Fallout Episode 2 Recap: I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire

Fallout Episode 2 Recap: I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire

Fallout Episode 2 continues to set the stakes for episodes to come, even as it puts its central cast on an inevitable collision course. We begin to get to know our heroes, what makes them tick, and what they really want. Second episodes are tough, and Fallout Episode 2 has some stumbles, but it mostly gets it right. Below, you’ll find our full recap of the entire episode, with a few thoughts interspersed.

You can watch all eight episodes of Fallout on Prime Video. It’s already streaming in full.

Straight up, if you don’t want spoilers for Fallout‘s pilot episode, do not read anything that follows this top line of text. I mean it. I am going spoiler bonkers below. Like any episode recap, this is a yarn for people who have either seen it and want a little extra insight, or they just want a digest of what happened in the episode. If you’d prefer not to cop any spoils, please watch the episode and then come on back. I’d love to see a proper discussion in the comments.

If you’d like to catch up on our Fallout episode recaps, you can find each one listed below.

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Image: Kotaku Australia

Episode 2 begins with When I Think Of You by The Ink Spots, and starts in an unlikely place: a womb. We watch a puppy born (designation CCX40) and cared for while others, even from its own litter, are incinerated for not weighing enough. We are in an Enclave facility, and its here we properly meet Dr. Wilzig (Michael Emmerson). We watch this puppy grow into a dog, mostly under the watchful eye of Dr Wilzig. She is there when Wilzig installs a flashing little pill in his neck that will see him sought by the show’s many competing characters.

Things take a turn when Wilzig’s self-experiment is interrupted by another scientist. Apparently he’s done something very naughty indeed, which causes the other scientist to attack him. CCX40 fully eats that guy, the show once again shying away from the horrific violence it craves in favour of having it play out off camera.

Adapt or die

Back in the Wasteland, Lucy continues her journey as Bing Crosby’s Don’t Fence Me In plays. She treks over the seemingly infinite dunes of what used to be Santa Monica State Beach, now sand and rusted ship hulks. We get a short montage of firsts: she’s startled by a passing tumbleweed, a reminder of how unprepared she is to make her way in the Wasteland. She encounters the rusted remains of a service robot, something she’s never seen before. An old house begs to be explored, its fine china curiously unsmashed by the multiple successive nuclear blasts and years of harsh environmental decay. The family that lived there still sits around the kitchen table, their corpses long decomposed. Vault-Tec brand poison sits on the table before them, next to a tea set. This family chose to die and took their children with them.

Perhaps this was too grisly a scene for Lucy to stomach because, rather than camp in the house for the night, she chooses to sleep on the sand. She’s woken in the night by a low growling, coming face-to-face with CCX40. Lucy worries the dog might be about to attack her, but instead it leaps past her into the dark, tearing into a Radroach that had been creeping up on her. It’s at this moment that Dr. Wilzig decides to emerge from the gloom to introduce himself.

“Before the war, people joked about cockroaches surviving a nuclear blast. But they didn’t just survive. They improved,” he tells her. He gently scolds Lucy for lighting a fire after dark, as though she should know better. She doesn’t, of course, because she is baby. Sensing this, Wilzig urges Lucy to return to the Vault. “You come from a place of rules, of laws. This place is indifferent to all of that. I do not think you have what it takes to survive up here.” He tells her that if she plans to stay on the surface, like the Radroach, she too will have to adapt.

“The question is: will you still want the same things when you have become a different animal altogether?”

Having neatly encapsulated Lucy’s entire character arc to come, he buggers off without another word. “Who are you?” she calls after his retreating back. He does not answer.

Maximus in flight

Maximus and Knight Titus (Michael Rappaport) are getting to know each other on a helicopter ride to a town called Filly, where it’s believed Wilzig is headed. Titus quickly establishes himself as a galactic-tier shithead who responds to Maximus’ friendly icebreakers by removing the codpiece from his armour, tossing it to his new Squire and telling him to clean it. Titus also appears to be a violent sort, baldly stating that he’s bored and wants something to kill. Apparently letting his intrusive thoughts win, he grabs Maximus, tucks him under his arm, and leaps out of the chopper, long before they’ve reached their destination.

The chopper does not wait for them, heading off. They are now alone in the California desert.

A brief scientific interlude

We get a short scene with Wilzig now, pausing with his dog companion near an overgrown cave. CCX40 happily wanders into the cave while Wilzig exercises better judgment. The dog returns with a severed hand in its mouth, and it seems reasonably fresh. A cursory look around reveals a lot of bones nearby. Something has been living in this cave.

Ok back to the boys

It becomes immediately clear that what we just saw was a flashback. Maximus and Titus enter the same cave area as Wilzig, but he is long gone. They know he was there, though. At that moment, there’s a noise from inside the cave. A nearby sign reads Hazardous Waste, indicating no-one should enter.

They do go in there, though.

Titus orders Maxims to venture further into the cave while he stays behind. “This suit is earned through acts of bravery. This is an act of bravery.” He also calls Maximus a dipshit, along a cavalcade of other insults. Titus, of course, is a scared little weakling who doesn’t want to go in there and is sending a kid to do his dirty work.

Before they can move much further, however, they meet the cave’s denizen — a yao guai. For those that haven’t played the games, that’s a large mutated black bear. The yao guai gets the jump on Titus, who promptly shits himself and runs for the hills, tripping on a rock as he goes. He tries to play dead, but it doesn’t matter. The yao guai is on him and ripping at his armour. He calls to Maximus to help him in a panic.

Maximus, braver than this knight, does help, opening fire on the creature and killing it. He moves over to the felled Titus, removing his helmet to reveal the frightened, fragile white guy within. “The Wasteland SUCKS,” he bawls, “The clerics too!” The attack has broken Titus’ nerve. He’s mad and rambling, blaming the yao guai attack on everything from Maximus to passing butterflies. Maximus considers his options. If he wanted to kill Titus and take his armour, there would be nothing Titus could do to stop him now. He remembers the heroic sight of the armour he saw as a child, and compares it to Titus. He makes his decision.

“It is a Knight’s duty to better this fallen world. You don’t deserve that armour.”

He’ll bring Wilzig back himself. If you want something done right, you’ve got to take the Power Armour and do it yourself.

Meet the locals

Back in the Wasteland, Lucy comes upon a dilapidated old house. In the front yard is a man with no pants bashing a doohickey with a wrench. She approaches to say hello but does so with her tranq gun pointed at him. He doesn’t seem to mind.

The man seems a bit addled, which is probably the best condition you can hope to be in in a place like the Wasteland. He also seems to be a bit of a dim bulb. He tells Lucy he’s been filling his water filter with sand, and can’t figure out why there isn’t any water coming out. She suggests putting water in the filter. He looks at her in a way that suggests all three brain cells are working very hard to understand. He asks her if she has any water. She does and, being the neighbourly sort, she offers him a sip. He downs the lot as she watches on, stunned.

Unsure what do make of this strange man, Lucy asks him if he knows if there’s a town or settlement nearby. He points her in the direction of Filly. We now have at least three characters all headed for Filly. A collision course has been established.

I liked this scene a lot because it felt like an actual NPC interaction in a Fallout game. The person you’re dealing with is absolutely batshit, you have to make a small gesture to win their trust even if it costs you, and eventually you extract useful information about your next quest step. A respectful golf clap to the writers. Flawless execution, perfect dismount.

Knight Maximus

Titus is dead and his armour now belongs to Maximus. Trying on the armour for the first time, we’re treated to a short sequence straight out of Iron Man, as Maximus attempts to get to grips with his chunky, powerful new exoskeleton. Power is the word here — this is power Maximus has never felt. For someone who has plainly felt powerless their whole lives, the moment is a dizzying reversal. He knocks a house down with a single kick, revelling in the destruction. Immediately, we get a feel for what drove Titus and why he might have been such a dickhead.

As the montage winds down, Maximus hears screaming. Investigating, he comes upon two men in a protracted fist fight. Maximus pulls them apart to find out what the hell is going on. One of the two men, a foppish travelling salesman, immediately begins jabbering his thanks, grabs a beaten briefcase and hightails it out of there like a true Bethesda NPC. The other man rises to his feet to explain.

“He was fucking my chickens.”

The road to Filly

Lucy comes upon a half-buried plane tail onto someone has etched “Filly” and an arrow as a signpost. The trek takes her out of the desert and into the forest — presumably the Hollywood Hills — and she bumps into travellers walking the same trail. None of them seem interested in talking to her though, eyeballing her Vault Dweller attire and keeping a wide berth. The path ahead of her widens to become a kind of ramshackle market street, full of people, wares and street food. “Fresh iguana!” a vendor calls after her. He doesn’t recognise a photo of her father and immediately goes back to yelling about dog meat.

Through a short series of tunnels, Lucy finds her way into a hidden city that resembles Fenway from Fallout 4 and Megaton from Fallout 3. Made out of corrugated metal and whatever else the locals can find to bolt together, it is a little pocket of dirty humanity in an endless desert. It’s also a bit of a lawless place — fights break out in the street, everyone feels a little guarded.

As Lucy gets her bearings, the camera pivots. The Ghoul, Cooper Howard, is already here. Two of our major players have arrived in Filly. The plot convergence has begun.

Lucy heads to a nearby store, dodging a two-headed Brahmin as she goes. Various Vault Dweller items hang on hooks and shelves inside the store. A Pip-Boy, a Vault Boy bobblehead (this is the second or third one I’ve seen in two eps. Are they spottable easter eggs like they are in the games?) and other items can be seen for sale. Lucy strikes up a conversation with the store owner, who seems open to chatting, right up until she mentions the name Moldaver. The guard goes up, and the shopkeep is no longer so friendly, telling Lucy to leave.

“The Vaults were nothing more than holes in the ground for the rich folks to hide in while the rest of the world burned,” she snarls. For a woman selling Vault-Tec gear in her store, she sure does seem to loathe them.

Dejected and defeated, Lucy leaves the store, bumping straight into Wilzig.

Three of our key players have now arrived in Filly.

The store owner emerges to meet him. “You Wilzig? Lets get you inside.” It appears that in addition to her business, she’s also in the business of underworld connections and human smuggling.

As if on queue, all hell breaks loose. The Ghoul rises to his feet and moves toward Wilzig. Hearing he’s been guaranteed safe passage, The Ghoul’s first move is to blow Wilzig’s leg clean off at the knee. Just like accidentally desk-popping an NPC in a Fallout game, the whole town turns on The Ghoul and shit kicks off. This commences a fairly brutal sequence that mimics the game’s famous VATS system, The Ghoul eyeballing his foes in slow motion before tearing through them. He’s lethal, experienced. We’re watching a hardened bounty hunter at work. Even taking multiple shots to the back doesn’t seem to slow him down. He doesn’t even appear to feel it.

Using the fray to her advantage, Lucy darts back into the store to get a look at their books. There, she spies Moldaver’s information. Her course is set.

The firefight outside continues, indulging in a bit of gore for fun (though not a huge amount, squirmers you may not need to look away). What The Ghoul doesn’t count on is CCX40 getting involved, lunging at him to protect Wilzig. He makes a move he’ll come to regret, and knifes the dog to get her out of the way. Wilzig watches, helpless, and wails for assistance.

Lucy hears Wilzig from inside the store. We get another shot of a Vault Boy bobblehead (hmmm) and a look at a very interested weapon mounted on the wall.

As Lucy emerges from the store, The Ghoul’s horrible work appears to be done and now he’s cleaning up. Despite the confrontation and the violence before her, she remains calm and polite with the man that now has a gun pointed at her. An attempt to shoot him with the tranq gun does nothing.

A roaring sound and Maximus, fully clad in Titus armour, lands in town. It’s a very Iron Man entrance.

The plot convergence is complete. All four of our major Wasteland players are now in the same place. Shit kicks off immediately: The Ghoul goes to shoot Lucy, but not before Maximus lunges in front of him to protect her, getting them both thrown through a wall. His mask opens and she gets a good look at him — in the chaos, a moment of honest flirtation. Though unspoken, she likes what she sees. He disappears back into the armour to continue his rampage.

Maximus unfortunately still doesn’t have full control over the armour, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still wreck shop. He turns the armour into a wrecking ball, plowing through anything in his path as he fights to reach The Ghoul.

Amid the confusion, the shop keeper hauls Wilzig inside with Lucy and orders her partner to find them a new foot. Another older woman brings them a metallic, hoof-like device that will apparently cauterise the wound and give Wilzig something to stand on. It does this by running his ragged stump through a concealed grater. It sounds way worse than it looks.

Wilzig’s plan to sneak through Filly unnoticed is now well and truly out the window. Out of options, he turns to Lucy, the only hope he’s got, asking her to take him to the shopkeep’s client, the one who wants Wilzig. Lucy asks who that could be and gets her answer — Moldaver herself.

This will derail Lucy’s search for her father, but it will get her close to Moldaver. She curses for the first time — “Gosh damn it” — an indicator that the Wasteland is already having a corrupting effect on her. She agrees to go with Wilzig.

Outside, Maximus is still battling The Ghoul, and he’s getting tired. As Lucy tries to leave with Wilzig, Maximus is forced to take his eye off The Ghoul. It’s a mistake — in lunging for Wilzig, he gets himself stuck, creating an opening for The Ghoul to leap on him. The Ghoul takes advantage of Maximus’ unfamiliarity with the armour, cutting important lines, causing his booster jets to fire, flinging him into the distance, and rendering the armour inert.

In this renewed fray, Lucy and Wilzig slip away unnoticed. As they hurry away from Filly, they are pitched on serums by the Chicken Fucker.

Together for but a few minutes, the party has been split again.

The Ghoul realises his prey has gotten away from him. Frustrated but undeterred, he begins the next phase of his tracking journey, but not before taking pity on the dog. He gives the wounded animal a stim to perk her back up. A Ghoul he may be, but he’s not a monster. His new pet in tow, The Ghoul sets off to catch his fleeing bounty.

A different animal altogether

Lucy and Wilzig are hurrying across the LA desert when he suddenly pulls her up and orders her to leave him. Lucy, being the bright-eyed American hero she was raised to be, can’t abide a quitter. She gives him a rousing, inspirational speech about perseverance and triumph over adversity.

She needn’t have bothered. He’d already downed a cyanide tablet. “It was the most humane product Vault-Tec ever made,” he says. “Quick. Painless. Tasted like banana. I was surprised it wasn’t more popular.” This is just one more way the Wasteland effortlessly undercuts her patriotic worldview and renders it absurd.

Wilzig asks for an incredibly bleak favour. Wait for him to die and then cut his head off below the neck. Take his head to Moldaver. She’ll know what to do. Lucy tries to get Wilzig to stay with her, but the cyanide does its work. He goes mid-conversation, and she doesn’t even realise until it’s too late. She straightens up. Looks around.

No-one here. And there’s nothing else for it. If she wants to find her dad, she’s going to have to cut this nice man’s head off.

She cuts his fucking head off.

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