Fallout Episode 8 Recap: My Echo, My Shadow, And Me

Fallout Episode 8 Recap: My Echo, My Shadow, And Me

Fallout Episode 8 brings the show’s first season to a surprising, dramatic close. Numerous plotlines converge and a sprawling conspiracy is brought to light at last.

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 Episodes 1-7, 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 wander back over. 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

The only way to begin is by beginning

Episode 8 of Fallout sets the stage right away — its title is ‘The Beginning’, which is funny because, if you remember, Episode 1’s title was ‘The End’.

Maximus is being taken away by the Brotherwood in a vertibird, staring at the two armoured Knights now watching over him. He remembers his promise to find Lucy- one more lie he told her, for which he quietly hates himself.

The Vertibird takes Maximus back to Filly, now under the direct control of the Brotherhood of Steel. There, he finds Elder Cleric Quintus, the one who assigned him to Knight Titus in the first place, waiting for him. Maximus takes a knee and presents the broken, ruined and extremely fake head he procured in Episode 7.

“You’re wearing the Knight’s red,” Quintus says, noting the Power Armour jammies Maximus has had on this whole time. Where’s your Knight?”

It’s a moment of truth, and for once, Maximus agrees to tell it, though he can’t meet Quintus’ eye. “He’s dead.”

Quintus sees right through him, noting, correctly, that this is not the first time a Brother in Maximus company has met with an unfortunate fate. As if on cue, Maximus’ friend Dane, the one hobbled by razors in their boots, limps up next to Quintus holding the fake head. They cut a slightly pathetic figure. A once-promising Squire reduced to a servant.

They scan the head for Wilzig’s hidden artefact. It is, obviously, not there. “I fear you lied then,” intones Quintus, “as you lie now.”

The Brotherhood immediately move to kill Maximus, two Knights holding him down, monks chanting last rites. Maximus instantly folds, telling the assembled mob that he can take them to the real head. His begging might not have worked if it weren’t for Dane, who bobs down next to Quintus to beg for their friend’s life. “My injury was my own doing, not his,” they tell him. I don’t think Quintus believes Dane for a moment, but he admires their loyalty to their friend and calls off his hounds.

A heart to heart

A short time later, Quintus comes to see an imprisoned Maximus. “You think you’re the first Squire to covet his Knight’s armour?” He wants to know how Titus died.

Maximus dobs him in. “He died running.” This brings Quintus no pleasure to hear. He laments the Brotherhood’s troubles, its inability to assert a grip over the Wasteland, to maintain power. He makes Maximus a deal — help him assert power and he will make Max the Brotherhood’s own sword.

“Your entire life, you’ve been looking for a home. Build one with me.”

It’s all Maximus has ever wanted to hear. And yet, there is conflict in his heart.

Take me to your leader

Lucy has finally arrived at what remains of Griffith Observatory, high above the LA Wasteland. It has been converted into a kind of fortress commune. Crops grow within its fortified walls. Ghouls and humans live together. Families scuffle around, making food, shopping. Lucy sees in this place a rusted, battered version of her own little vault — a group of people just trying to survive against the odds.

And the gunslinger followed

Ghoul Coop strides across the desert of Downtown Los Angeles with Dogmeat in tow. Though he moves with purpose, his expression is distant, vacant. He’s in his memories again.

He’s remembering the day he dropped Barb off at Vault-Tec building, a monument of glass and concrete. He tells he he loves her, wishes her a great day. He watches her as she moves away and plugs the snooping device Moldaver gave him into his ear, but just as he gets it in who should arrive but the hated Bud Askins.

Bud calls out a hello to Coop and then turns to Barb, noticing her troubled expression. “It’s my Pip-Boy,” she explains. “Its been acting strange. The transmitter’s always activated.”

Realising that, if Barb figures out where the signal is coming from, it could incriminate him, Coop hurriedly tries to leave but is waylaid by Bud yet again. Bud explains that while he has no kids, he does have a ton of staff to watch over and, to him, that’s the same thing. He explains, in brief, his Bud’s Buds program, a collection of managers that will take over each of Vault-Tec’s vaults to run the company’s experiments long after he’s gone from the earth.

At this point, Barb mercifully pulls him away and the two head into the Vault-Tec building. As they go, Coop’s earpiece starts getting interference, keeping him from hearing what Barb and Bud are talking about. He makes a fateful decision. He gets out of the car and decides to sneak into Vault-Tec in order to maintain the signal and get to the bottom of this.

Welcome to my secret, above-ground lair

Lucy is, at last, brought before Moldaver, in her chamber at the top of the Griffith Observatory. The spherical chamber that once housed the centre’s telescope is in ruins, a gaping hole exposing a view over the remains of Downtown LA. Lucy’s father, Hank, is caged against a wall of the chamber, leaping to his feet the moment he sees his daughter enter the room. Before they can share a longer reunion, Moldaver’s guards separate them again.

Moldaver herself sits at a table covered in fresh food, knife and fork in hand. Joining her is an especially rotted Ghoul, a woman, now more corpse than living person. Moldaver invites Lucy to join her, but Lucy isn’t terribly interested. Choosing to use some of that charisma stat, Lucy explains that while she’d originally planned to blow Moldaver’s whole operation sky high, she’d now rather keep things civil. Lucy makes a simple request: Take Wilzig’s now horribly rotted head and whatever lies inside it, and let her leave with her father.

Moldaver agrees, but antes up, threatening to tell Lucy who he really is. Immediately, Hank is at the bars of his cage, begging her not to listen. Moldaver’s moment of villainous exposition as arrived. “You think your father was born in a vault,” she growls. “Like you. Like your brother.”

Brain on a roomba

We’re back at Vault 31, picking up where we left off in Episode 7. Norm creeps down the entry hall of 31 toward something moving and unseen behind a stack of metal containers. Something seems to be rummaging around back there, and the sound of a radio seems to drift down the hall toward him.

Norm approaches the sound, rounding the corner to find a rather disturbing sight: a brain in a jar, cables jammed into its surface, attached to the top of a motorised platform at ankle height. The brain-on-a-roomba is trapped, banging endlessly into a broomstick that’s fallen into its path. Agog, Norm moves the broomstick out of the way to free it.

“Oh thanks Betty!” the brain chirps, before swivelling around. “Wait. You’re not Betty. Or Hank.” It quickly scans Norm. “You only share 50% of Hank MacLean’s DNA.” Realising who Norm is, the brain begins to panic, initiating something called Protocol 53. It raises a syringe like an accusatory finger and charges toward Norm, veering off course and into the stack of metal containers. Norm moves out of its way. The robot orders him to stand still and be injected. Norm keeps moving away toward the door, causing the robot to panic and spill all the beans.

“Don’t go in there! Don’t read anything in there! Or turn on the lights!” it cries, helpless to stop him. “Don’t you access the info tree or look at the terminal!”

We’ll be right with you

Returning to the flashback, Coop appears to have been picked up by a secretary at Vault-Tec and has been escorted to a well-appointed office after asking for his wife. “By the way, Mr Cooper, there’s a new guy who works with Barb. Henry. He’s a really big fan of yours.”

Coop has apparently heard of Henry, indicating he’s called the house a few times. Everyone at Vault-Tec, from Bud on down, seems to be a fan. She asks if it’s alright to bring him by to say hello. Coop reluctantly agrees and she smiles warmly, leaving him to wait. The moment she’s gone, Coop immediately plugs the snooping device back into his ear, just in time to hear a rather secret Vault-Tec meeting in progress.

Bud and Barb are explaining Vault-Tec’s brilliant plans for the future to a number of interested corporate partners — RobCo, West Tek, Big MT, Repconn. Among these corporate representatives is Robert House, owner of RobCo, who Fallout New Vegas fans will well remember. The assembled corpos accuse Vault-Tec of being out of money and looking for a handout. Bud laughs and insists this isn’t true — while rumours of peace talks have caused a drop in company stock, what Vault-Tec really wants is a partnership on its vaults.

West-Tek CEO Leon von Felden makes a good point. What happens when people come out of the vaults? Won’t they be savages compared the vault dwellers? Not at all, Bud assures them. They’ll all be dead. Vault-Tec, he says, has a plan for that — time. “Time is an apex predator. And in the event of an incident, time is the weapon with which we will defeat all of our enemies. That is how we will win the great game of capitalism: not by outfighting anyone, but by outliving them.”

The assembled execs aren’t convinced. House recalls the rat experiment alluded to in an earlier episode — if you put a collective of rats together for a long enough time, they’ll just eat each other. How are the vaults any different?

Betty receives a message on her Pip-Boy. We don’t see what it says, but we see her check it and then glance up to someone watching the meeting from the shadows, above. She immediately refocuses the meeting.

Coop desperately wants her to set them straight. She explains about her daughter — how to provide her with a better future. How to design vault societies so that children have a better future? Coop begins to relax. She’s talking sense.


Norm can’t quite believe his eyes. Vault 31 just … ends. Through the entry way door is a single darkened room with little in it but a railing and a terminal. The brain-on-a-roomba assures Norm he’ll never find out what’s going on here.

Norm presses a single button on the terminal and immediately finds out what’s going on here.

Vault 31 is a cryogenic storage facility. Row after row of cryopods house sleeping Vault-Tec management, locked in stasis for hundreds of years. “These are Bud’s Buds,” chirps the brain. “My Buds.”

The voice is suddenly recognisable: this is Bud’s brain, locked away in a jar to oversee his peons forever.

“America outsourced the survival of this country to the private sector. But it would have been insane to keep a failed nation alive, so we kept Vault-Tec alive instead.” The pods contain Bud’s own handpicked junior executives, thawed out when a new Vault overseer is required. A pod with Betty’s name on it is empty. Another pod with Hank’s name on it is also unfilled.

All Norm can do is stare at the cryo chamber, aghast.

The earning potential of the end of the world

In flashback, Barb proposes that each of Vault-Tec’s competitors take a cluster of vaults for themselves, revealing that the entire country is now a network of loosely connected vaults. Each of these vaults will house an experiment of each company’s choosing, ones that could set humanity on a course to reclaiming its shattered world. That most capitalistic ideas, the spirit of competition, put to work in the most nihilistic way imaginable.

Back in Vault 31, Norm rounds on the roomba. He demands answers. What are the people in Vault 31? Just an experiment? Mice in a lab? The brain reveals the terrible truth. The denizens of Vault 32 and 33 are also part of Bud’s Buds. A breeding pool, genetically selected to procreate with Bud’s Buds in hope of creating a class of super managers. “People with positivity!” the bot exclaims. “People who make lemonade. People who will inherit the earth after we’ve wiped the surface clean!”

It’s that last line that hits Norm like a ton of bricks, the horror of what has transpired fully dawning on him. “We wiped the surface clean?”

Back in the flashback, the competing CEOs are already spitballing ideas for vaults that they control, using their own technology. Their ideas are ghoulish, grotesque. They have no qualms about destroying lives, forcing others to live under their thumbs. Coop can’t quite believe what he’s hearing. But it’s nothing compared to what he hears next.

“There’s a lot of earning potential in the end of the world,” says House, “but we’re talking about making a significant investment based on a hypothetical. How can you guarantee results?”

Barb takes a moment to compose herself before revealing the final, awful truth about Vault-Tec: “By dropping the bombs ourselves.”

Coop is devastated. There is a ringing in his ears as though someone has fired a gun too close to his head. His mind is reeling so badly that he doesn’t hear the secretary re-enter the room and try to get his attention. He comes out of his reverie. “I’m fine, Betty, ” he says, revealing that oh god oh no we already know who the damned secretary is.

“He’s so excited to meet you!” she says brightly, bringing the aforementioned Henry into the room.

Downstairs, Barb continues to lay out her rationale. “A nuclear event would be a tragedy. But also, an opportunity. Perhaps the greatest opportunity in history. Because when we are the only ones left, there will be no-one to fight. A true monopoly.”

Upstairs, Coop meets a very important man. “Mr. Howard,” he says, extending his hand for a shake, “I’m very excited to meet you. My name’s Henry, but everyone calls me Hank.”

It’s Hank MacLean, in the flesh and around 20 years younger. Coop can barely hear a word he’s saying as he fanboys over his hero, asking for an autograph. Hank recalls a line from one of Coop’s movies, the one he was watching in the Super Duper Mart — Feo, feurte y formal. Ugly, strong, dignified.

We cut from the younger, fresh-faced Hank back to the present, old, weary, and locked in a cage.

“Your father has been around for a very long time,” Moldaver tells Lucy.

“This is our chance to make war obsolete,” Betty continues in Coop’s ear. “Because in our current societal configuration, which took shape without intentional guidance, we have friction. We have conflict, and we have war.

And war? Well, war never changes.”

I need answers

Lucy is battling with Moldaver’s words, the things she’s hearing about her father. She wishes they didn’t make a certain amount of sense. She asks Moldaver what she can tell her about her mother. Moldaver answers honestly — she was kind, caring. But she also understands that was part of why Lucy came to surface. To rescue her father, yes, but to discover exactly why Moldaver had wanted him in the first place.

As she speaks, Moldaver is taking the doohickey from Wilzig’s head and plugging into a large computer behind Hank’s cage.


Back with the Brotherhood and Maximus runs into Dane for the first time since since The Boot Incident. He’s horrified to find that they’re sending Dane to the front lines with him. “Punishment for what I did to myself,” they explain. They straighten up, look Maximus in the eye, pain all over their face. “I was just scared of going into the wilds. I had no idea they’d blame you for it.”

Maximus, for once, isn’t his usual impassive self. He claps Dane on the shoulder, suddenly confident. “I was meant to go on that mission,” he tells them. But now he needs a favour. His friend is walking into danger and he’s going to rescue her. He tells Dane about his plan to leave and live in the Vault with Lucy, where he’ll be safe, where there’s no war. Dane regards him with something like pity.

“There’s nowhere safe, Max, and there’s no leaving,” they tell him.

The Brotherhood roll out, Vertibirds full of Knights on their way to Griffith Observatory.

The truth about Rose

Moldaver is telling Lucy about her mother, Rose. She recounts a story about how, upon discovering something or someone was siphoning water from Vault 33. From that sole clue, Rose deduced that civilisation of some sort had returned to the surface world above. When she told her husband, Hank, the Overseer, Moldaver says over Hank’s rising protestations, she was rebuked. It was then she realised that Hank had been hiding things from her. So she fled the Vault, taking her children with her. She found her way to Shady Sands, Moldaver says, a city that was everything the Vaults had promised and refused to return when her husband arrived to collect her. Hank, Moldaver says, took his children by force and ensured the destruction of Shady Sands.

“That’s how Vault-Tec deals with competition, just like they did 200 years ago.”

A core memory has unlocked for Lucy. She remembers it all — arriving in Shady Sands with her mother, meeting Moldaver, seeing a working tram and public transit system for the first time.

Moldaver is finally ready to talk about what Lucy has brought her — cold fusion. The great nuclear mystery of limitless energy, solved and in her hands. The trouble is, when Vault-Tec bought her research, they made it proprietary and locked her out. In order to activate her cold fusion generator, Moldaver needs a Vault-Tec minion with the correct clearance. She needs Hank MacLean to give her the code in his head. That’s why she took him in the first place.

Hank finally loses it, bashing a chair against the bars of his cage in desperation. Lucy is seeing a side of him she hasn’t seen before. She wants to know what happened to her mother. Moldaver tells her “I think you know,” and a sweeping shot over Lucy’s shoulder reveals the rotted ghoul propped up at the table. Around its neck, grown into the rotted folds of its flesh, Lucy realises, is a gold necklace her mother water.

This ghoul, this creature now barely alive, unaware of who it was or where it is, is Rose MacLean. Lucy, fighting back tears, turns to her father and orders him to give Moldaver the code.

101097. The release date of the original Fallout game.

The cold fusion o-matic begins to spool up. This could be the most important thing to happen to Planet Earth in over 200 years.

I think we’re alone now

Back in Vault 31, Norm has decided that’s quite enough exploring for one day and bids Bud the brain robot farewell. The robot, of course, will not let him go with the knowledge he now has. Bud the brain robot suggests Norm simply climb into his father’s empty cryo pod and sleep off the years until they’re all ready to go to the surface. Or he could starve to death, up to him. Without much of a choice, Norm, stricken, walks to the edge of the railing and looks out at the cryo pods beyond.

Back at the Observatory, Hank is attempting to plead his case to Lucy. “I did what I had to do to save our people,” he tells her, denying nothing. “That woman over there, she’s no different than me.”

The cold fusion o-matic finishes its work, ready to begin Moldaver’s first test. Her hand hovers over the Test button but as she does, an alarm begins to blare. Incoming air traffic. It’s the Brotherhood. Moldaver and her people batten down the hatches, preparing for war.

Hank continues to plead. “I loved your mother, but she stopped being your mother when she left home. When she took you into danger.”

Lucy looks at her father like she’s never seen him before in her life.

The Brotherhood Vertibirds arrive, swooping over the Observatory which is ready with surface-to-air munitions. A Vertibird carrying Maximus and Dane narrowly avoids a rocket, unbalancing a Squire inside and sending him flying out the door and into another aircraft’s chopper blades.

The battle above the Hollywood Hills rages, rockets and gatling firing back and forth. Blood and steel.

“You’ve seen what it’s like up here!” Hank urges Lucy. “Everyone equally afraid, equally miserable. Forced to do horrible things to survive. I had to make a choice between their violent world and our peaceful one.”

Maximus hits the ground, fresh out of the Vertibird, and is immediately stunned by a grenade blast. He tries to shake it off. He has to get to Lucy as the Brotherhood and the New California Republic tear each other to shreds.

Coop returns

It’s a losing battle for the NCR, however, the Brotherhood’s superior firepower quickly overwhelming them. As the Brotherhood charge through hallways in the Observatory, mowing down Moldaver’s people, a shrill whistle rings out. It’s Coop, who has slipped into the Observatory in the fray.

He monologues for a moment, telling them about how he used to wear a suit of Power Armour himself (as we know) and that there was a flaw in the welding just below the chest plate. “I wonder if they fixed that in this new model?” he wonders, firing off a shot. They did not fix that. What follows is a sequence in which Coop knocks out the lights and wages war on a room full of Knights and Squires by muzzle flash alone.

Back in Moldaver’s quarters, Hank is still pleading with Lucy to go home with him. Against the backdrop of a great orange sky, she looks at her mother’s ruined, ghoulified body. The cogs in her mind are turning, but her expression is impassive.

A muffled explosion from outside the door and in walks a suit of Power Armour, notable missing a head. It staggers forward a few steps before collapsing in a heap. Through the door comes Maximus. He rushes to Lucy’s side but lost in thought, she barely seems to recognise him. Hank seizes his moment — “I’m her father! Can you get me out!”

Maximus does what he thinks is probably the right thing and blasts the lock off the cage, freeing Hank. Lucy pulls him away. They have to go, but not with Hank. Poor Max is confused. “It was him,” she tries to tell him. “Shady Sands.” The two of them attempt to reckon with this horrible knowledge before being cut off by the sound of whirring servos.

Hank has climbed into the felled Power Armour. It’s very End Of Iron Man 1, with Hank’s little head protruding from within this hulking robot suit. He trivially takes down Maximus, and Lucy pulls Max’s sidearm, suddenly holding her old man at barrel’s end. He smiles. “You’re not going to hurt me,” he tells her.

She doesn’t need to. Hank is struck by a gunshot from off screen.

“You want another autograph, Young Henry?” Coop drawls, sloping into the room. And then, to really remind Hank who he’s talking to: “Feo, feurte y formal.” He advanced on Hank who knows exactly who this Ghoul with a gun really is. “When your daughter said her name was MacLean, well I just couldn’t believe it was the MacLean.”

Suddenly, we have an understanding of why Coop might have treated Lucy so cruelly. He considered her a chip off the old block. He didn’t know.

He presses on. “I’ve waited over 200 years to ask somebody one question: where’s my fuckin’ family?” He points his gun at Hank again to enunciate the question mark.

Hank, coward that he is, takes one look at the gun and legs it, leaping out of the tower and rocket boosting away, leaving his daughter to fend for herself.

Which pretty much confirms the the absolute worst for Lucy. She turns back to Max, desperately trying to wake him up. He isn’t stirring, making a bad situation that much worse. She screams and cries, the horror and betrayal finally finding a way out.

There’s always someone behind the wheel

The job’s not done for Coop and he immediately begins the process of getting Lucy back on the straight and narrow. “War never changes,” he says, mimicking his wife’s turn of phrase. “You look out at this Wasteland, it looks like chaos. But there’s always somebody behind the wheel, and that’s who I want to talk to. That’s where your daddy is off to.”

Lucy rounds on him, snarling. “You let him go.” Coop points out that it’s easier to track a stuck pig than ask it where it’s off to.”

As she weeps over Maximus’ body, Coop offers her a choice: Come with me and find out what you’re old man is up to, or stay here with your boy and be murdered with all the rest when the Brotherhood return.

There is a long moment where Lucy looks from Coop to the gun she had pointed at her father just moments ago. The gun. The Ghoul. She takes the weapon in hand, and the gunshot takes Coop by surprise. The bullet wasn’t meant for him, but for Rose, who now slumps in her seat, finally at peace. She turns back to Maximus, holds his head in her hands. “I’ll find you,” she tells him, before kissing him one last time.

She stands, and faces Coop.

“Okey dokey.”

Cold fusion

Hours later, Maximus begins to come to. The cold fusion-mabob is ready. It’s dark now. Lucy has been gone for hours. He watches as Moldaver, wounded and bloody, re-enters the room, hobbles to the panel and strikes the Test button. As the cold fusion machine activates, Moldaver hobbles to Rose’s still body. “We did, Rose,” she tells her friend. Maximus watches through the gaping hole in the observatory sphere as the cold fusion machine begins pumping out its unlimited energy. For the first time in over 200 years, the Los Angeles grid has power running through it. What remains of the city, those parts that are still connected for power, begin to light up. For a moment, in this blasted landscape, it looks like Los Angeles never fell.

Moldaver finally acknowledges Maximus’ presence. “What do you suppose your Brotherhood would do with unlimited power?” She presses on him the importance of resistance. Of the difference between truth and power. He doesn’t have time to answer before she succumbs to her injuries and bleeds out.

Moments later, the Brotherhood arrives with Dane in the lead. “Is that their leader?” Dane asks, astonished. “You killed her!” They turn to the assembled Knights and Squires, raising his arm like a winning boxer. “He killed her!”

He tries to protest. It’s too late. “All Hail Knight Maximus!” chant the assembled soldiers. Maximus looks distraught. He is once again caught between the Brotherhood and what he actually wants.

My echo, my shadow, and me

Lucy, Coop and Dogmeat prepare to take a trip, descending past the wrecked Hollywood sign into the night.

In the desert, Hank ploughs on alone, still wearing the Power Armour, the baking hot sun rising behind him. He stumbles to the top of a rocky rise and looks out upon a golden yellow sky. Before him lies his destination: the ruined, fortified city of New Vegas.

See you in Season 2.

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