It’s the penultimate episode of TellTale Games’ Game of Thrones! We impressed Cersei, but could “A Nest of Vipers” impress us?
JAYLEE: This episode contains spoilers from Telltale Game’s Game of Thrones as well as the HBO series that it’s based on.
JAYLEE: Hello and welcome back to the Push to Smart Water Cooler. This week we are going to be talking about episode five of Telltale Games’ Game of Thrones.
STACEY: It sure is a thing!
JAYLEE: It sure it a thing! This episode is far and away the shortest and it does very little other than set up the final episode. At the end of the last episode, we collectively groaned at the sight of Ramsay, and as soon as the episode starts off, it kind of ties up basically his entire part in the series that we can tell.
STACEY: Which is to say he did nothing in the long run.
STACEY: He showed up, did some, “Hey, it’s Ramsay from HBO’s Game of Thrones!” And then disappeared and oh my god, it is the worst.
JAYLEE: It is! So yesterday I played it because I like to get it out of the way as soon as humanly possible, and I sent you a text message that was like, “Oh, you’re going to hate this introduction.”
JAYLEE: And today while I was working I got a text message and it was like, “You’re right! I hated this introduction!”
JAYLEE: It starts off—and I tweeted because I was so floored and frustrated—because the very first decision you get to make pretty much is “Are you going to leave your sword, or take your sword?” And I was like, I’m going to take my sword.
STACEY: So did I!
JAYLEE: And Ramsay’s like, “No you’re not!” And then you go and you figure out the super-hot arcer is not long for this world, and he basically gets flayed and gutted, and you get get the chance to stab Ramsay.
STACEY: Oh yeah.
JAYLEE: And I was like, oh yeah, sure, I’ll try, why not? Who cares? And it’s just like, why do you even try? Why—?
JAYLEE: At this point it’s like—
STACEY: I’ve seen Season 5! He’s alive.
JAYLEE: Yeah! It is so painfully obvious that this isn’t going to pan out at all.
STACEY: I was also thinking about this in relation to, say, Season 4 Ramsay. Which, the Season 4 arc—I think it was Season 4—was really interesting, because on one hand this character is over the top and reprehensible and totally just disgusting, but he also had this weird parody of a heroic arc, and you found yourself rooting for him to get approval from his father.
STACEY: Despite the fact that he was disgusting and reprehensible. And it added this weird kind of nuance to it, which this game’s completely lacking.
JAYLEE: (laughs) Yeah.
STACEY: And to be fair, Season 5 is completely lacking.
STACEY: But that would have been a lot more fun to play with, because it seemed like from that season Ramsay understood the way the houses worked, and it would have been nicer to see him, instead of just being a Batman villain, to kind of play the game a little bit more.
STACEY: And it just— Especially because it seems to be his exit, where’s he’s like, “Whelp, I’m done with this! You guys fight it out. It’s fine.” It’s like, that was— What was the point? So, okay, I think I’ve finally narrowed down my big problem with this game.
JAYLEE: There’s just one? (laughs)
STACEY: The big one. I have a couple. But we always joke on here, like last episode we joked about how we both got the Red Wedding sequence, and we were like… And you said, I think exactly, “Finally, my actions have consequences!”
STACEY: But that of course wasn’t the case. And I think that is the main problem, if only because… Unlike say, The Walking Dead where there’s just this continuous sense of dread and this inevitable sense of failure, and it’s kind of delicious and really dramatically satisfying, here… Game of Thrones the source material is all about powerful men making huge decisions and suffering terribly for them. And here, you are faced with decisions, but you never suffer for them.
JAYLEE: Or somebody else is making them for you.
STACEY: Yeah. If something bad happens, it is never actually in response to what you as the player have decided to do. And I found, especially in this episode, there were times where I would just know… Like with the Ramsay thing, it’s like, well, I know it doesn’t matter what I’m going to do here because Ramsay’s alive in Season 5. And it’s just that there was this sense that—which we’ve been saying all along—that my choices don’t matter, and this feels especially wrong for Game of Thrones.
STACEY: Oh, can we also talk about—? When Arthur dies, Elaena comes running in. I chose to say something like, “Ramsay did this. He’s a monster.” And Elaena’s like, “Yeah, Ramsay is here because of you.” It’s like, no he’s not.
STACEY: You brought this army here, you all episode were like, “You need to kill this guy.”
JAYLEE: Yeah. That was weird.
STACEY: This all was you two ! (laughs)
JAYLEE: I didn’t hear that one, but there was this part where he was walking up to the cart and you can look at blood on the ground, and he’s like, “Innocent blood spilled.” And I was like, no! You guys got into this! Don’t get me wrong, the Forresters definitely have a part to play in this, but everybody was kind of in cahoots to take out the Whitehills, so “innocent” isn’t the word I would use.
STACEY: Yeah. You guys went against your father to do this. But that was the first of many times where blame was needlessly thrown around to, I think, try to build some false sense of tension, and it just kind of took me out of it. Like, wait, no, no, this is not how this sequence of events occurred.
JAYLEE: This is not my fault! Did you not see the asshole who flayed the guy?
JAYLEE: Maybe it’s his fault. I don’t want to point fingers.
JAYLEE: But maybe it’s his fault. And then him and Elaena hop into bed for weeks apparently.
STACEY: I did… I wrote in my notes, she’s allowed more dignity than the actors on the show.
JAYLEE: I was thinking that. Although I loved how she’s like, “I’m just going to take this blanket—”
STACEY: “—And leave!” (laughs)
JAYLEE: “—And walk the halls.” (laughs) Yeah.
STACEY: That made me laugh so hard. It’s like, “Oh this is so awkward. I better just walk the halls in my blanket.” (laughs)
JAYLEE: (laughs) “Doo-dee-doo.”
JAYLEE: And then there’s Tuttle, and let’s just get all of his out of the way, because he was just a very small part in the episode, which was getting to know Sylvi basically, and then running into the White Walkers.
JAYLEE: You know, only having like six minutes of Tuttle wasn’t that bad. (laughs)
STACEY: Yeah, this is a lot of where the weird blame game came in. Because, at least in my game, there was a part where he walks up to Cotter, and he’s like, “First you’re a Wildling, then you have a sister? What else are you hiding?!” And it’s like…
JAYLEE: (laughs) “Family?! Ugh!”
STACEY: (laughs) Yes! Exactly!
JAYLEE: “I trusted you!” (laughs)
STACEY: When would the sister ever come up? (laughs) And I feel like a better game would have built this a little bit more and introduced a parallel between Cotter and his sister, and Tuttle and his sister who was killed in the first episode, and kind of build on that more. But no. And then I have Finn with me, and Finn is just acting really distrustful. He of course he gets killed by the White Walkers because he was optional, so you knew he had an expiration date. But there’s a point where you’re all just… He won’t sit by the fire with everybody, he’s just pacing around. And you go up to him, and he’s like, “I trusted Wildlings once and look where it got me!” And I was just like, “Okay, with a fire and shelter.” (laughs)
JAYLEE: (laughs) Yeah. Oh no!
STACEY: Yeah! The writing in this game, especially this episode, was just all over the place. You know, at this point, I just don’t care about the North Grove. We’re in episode five. There’s nothing you can do at this point. I never liked you to begin with. Just stop.
JAYLEE: And then Mira also kind of got the short end of the stick as well.
STACEY: Yeah, this was a bad episode for Mira.
JAYLEE: It started out, and I kind of loved it. I loved playing against Cersei. Because there was a very real back and forth.
JAYLEE: And one thing I really liked was at a certain point it popped up, “You impressed Cersei.”
STACEY: Yes! I felt so proud!
JAYLEE: And that was my favorite thing. I was like, yes! I impressed her by lying and telling the truth a little.
JAYLEE: And playing the game! And then later you go up against Tyrion and of course you’re kind of steamrolled.
STACEY: Yeah, you don’t really get the option of doing anything there, especially because the guard’s right there, and he barges in—
JAYLEE: I know.
STACEY: —After like one conversation choice. And it’s like, okay, well, thanks for ruining that scene, guard. I will say, also… This in addition to the weird blame game writing, there’s also I think points where the technological limitations of the Telltale engine kind of pokes through during dramatic sequences, and one of them is Cersei’s walking animation.
JAYLEE: (laughs) You know, that is so weird that you mention it, because I noticed how weird one of the random NPC’s walking was.
STACEY: Yeah, she kind of walks hunched over, wringing her hands, and then she goes to a doorway and her arms all of sudden just go to her sides and she walks through, and then it goes back to kind of hunched and like, hands together once she gets through the doorway. (laughs) The other one that really made me laugh was, you know how sometimes there’s a freeze frame when it’s changing between scenes, one of them was on Asher’s butt. (laughs)
JAYLEE: (laughs) Thank you, Telltale, for doing something right with this game.
STACEY: (laughs) But it was like, dramatic ending. Freeze frame on the butt! Okay. (laughs)
JAYLEE: (laughs) Yeah. Speaking of Asher, that entre scene with Daenerys is like, who the hell is this character? This white-haired character? (sighs)
STACEY: Yeah. So did you rat out Beskha?
STACEY: I ended up doing it. I kind of regretted it, but I also feel like, regardless of what I did it would probably end the same.
JAYLEE: Did she give you the Second Sons?
STACEY: No, she gave me gold.
JAYLEE: Oh! She didn’t give me gold.
JAYLEE: She didn’t give me shit. She just wanted Malcolm to be with her.
STACEY: Yeah. Beskha gets mad, but obviously she doesn’t leave you because there’s no deviation to the plot.
STACEY: But Daenerys does approve.
STACEY: She’s like, “Oh, she was a slave? Then that’s okay for her to do that.” So the game kind of positions it that Beskha was right in these actions. So you can either reveal her secret, or just have her back but not necessarily get this help from Daenerys. Which turns out you don’t even need the help from Daenerys.
JAYLEE: And then you go to the pit fighters.
STACEY: That was a pretty good segment, but it’s too late. Too little too late.
STACEY: Like, you introduce all these potentially cool characters, but it’s like, well, there’s only one episode left. They’re all going to die. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah, exactly. They’re all going to die.
JAYLEE: And I thought the fight sequence was actually really cool, the way you would go back up to the edge and pick a weapon and then come out and use it. But I don’t know. I’m so frustrated by everything else.
JAYLEE: And then you get on the boat and you come back, and then you switch over to Rodrik and you figure out who the spy was all along.
STACEY: She was like, “I know who the spy is!” “Who is it?” “It’s someone we trusted.” “Yes, I know. Who is it?” “It’s someone who’s like family.” It’s like, Jesus Christ, just tell me.
JAYLEE: “You’ll never guess!”
STACEY: Yeah. (laughs)
JAYLEE: “Now promise to kill them.”
STACEY: Yeah, this is so unnecessary. (laughs)
JAYLEE: (laughs) Did you promise to kill them?
STACEY: I did. And then I killed him.
JAYLEE: I did, but then I didn’t.
STACEY: Now I really want to know who it was. Was it dynamic, or is it the same person for everybody? Who was yours?
JAYLEE: It was Duncan.
STACEY: Mine was Ryland!
JAYLEE: Oh, of course.
STACEY: Whoever you didn’t choose as sentinel.
JAYLEE: And then I was really frustrated because I didn’t kill him, because I was like, information. That’s a lot more important. And then Talia’s like, “How dare you?!” And I’m like, okay—
STACEY: Oh shut up. You’re like thirteen. See, I killed him. Then I was like, ooh, wait I should have kept him for information. But then I was like, what information?
JAYLEE: It doesn’t matter.
STACEY: There’s nothing I can do that’s going to change this. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Exactly. And then we get to the first time in the game that I care.
STACEY: Yes. This is the kind of stuff they should have been doing all along as far as having you choose between Asher and Rodrik. Who did you choose?
JAYLEE: I sacrificed Rodrik.
STACEY: Me too. I wish we did different ones.
JAYLEE: It’s because Beskha was there.
STACEY: Yeah! (laughs)
JAYLEE: And she was like, “Don’t you leave me!” And I was like, I can’t do this to Beskha. She’s my fav!
STACEY: I love Beskha!
STACEY: And it was like, what are they going to do with all these pit fighters if Asher’s gone?
STACEY: And also it just made narrative sense. Like we discussed, when Rodrik and Elaena were in bed together, it was like, well, one of you’s going to die.
STACEY: And I saw it and was like, whelp, Rodrik’s going to die.
JAYLEE: Self-fulfilling prophesy.
STACEY: Yeah. Which makes me wonder, if Elaena dies if you choose to save Rodrik. (laughs)
JAYLEE: (laughs) Oh! That would be terrible!
STACEY: Because otherwise that doesn’t pay off! (laughs) But this works so much more than Ethan dying.
JAYLEE: Maybe this is a stretch, but I think this was the most difficult Telltale Game decision I’ve ever made.
JAYLEE: It was literally one where I kept switching back and forth and I basically let the game decide by having the clock run out as I switched between the two characters.
JAYLEE: Yeah, I didn’t want either of them to die. I wanted Tuttle to jump in and be like, “I’ve got you!”
STACEY: (laughs) “Iron from ice!”
JAYLEE: (laughs) Yeah! I’m still holding onto that it could have been five episodes, and you wouldn’t even have had to change much. It might have even been better.
STACEY: Drop Tuttle, drop Ethan, switch between Rodrik, Mira and Asher. This game would have been so much stronger.
JAYLEE: Yeah. Tuttle is so unnecessary.
STACEY: He is. He’s just off doing his own thing and nobody cares.
JAYLEE: The thing with Mira, Ethan, and Asher is that they’re all in contact with each other, and a lot of times, though it’s not immediate payoff, their actions are often immediately acknowledged by the other characters. Except for Tuttle. Who’s just in the north, nobody knows that he’s doing anything, he’s just being sad with Jon Snow and his new Wildling friend, and going to this mythical place that’s probably not going to pay off at all.
STACEY: Yeah, because there’s not enough time. Unless… Oh my god, what if episode six is all Tuttle?
JAYLEE: I would die.
STACEY: I would quit.
JAYLEE: I would burn this mother to the ground.
JAYLEE: Ugh. I really liked that final scene with Rodrik and Asher. It was fantastic. That is exactly what Game of Thrones should be as a video game.
JAYLEE: It should be these lose-lose situations that you actually are in control over, as opposed to just being like, pushed around every which way.
STACEY: Yeah. Well, you choose how you lose. Trying to figure out how this is different than choosing to stand up to Gryff, or to sit down.
JAYLEE: Oh, also!
JAYLEE: I maimed Gryff, he’s only supposed to have one eye, and now he has two.
STACEY: Oh, and he looked perfect?
JAYLEE: I hated it so much. I was like, my choices don’t even have artificial, cosmetic consequences.
STACEY: (laughs) Should we do choices?
STACEY: Let me pull up my choices.
JAYLEE: First choice: I and 33.1% tried to stab Ramsay Snow even though we knew it would get us nowhere.
STACEY: (laughs) Yeah. I think 68.2% have seen Season 5.
JAYLEE: Yeah. (laughs)
STACEY: And we were like, whatever. (laughs) And then I and 63.8% spared Bloodsong.
JAYLEE: Oh wow, it’s gone up like 4% since I played.
JAYLEE: Yeah, I spared him too. I was like, every man is needed for this, so.
STACEY: Yeah. But then I kicked him. (laughs)
STACEY: Did you?
JAYLEE: No, I didn’t even realize I could!
STACEY: So I and 62.6% did not tell Tyrion that Cersei sent me.
JAYLEE: I did. I figured the jig was up anyways.
JAYLEE: I was really excited to be given the opportunity, after that fantastic Cersei scene, and then it was just so immediately obvious that this was going to go nowhere.
STACEY: I didn’t say like, “No! She didn’t!”
STACEY: But I think I just gave a really roundabout answer.
JAYLEE: And then the next choice was, me and 49.5% chose to imprison the traitor.
STACEY: Ooh, I and 50.5% chose to execute him. Okay, and then the final one was we both were among the 49.1% that had Rodrik stay behind. That’s pretty evenly split. I feel like Rodrik’s the better… Well, I don’t know. He’s more of a Ned Stark type who is clearly just not meant for this world. So.
JAYLEE: I was just trying to think of like what would make a more compelling arc for these characters. And I feel like Rodrik kind of ushering in Asher worked, especially with everybody pointing the finger at Rodrik for being shitty.
STACEY: Plus, he had sex. Gotta punish him! (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah. (laughs) But maybe there’s a baby coming, and…
JAYLEE: (laughs) So yeah, this episode has the biggest high of the season, but it was also pretty meh.
JAYLEE: So last time we asked your opinion on how the game incorporates characters from the show. Codename Eagle said that they thought that King’s Landing characters have been used pretty well, but Jon Snow was unnecessary and Ramsay should’ve only pretty much been used to set up things in the first episode, and that Dany he was kind of on the fence about. I actually completely agree with that.
JAYLEE: Like, if Ramsay had just been there at the beginning and then never showed up again, it’d be cool.
JAYLEE: Takykardee—hopefully I’m pronouncing that correct—said that the canon characters disrupt the flow of the story that Telltale is “trying (?)” to deliver.
STACEY: I like the “trying (?)” part of that comment. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah. “Trying (?)”(laughs) The question mark really makes the comment.
STACEY: It does. (laughs)
JAYLEE: They definitely point out that it feels more like a marketing decision than a narrative one. I mean, I can’t argue with that.
STACEY: And then Elinn Andersson contributes to that consensus that the TV show/book characters are weighing the story down, that they’re not very well written. Which, most definitely. And there’s definitely, as they say, “potential to see other parts of their characters, stories, or their reactions to different situations … but they blew it.” Which, especially with the Cersei thing in the last episode, that was something we really wanted to see, and I felt like it was really underutilized, and I don’t know how they can recover that in one episode. So this week our question is, how can this finale possibly redeem itself? What do you want to see most? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date with our latest water cooler discussions and original episodes.