This week we return to Pandora for Tales from the Borderlands Episode 3!
All aboard the RhysxSasha train. Choo choo!
Full transcript under the cut.
STACEY: This episode contains spoilers for Tales From the Borderlands.
JAYLEE: Hello and welcome back to the Push to Smart Water Cooler! This week we’re back for more Tales From the Borderlands with episode 3, Catch a Ride. We were very positive about the previous episode, Stacey a little bit more than I.
JAYLEE: So, you know, we’re going into this pretty optimistic. Would you say this is as good as the previous episode?
STACEY: I mean, it was really good. I found this episode, some of the action set pieces…
STACEY: Like, the set pieces themselves were really fun, but a lot of what you actually did in them, it stuck out to me a lot more and I think the point that… What I narrowed down was the problem for me was, the character would give you instructions diegetically to explain what you’re doing in the universe. But those would not necessarily coincide with what you have to physically do.
STACEY: So for instance, one of the very first puzzles sections—what I thought was a puzzle—was when there’s those motion-detecting guns, and Rhys says something to the effect of, “You have to make sure you throw your hat at the right time.” So I’m thinking, okay, this is a puzzle where I have to look at the lasers and figure out the timing. It is not! It’s a quick time event.
STACEY: And it took me three tries to figure that out.
STACEY: And it’s like, that’s totally in line with what Telltale usually does, because it’s all just quick time events, but that wasn’t what Rhys was telling me to do. Like we’ve talked about in previous episodes how it’s had issues with the prompts staying on a screen a little bit too long and not really giving you the prompt feedback as far as what your input is, so that I felt like weighed it down a lot more than previous episodes, because there was a lot more of it.
STACEY: Both the beginning and end. But everything in between I loved.
JAYLEE: I think that this was probably the best episode since the first, as far as just the level of fun with the cast and execution-wise. I laughed a lot, sometimes I laughed so hard that I thought I was going to miss things.
JAYLEE: So that’s good! And that’s what I’ve been coming to this game for.
STACEY: (laughs) It was a really funny episode.
JAYLEE: So, end of last the episode we both trusted Fiona, there was a big flash grenade, and they kind of make their way to the big shootout that’s happening, and Vaughn gets zapped and paralyzed. You guys eventually make it out where you meet Vallory, who has been spoken of but hasn’t made an on-screen appearance yet that I can recall, and then pretty early on you’re faced with your first choice. Which there aren’t that many! It definitely felt like there was less key moments, but that also ties into something that I want to talk about, about the episode.
JAYLEE: But your first big decision is who you’re going to place the blame for everything fucking up. Who did you blame?
STACEY: Oh, I blamed Felix!
JAYLEE: Vallory kill anybody over that?
JAYLEE: Did she kill Vasquez?
JAYLEE: Okay, good. Because I pointed the finger at Vasquez, and he died as well.
STACEY: Oh, okay.
JAYLEE: Okay, interesting. So he was definitely meant to die. I figured if you blamed her son August she wasn’t going to kill him, so I figured it wasn’t going to be one of those…
STACEY: Oh, she’s his mom?
STACEY: Oh, so much makes sense now.
JAYLEE: (laughs) Yeah, I feel like that was one of the semi-throw away lines that I caught.
STACEY: Oh, okay.
JAYLEE: After the big shootout, after Vallory and Vasquez and everything happens, you finally get some alone time with the Gortys sphere and you activate it. And it’s, surprise, Ashley Johnson.
STACEY: Oh my god.
JAYLEE: Super cheery. Favorite character. (laughs)
STACEY: Oh my god. And I love the relationship that it has with Loader Bot.
JAYLEE: Yeah! Me too! And there was that part in the very beginning where she’s like, “Okay! Let’s go!”
STACEY: Yeah! (laughs)
JAYLEE: And she’s tugging on Vasquez. For me, Fiona was like, “Oh, he’s sleeping.” And she’s just like, “Oh, we should let him rest then!” I was almost crying laughing so hard.
JAYLEE: It was so good and the delivery was perfect.
STACEY: She’s amazing.
STACEY: What I chose to do there, I didn’t want to say he’s dead, so I said, “Oh, he’s having stomach problems” because he was shot in the stomach.
JAYLEE: Aww! (laughs)
STACEY: And she’s like, “Oh, I can see that now!” (laughs)
JAYLEE: (laughs) But I love that they introduced this new character and she just fit in and meshed so perfectly.
STACEY: We also meet… Athena comes back in that scene too, doesn’t she?
JAYLEE: Yeah! That’s right. She clears up the misunderstanding that she was hired by Felix, which I’m very confused, because I was almost certain in my episode that he blew up.
STACEY: I think he’s the guy in the mask. (laughs)
JAYLEE: I totally think he’s the guy in the mask! And that bothers me because I was so certain he died! (laughs) I was starting to feel like it was and then there was that moment when Fiona was like, “You’re wearing a mask, so you probably know us.” And I was like, oh, yep.
JAYLEE: It had this really long montage…
JAYLEE: That paused just a little bit just so you could have a moment with Handsome Jack. Which, at this point I don’t get why we should care so much. It feels like they’re really trying to do something with Handsome Jack, who can really save the day, but every time I’ve put my faith in something other than Handsome Jack, there’s been no fallout that’s made me think, oh man, I should have trusted him. There’s supposed to be this tension here, but it’s not really working for me.
STACEY: I wonder if it’s for people that played Borderlands games. If it’s like how we feel when we play the Game of Thrones games. Whenever Ramsay comes onscreen, it’s like, hey! HBO! Every Sunday at 10!
JAYLEE: (laughs) Yeah.
STACEY: If it’s that kind of effect it has. Like, “Hey, it’s that guy from that game!”
STACEY: I don’t know if it has more resonance with someone who’s played the other games, or perhaps if you do decide to side with him, if maybe there’s a little bit more going on. I mean, Given Rhys’ design in the present-day framing narrative, I’m guessing something serious happens with him. Because his eye’s a different color…
JAYLEE: His arm is super shiny.
STACEY: Yeah, so I’m guessing something goes down later with him.
STACEY: But for now, like you said, the fact that there’s no major fallout or consequences for not signing on with Jack, that is a little troubling. It seems like a missed opportunity.
JAYLEE: When you’re trying to get into the dome, there’s actually this really interesting moment that I never really picked up on the whole Rhys and Sasha thing.
STACEY: Yeah! Me neither!
JAYLEE: But as soon I was given the opportunity to, I was like, yes! (laughs)
STACEY: (laughs) Yeah, I wasn’t sure how to play that, because I wanted to play him as kind of terrible at it.
JAYLEE: Mhmm. Oh, me too! He’s totally awkward and weird.
STACEY: Yeah. But then when you had the option a little bit later to give her the flower, I was like, okay, I really want to see where this goes. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Me too! (laughs) Yeah.
STACEY: It’s reassuring to hear that you also felt that this was kind of sudden…
STACEY: Because I was really surprised when it popped up. But I was willing to go with it. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah. It didn’t feel like, oh…
STACEY: Bonnie. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah! (laughs) How dare you mention Bonnie in my presence?
JAYLEE: But no, because Sasha’s already such a strong character on her own, it didn’t feel like they were just trying to pair her up with Rhys for something to do.
JAYLEE: And since they already have such an interesting dynamic of he’s kind of bumbling and she’s so capable, I just… I really liked it. A lot more than I thought I would.
JAYLEE: So, yeah, you meet up with Cassius, you get Vaughn unparalyzed. Which at first I thought it was really funny, but the more it went on I was like, uh, this is making me feel uncomfortable.
STACEY: The fact that he was paralyzed, or the whole scene getting him unparalyzed?
JAYLEE: The fact that he was paralyzed.
STACEY: Oh, yeah. I was going to say, it did lead to my favorite line in the game. (laughs)
FIONA: Oh hang on there, Doc. If that is your real name.
CASSIUS: It’s not, and I never said it was.
JAYLEE: Yeah! (laughs)
STACEY: That made me laugh so hard!
JAYLEE: It felt like not much happened, but there was so much between the characters that just clicked…
JAYLEE: …That it was just so enjoyable. Like Fiona and Athena. Fiona kind of trying to come to terms with that maybe she’s more than just a thief, maybe she’s more than just an NPC! Maybe she’s a vault hunter!
JAYLEE: I know!
STACEY: Meta! (laughs) I wasn’t sure what to do with her in that case. I didn’t want to commit to, “Yeah, vault hunting!”
STACEY: But I didn’t want her to wallow in her NPC-ness forever, so I did struggle a lot with those dialog choices. How did you deal with that?
JAYLEE: I kind of played it down a little. But yeah, and I thought it was interesting how they had that precognition…
JAYLEE: I just thought it was kind of weird, suddenly choosing between two different things, and you weren’t really sure what was going on in either of them. But it felt like it was supposed to be this big moment for the character.
STACEY: Yeah, and it seemed like there was one choice that always was the better one. Like, overwhelmingly. So there was never a sense of, “Oh, I better try this,” or like, “Oh, which one’s best for my character?” It was like, well, this one clearly is going to end in a game over, because that’s her doing exactly what we just did and failed at, whereas this one is more in tune to her character and it seems like it won’t end with her dying, so we’re going to do that one.
JAYLEE: Did any of them end with game overs?
STACEY: I don’t know, but it looked like… To me, going in, it looked like they should. Please let us know in the comments. (laughs)
JAYLEE: (laughs) It kind of took a surprisingly serious tone at the end.
JAYLEE: When Vallory came in and basically kicked the shit out of them.
JAYLEE: And got Athena knocked out. That scene with Athena and Fiona against Vallory, I was so ready for this triumphant, like, “We’re tossing the shields between each other.”
STACEY: Yeah. “We’re vault hunters now!”
JAYLEE: Yeah! But then when it didn’t work it clicked and it was like, of course it doesn’t work. We’re just NPCs. These are the big guys. The way that they did failure in the episode was so dramatically satisfying that I didn’t actually mind it. Obviously I don’t want Athena to get knocked out and dragged away by other vault hunters, but the way that it played out it felt so true to what we had been building up to and what we have been thinking about these characters as far as their status in the overall world, that… I don’t know, I just really liked it!
STACEY: Yeah, it was kind of a moment of, “How dare you try to raise above your status as an NPC and do something heroic?”
STACEY: Vallory doesn’t shoot her, she throws her gun at her and she can’t pick it up.
STACEY: It’s like she’s just totally out of her league at this point.
JAYLEE: I don’t know why, but that struck such a chord with me.
STACEY: Well that’s awesome!
JAYLEE: It was just one of those lightbulb moments where, what we’ve been talking for the past two water coolers about how they’re NPCs and how they’re just kind of getting in people’s way. And they’re kind of these annoying flies, and in this episode they got swatted out of the way.
JAYLEE: And I’m really interested to see where they go from there.
STACEY: Especially because I feel like this is the first time the framing narrative gave us… I don’t know… glimpses of something more sinister lurking in the background. Like, it’s usually used obviously for humor, and then it’s just kind of a, “Okay, and then he did this.” And we got a few more kind of weird blips of character moments between Fiona and Rhys, where Rhys seems to be really affected by something, but it felt like there was a heaviness to it that there wasn’t normally.
JAYLEE: And then there were just, you know, these great little funny moments, like when Fiona pulls out the eye and she’s like, “I knew this would come in handy!”
STACEY: Oh, yes! (laughs)
JAYLEE: And Athena’s like, “This is not normal!”
STACEY: That’s like such a video game thing to do, though, you just carry everything with you forever.
JAYLEE: Yeah, and they just pull it out of their back pocket.
JAYLEE: Overall, I really liked this episode.
STACEY: Me too. I really think it was just the weird feedback things and just some of the diegetic instruction for game action could use some tweaking to actually coincide with what you’re doing.
JAYLEE: After the shooting sequences of last episode, I’m just… I feel like as long as we didn’t have those, I’m good.
STACEY: Mhmm, right. But at the same time, it was like… I felt like the last Game of Thrones episode had really good action sequences. Which I was not expecting. And so I was hoping maybe they’d learned something, but this one just… And it relied so much on the action sequences to bookend it, and the actual set piece of fighting on the truck was really inventive, and really well-choreographed to watch, it was just playing it was a bit of a chore.
STACEY: Which is unfortunate. But other than that, really fun. On that note, let’s talk about choices.
JAYLEE: Alrighty. So Fiona: the very first choice. I chose Vasquez, and that was 15% of players.
STACEY: And I chose Felix. I don’t have my percentages in front of me, but I think it was also pretty low.
JAYLEE: And then I talked Athena down from killing Cassius. I’m not sure if he can actually be killed, but me and 61%…
STACEY: He can’t, because I agreed with her.
JAYLEE: Oh, and you killed him?
STACEY: Because you get interrupted by Vallory’s attack.
STACEY: But he has this little like, “I accept my fate,” and then it’s like slow-mo, and then boom! Everything explodes. But yeah, it was kind of… It wasn’t like Fiona saying, “Yes, I think this is a great idea.” But she words it in such a way that it’s like, what would you do if this happened between you and your sister? And I felt like because they buily so much of a relationship between Fiona and Sasha, that it was like, okay, I think this is the avenue that makes the most sense here, that would be most dramatically satisfying.
JAYLEE: And then I kind of regretted it later in the episode, but me and 18.6% of players let Vallory help me up.
STACEY: Me too.
JAYLEE: Yeah. That was one where I wasn’t exactly sure if that was a choice.
STACEY: Yeah, exactly, and I’m not sure why they counted it or if that will pay off in the future, or if they’re like, “Well, shit, we need to count three for each, so…” (laughs)
JAYLEE: (laughs) “We can’t let people know how few choices there are!”
STACEY: Yeah. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Alright, so for Rhys, me and 63.3% of players refused to work with Jack.
JAYLEE: And then, the next one, me and 30.5% of players gave Sasha the flower.
STACEY: (gasps) That’s low!
JAYLEE: I know!
STACEY: I’m surprised!
JAYLEE: Why aren’t people shipping this?
STACEY: (laughs) Oh no!
STACEY: Don’t say the “s” word!
JAYLEE: Yeah. And then our last choice was me and 57.9% of players refused to let go of Sasha. (laughs)
STACEY: (laughs) Including me.
JAYLEE: Over the two-foot drop.
STACEY: That was great.
JAYLEE: That was brave of us. I’m proud.
STACEY: Yeah. That was an amazing payoff. I feel so sorry for those of you who decided to let her go, but I also really want to know what happens because I bet would be funny too. Even though I kind of got hooked up on the gamey parts because that’s how it ended, Gortys and Loader Bot are so funny. They are just so funny and so loveable! And I am so sad I didn’t have enough credits to buy Loader Bot the suit and tie paint job.
JAYLEE: With a little mustache! (laughs)
JAYLEE: I was like $200 short or something.
STACEY: Oh no!
JAYLEE: And I was like, there’s gotta be something around here I can buy or something!
STACEY: I know, and if you look at the box it looks like it’s full of money and it looks like she just grabs one wad of cash, let’s go back!
JAYLEE: So that does it for our thoughts on episode 3, Catch a Ride, and now that we’re halfway through the season, we want to know who your favorite character is. Let us know in the comments section below, and don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date with all of our latest episodes and water cooler discussions.
FIONA: It came in handy.
ATHENA: That is so weird. You carrying that around is the weirdest thing I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot.
FIONA: It is not that–
ATHENA: Oh my god! Yes. Yes, it is.