(Warning: spoilers for approximately the first half of the episode are contained within)
The penultimate episode of Tales from the Borderlands provides us with both hilarious and heartbreaking moments in equal measure, but Escape Plan Bravo is not without its flaws.
Escape Plan Bravo starts off right where Catch A Ride concluded, with our motley crew being separated in two, with Vaughn and the mysterious scientist heading in one direction and Rhys, Fiona and co. being captured by Vallory and her gang. Plans are immediately laid out for the journey to Helios and the retrieval of Gortys’ beacon, which would allow the robot to hold the Vault of the Traveller in one place for our heroes to enter.
Here the player can opt for Rhys to go to Handsome Jack for help with locating the beacon within the space station, but apart from that, the plan is already laid out for the player. Next to Scooter, who would provide the rocket ship essential for our gang reaching Helios alive and intact. Again, not much is left to the players choice here, except from getting Athena’s partner to help Scooter make the rocket ship, which will work no matter what you choose to say to her.
Rhys is clearly the focus of the episode, and arguably the series so far, and this can be both a blessing and a curse. In this episode he gets a great early scene in which he retrieves the severed face of the previously deceased Vasquez, but while his character and voice acting from Troy Baker are nothing short of fantastic, you can’t help feel like the series has devoted a heap of time to him while leaving other character on the sidelines. This was particularly evident in Escape Plan Bravo, as barely Loader Bot or Vaughn made an appearance at all.
Then comes the opening credits montage aboard the rocket ship, and as good as they’ve been throughout every episode of Tales from the Borderlands, this is truly the peak of the mountain. The music by Jared Emerson-Johnson is once again flawless, and the scene provides a great view on how far the characters we know have come since the opening episode, even if Vaughn is once again left out of the fun.
However while on the spaceship, we get the first real gut-punching moment that Tales from the Borderlands has arguably lacked so far. While repairing the boosters on the outer hull, Scooter gets his arm stuck within the rocket, and orders Fiona to detach it, sending him hurtling towards Pandora’s surface, and surely to certain death. The series to far has felt like it lacked any impact in the larger universe its a part of, and so to have such as well-renowned character die in such a way really gives it an emotional edge.
Once our crew are on the Hyperion space station, all hell breaks loose. Rhys, in disguise as Vasquez, discovers that Yvette planned to sell out both him and Vaughn to Hyperion, and was working for Vasquez the whole time. He then has a tough time avoiding Yvette and breaking into the system, while Fiona poses as a tour guide to gain access to Handsome Jack’s office. I won’t spoil anything further in the plot at this point, but I will say the entire thing becomes slightly messy, and one comic scene in particular feels entirely out of the place in the grande scheme of things.
While I also won’t spoil the ending of Escape Plan Bravo, I will say that it definitely feels like a climatic moment in the series, and things should get very interesting in the final episode depending on the choice players make. However I can’t help but feel like the entire thing ends in a very awkward place, rather than the obvious cliffhanger Telltale were going for. Instead, the finale is surely left with far too much to do at this point, considering that whatever happens, we still have to make it into the present day with Rhys, Fiona and the masked man.
A number of characters are also painfully absent from Escape Plan Bravo. Vaughn literally gets one, off screen line throughout the entire thing, and we still don’t know his whereabouts or what he is up to. Loader Bot, the unwitting comic genius of the entire series, doesn’t fare much better here, having only a few, albeit very funny lines during the spaceship sequence, but isn’t seen again throughout the entire episode.
Escape Plan Bravo undoubtedly advances the plot of the Tales from the Borderlands series in huge swathes, but in doing so, forgets that it has a huge range of fantastic characters to draw from, instead choosing to focus on Rhys, Handsome Jack and Fiona. The episode ends in an incredibly awkward way, leaving the finale way too much to wrap up in one go. Escape Plan Bravo is well paced and worked out, but ultimately trips up on its own feet trying to accomplish too much.