The Wolf Among Us’s first season finale is here! Join us around the digital water cooler as we try to make sense of what happened–and what didn’t happen–with the help our astute commenters.
Episode transcript is below the cut.
STACEY: This episode contains spoilers to The Wolf Among Us and the Fables comic book series.
JAYLEE: Hello and welcome to the Push to Smart Water Cooler. This episode we are featuring the very last entry in season one of Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us.
JAYLEE: The critically acclaimed series based on Bill Willingham’s wildly popular comic, Fables. This episode picks up right where we left off we’re right in with the crooked man, and Bigby just lit his cigarette, and then… the game happens.
STACEY: It was quite short, I was quite surprised.
JAYLEE: Yeah, one of my biggest issues with this I had with this episode, and you’re probably going to hear me talk a lot about the issues I had with the ending, is that the pacing was terrible.
STACEY: It was.
JAYLEE: It was really bad. And I thought that this was kind of a wierd episode, but let’s just go straight into the game.
JAYLEE: We get in there and The Crooked Man is like “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I’m just a regular guy doing a business. I’m free of sin and blemish. And Georgie, he’s bad, that guy with the tattoos. Did you choose Georgie as who you thought? I chose The Crooked Man because I was like…
STACEY: I think I did, too.
JAYLEE: Because I felt like probably Georgie did it because he’s the sleaziest but ultimately it’s going to come back to the crooked man.
JAYLEE: So that’s what I chose. And then he was like, “No, it was Georgie,” and I was like, “Damn it!”
JAYLEE: And then things escalate here and we don’t really learn much.
STACEY: Bloody Mary makes an awesome entrance.
JAYLEE: Oh my god, Bloody Mary.
STACEY: That’s going to be pretty much the episode, like “Uhh, this episode is kind of eh. Oh Bloody Mary is amazing!”
JAYLEE: (Laughs) And now she dead. Probably not, because, come on, she’s such a popular Fable. So, I did like the chase scene, I thought it was cool. I didn’t really understand the, uh, the bar at the bottom. I’m guessing it was some kind of timer.
STACEY: It was weird. Kinda like the way that— One of the things I liked in a past episode is they had a timer that told you what time it is when you’re searching for Crane and it’s kinda of like “Okay, well it’s this time now” and there’s this sense that I have to get there. But the reality is this is Telltale, everything is carefully constructed. You’re going to make each beat. Nothing is truly timed except for your conversations choices. So in this I felt like it worked a bit. I was fooled by it in the Crane chase sequence in the previous episode but I wasn’t fooled by it here, it just felt very superfluous and very easy to ignore.
STACEY: The chase scene was cool in theory, I had a couple problems with it. One was the bar that just didn’t do anything and then there was—
JAYLEE: Well if you’re having a, you know, like high tension chase scene, the chase scene is all you need. You don’t need the signifier of “They can get away” because it should be—
STACEY: Especially when it doesn’t mean that. When it’s just an empty, meaningless GUI filler-thing.
JAYLEE: I’m sure if you hit the wrong buttons there’s some kind of failure state.
STACEY: But there wasn’t even a chance to press buttons really. I mean you only really had one or two targets. But the other thing that just kind of narratively that I thought was weird was the idea that he was giving chase in his pseudo-werewolf form. And I had no idea where in New York they were. ‘Cause they enter the door in the middle of Central Park, and that is not in Fabletown to my knowledge.
STACEY: And one of the big rules that is especially Bigby’s responsibility is making sure the Mundane people, the Mundys, don’t find out about the existence of Fables. And here he is running around New York as a werewolf.
JAYLEE: Well, I thought that was intentional. That they were supposed to show “Oh, he’s so angry he doesn’t even care.” And besides, it’s the ‘80s, I mean (laughs).
STACEY: Weirder things happened. I guess I didn’t buy that. Especially ‘cause the treatment of Bigby’s wolf form is very strange throughout the series and kind of inconsistent with how it’s treated in the comics. ‘Cause in this one later, and I’m skipping ahead, but you finally see his true wolf form, which was awesome. But in the comics he kind of switches between that and his human form as needed.
STACEY: Where in this game there seems to be some kind of weird—
JAYLEE: Hulking out.
STACEY: Right, like this kinda stigma against it. Like you don’t wanna lose control. When it’s not the supernatural ability he’s given into. That’s his actual form. It’s just him— It’s just a tool for him. And it seemed a little bit more like it was a tool for him and he was more comfortable with it in this episode especially later on. But the lead up to it didn’t quite connect with me.
JAYLEE: Mhmm. And then, we’re chasing Georgie and Vivian and you can land on one of two cars. And I landed on Georgie’s because I had no idea The Crooked Man was in the other car.
JAYLEE: I don’t even remember seeing that other car (laughs).
STACEY: Yeah they kind of cut to it. I kinda thought it was like either you’d hit the car or you’d miss and you’d end up on a civilians car.
STACEY: And then it cuts to The Crooked Man looking at you from the other side like “What’s up?”
JAYLEE: And it’s like, “Shit!”
STACEY: Darn it (laughs).
JAYLEE: I think maybe that was just because they wanted people to go to Georgie and I don’t know if you land on the Crooked Man’s car if they swerve you on to Georgie’s car anyways or whatnot.
STACEY: Right. It’s really interesting to see. Especially because, umm, at the end of the episode they give the special stats and they list the characters that are deceased. And I was wondering, and obviously some are always going to be deceased, like Faith, but I was wondering if maybe when I saw that with Georgie I was like “I wonder if there was a way for him to live.
JAYLEE: I don’t think so.
STACEY: Like if you don’t, you know, sock him and exacter—exasperate?
STACEY: … If you don’t make the situation worse (laughs).
JAYLEE: And then we get to the Pudding and Pie, which was another weird segment.
STACEY: I think, we kind of talked about how the pacing’s weird and I think part of the reason the pacing is weird is because last episode was very much a bridge episode where it kind of establishes stakes between Bigby and Snow, and then The Crooked Man and Bigby. And then in this episode instead of reusing those it was just exposition dump after exposition dump and it didn’t feel like it was very dramatically satisfying. It really came to a head in this scene.
STACEY: Though, I want to point out, one of our commenters totally called this. ReverieNightengale she called a couple things that happened in this episode. But one of the things she said was “I actually suspected what the ribbons did based on a fairytale I found about a girl who wore a ribbon, and then her husband unties it and her head falls off.” which turns out being exactly where Telltale goes with this. Which we go to the tale with a girl with the ribbon, who ends up being Vivian.
JAYLEE: A lot of those things— So, this is one of those scenes where I really started to dislike the episode and I’m not sure if I ever really came back from it. And it is because I didn’t feel like my choices in the discussion mattered that much and I didn’t really feel like there was a choice where I was like “Okay, that is the choice I want to make. I’m saying this. This is me”
JAYLEE: So it was just like “Okay, I’m just going to try and keep her from killing herself,” but she does anyways.Then you can either shorten Georgie’s pain or you can let him suffer. If you let him suffer, like I did (laughs)…
STACEY: Oh! Good, I’m glad. Because I didn’t.
JAYLEE: Yeah. There’s an option where Bigby can say “I’m not a killer,” even though he’s the who stabbed Georgie in the first place. And even though he’s the one who killed him and is now walking away to make his pain worse.
STACEY: Well I chooses to end his suffering and it didn’t seem like a very effective way to end suffering.
JAYLEE: What happened?
STACEY: He like, gets his werewolf claws and goes in and grabs the insides that are on the outside and twists them out.
JAYLEE: Oh my god!
JAYLEE: Jesus (laughs).
STACEY: It’s like, that’s not really—
JAYLEE: “Here, let me do a favor for you.”
STACEY: Yeah (laughs). Oh, Bigby. But I totally get where you’re coming from with like, none of the options feeling quite right. They’re very accusational, like there was no way to say “I know The Crooked Man is behind this, I understand this is a really crappy situation, but we gotta do something.” You know and especially because while not controlling Bigby he stabs Georgie. It’s like there’s no coming back from that you just kinda have to deal with it. And one thing (sigh) I was reading, I think it was on Tumblr, somebody brought up the really good point was that the reason the murder mystery works is because you see it from Snow’s perspective where she doesn’t have all the superhuman wolf abilities that Bigby does.
STACEY: And so Bigby has things like super smell and all these things where he can tell when people are lying. And, you know, so there’s no reason for him to be strung along the way he is in this mystery and I think after reading that there’s a point where you have to let it go in order to enjoy the game but like in this scene especially that was in the back of my mind the whole time. “Bigby should know better.”
STACEY: From Georgie we go immediately to the warehouse. Where Bloody Mary is.
JAYLEE: And I, again have mixed feelings about this. I loved, because you were talking about how Bloody Mary was used as a boogieman, and she is totally used as a boogieman in the warehouse and it’s so cool.
JAYLEE: And I felt like another thing that was really cool is, maybe I’m just bad, but uh (laughs), a lot of times when they had the on screen ways to dodge her attacks like, I did not have enough time. Like she was attacking right as I got a half second to press it. So I never got any of those.
STACEY: Which is funny because right before that I was thinking “You know the quicktime events in this episode seem ridiculously easy.” Like, there’s no way you can miss one until you get to the Bloody Mary scene and I was missing stuff left and right.
JAYLEE: And then you have this big fight with the kind of revamped Bloody Mary monster and all her mirror images.
JAYLEE: Which was cool, but my main problem. And this isn’t to do with the story or anything is, you know, Telltale games kind of has a history with their games kind of lagging or having some technical difficulties and so when I play a game and they’re trying to make a really dramatic sequence with, like, slow motion or quicktime or anything that has to do with timing, when a game starts lagging, you know, all your work has been demolished. And that’s something that happened with the fight with Bloody Mary. That very last scene where you’re trying to grab her in your mouth as she was trying to kill you. There was a bit of lag there and so I was like “Oh, well, I’ve just been taken out of it.”
STACEY: I didn’t have that. And you play on the Playstation 3, right?
STACEY: See I play on my Mac. I didn’t have that problem here so I don’t know if that’s a Playstation 3 issue. But that’s interesting. This is also where he becomes the Big Bad Wolf, which was awesome to finally see.
JAYLEE: And then we kind of interact with The Crooked Man. He’s got his silver bullet gun and you can just kind of knock it out of his hand.
STACEY: Yeah (laughs).
JAYLEE: And so did you kill him? I’m guessing not because like me you just really want some effing answers (laughs).
JAYLEE: Umm and so from that you take him to, you don’t really get any answers here, and then you take him to the kind of trial and you don’t get many answers there either.
STACEY: That kind of makes me wonder if you can really kill him at the Foundry anyway, because what else would happen at that scene without him there?
JAYLEE: I am genuinely curious about that I almost want to replay it.
STACEY: There were a lot of points in this episode where I was like “I wonder if that changed anything.” Because we’re kind of late in the game now and if it’s going to matter it’s going to matter now.
JAYLEE: Yeah. And then you have this weird trial. That was another one of those points where it felt— part of my thought it was anticlimactic and part of me really liked that it was coming down to the politics of the situation and you have all these different people from all these walks of life. They’ve been affected by the crooked man in different ways, affected by Bigby and Snow’s policies in different ways. And I liked that, but it felt very… It felt very manufactured.
STACEY: It did.
JAYLEE: Suddenly it’s like “We’re with The Crooked Man. Now we’re with you. Now we’re with The Crooked Man again. And you’ve won the crowd.” I dunno.
STACEY: I know and that was like the only time that ever happened and it was like, “Oh, I didn’t realize this was something we’re tracking.” When did this happen? Can I ever lose the crowd?
JAYLEE: I thought it was something that they would track, but I don’t know how it would change. Maybe like they go all mob mentality and just killed him. I dunno, again, none of the answers at that point either felt very right.
STACEY: I think part of it, and again we referred to the last episode as a sort of bridge episode, and another commenter, Bleeters, drew an interesting parallel between what Snow complains about Crane doing in the first episode in the taxi where she basically says he doesn’t have a capacity for empathy and just sends her out to handle these problems and ultimately turn these poor people away but ultimately at the end of episode 4 when we really see snow come down one way or another on her politics we see her, as Bleeters puts it, she sends Bigby to send the messages to Toad and Colin because she’s busy. So for instance with Toad she’s busy talking with Bluebeard so she’s like, “You have to tell him to go to the farm.”
STACEY: As she says in her comment, “I’m not going to say she’s becoming Crane, but I would say she’s starting to act a whole lot like him even if her actions are driven from a different set of values.” Which is really interesting and I do see how that was set up in the fourth episode and I don’t think this episode addresses that well enough, in part because our choices are basically either side with Snow or be defensive. There’s no other way.
JAYLEE: I do like that it did kind of pay off. I don’t feel like it was executed as well as it could have but this is something where these issues are not something I’ve ever really seen tackled in a game and that’s really cool and I love that for what it is. It just felt kind of… a little bit messy.
JAYLEE: I felt like I was on this roller coaster trainwreck that I was kind of watching instead of actually being the character. So how did your decision to destroy the tree come back.
STACEY: (Laughs) Oh, they rubbed it in my face.
JAYLEE: I know. That was something that I was playing it and I think my boyfriend was like “Oh, Stacey’s going to hear that.”
STACEY: (Laughs) Yeah that was one of those things. He turned the crowd, I guess against me by bringing up how he had helped Auntie Greenleaf by getting the tree from the Homelands, helping her earn a living to have a piece of herself and I barged in and burned it down. And then Beauty and Beast, who I just wanted to shut up. I was like “You guys shouldn’t even be here.”
STACEY: (Fake gasp) “Why would you do that?” I was like “You weren’t there!”
JAYLEE: I know. Beauty and the Beast this episode were just kind of like—
STACEY: They just gasped and sided with whoever just spoke (laughs).
JAYLEE: They were very reactionary and I was just like “Could you guys just be quiet for a second? You are probably the least affected.”
STACEY: I know!
JAYLEE: You have to work at a sleazy inn. That’s all. I got kind of laid into for beating the shit out of Tweedle during my interrogation.
STACEY: That’s what I was wondering.
JAYLEE: And it’s one of those things where he was like “Snow was there and she’s being just like Crane.” And my response was “Actually we thought she was dead.” (laughs)
STACEY: Yeah. It’s like she was declared dead at that point. And then of course after you’ve won the crowd or whatever the ultimate deciding point is Nerissa who barges in and who can now speak freely because of Vivian’s death and gives The Crooked Man a piece of her mind.
JAYLEE: Nerissa. She’s quite a character this episode.
STACEY: She is.
JAYLEE: And she was one of my favorite things in this episode, actually. And mostly for the end reveal which we’ll get into later, but she was like “I heard it. He was like ‘kill them’ and Georgie was just doing his job.” And that’s ultimately what puts the crowd against them and it makes me wonder what’s the point of winning the crowd if Nerissa is just going to barge in anyway and get everybody on your side because Nerissa can’t die and she’ll barge in no matter what.
STACEY: Mhmm. It kept reminding me of The Landsmeet from Dragon Age: Origins. Which I’ve played a couple times and every time that’s more tense than it has any right to be. It’s also because it sets out the different endings clearly. Like you go in knowing “If you fail this they are going to rise up against you and probably kill you” and you can either choose to put different characters on the throne, and blah, blah, blah.
STACEY: And it was just like you show up with The Crooked Man and there’s people. And it’s like “Oh, I guess I’m supposed to talk to these people.” There aren’t really clear stakes other than I just don’t want The Crooked Man to get away. So it doesn’t feel quite as authentic, I guess?
JAYLEE: Mhmm. And then you have the chance to put him in the Witching Well, or rip him apart as the Big Bad Wolf, or let Auntie Greenleaf fix him. And I liked that you had that decision, and again, I ultimately think the decision was pointless when he attacks you.
JAYLEE: It was totally against everything The Crooked Man had always been. He was always calm and collected and I didn’t like it that he was suddenly like “I’m gonna fight’cha now!” And now you’re going to be forced into a decision. And I feel like, also, if you decide to kill him it kind of almost absolves you from the guilt of that decision if he attacks you. And then it’s like, what’s the point of that decision in the first place?
STACEY: Yeah. Yeah, I totally agree.
JAYLEE: Wow, we’re totally tearing into this episode.
STACEY: I know. We tear because we care.
STACEY: It’s a good season and then it was “eh.” So yeah, did you throw him down the Witching Well? That’s what I did.
JAYLEE: I didn’t, I spared him.
STACEY: I was curious to see what the tear his head off option was but I didn’t. I felt like that was kind of against everything we were trying to do this episode. So you did spare him. Did you get the option to spare him again after he tried to kill you?
STACEY: Okay. What happens?
JAYLEE: Auntie Greenleaf turns him into a crow.
STACEY: (Laughs) I love it!
JAYLEE: Yeah. She says something like “he was a way with his tongue so I decided to get rid of it. And now he’s in a little cage.
JAYLEE: So yeah.
STACEY: That seems like a very appropriate ending.
JAYLEE: Yeah, I really liked that.
STACEY: Yeah, because they do that sometimes in the comics. Bigby’s siblings, don’t they turn them into goldfish or something?
JAYLEE: I don’t know I haven’t read that far (laughs).
STACEY & JAYLEE: SPOILERS! (Laughs)
STACEY: Oh that’s so nice. Yeah, I just threw them down the Witching Well. I figured Flycatcher can deal with him.
JAYLEE: It was one of those things where I was so exhausted with the lack of answers I was getting that I wanted to. And that’s another thing I want to reiterate. It’s this murder mystery and this is the last episodes and we just kind of get the run around, you know?
JAYLEE: We don’t really get solid answers anywhere and that was really frustrating for me.
STACEY: Mhmm. And especially with the reveal with Nerissa.
JAYLEE: But first…
STACEY: But wait, there’s more!
JAYLEE: Yeah. And so immediately after that you have that kind of moment with Snow and she’s really busy. What did— did you do anything? Say anything? I said “Are you okay?”
STACEY: I think I did that too. I didn’t ask like to meet with her because I didn’t want to be that dude that ditched the line.
JAYLEE: So she hands him the keys to Flycatchers car that is going off to the farm and I really wanted to say nothing because I thought that would be more, like, dramatically, just a really nice moment. But I didn’t. I don’t know why. It was weird. I was kind of like “Uhh, I need to make a decision.”
STACEY: Yeah. I couldn’t use silence there but I used silence a lot this episode. Like especially when Snow was giving her speech during the trial I did not interrupt her. I think I used silence a lot when speaking with The Crooked Man. Like whenever he’d say something I’d be like “Nope. Just going to stare at you.” (Laughs) Umm, and I think I might have used it with Georgie a little bit. But yeah I found silence this time was one of my— I used it a lot. but one of the things when we go to give Flycatcher his keys is Toad and TJ are going to the farm despite the fact we gave them money for glamours.
STACEY: Which was kind of unfortunate. Again, considering this episode was so full of… stuff. It probably would not fit. But FreckledMasque she had an awesome theory in our comments. Basically we both gave money to Toad so he could buy a glamour last episode but she had the idea that, what if you didn’t give Toad the money he would go to The Crooked Man for a loan and it would be interesting to see how that would pay off. Which it doesn’t look like we’ll ever see that. Even if he’s a crow.
JAYLEE: Yeah. (Laughs) Well maybe if people didn’t like give him money maybe that’s what happened or maybe it gets brought up. Or maybe he’s at the trial or something. I dunno.
STACEY: Would have been a nice hook in to see The Crooked Man’s operation and how Fables do have to turn to it because we have kind of been introduced to Fables that work with The Crooked Man and Fables that don’t. And Tiny Tim we inherently sympathize with because he’s Tiny Tim. Whereas I think it might have been more satisfying for Toad to make that switch having seen first hand the poverty he lives in and his struggle and this is his only option. I think it would have been a really interesting avenue to explore and I’m sorry FreckledMasque does not work for Telltale. Because that would have been awesome (laughs).
JAYLEE: (laughs) Yeah. And then there’s the goodbye with Colin. I gave him all my cigarettes.
STACEY: Me, too! (Laughs)
JAYLEE: I was just like “Oh my god. I’m so sorry!” (Laughs). Especially considering his fate in the comics. I’m just like “Oh god! Oh god! So sorry!”
STACEY: Yeah. It was a little bittersweet.
JAYLEE: Then we have a great final conversation with Nerissa.
STACEY: Mhmm. What happened?
JAYLEE: I loved it. I absolutely loved it.
STACEY: So what was your interpretation of that. Because I left that like “What?”
JAYLEE: So, during this conversation she’s talking about how she left Faith’s head on the door because she knew Bigby would do something about it. And then there’s that part where she says “You weren’t that bad” or whatever and he kind of has that flashback moment of Faith saying it and then the doctor and everything. So my interpretation is that Faith died before the first episode started and that was Nerissa in a glamour as Faith to get sympathy from Bigby before she gave him the head.
STACEY: I’ve read that. And I think that’s what they’re going for but it just seems weird to me that… Was part of her plan to be beat up by the Woodsman?
JAYLEE: I guess so.
STACEY: Like, that just seems too serendipitous. Like, “Oh I’ll go, I’ll get beat up by the Woodsman. Toad will call the police, then I’ll get to have this moment and then I’ll put her head on his doorstep.” It’s perfect! (laughs) What could possibly go wrong?
JAYLEE: Well I feel like she would know the buttons to push. Especially being Faith’s friend and seeing as the Woodsman was a customer.
STACEY: Mhmm. But the Woodsman wasn’t her customer, the Woodsman was Lily’s customer.
JAYLEE: But they were all kind of like, in together in their little circle. The thing I like most about that is that it kind of draws this really kind of dark and really sad idea that, you know, a dead sex working is more compelling to action than just a sex worker.
STACEY: Mhmm. She has to be dead to be interesting.
JAYLEE: Exactly. You can see them on the corner and not do anything but if their head is on your door… It was just really sad but also seeing that Nerissa knew the game and knew what she would have to do to fix this problem. Like that was what I found.
STACEY: I’m going to add two things. One this is another thing that ReverieNightengale totally called was, she wondered what the significance of them both asking “Do you like my ribbon?” and “These lips are sealed.” with the same inflection meant. And it turns out they’re the same person! Another idea that I’ve read, and I’m wondering what your thoughts are is if those roles are switched and if Faith on Bigby’s doorstep is actually Nerissa in a glamour and if Faith is actually alive. Which would go with the Donkey Skin myth of her hiding in a cloak — or cloaking herself to get away.
JAYLEE: Oooh. I think that they both bring to light the same idea that I was trying to articulate and failing at.
STACEY: And The Little Mermaid is a story about transformation, too.
STACEY: I guess this dashes my hopes for season two being about Cinderella.
JAYLEE: Or maybe she’s going off to Europe and Bigby has to send Cinderella after her.
STACEY: There you go!
JAYLEE: See? All comes back.
STACEY: It does kind of make me want to play the next episode even if we did kind of rag on this one I am kind of looking forward to season 2 and how it all ties together.
JAYLEE: Yeah. Overall I had a lot of fun with this series. And the only reason that I’m so disappointed and that I am kind of like tearing into it is because I love it and because how much fun I had and how high my expectations were. And so, like, this isn’t me saying “Oh, this was shit. This undoes everything.”
STACEY: Yeah. It’s not Bioshock. (Laughs)
STACEY: On a scale of 1 to Bioshock.
JAYLEE: Yeah. I know you can do better, and I hope you succeed next time.
STACEY: I have an overall question for you. The very first Water Cooler we talked about how we were kind of wary of Snow’s characterization in that episode how she’s kind of naive to who she is when we first meet her in the comics and I was wondering, in light of everything, especially after episode four where we really had to either side with her or go against her kind of by the book rulings and then in this episode. Do you still feel the same way?
JAYLEE: I feel like this is a turning point for Snow. I feel like if the next season is still set in Fabletown, which it will be, I do think we’re going to see a lot of change in Snow’s personality. Because she kind of starts being the kind of no bullshit character in episode four but it was in a way we didn’t really want to see it, you know?
STACEY: Yeah, which definitely, you know there is value in that. I really enjoy it but it still seems kind of off.
JAYLEE: That was the thing, it just felt kind of off.
JAYLEE: So thank you for joining us on this somewhat longwinded but necessary conversation about all things Wolf Among Us. Obviously we didn’t go through all the avenues this episode so please let us know what you saw that was different, what you thought. Were you disappointed? Were you not? We’d love to hear your opinion. Join the conversation in the comments and let us know. And subscribe to keep up to date on all of our latest videos and discussions.
SNOW WHITE: Why not mention this before?
BUFFKIN: Nobody asked me!
SNOW WHITE: Buffkin!
BUFFKIN: I’m hung over, I’m sorry!