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.
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:
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 traveling 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:
Naturally, she tries to use her powers...only to find out they don’t work!
So she tries to warn Chloe. Chloe looks up, confused, when suddenly...
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.