Life Is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise

Life is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise

Woah. Where did THAT come from, Life is Strange?

Throughout most of Life Is Strange, the series points to specific villains who are no doubt responsible for the tragedies in Arcadia Bay. The latest episode, however, pulls a fast one on us — and looking at the numbers, it's something nobody was expecting.

Obviously, spoilers for the latest episode of Life is Strange follow.

For most of the series, it seemed logical to blame certain people for the disappearance of Rachel Amber, and the drugging (and subsequent suicide attempt) of Kate Marsh.

It didn't seem outlandish to point to a few choice suspects. We saw Nathan Prescott shoot Chloe, and he was accused of transporting Kate at her most vulnerable. If we wanted to look at it more broadly, the Prescott family in general seems to have Arcadia Bay under its thumb; I wouldn't blame anyone for suspecting Nathan's father for being some kind of puppetmaster. Other antagonistic figures, like Principal Wells, exist primarily because of Prescott influence.

Then we have David Madsen, the ball busting surveillance-obsessed jerk who seems to bully everyone around him. While there was nothing in the game that suggested he was responsible for the more dangerous stuff, he certainly contributed to the oppressive atmosphere at Arcadia Bay.

Mostly, though, the game seemed to be pointing fingers at the Prescotts. I've been playing the game with the assumption that, sooner or later, Max and Chloe would find evidence that could bury the Prescotts for whatever they did to Rachel Amber.

And then episode 4 happened. You find the remains of Rachel Amber earlier in the episode:

Life is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise

This is the first surprise. Most of the Life is Strange theories I've seen floating around postulate that Rachel Amber is still alive somewhere. The game seemed to suggest that Rachel Amber also had time travelling powers, like Max — that's why everyone remembered her as being perfect, the theory postulated. She probably rewinded time just like Max did, in order to impress everyone. Perhaps there was a chance she was just in some other timeline, by choice? Or perhaps she was stuck somewhere? Other theories I've seen floating around pointed to how often Max spoke of the fear of getting caught in a timestream, and if Rachel Amber was drugged, it's possible she may be zonked out somewhere, unable to transport her way back. More outlandish theories I saw floating around wondered if maybe she was actually in "the dark room," wherever the hell that was. And we can't forget the possibility that maybe Rachel Amber just...left Arcadia Bay, like she said she would.

I'm not saying all of these theories are convincing. My point is this: the fanbase held hope that maybe, just maybe, we were going to find Rachel Amber, because Rachel Amber was not dead. Right? But, as it turns out, no. She is very much dead, at least on this timeline.

Somehow, this is not the most surprising thing in the episode. It's one of many shockers, most of which are delivered in the last minute of the episode.

Right after we return to the scene to make sure the body is still there, Max doubles back from the corpse, only for this to happen:

Life is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise

Naturally, she tries to use her powers...only to find out they don't work!

Life is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise

So she tries to warn Chloe. Chloe looks up, confused, when suddenly...

Life is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise

Damn. AGAIN??

Then, as you both lie on the ground — one of you drugged out of your mind, the other one almost surely dead — a figure gets closer. You look up, and though your mind is fuzzy, you can see the culprit pretty clearly:

Life is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise

What the actual fuck? Mr. Jefferson?

No but seriously though: what a twist! You go into the junkyard expecting, at worst, to find a crazed Nathan Prescott. He is the one that sends you the text message that prompts you to go to the junkyard in the first place, after all.

Life is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise

But no, it's Mr. Jefferson. What gives? While we won't know for sure until the next episode, it seems likely that Nathan and Mr. Jefferson were working together in some capacity.

This is the part where everyone goes, AHA! I KNEW IT! (And indeed, some people did in fact call it.)

But lets take a look back at the choices from episode 2, when principal Wells asks us to point fingers at whoever is responsible for Kate's suicide attempt. Here is what people voted on the PC version of Life is Strange:

Life is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise

Almost nobody votes Mr. Jefferson. Hell, I remember playing through that segment and wondering why in the world the game included Mr. Jefferson as a choice in the first place. Sure, he does respond pretty poorly when you bring up the subject of Kate Marsh to him, but at worst it seemed to paint him as an inconsiderate jerk — not a potential murderer. (And, for comparison's sake, here's how people voted on a different platform — the numbers are pretty similar.)

Here's the thing. The game has sort of been taunting us with this all along, but in very subtle and sinister ways. The first time we meet Mr. Jefferson, he gives us a lecture where he says this:

Life is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise
Life is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise
Life is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise
Life is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise

[Photo source: jacksepticeye]

I have to admit, I wasn't paying attention at all the first go-around. But looking back now, cripes, why would anyone say something like that? I'm sure that eagle-eyed Life is Strange fans will find all manner of other clues that prove that the game was telling us all along, we were just too blind to see it. Here's another big clue, spotted by Geek Remix:

Life is Strange Episode 4's Ending Is A Big Surprise

You can see Mr. Jefferson's photography around Blackwell — and you'll note that when it features a female subject, it's always weirdly sexualized. The list kind of goes on, as this Geek Remix video from back in April elaborates:

All of this to say: damn, Life is Strange. You pulled a fast one on us, and pretty successfully, too. The twist doesn't feel cheap, or poorly-constructed. Instead, it makes me reevaluate everything I thought I knew about the game.

And now to begin the agonizing wait for episode five. Argh.


Comments

    I was shocked. I wish I could feel the impact of Chloes death at the end but the precedent has already been set for speedy do overs so I can't imagine that will last long in ep 5.

      I really don't see how Max will be able to reverse time in this case. Unless she hits another parallel universe and stays there, she probably won't be able to rewind time far enough once she gets the ability back again. It seems like Jefferson either suspects Max has some sort of ability or wants to do something nasty with her (like Rachel and Kate). When I saw the photo of Nathan with Rachel, I wondered who had taken the photo. Could have been a tripod (it was in the darkroom to throw us off the scent obviously).

        I have a feeling she'll be stuck with only one photo and just enough energy to focus once. Back to the butterfly on the mop bucket where she may either jump in front of the bullett or have to watch chloe die.

        As someone else mentioned here, the photo with Warren (before entering the Vortex Club party) seems like a pretty good point to reset to, without screwing up too much.

        I thought the same thing about the photo in the junkyard. I also suspect that Sean Prescott is involved.
        I think he's been dosing Nathan with something to make him more aggressive and become a scapegoat for Mr Jefferson's activities. A prestigious photographer like Mr Jefferson seems a bit out of place in a nowhere town like Arcadia Bay, and I think maybe it has to do with Pan Estates.

    I initially thought the red herring chase for nathan was a little bit too well constructed to throw in the curveball at the last second. There is going to have to be some explaining done to tie them together to MrJ as the bad guy but I am thoroughly impressed with the story as it has played out. You can argue for the first episode having some ordinary dialogue and the odd cringe here and there but it has cleared up quite nicely.

    I was watching a friend play through the first part of the first episode and I too noticed all the nudge nudge wink wink moments regarding MrJ in the first 10 minutes alone. I am curious about replaying it now to see what else I pick up on, things like the tripod in the corner of the classroom being the same as the dark room etc as well.

    I am calling it here that the pic taken with Warren before entering the party will be the status quo reset for the final episode though. As much as I would applaud dontnod in committing to killing off one of the main characters without your having a say in it, I can settle for their approach in killing one off and letting us live with it for a half hour or so before winding back the clock

      If you saw the computer in the classroom and the dark room both used the same photo editing software..

      Wow, I think you are right. It won't be as major as the William incident because that was years ago and this will likely be a matter of hours. My concern is the storm - isn't it curious that Max and Jefferson are likely in the bunker called the 'Stormbuster' or something similar around the time the storm will hit.

        Yeah most people seem to believe Nathan and Jefferson to be working together though I found it interesting how the episode started to show some pity for Nathan, in regards to frank being less than courteous during their 'business' relationship let alone how his dad thinks he's a piece of shit and even how he took warrens beat down with shame, tears and blood. What I'm getting here is my theory. Perhaps Nathan had been involved in this somehow initially yet now has become a victim himself. I'm calling that Jefferson sent that txt from Prescotts phone after Chloe and Max seemed so adamant to know his where abouts. My wife feels that Rachel's death was an accident ( I mean he used GHB ffs!) Where as I think it was intentional and that maybe Nathan saved kate (waking outside her dorm) because of what happened to Rachel, which is why Jefferson would be pissed.

        Another note I've taken is the Vortex club and the storm. Just what is a twister/tornado. A fucking vortex! Anyway thanks for reading. Bring on episode 5. GOTY for me. I mean bloodborne was epic but this game. Oh Man...

        Last edited 04/08/15 10:23 am

        It is entirely possible the storm is metaphoric and directly related to Max and her emotional state with wild powers following the events of the MrJ/Dark room we will likely see in ep5

          Metaphoric? Possible!

          I believe you' re right in suggesting it is directly related. Given her emotional state after these events the strength and severity required for such actions, the storm seems a likely cost. Though im not sayin Max IS the storm.

          Well played by dontnod to take away our freedom in that instance as it almost a given (as previously speculated) warrens photo moment will be the return point.

            A few other mediums that have dealt with time viewing have taken similar approaches. I see the storm as Max seeing her own future or lack thereof, think of the storm as though it were a langolier destroying a timeline that either doesn't or shouldn't exist. It doesn't explain dead birds and beached whales but I find it unlikely that it is an actual physical storm.

    When he was on stage ready to announce the winner of the photo contest, something about him made me think he was involved somehow, didn't expect him to show up at the junk yard though.

      Yeah, that was really quick - Nathan/Jefferson must have found out really quickly that the girls had been to the darkroom, deduced that they had gone to check out the Rachel site, and organised to trap them by having Nathan send that text. It somewhat doesn't make sense though, since if Chloe and Max had gone straight to the police (a reasonable course of action) Nathan/Jefferson should have been spending their time removing the evidence instead of laying an ambush.

        They could be in it together. Removing evidence could have also meant the bunker, so if Nathan went there, and Mr J went to the junkyard, they would have both bases covered.

    I predict you'll use Warren's photo from before the party to go back and try again

    I may now feel as though this series is better than Donnie Darko. Anyway, Darko definitely has the better soundtrack!

    Actually, complete props to original score on Life is Strange. It's pretty fucking sweet.

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