We return to Fabletown in our latest Water Cooler to talk The Wolf Among Us, “In Sheep’s Clothing.” It’s all tough moral choices for Bigby this episode. Will he enforce Snow’s law or walk his own line?
As usual, a transcript is after the jump.
This episode contains spoilers for The Wolf Among Us and the Fables comic book series.
Welcome back to the Push to Smart Water Cooler, where we’re returning to Fabletown once again for the fourth episode, “In Sheep’s Clothing.” In this episode, Bigby hunts down the elusive Crooked Man for answers, having to face the fact that the Crooked Man’s organization might not be that different form his own.
JAYLEE: So, yeah. We start off with Bigby getting patched up by Dr. Swineheart. It, it’s kind of anticlimactic, but there is a lot going on in those conversations between Bigby and Snow. So in our previous episode, we got a really good comment from a guy named Drew Franzblau, who mentioned that he hoped that—we kind of talked about Auntie Greenleaf and the situation between Snow and her—and Drew was hoping that Snow’s ideological blind spots would be touched upon in further episodes and that it wasn’t just kind of a throw away thing. And immediately in the episode, we realized that they were very much going into her philosophies.
JAYLEE: And that was something that actually… I am so glad that they did it, but it did not make me like Snow very much.
STACEY: Which, I think there’s value in that…
JAYLEE: It’s very obvious that she’s not going to be the Snow White savior.
STACEY: Right. Again, I think there’s value in that. And one of the things that I thought was really interesting, kind of, about the conversation that Drew brought up was the idea that I’ve been approaching this text, knowing the comics, knowing Bill Willingham’s more conservative views, and the way that it kind of leaks into the text. And usually, you know, whenever he tries to get political in Fables there’s kind of this… your eyes roll back into your head as far as they can possibly go. But that’s always in the back of my mind while I’m playing this. And knowing, OK, Bigby is a creation of this universe; he would probably go with this. But I think the potential to kind of, identify with Bigby more and maybe push back against the text is really interesting. And this episode was really trying to explore the difference between the haves and haves-nots, and the different layers of classism that exist in Fabletown, really provides the—for the first time, really—the, kind of, chance to maybe do that. To muck around in what this means for this universe. But, since I went in from the perspective of, like, “Ok, I’m going to play as Bigby as he is written by Bill Willingham,” I got really frustrated. (laughs) And I feel like there were things that maybe would have been more dramatically or narratively satisfying if I had just kind of rolled with it instead of trying to… meet these beats that I anticipated. Especially, like, with Collin. That becomes the big sticking point for this first part; you have to decide whether or not to send him to the farm. I was playing this scene feeling kind of strange. It was like, I feel like I just had this exact same conversation with him in the first episode. And my Bigby, as I anticipate according to the Willingham canon, would not budge on this. But I could see why, if I had come into this fresh or if I had come into this wanting to challenge the text, then this would have been kind of viewed in the context of, we see Snow, as Drew outlines, maybe not being as big of an ally as we thought she would be. And this is kind of, with that in mind, what side are we going to take.
JAYLEE: One of my, sticking points was that, because of The Walking Dead, something that really sticks out to me is that this game is a lot less diverse than The Walking Dead.
STACEY: Yes, that’s true.
JAYLEE: So you don’t really get a lot of racial implications or anything, but I am glad that they are at least doing class. I think that’s really cool. And especially in a game that’s so narratively driven, you kind of get to look at that. But I don’t know. Like, after the kind of big, almost—not blockbuster-y—but big action sequence of the cliffhanger of the last episode, I was not prepared for these conversations. It was very exhausting in a way, in that I wasn’t expecting them, I wasn’t sure where they were going. And I wasn’t sure how Bigby would respond. So I felt like my character was very inconsistent, which, surprisingly, felt cohesive with the fact that he had just almost been killed. But I did find myself—in this episode—using silence a lot more.
STACEY: Me too!
JAYLEE: When Collin asked if I would send him to the farm, I did not respond.
JAYLEE: What did you do?
STACEY: I said, “you’re going to the farm.” Because I was like, “I just told you this, like, two episodes ago. Get with it.” But, um, that, I think, I feel like using silence—that’s a very good place. And it probably worked quite well because you have almost the exact same conversation pop up later in the episode with Toad. So, I wish I had done that. That seems a lot more satisfying to have that uncertainty and then really get the chance to come down one way or the other. Which, with Toad you have extra, kind of, leeway—at least for me—I had money I could give him to buy the glamour.
JAYLEE: Oh yeah, same here.
STACEY: So you could come down on both sides, and then also enable him.
JAYLEE: Yeah, and so Snow is talking about how all the animals that do not have a glamour need to go to the farm. And it was just… I can’t even remember exactly what sparked this particular conversation. Oh—Collin was there and she was pissed off at him.
STACEY: Which I really like the way they’re using Collin—even though he’s only popped up a few times. He seems to be the voice of the audience at times.
STACEY: Like when Show White picks up the phone and just answers for Bigby. Collin just kind of looks at Bigby like, “that was rude.” Like, I really like the little touches like that.
JAYLEE: Or, like, how she said “Wolf Residence” or something like that. And he was like, “That was a bit more—we’re not really used to THAT around here!” (laughter)
And on one hand, I liked that he was kind of… pushing back against Snow, even though she is in such a position of power compared to him. But at the same time I was like, “you know, Bigby can speak for himself, so I’m going to interject in these ways.” But it was very much not choosing a stance either way. Which is why the silence was such—in my opinion—a great option for that first scene as far as just, kind of, showing what place Bigby is in.
STACEY: Yeah, which also is interesting because last time we talked about how silence normally functions in this game as a way to leverage Snow White and to, kind of, allow her to assert her authority, where in this it was the opposite. It was kind of holding back either to not relinquish your position.
JAYLEE: “I’m not going to be your dog,” was part of how I was reading that. Just because she was like, “we’re going to have to do this, and you’re going to have to enforce it.” and I was like, “Whoa…” And so from there…
STACEY: The call, of course, that Snow so rudely answers, is from Buffkin letting us know that Nerissa is waiting in Bigby’s office.
JAYLEE: Oh, god. (laughter) I screwed up that particular interaction so badly. As soon as I was putting pressure on the button, and I decided that I was going to try and unravel the ribbon from her neck, I immediately regretted it. And she freaked out—rightfully so. Um, and it was just such a… kind of this, stereotypical male-does-not-respect-the-space-of-this-woman. Even though she’s been through so much, and I was like, as soon as I did it I was like, I think Bigby can read a room better than I can in this situation. So…
STACEY: One thing I will say to that is—did you choose the option… there was one option that said, “can we remove it?” and there’s another one that’s just an action in brackets saying “remove the ribbon.” Did you choose the one in brackets?
JAYLEE: He just kind of reaches for it and she freaks out and knocks the chair over and stands up… This makes me think that because the two previous ladies were decapitated, if you undo the ribbon, that’s what makes their… the decapitation happen.
JAYLEE: You learned that?
STACEY: I did, but let me tell you something first real quick. ‘Cause in my first play through, I didn’t choose, like, the “bracket-go-for-ribbon.” I chose—on my first play through I chose, “Can’t we remove it?” and in my second play through, I chose the other option that didn’t talk about removing it, and I totally don’t even remember what it was. But in both options, he ultimately started reaching towards her, and she flipped out, knocked over the chair, and backed up against the wall.
JAYLEE: Oh, ok.
STACEY: So that happens regardless. But, did you tell Snow what she said to you?
STACEY: Because I did, Bigby immediately says, like it’s nothing, like, “she can’t remove the ribbon, because if she tries, that’s what happened to Lilly and Faith, and he kind makes a motion, like, at his neck, like that’s what did it.
JAYLEE: So he just figures this out?
STACEY: Yeah, he just figures it out and states it, which was kind of anticlimactic. It just kind of moves on.
STACEY: Like, I think we all kind of figured it was probably something like that, but it just kind of goes with it and you’re like, “oh, ok. Ok! We’re on board! Ok, we’re, we’re going forward!”
JAYLEE: “We’re not going to take a minute to let this sink in? Ok. Moving on.” Speaking of class issues. Then we go to Beauty and the Beast, which I no longer feel that bad for them.
STACEY: (laughs) Yeah, that was kind of interesting because so far we’ve seen either the really-haves or the really-haves-nots. And Beauty and the Beast, we’ve only seen them, kind of, struggling to get by—looking for jobs and things. And now we get to their apartment, and it is decked out—really extravagant.
JAYLEE: and we see why.
STACEY: Yeah, they’re struggling, but it’s to maintain a lifestyle. ‘Cause they’re living above their means.
JAYLEE: Exactly. They’re not really trying to make ends meet. I don’t know. As soon as that happened I was like, “Well, fuck. I can’t help you guys.”
JAYLEE: there are actual people that need this help.
STACEY: Yeah, definitely. Though it’s interesting ‘cause it kind of ties into that whole thing with Auntie Greenleaf because we talked about how that tree was her identity. And for them, as Beast explicitly says, “we were royalty. This is making it home.” Which is really easy for us to be like, “Yeah, uh-huh. And look at, you know, the women who are forced into prostitution down the street, blah blah blah.” But it is showing different ways in which Fabletown is really struggling, and the people of Fabletown are struggling to—
JAYLEE: Retain their identities.
JAYLEE: So what did you respond to them then?
STACEY: I told… I think I said, “I’ll take care of it.” I think that was one of the options.
JAYLEE: I think I also did silence for that part.
STACEY: “Think about what you did!”
JAYLEE: Exactly! I was just kind of like.. but I didn’t actually think of the… how it ties into their identity. Um, which is a good point. I don’t think it…
STACEY: I don’t—yeah. It doesn’t justify them living well above their means.
JAYLEE: Yeah, it still adds a bit more of a difficult layer to it.
STACEY: And that’s when you have to choose whether to go to the butcher or the pawn shop—which I think we chose different ones, which is very exciting. Which one did you choose?
JAYLEE: Yeah! Because we didn’t have to replay! I chose the Butcher Shop. Because they mentioned that Bloody Mary frequents there, and I was like, “so long as I can meet Bloody Mary again! Yeah! Let’s do this!”
STACEY: I love how she’s being used in this episode. She’s like a boogeyman. I love it.
JAYLEE: So what made you go the pawn shop?
STACEY: I chose the pawn shop because it seemed more direct. Because the butcher shop, it was more like, “well, she’s sometimes there, and I run packages.” Whereas for the pawn shop it was like, she was there. She got the axe. And then there’s this other potential contact there—Jersey, who I love. So, I was like, OK, I’m going to go to the pawn shop first.
JAYLEE: Tell us about what it’s like going to the pawn shop as your first option.
STACEY: I’m really interested to see how these differ. You walk in, and Toad is trying to sell Faith’s coat—
JAYLEE: Wait, Toad is there?
STACEY: Yeah! Already different! (laughs) And I played this with my playthrough where I took Woody as my prime suspect. So, I don’t know if that also affects things. So I go in, and Toad is trying to pawn off Faith’s coat to Jack. And Jack is just, like, not having it because it’s an ugly donkey coat. So that also kind of starts it—you get to talk to Toad about getting a glamour again, and, you know, he flips everybody off and leaves with his donkey coat, and then you have to question Jack. Who, of course, Jack is playing dumb—for the most part.
JAYLEE: Oh, you get to question Jack? Dammit.
STACEY: Was he there when you were there?
JAYLEE: As I’m entering, he’s leaving.
STACEY: Oh, interesting!
JAYLEE: Because the Woodsman and Jersey Devil are getting into an altercation over his axe.
STACEY: Ok, interesting. ‘Cause when I was playing, ‘cause Jack is running the store, I start questioning him; Jack is—oh! you know, there I am. Identifying with Bigby. You know, we—we! I’ll just say “we,” we’re in this together. And then Bigby’s allowed to, kind of, search the store. Jack is adamantly denying that the Woodsman’s axe was ever there, but, of course, you find the display case where it is there. And while you’re really starting to put the pressure on Jack, you hear the Woodsman and Jersey coming up to the door arguing. They come in, Jack sneaks out, the altercation I’m sure you saw begins. I want to add first that I love Jersey.
STACEY: I love how much fun they’re having with these new fables. I love that he comes in looking like this totally stereotypical, like, sleazy Jersey guy, and then he just transforms into this disgusting monster. And that whole fight was just amazing! I loved—
JAYLEE: It was. That was actually… fun.
STACEY: Yes, it was! and—
JAYLEE: Like, where The Walking Dead, none of the action is ever fun…
JAYLEE: But, yeah.
STACEY: Like, they obviously had a lot of fun just animating it, too. Like, I don’t know if you had this, but, like, the Jersey Devil has pinned down Woody, and Bigby runs over and just kicks him off of him? It was such a big, sweeping motion. It was just so fun to watch.
JAYLEE: And then at the end, I’m not sure—probably you could do it too—throwing an anvil on him?
STACEY: Yes! (laughs)
JAYLEE: Just, like, I was like, “there are two options, and one of them is ridiculous. I’m going with that one.
STACEY: Exactly! Though I did like that the other option—I think it was a sculpture of the Headless Horseman? That was interesting. But I really liked the kind of, I’m assuming this is going to be the last we see of Woody, because it seemed like a nice, kind of clean redemption for him.
JAYLEE: Oh, totally. Yeah.
STACEY: And then, my favorite part of this whole sequence is he and Woody, you know, walk out door. Woody’s got his axe, Bigby’s covered in blood. They kind of have a man-to-man moment, and then they just flag a taxi—carrying and axe and covered in blood. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah. Did you offer him a smoke?
STACEY: I did.
JAYLEE: Yeah, so did I. And then, like, when he’s leaving, there’s that perfect moment where you can kind of—it’s so cinematic, you know?
STACEY: Yeah, it really is. Did you say anything?
JAYLEE: Yeah, I was like, “what are you going to do next?” Or whatever the option was.
STACEY: Nice, yeah.
JAYLEE: Not, “you’re not going to be—“ Um, I know there was, like, “Are you going to be OK?”
STACEY: Yeah, I didn’t like that one.
JAYLEE: Or, “what are you going to do next?” kind of thing. But that’s the one I chose. And it was just… it was just the perfect end to this kind of arc that we start in the first episode.
JAYLEE: And I just loved that.
STACEY: Yeah, I’ll be happy if we don’t see Woody again just because that was so perfect.
JAYLEE: Yeah, unless, like, he comes to save the day.
STACEY: (laughs) Well, he kind of did there.
STACEY: Yeah, but I’m glad you got to see that too. I was wondering if that happened if you went to the butcher shop first.
JAYLEE: And then, of course, it’s a really cool scene, but we should probably mention the narrative importance is that you find the shard of the mirror.
STACEY: Yes—oh, wait. Where did you find it?
JAYLEE: I found it at the pawn shop…
STACEY: I found it at the butcher shop!
JAYLEE: Are you kidding?
JAYLEE: OK! Well then…
STACEY: Where did you find it at the pawn shop?
JAYLEE: It’s in Crane’s clothes where I got the money?
STACEY: Where’s Crane’s clothes?
JAYLEE: Crane’s stuff is in the back behind the counter.
STACEY: Oh, is there, like, a torture thing back there? Or, what’s back there?
JAYLEE: Oh, no. It’s just, like, behind the counter. There’s just like a… there’s a cabinet with open doors.
JAYLEE: I went to the butcher shop—really, kind of, let down overall by it. You know, it’s obviously… (laughs) I just kind of loved the, “this butcher shop doesn’t have fillets?!
Something is fishy!” Then you have the butcher and things go weird. He sets—he, like, hits the little alarm-y button—
JAYLEE: To alert someone in the back. And then you have this scene that sets up this really cool, kind of, cat and mouse with all the butcher—I mean, it’s cliche—with all the meat. And of course that doesn’t happen. But then in the back, there’s this, you know, chemistry set. Where they’re making all these glamours and stuff and you kind of realize that everyone’s involved.
STACEY: So, was it abandoned when you got there then? They escaped?
STACEY: OK, ‘cause one of the things I was wondering was, ‘cause they have those big blackboards—do they have time to wipe it when you’re there first?
STACEY: Oh, so you have stuff written on them.
STACEY: I want to know what was written on them!
JAYLEE: Oh my god, like everybody is in on it. Everybody is getting stuff from the Crooked Man.
STACEY: Oh my god!
JAYLEE: Wow! I didn’t know that you could miss that. But yeah, everybody there—they have particular glamours or particular spells that they’re trying to get from him, and it’s just kind of like… it totally blows Bigby’s mind. And he’s just kind of like, “how did I miss this,” and everything…
JAYLEE: And that’s kind of the big “a-ha!” moment there, so… And then, you know, the butcher asks if you can help. And I was like, whatever. (laughter)
STACEY: You seem like a nice guy, Johan.
JAYLEE: Yeah, he was probably, like, the least interesting character that we’ve come across thus far. But yeah, that was basically all that there was to that segment.
STACEY: Yeah, mine was similar except there was nothing written on the boards—they had time to wipe everything. And Bigby even remarks, like, “Ah! Thanks to you they had time to wipe the boards!” So I was… that got me thinking like, “a-ha! I bet if I went here first, there would be stuff there.
JAYLEE: And then after that, we go back to the office. And Toad is there, and Buffkin is ready to put the shard in. And Bluebeard is there as well. And Bluebeard’s just being a little shit like he always is. Snow wants you to take care of Toad? Yeah. So what did you do in this segment?
STACEY: This was one I had trouble with because at this point, since I’ve seen Toad again already in the episode, every time I’ve met with him, it’s like, “Toad, why are you not in a glamour?” So this has kind of been an established conflict for them. I ended up giving him the money from Crane’s jacket, which I found at the butcher shop.
STACEY: I don’t know. Snow White’s reaction to it was kind of weird. She was just kind of exasperated, and it’s like, well… I don’t know what else to do.
JAYLEE: I don’t know. Maybe it was because we have seen them so much. They aren’t just sarcastic assholes, they actually do kind of help, and there is—and TJ, of course. And so I did give them some. And then Snow was like, “he was awfully cheerful when he left.”
STACEY: Well, it’s like, I still solved the problem… And Collin, you know, it’s a joke, but he still brings up the point, like, you have to have money to get a glamour, but how do you get money unless you have a glamour? “I don’t have thumbs!” (laughs)
JAYLEE: That’s fair (laughs). That is very true.
STACEY: Yeah, and then Bluebeard just stomps off in a huff so you don’t really get to interact with him. So you just kind of go to the mirror, where they see—Snow White first asks to see Crane, which gives us another great little set-up for “Cinderella Libertine” because she’s sending him to Paris.
JAYLEE: Yeah! And then you find the Crooked Man’s door. And then you go to the Crooked Man.
STACEY: The Evil League of Evil. (laughter) Pretty much.
JAYLEE: And then Tiny Tim’s there. And you’re like, “Aw, Tiny Tim. Why are you in with the bad guys?” Overall I found the ending to be really anticlimactic.
STACEY: Well, what did you do? Because I was surprised by how few people did what I did.
JAYLEE: Are you talking about the very last action you can choose?
JAYLEE: OK. That—I will say—was amazing. I chose to light a cigarette, and it was the most cinematic, perfect thing in the world.
STACEY: Oh, nice!
JAYLEE: It was the perfect ending for the episode, but I think everything leading up to that point was just kind of like, eh.
STACEY: Yeah. It was very strange.
JAYLEE: And as soon as the episode ended, I went to the Fables… Book of Fables archive-thing, because I was like, OK, can you tell me who this guy is, because I still don’t get it. And no, it doesn’t tell you.
STACEY: It—I thought it kind of described something about him. Maybe I’m conflating it with what I read in the wiki. He, like, gave up his family—like, killed them—out of greed or something to that effect? I was just thinking, because, like, Tim seems to function to—if not humanize The Crooked Man, then to at least kind of… set up the last of that parallel. Like, “you guys might not be that different—these organizations. You just serve different needs.” But then you go to the fable entry and he, like, he killed his family. It’s like, “well…”
JAYLEE: (laughs) he is not a good guy. Yeah, you are actually quite different.
STACEY: Yeah, which obviously everyone’s forgiven of their past crimes once they enter Fabletown, but still.
JAYLEE: So what did you choose as your very final action?
STACEY: I chose “OK, let’s talk.” Which still lead to him lighting a cigarette, so it was still quite cinematic.
STACEY: But it didn’t have that silence. I’m assuming yours was he just stands there and lights a cigarette?
STACEY: Which is awesome, because he says, “OK, you got me here. Let’s talk.” Then he lights his cigarette, which I thought was still satisfying, but I like the idea of him staying silent.
JAYLEE: That was one of the few times where I, like, punched the air because I was like, “Yes! I made the right choice!” (laughter)
STACEY: I was kind of surprised that—I don’t know if we know her name—the woman from the Pudding and Pie. That she was there.
JAYLEE: Yeah. You know when I was playing the episode, I was just kind like, eh on it.
JAYLEE: But there were definitely parts that I loved. Like we discussed throughout the episode, so I won’t recap. But I’m really curious about how they’re gonna wrap things up. And I’m also very curious if they’re going to go passed one season, especially with Fables ending…
STACEY: Cinderella! Make it about Cinderella.
JAYLEE: I know! That would be so cool!
STACEY: By going to the pawn shop first you have another Cinderella reference.
STACEY: ‘Cause when he’s trying to get the coat—Toad’s trying to sell the coat to Jack, Jack says, “I don’t know, see if Cindy needs a new coat?” And it was like, “Ah! Tally one more!” I’m choosing to interpret that as evidence that she’s going to show up in a later season.
JAYLEE: Maybe like, yeah. Maybe these are hints that next season it’s going to be all about Cindy.
STACEY: That’s how I’m interpreting this. (laughs)
JAYLEE: It’d be great because they’d be able to introduce a lot of new Fables and they wouldn’t have to stick so close to Fabletown and the pre-established canon.
STACEY: Yeah. Well, let’s talk about choices! You remained silent when it came to sending Collin to the farm. I sent him there. So far me, it was 28% of us sent him there. I wonder if your silence—what that counts as. Did it display that?
JAYLEE: It did say that “Collin would remember that,” but it didn’t say that he was sent to the farm.
STACEY: OK, interesting. The next one they measure was did you attempt to remove Nerissa’s ribbon, which 61% of us did not.
JAYLEE: Oh, you good people.
STACEY: Well, considering the fact that every—no matter what you choose, it ends with an animation of him reaching towards her and her freaking out, I wonder what counts as removing it, and which doesn’t. Like, does physically-does choosing the option to physically reach as well as saying “can’t we remove it?” count, or… I’m not sure.
JAYLEE: I think actually going for it is the only one that would count.
STACEY: You terrible person. (laughs) And so then we each chose different Crooked Man operations to visit, which, when I played this morning, 50 percent chose the pawn shop, so that is like… (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah, I think when I played it was like, 50-51. Some really small deviation—if any at all.
STACEY: That’s awesome. I love seeing stuff like that. Because that means that people are really exploring all the avenues, and that’s really—I don’t want to say a valid choice, but an interesting choice.
JAYLEE: That there’s no one way to play. Or that there’s no, like, more canonical choice based on the majority.
STACEY: Exactly. And then, neither of us sent Toad to the farm, and it looks like 47.2% players did not as well, which is still pretty close to 50-50. But… and then how did you respond to the Crooked Man…. 19.7% agreed to talk first.
JAYLEE: I think mine was, when I did it, about 24% or so?
STACEY: Was it worded as twenty-or-so percent chose to light a cigarette?
STACEY: Oh, ok. So each choice has it’s own percentage marker. They didn’t group them. Interesting.
JAYLEE: Thank you again for coming to the Push to Smart Water Cooler and discussing TellTale Games’ The Wolf Among Us. We’d love to hear your thoughts, so please join the discussion below in the comments section, and subscribe, so you can figure out what the hell we’re doing next.
STACEY: Because we don’t know yet.
BEAST (ANSWERING MACHINE): We’ll get back to you as soon as…
BEAUTY AND BEAST (ANSWERING MACHINE): (LAUGH)
BEAST (ANSWERING MACHINE): HUMANLY possible.
BEAUTY AND BEAST (ANSWERING MACHINE): Beep!