Deep breath for the title again… Batman The Telltale Series: The Enemy Within: Episode 5, Same Stitch Review.
Imagine a horrible scenario where somebody was on top of a building, threatening to jump. I would compare my approach to the crucial John Doe to Joker plot point in Episode 4 to that of a negotiator wanting the guy to jump. I pushed, prodded and poked John until he became the Clown Prince of Crime.
The consequences of my choices were clear immediately. John, now full blown Joker, and his crew had attacked Detective Bullock brutally. There was something placed into the coppers stomach with signs suggesting it was a bomb. When I removed the ticking box it was revealed to be a Jack-In-The-Box. With that we are off to the races with Telltales take on The Joker.
We are introduced properly to Joker in a great scene at Wayne Tower. Joker, Harley and their goons reveal their master plan to kill thousands in Gotham using “the virus” from previous episodes. They show, rather than tell and moments later everybody on the board of Wayne Enterprises is killed. They place a gas mask on Bruce so he can live to witness his co-workers final breaths. It’s a very powerful scene, it almost made me regret my choices. Almost.
The rest of the episode plays out as one would expect in terms of an A to B type story arc. Work out Joker’s location, take him down, save the city. There are some excellent Joker moments including a twisted dinner party where the emotions of John shine through the facepaint and new threads.
Telltales Joker origin story is phenomenal. The series has flipped a lot of conventional lore on it’s head. Thomas Wayne being a crime lord as well as Bruce and Oswald Cobblepot being childhood friends is a fresh take. The Joker story they tell is the best of the bunch. John, like his future self, is obsessed with Bruce. The whole “you and I are destined to do this forever” story is told in a different manner seeing as it is Bruce that drives the fragile John to madness. John genuinely cared for Bruce, all he wanted was a friend but Bruce had been playing him the whole time.
There is an incredible scene towards the end of this final episode. After a scuffle both Batman and Joker are both laying half dead on the roof of a building. Joker, who knows that Bruce is Batman, poses a question – “We had some good times, it wasn’t all bad right?”. Telltale remove the timer to answer the question, you have the choice to agree or disagree and are given as much time as you want. Do you try to appease John in the hopes of redeeming him or stick the knife in and double down on being a real dick to him?
I chose to throw him a bone and agreed that we had some good times. John laughs maniacally and claims that he is in Bruce’s head. Brilliant.
The season ends when we return to Wayne Manor to see Alfred all packed up, ready to leave. Alfred cannot watch Bruce risk his life much longer, it is having affects on his health. We have an emotional Father/Son type breakdown of everything that has happened since they started their crusade. Bruce says that he cannot do it without Alfred but his mind is made up.
Alfred asks Bruce why these lunatics keep showing up. When they started it was all about taking down low level street thugs, keeping the streets secure through fear of the ever-present threat of The Bat. With Harley, Bane, Riddler and Joker Alfred ponders the age old Chicken and Egg, Bat and Joker, question…does Batman do more harm than good?
It’s a similar theme to The Dark Knight. “You’ve squeezed them and hammered them to the point of desperation. In their desperation they’ve turned to a man they didn’t fully understand. Perhaps Master Wayne this is a man you don’t fully understand either.”
As Alfred is picking up his belongings heading for the door we see the bat symbol in the sky through a window and we are given a final choice. Give up the Bat so Alfred will stay or let him leave. I chose Alfred, I couldn’t let the old man leave after all he has done. The Bat is dead, for now.
In a post credits scene we see John back in Arkham with a stuffed toy of a man in a business suit. He speaks to it as if it was Bruce and points at it’s stomach claiming he’s a part of Bruce now and laughs. I expect Joker to have broken out of Arkham by the time I finish this sentence, season 3 confirmed I would say. I want to go back and play this so Joker is a babyface, I have seen images of Joker and Batman teaming up. Maybe I will just watch it on Youtube!
This is an incredible end to the season. If I had one major criticism (apart from the fact that it took seven months to release five episodes…come on) it would be that it all felt a little rushed at the end. It needed a sixth episode to really give us the Joker we have spent a year building to. That or have the turning point happen at the end of episode three so we would have four and five to really enjoy Joker. All the same, four stars!