Push to Smart Water Cooler: Tales from the Borderlands – Episode 2

Welcome back to the Push to Smart Water Cooler! Today we’re revisiting Rhys and Fiona on Pandora. Does episode two measure up to its fantastic predecessor? Transcript under the cut!

STACEY: This episode contains spoilers for Tales From the Borderlands.

JAYLEE: Hello and welcome to the Push to Smart water cooler. This week we are going to be looking at the second episode of Telltale Games’ Tales From the Borderlands. We really liked the first episode, so we’re just going to get right into there. Ended with a bit of a cliffhanger with the appearance of Handsome Jack, and then it just goes right on from there. So what did you think of the second episode?

STACEY: I really liked it. I don’t know if I laughed as much, but I still laughed a lot. I really came away from this wanting to play the Borderlands games and know more about that world.

JAYLEE: Yeah. I definitely felt that way, particularly with Handsome Jack.

STACEY: Yeah. There’s a whole mythos there that we’re just scratching the surface of.

JAYLEE: Exactly. Like you said, this one didn’t make me laugh as much. The very first thing that you have to do basically is pop an eyeball out of…

STACEY: Oh my god!

JAYLEE: …A possibly dead guy.

STACEY: It was one of those scenes like, I found the spork and it was like, oh, I know what I’m going to do with this. But they’re not really gonna make you do that, are they?


STACEY: They can’t, no. (laughs)

JAYLEE: (laughs) I really like how they played with the different characters. At least… I mean, really it only happened in the very first section, where how something that would happen with Rhys would influence, for example, you accidentally stabbing the eye as opposed to scooping it out.

STACEY: Yeah. (laughs)

JAYLEE: And I kind of wish that it would have played a bit more with that but there weren’t really that many opportunities to.

STACEY: Yeah, and there’s that revelation at the end of the scene that that guy might have been alive the whole time. (laughs)

JAYLEE: I kept on wanting him to wake up and freak out.

STACEY: To wake up! That’s what I really thought was going to happen. As soon as I found the spork and she was approaching him with it, I thought his eyes were going to fly open.

JAYLEE: And I’m not sure that would have been hilarious or terrifying.



STACEY: I like that they left it just like, no, let’s just not think about it. Nope, just not gonna do it. We’re just leaving. (laughs)

JAYLEE: (laughs)

STACEY: It kind of goes along with that attitude you mentioned in the first episode how they’re like NPCs and everybody else is story.


STACEY: This episode definitely raised the stakes a lot, because both Rhys and Fiona are wanted by very important people.


STACEY: But there’s also the sense that those stakes are so impossibly huge to them that they don’t really understand it. And there’s this sense of them just wanting to get by.


STACEY: Just like, you know, no, we’re not even going to deal with this. We’re just gonna leave. (laughs)

JAYLEE: We’re just gonna move on.

STACEY: On to the next thing.

JAYLEE: I didn’t think it was as funny, but I do think that it actually did a really good job of raising the dramatic stakes and tension.


JAYLEE: Particularly with Fiona and Sasha.


JAYLEE: And Vaughn to a lesser degree. But I really liked the moments where they were kind of bonding-slash-angry reminiscing about Felix.

STACEY: Me too.

JAYLEE: And it made the very end very tense for me because I was… You know, coming from The Walking Dead, I keep on expecting them to just pull the trigger.


JAYLEE: And just make you deal with it. But I was like, no! And then it just very much leaves you on a cliffhanger of what is going to happen. (laughs) What kind of grenade was that?

STACEY: Mhmm. Yeah. (laughs) And it was like a perfectly timed encapsulation of the tone of the series.


STACEY: Where the big cliffhanger is a mid-conversation cutoff of them debating whether or not that dramatic thing they did actually worked.


STACEY: You know. (laughs) Yeah, I think that’s so far it’s biggest strength that it seems to have a very consistent and strong sense of what it is, as opposed to, say, the Game of Thrones game, which feels kind of all over the place trying to capture whatever magic makes the show work. This definitely seems to understand what Tales of the Borderlands is and what makes it tick and what makes it so enjoyable. For the most part.

JAYLEE: That being said, I think overall I didn’t like this episode as much. The first episode was so strong, and so good. But, I mean, it is only the second episode.


JAYLEE: And I’ve known from Walking Dead Season 2 that it’s not always high highs. (laughs)

STACEY: Yeah. But I enjoyed this one pretty much the same. I mean, it didn’t have the same novelty as…


STACEY: …As the first episode did, when it’s all, oh my god! Telltale’s not all grim and dark anymore!


STACEY: But I still… I thought it for the most part it flowed very well. I think it had some of the same problems in the sense that when it had a weird shooting segment injected into it.


STACEY: Where you have to shoot out the windshield… This is one of the few Telltale games I play on the console. And so you hit the trigger button to shoot, which you do in every other shooter on the console, but the reaction doesn’t feel like a shooter and it’s very strange to play and not at all enjoyable. (laughs).

JAYLEE: Yeah, that was something that I noticed this episode which was a little weird, was when you actually hit the triggers, the cursor would stay on there a little while after, so I’d hit the button and then I couldn’t hit the button, but there was still like the circle, and I was like shit, what have I done…

STACEY: Like, did I do it? Yeah!

JAYLEE: Yeah! That just really kind of… I feel like the biggest problem with this particular episode was the pacing, and that really didn’t help the pacing of the action sequences. So that’s why to me those segments, like shooting out the window or trying to grab onto somebody’s hand, didn’t really work as well.

STACEY: At the same time, though, I don’t feel like it affected my enjoyment of the game overall as much as, say, a lot of the glitches in Game of Thrones did.


STACEY: I’m curious though. So the episode obviously starts out with the discovery of Handsome Jack, scooping out eyeballs, and they immediately get separated. Where did you choose to go?

JAYLEE: I actually went to Hollow Point to meet up with Sasha.


JAYLEE: What did you do?

STACEY: I did Old Haven.


STACEY: I did it by accident! So I’m glad we chose difference choices! (claps)

JAYLEE: Me too!

STACEY: I want to know what happened when you went to meet with them.

JAYLEE: Well, they didn’t really show up until the end, and Loader Bot came and took care of you when you were being chased by Athena.

STACEY: Oh, so was Rhys also being chased by Athena, or was that part still Fiona and Sasha?

JAYLEE: That was Fiona and Sasha. But they were saved by Loader Bot. What happened in your playthrough?

STACEY: Rhys, Vaughn, and Loader Bot were not there. Which I have to say… (laughs) When they’re being chased by him, I think it’s Vaughn that goes “Loader Bot!”

JAYLEE: (laughs)

STACEY: And it’s… (laughs) And it was the perfect delivery. Yeah. It felt exactly like how I was feeling.


STACEY: Like, it’s Loader Bot, guys! I love Loader Bot! (laughs)

JAYLEE: I was thinking at the beginning of that episode, when Vaughn was speaking I was like, he is me right now.

STACEY: (laughs)

JAYLEE: He’s like, “There’s so many things that could kill me, and I’ve never felt so alive!”

STACEY: (laughs)

JAYLEE: And I was like, yes. I agree, Vaughn.

STACEY: Though, did you… Sorry, I’m getting us so off-topic already. Did you scan Loader Bot using your robot eye to see his greatest fears?

JAYLEE: No! I kept trying to find an opportunity to, but I never did.

STACEY: Oh! Well you get it in Old Haven.


STACEY: His greatest fears are like clowns, but then… Being left to rust, uneeded, while everyone else moves on.


STACEY: (laughs) Loader Bot!

JAYLEE: Oh, that’s sad!

STACEY: I’d never do that to you! (laughs)

JAYLEE: He was the only one that I couldn’t scan.

STACEY: So, since I had them go to Old Haven, the Sasha and Fiona segments… It’s just them.

JAYLEE: So how do you get out of the situation with Athena?

STACEY: Oh, I wonder then, ‘cause… Did you go back to Scooter’s garage, then?


STACEY: With her?

JAYLEE: Not with Athena.

STACEY: ‘Cause Athena’s dating one of the garage’s owners.

JAYLEE: What?!

STACEY: Yeah! Um, I forget her name. But it’s revealed that her girlfriend works at the garage, and she’s pursuing this… She’s picked up her assassin’s work again without telling her, and so she… (laughs) …Is trying not to blow her cover. And so she looks at you and she’s like, “No, of course I’m not working anymore. Our relationship is more important than that!”

JAYLEE: (laughs) Oh man! I’m so sad I missed that!

STACEY: So you have the choice to cover for her. (laughs)

JAYLEE: (laughs)

STACEY: And be like, “Oh, no, it must have been somebody else!” (laughs) And then you leave. You just drive out. (laughs)

JAYLEE: Oh my god! That would have been much better!

STACEY: I can’t believe you didn’t get that!

JAYLEE: Well, what happens is Loader Bot shows up and then he literally throws Athena halfway across the city. And then, you know, the guy who has Fiona and Rhys stops and is like, “Loader Bots can’t do that. That’s impossible.” And she’s like “This is my story.” And he’s like, “Okay, continue.” And so she like… It’s kind of like one of the Team Rocket moments.


JAYLEE: Where they’re blasting off.

STACEY: (laughs)

JAYLEE: But yeah! I really wish I would have seen that version of it! Crap!

STACEY: We did have a version, something kind of like that happened, where she jumps onto Sasha’s motorcycle as she’s driving, and then Rhys interjects, “Yeah, like that happened.” And she’s tells him to shut up.

JAYLEE: Yeah, that happened too.

STACEY: Oh, did you have that also?


STACEY: Yeah, it’s pretty great because then also Athena’s yelling at you not to go to the garage, and she throws that shield she’s using into the garbage.


STACEY: Because it misses you. And she walks in like “Oh yeah, this is totally normal!”

JAYLEE: (laughs)

STACEY: And as you’re driving off you have the option to take the shield out of the garbage! (laughs)

JAYLEE: Oh did you?

STACEY: Did you get that?


STACEY: Yeah, I did. Originally I did it as like, let’s just take it and run but Fiona jumps out and goes, “Hey Athena! Thanks!”

JAYLEE: (laughs)

STACEY: And drives off with the shield. (laughs)

JAYLEE: Oh! Dang it! I really wish… I feel like that would have made my entire enjoyment of the episode better. I felt like there were a lot of dry spells for the humor in place of like the action sequences.

STACEY: Really?

JAYLEE: Like that action sequence I felt needed a bit more levity. And Loader Bot kind of helped, but not really. And yeah. Dang it! That sounds awesome!

STACEY: That kind of disappoints me now, because now I’m worried it’s not going to pay off as much as I was hoping it would later when we encounter her again, since you had the option to not even see it.

JAYLEE: Did you endorse Scooter?

STACEY: Yes I did.

JAYLEE: Did you keep your dignity?

STACEY: No I didn’t. (laughs)

JAYLEE: (laughs) I did. Because I was like, you know what? If it was Rhys, he’d do it. But I feel like the Fiona that I’m playing would probably draw a line at being… At finishing his slogan. And then we get to Felix’s place and you get your gifts. Did you look into the box?

STACEY: In Sasha’s?


STACEY: No, I did not.

JAYLEE: Yeah, neither did I. I wish I had, though.

STACEY: Yeah, me too.

JAYLEE: Especially because I was just like, oh, she’s just going to open it. And so I’m gonna know anyways.

STACEY: Mhmm. Yeah.

JAYLEE: But nope.

STACEY: That was my thinking exactly. I hope somebody in the comments tells us what happens. (laughs)


STACEY: One thing I want to say in that box, though, you get another bullet for the gun.


STACEY: Which I didn’t get a chance to use my gun before that point. So it looks like my saving my one bullet from last episode didn’t mean anything.


STACEY: Which I kind of expected, but…

JAYLEE: And it was also kind of weird because, when Sasha was getting really upset at Felix’s place and she said something off hand, somebody said something about how he’s still alive, and I was like, woah!


JAYLEE: That’s not what I did!

STACEY: Not in my game! (laughs)

JAYLEE: Yeah! But then they kept going, “But I did shoot him.” Then they mentioned how he wasn’t alive. It was just one of those things where like, the flaw in the choice recognizing…

STACEY: Yeah. Something didn’t trip.

JAYLEE: Yeah. It just kind of took me out of the game a little bit.

STACEY: Yeah. So when I went to Old Haven first, Rhys and Vaughn obviously not there for any of that stuff with Fiona and Sasha.


STACEY: So I just get to walk around Old Haven hooking up machines, which was admittedly a little bit boring.


STACEY: But then August shows up. Where does he show up in your game?

JAYLEE: Him and Vasquez show up together.

STACEY: Ooh! That did not happen in my game.

JAYLEE: Yeah, it looked like they were having a little “league of evil” team up. (laughs)

STACEY: Mhmm. (laughs)

JAYLEE: And then at the end…

STACEY: A lot of plotty stuff.


STACEY: Did you trust Fiona at the end, or did you go with Handsome Jack?

JAYLEE: Oh, I totally trusted Fiona!

STACEY: Me too.

JAYLEE: Why wouldn’t I trust Fiona?

STACEY: The reason I chose to trust Fiona was a) I wanted to see what she was going to do, and b) the last scene with Handsome Jack ended with the discovery that he could control Rhys’ arm.

JAYLEE: Yeah! And I was worried about giving him too much control.

STACEY: Yeah. Which is also kind of weird that then he disappeared after that revelation.


STACEY: Yeah, so that’s why I did it, and I’m wondering if that pays off more at the end of the episode if you choose to trust him, or if that’s something we’re going to learn about more in a later episode.

JAYLEE: Mhmm. I’m not trying to shit on the game or anything, I still am having so much fun with it, but I just loved the first episode so much, it’s probably inevitable that I was going to be slightly disappointed in the second one. And I am absolutely looking forward to the next episode. I’m just hope there’s… Like I said, there were some pacing issues and some odd control decision-making wires getting crossed that kind of ruined the flow for me, so…

STACEY: Well I liked it.

JAYLEE: Well… (laughs)

STACEY: (laughs) Thanks for joining us!

JAYLEE: So let’s get on to choices!

STACEY: Woo hoo!

JAYLEE: So, doing the intense opening sequence where you don’t really have a backdoor and there’s a shootout going on, did you have Sasha help Rhys or did you have Sasha help you?


JAYLEE: Yeah, so did I.

STACEY: Yeah, 79.1% of players did today.

JAYLEE: Fiona was very much like a… I don’t know, I feel like she’s very capable, as opposed to Rhys.

STACEY: Mhmm. Yes. (laughs)

JAYLEE: So, that was my, kind of like, I got this. It’s cool.


JAYLEE: And what about… Oh, and you said that you got the Maliwan brand…


JAYLEE: That was 49.6%.

STACEY: Oh, it’s gone up. It was 49.5% when I played this morning.

JAYLEE: Well maybe I’m that 0.1%.

STACEY: Maybe you’re the 0.1%.

JAYLEE: (laughs) And obviously you and I did not peek into Sasha’s gift—most people did not, 81.1%.


JAYLEE: So hopefully there’s an 18.9%-er in the comments section who can let us know what it is.

STACEY: I almost wonder if she just interrupts you.

JAYLEE: Probably. (laughs)

STACEY: (laughs) This is Telltale.

JAYLEE: That’s the easiest solution to the problem. And then the kind of odd choice: which ammo did you use when you shot Finch?

STACEY: Shock damage.

JAYLEE: Oh, I did corrosive damage, ‘cause I was hoping that it was going to, like…

STACEY: (gasps)

JAYLEE: Burn a hole in him.

STACEY: Oh, yeah! Like Raiders of the Lost Ark-style melt his face?

JAYLEE: Yeah, but it didn’t.

STACEY: That would have been awesome.

JAYLEE: It just made him cough. (laughs)



STACEY: How many… When I played, it was 29.9% did shock damage. How many did Raiders damage?

JAYLEE: 31.4%.

STACEY: Oh! That’s a lot of disappointed people that wanted some face melting.

JAYLEE: Exactly!

STACEY: So when I played, I and 81.6% of players told Vaughn about Handsome Jack. What did you do?

JAYLEE: Me and 81.5% of players told Vaughn about Handsome Jack.

STACEY: (gaps) It’s gone down!

JAYLEE: I know, in like, hours’ time.

STACEY: Yeah, that’s amazing!

JAYLEE: (laughs) I feel like Rhys isn’t the type to keep a lid on things.


JAYLEE: That’s how I’m playing him. Like a bumbling guy. So.

STACEY: You obviously chose Hollow Point. I chose Old Haven, and only 32.9% chose Old Haven.

JAYLEE: Well that’s gone up since last, because for me it was 67% chose Hollow Point.

STACEY: Oh, interesting!

JAYLEE: And that’s 67% of people who are disappointed to not see that brilliant Athena scene, apparently. (laughs)

STACEY: Yes! And then, I’m guessing we both brofisted Vaughn, and by proxy Loader Bot?


STACEY: Oh because it says that you and 90.6% of players did.

JAYLEE: Mhmm. Yes. Although I was really tempted not to because I’m sure there was probably going to be something great if I left him hanging, but I just couldn’t!

STACEY: (laughs)

JAYLEE: I couldn’t bring myself to.

STACEY: Did you trust Fiona?

JAYLEE: Of course I did. Yeah.

STACEY: Yes you did! Me too! And 65.4% of players did.

JAYLEE: Oh, and that 0.1%, apparently, that made is 65.5%.

STACEY: 0.1%!

JAYLEE: And here’s another problem that I have with Tales from the Borderlands. And it’s interesting, in way, because when I was playing Games of Thrones, I felt like… Obviously something that I said in that episode was that the choices didn’t seem to matter. And when you looked at the end, choices were heavily skewed one way or another for most of them.


JAYLEE: And to me when I was playing it, that felt like that showed hat they were kind of poor choices, because in The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, most of the time they were pretty evenly split.

STACEY: Mhmm. Both felt like valid choices.

JAYLEE: Mhmm. But, you know, when I was thinking about it, first episode of Tales From the Borderland also had similarly shewed choices. And the first episode it worked for me and then this episode it didn’t work as much. And I can’t really quite put my finger on what… where the magic happens, you know, where that happy medium is.

STACEY: Neither can I, ‘cause I like this episode. (laughs)

JAYLEE: But you didn’t like the Game of Thrones episode, which had similarly skewed.

STACEY: I didn’t. Mhmm.


STACEY: Well I think part of it might in Game of Thrones there always seemed like a right answer, as far as compelling the story forward, whereas here I wonder how much of the choices are based just on “I want see something funny happen.”


STACEY: So I’m gonna choose to trust Fiona.

STACEY: That does it for the discussion of Atlas Mugged. Now we want to know what you thought. Specifically, did the skewed results surprise you? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to join us for future episodes.

RHYS: Did you get stung by bees?

VAUGHN: What? Why? What’s happening?

RHYS: Because you’re looking all swoll!

RHYS: Swoll!…en. Swoll… swoll is…

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