Wow, I can't say I was expecting that. Even if you're just a fan of Borderlands -- not Tales from the Borderlands, specifically -- this is a big one.
(Warning: big spoilers for Tales from the Borderlands episode four ahead.)
A new Tales from the Borderlands episode came out today, and it kicks off with one hell of a gut punch.
While many characters from Borderlands' main canon have made cameos in Tales, very few of them have been directly affected by the rollercoaster (with a large but tasteful number of guns duct-taped to the front of it) story's events. Scooter is now the exception to that rule.
Scooter is the Borderlands series' bumbling yet beloved mechanic. If you get a vehicle in the main series, you get it from one of his Catch-A-Ride stations, which share a name with his earworm of a catchphrase: "Catch a riiiiiiiiiiiiiiide." Seriously, I remember the first time a friend and I played Borderlands 1 together. We couldn't stop saying "catch a riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide" all night. I went through the five stages of begrudging acceptance -- 1) mild annoyance, 2) extreme annoyance, 3) bile-soaked loathing, 4) saying the word "murder" 32 times in a row, 5) love -- in, like, seven hours.
Scooter is a Borderlands mainstay, endearing as he is obnoxious as hell. He's simple and sweet, charming in a podunk sort of way. He's also incurably lusty and might have had a crush on his sister once. If you think about it, he's the Borderlands series in a nutshell. But don't think about it too much. Scooter wouldn't.
In Tales from the Borderlands, he decides to come with the main cast -- Rhys, Fiona, Sasha, and co -- to space. He helps them build a rocket and everything, even after Fiona and Sasha conned him into repairing their vehicle for dimes and dust bunnies earlier in the series. Now, this is in part because he has a massive (and kinda creepy, but mostly adorable) crush on Fiona, but also he's a really nice dude. Mostly.
So, after another one of Tales' fantastic musical intro scenes, the gang makes it into space. And then, as things always do in this series, they promptly go wrong. The bucket-of-bolts ship's thrusters give out, and the ship starts getting sucked back in Pandora's gravitational pull. Translation: Certain doom.
That's when Scooter steps in. First he helps Fiona send the ship into overdrive so they can make sure it's 100 percent clear of Pandora. That's step one, and it's simple enough. After that comes step two: stop the rocket thrusters from exploding and killing everyone. Step two, as you might have guessed, is pretty important.
Two rockets means two people need to fix them. Scooter volunteers himself and Fiona for the job, and Fiona -- already out of her seat and aware of the fact that she is staring deep into oblivion's burning eyes -- decides to just go with it. Scooter whisper-mumbles, "Step three is us making out." "What?" Fiona's voice jumps up three enraged octaves. "Uh, nothing," says Scooter.
They climb outside and go to separate wings of the ship. Scooter informs Fiona that she has to do two things to deal with the rocket: press a button and pull a lever. Problem: the button is behind two rapidly clamping doors, because of course it is. "NO," Scooter bellows as Fiona nearly gets her hand caught. He advises her to be quick. Playing as her, I timed my button press just right and narrowly succeeded. After that, I handled the lever. Phew. Cake.
I climbed over to the other side of the ship, and that's when I realised why Scooter shouted "NO." With a smile so weak that it looked like all of his jaw muscles sank when his stomach did, Scooter greeted Fiona, one hand stuck in a rocket. Colour drained out of her face as the reality of the situation dawned on her. "Go on! Pull the lever," Scooter urged as other characters shouted at us that the rocket had gone critical. I tried to plead with him that there had to be another way, but his reply was -- much like every other word ever to come out of his mouth -- frank to a fault: "Even if there was," he said, "we're out of time."
"Now, don't you go feeling sorry for me, alright?" he continued. "People on Pandora'll be talkin' about ol' Scooter for a long time."
Then I got a choice prompt. Three options: 1) hug, 2) shake hands, 3) step three. You'd better believe I picked step three.
Fiona gave Scooter a kiss on the cheek. He smiled. Seconds later, he turned away. "Aw now, go on," he said, practically saddling up on the rocket. "I gotta catch a ride."
And that's exactly what he did.
Back aboard the ship, everyone was completely silent. Eventually, someone piped up: "What now?" I had two options: stick to the plan or honour Scooter. I picked the second. He'd brought a holographic space billboard contraption with him -- "There's no ad space better than outer space," he joked -- and I decided to launch it then and there, even if it made the evil Hyperion corporation notice us, potentially making our mission a lot more complicated.
I got to pick what it said.
In a series usually known for its humour, it was one hell of an emotional moment. I felt pretty bad about it, too. I'd spent basically the whole game walking all over Scooter, thinking, "Wow, he sure is gullible and nice. We can USE HIM." I never really got to pay him back for being so kind. I didn't even let him launch his holographic billboard himself. I was playing in a coffee shop, and well, that was a weird place to shed a couple tears over a video game character.
Catch a ride, Scooter. Catch a ride.
We still don't know who this guy is. He definitely doesn't sound like Scooter, but... Maybe? I hope not, because it would tarnish a powerful moment, but it's the Borderlands universe. You never know.