomes a threat. You know? And there’s even parts when you’re making those tough decisions where the camera will just cut to her. Like, she’s not doing anything, she’s just waiting expectantly for you to choose. But that’s just kind of a reminder, like, “Oh, yeah, she’s here. She’s going to remember what I do. What am I going to do?” So…
JAYLEE: But there’s also kind of… on one hand, it does seem a little kind of like she doesn’t grasp how much this means to Aunty Greenleaf.
JAYLEE: But at the same time, she has these personal stakes of they’ve been selling glamors of Snow so that people can have sex with somebody that looks just like her.
STACEY: And then murder them!
JAYLEE: I mean, that’s really fucked up. And so I probably would want to burn that shit down too.
STACEY: Yeah. And you’re in a position…trying to control Bigby…and you know, you’re… she’s [Snow’s] having to establish herself as being in charge. She’s already been challenged earlier in the episode with Bluebeard. It’s really easy to stand up to Bluebeard and say, like, “hey listen to her.” It’s a lot harder with her [Aunty Greenleaf]. So this is kind of the game looking to you saying, “So… did you mean it?” You know, like, this is do or die right here. Which… which did you end up doing? Did you burn the tree?
JAYLEE: I didn’t.
STACEY: I did!
JAYLEE: Oh my god! You terrible human!
STACEY: And I regretted it immediately!
JAYLEE: No, um, I don’t know. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. But ultimately, I didn’t think that there was any correct choice. Like, I feel like I would have had a bit of regret for every choice I made.
JAYLEE: Whether it was burning—I’d have a lot of regret for that, so you should feel bad.
STACEY: Yes (laughs).
JAYLEE: But, um, just kidding. But, um, whether it was burning the tree or having her work for them, or just kind of letting her go.
STACEY: Which, I originally was like, “Well, can’t we have her work for us?” Because I was thinking, you know, in the comics, he has all his secrets. Like he has the Golden Goose, he has Cinderella running, like, the show for him and things. So I was like, “oh, maybe it’s gonna let, you know, make him hire her into his kind of… shadow… kind of organization-type-thing.” Sorry, I can’t use words today. But… but then the way it came out was, he was like, really tentative about it. Consulting Snow like, “Well, why can’t we use—“ like, “can’t we hire her?” And it’s just like, that’s not how it’s supposed to go! You’re supposed to say OK to Snow White and then, like, slip her your business card.
STACEY: Like, that’s the option I wanted. (laughter) But yeah, that was definitely the toughest decision of the episode and one of those things where I was like, “Aw, this is all wrong! I messed up all of my, like, carefully laid plans up to this point.”
JAYLEE: So, from that we kind of get to the big end of the episode where just, stuff starts going down. Um, you find Crane at the Pudding and Pie, and he’s trying to get Narissa to break the spell on her.
STACEY: Yeah, which we still don’t know anything about—the fact that these girls have this spell on them.
JAYLEE: It’s one of those things that they haven’t really explicitly stated either, which I find really weird.
JAYLEE: But I’m really looking forward to how that turns out. And then he has that creepy love confession to Snow, and then they’re leaving, and then, boom! Bloody Mary! Initial thoughts: what did you think?
STACEY: I love Bloody Mary.
STACEY: I feel like, she’s not going to be used to her full potential in here, but, like, one of the things that I loved about her introduction was the idea that—in the Fables universe, like in the actual comics, you know, they do different genres for different story arcs. And while there’s usually lip service paid to the fact that they’re living amongst the mundane people, and they have to be careful what the mundane people see, it usually feels like it’s just like, “oh, it’s a murder mystery set in an alternate universe with a bunch of fables living in New York.” Whereas Bloody Mary explicitly explains her connection to the mundy world. And the fact that she perpetuates her own myth also plays into the idea that, um, a fable’s immortality is tied to how popular their myth is with the mundys.
JAYLEE: I know.
STACEY: So the fact that she perpetuates it is also kind of… um, a way of protecting herself and strengthening her own immortality. Which is just such a cool little twist that I’m not sure they’re actually going to do anything with.
JAYLEE: I know. It’s one of those things where it is such an interesting concept.
JAYLEE: And there actually are a lot of layers to it. Kind of like, well, is she this evil to survive? Or is she genuinely this character?
JAYLEE: But again, this is Bigby and Snow’s story. So I don’t…
STACEY: Which, I’m just really hoping she’s allowed to exist, again, outside the fiction. Like, that her story doesn’t just end and they kill her or whatever—that she’s just allowed to continue being this weird fable that, you know, perpetuates her own myth. Like, I love that dimension that it adds to the universe.
JAYLEE: Did you kill Tweedle—?
JAYLEE: No? Ok.
STACEY: I already burned the tree. (laughter) I couldn’t do anything else.
JAYLEE: Too much bad karma in one episode. It’ll come back. But, god, that entire final sequence with the transformation and just going hardcore, and then finally being shot… that was… my blood was pumping. It was just…
STACEY: It was good (laughs).
JAYLEE: It was good. It was a hell of a way to end the episode. Especially because, you know, it’s the middle episode. If there’s too much build-up, that’s where a game can really falter. And they just ramped it up.
STACEY: Which… I still don’t know what’s going on, though. Which again, for a murder mystery, not great. (laughs)
JAYLEE: That’s true…
STACEY: We kind of gone through the trajectory of the episod. Maybe we should go over the decision that it measures? Because they were pretty skewed when I played. Oh, so here’s another—here’s a good one! So the first one was, did you interrupt Snow’s eulogy?
JAYLEE: Oh, god no.
STACEY: Me neither. And I thought that was really interesting because every TellTale Game begins with “Silence is a valid option!” when you’re choosing your dialogue. But I feel like, The Wolf Among Us, more so than The Walking Dead, integrates silence into the choices so it’s a more, um, overt choice. And it usually works to service and to leverage Snow White. Which I thought that was kind of interesting.
JAYLEE: Yeah, it doesn’t feel like an absence so much as it’s…
STACEY: Helping… well, that’s probably not the word you’re looking for, but it’s helping her and helping her establish herself, and showing restraint on your behalf, cause I think the other time they do it is with TJ, when Bigby doesn’t know what to do with kids, so it’s like, “just let Snow deal with it.” So now that that’s out of the way, we covered where, um, we chose to investigate first. With me, and I guess for you in your first play through, it was the Trip Trap, which, when I played, 44.6 percent of all players did that. So we were in good company, considering there were three options.
STACEY: Um, and did you offer Flycatcher a job?
JAYLEE: Oh! I totally gave him a job! Because he’s, like, a good guy!
STACEY: Yeah! And he’s working for you in the comics, so it’s like, “oh, we gotta make that connection.” So now, we covered who burned Greenleaf’s tree. Which, I was among the 15 percent that did. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Did you say 15 percent?
STACEY: 15 percent.
JAYLEE: Oh my gosh.
STACEY: Yeah, most people took the… better path, I think. (laughs) Were not cruel. Um, and then we both spared Tweedle Dum 53 percent of us spared him, so that’s pretty… down the middle as far as choosing to…
JAYLEE: Yeah, I can’t say I blame people for killing him, though. Because he’s totally a piece of shit.
STACEY: Yeah! Especially when he crashed the funeral at the beginning. It’s like, that coupled with the note you mentioned that humanized them, those two totally are meant to inform your decision in that last act.
JAYLEE: Yeah, exactly.
STACEY: Very cool.
JAYLEE: So that does it for our water cooler discussion on episode 3 of The Wolf Among Us, titled “A Crooked Mile.” Let us know which decisions you chose or which parts you found particularly difficult. And let us know in the comment section, subscribe to us to be kept up to date on the latest water coolers and scripted episodes …
STACEY: Were you a horrible person who burned the tree? No? Shame Stacey in the comments!
JAYLEE (laughs) Exactly! But don’t forget to subscribe.
STACEY: (laughs) Yeah!
BIGBY: “Crane has been embezzling from Fabletown.”
SNOW: “Of course! Because why half-ass being a complete sleazeball.”