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Recap / Life is Strange Ep 04 "Dark Room"

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Episode 4:

Dark Room

Things pick up where episode 3 left off, as Max walks down the beach with the alternative timeline's version of Chloe, dead whales and all. Between their conversation and Max's (now sparse) journal entries, it's explained that alternative Chloe was in a car accident after William got her a car for her 16th birthday. This reality's version of Max seems to be a little more of an Alpha Bitch, although she did at least stay in contact with Chloe more than the "real" Max, she's also been blowing her off in favour of partying. They watch the sun go down, before returning to Chloe's room (now located in what was the garage) and spend the night watching Blade Runner.

The following morning, alternative Chloe asks Max to get her morphine from upstairs and the player is able to explore the house and learn a bit more. It soon becomes clear that William and Joyce are in dire financial straits, trying to pay Chloe's medical bills. Rachel Amber has still disappeared, but she and Chloe never met. The more Max explores, the more she worries about whether she's done the right thing (and if she even has the right to change things back). After retrieving the morphine, she plugs it in, and she and Chloe reminisce over some photographs. Max sees the photo she travelled back with, but still isn't certain. Then Chloe asks Max to kill her.

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Alternate Chloe explains that her respiratory system's failing anyway and she knows her parents are on the verge of losing their house. The player can try stalling by having Max mention the incident with Kate, but Chloe will tell her that her mind is made up. If Max agrees, she turns up the drip and watches her fade away, if not, alternative Chloe gets angry (...technically for the first time). After deciding whether or not to deliver the overdose, Max uses the photo to go back again. She throws the photo in the fireplace and allows William to leave, as he did in the original timeline, before breaking down, sobbing and reassuring past Chloe that she'll never abandon her.

Returning to the prime universe once again, Max comes around in Chloe's room, upstairs once again, with its occupant's blue hair and motor functions intact. They apparently reconciled soon after Max's first trip back, spending the night drinking coffee and working on the mystery. Max resolves to never use that power again, or tell Chloe what happened. Max then heads downstairs, where she either sees off David or has a chat with him about his motivations (depending on whether Joyce is kicking him out). After recovering David's notes, Max and Chloe set off to gather the rest of the information they need.

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If Kate survived the end of Episode 2, Max will visit her in her hospital room. Not only will she have reconciled with her aunt and mom, but everyone in the school seems to have signed her "get well soon" card (except Nathan...), Victoria having even written a personal apology. Chloe will also apologise for giving Max a hard time over the phone call.

Either way, Max and Chloe return to Blackwell to break into Nathan's room. Not unlike the young Prescott's photography, his room is cold, dark and full of pictures of women in bondage, as well as the lamp Chloe mentioned in her story at the end of Episode 1 (and photos of her unconscious body). Max finds a phone and handwritten notes hidden behind a sofa and heads out. Unfortunately, Nathan returns just in time to catch them, fortunately Warren intervenes, returning the headbutt Nathan gave him before and laying into him when he tries to draw his gun. In yet another important choice, the player decides whether to call him off, or let him Pay Evil unto Evil. Should Warren deliver the full beating, Chloe will claim the gun, but he'll regret his behaviour, otherwise, Nathan will get up and slink off with it.

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The girls ditch Warren, and then head to the beach (still full of dead whales) to talk to Frank. In the sequence that follows, if Frank gets violent, Chloe can potentially kill both him and his dog (causing a Heroic BSoD if Max doesn't rewind), shoot Frank in the leg, or stab him with his own switchblade. If this happens, rewinding allows Max to take steps to avoid the first case, but choosing the correct dialogue either way allows them to bring Frank around and join their investigation. Dead or alive, they leave with his codebook.

Now with every piece of evidence they need, Chloe and Max narrow down their search to a mysterious barn, owned by one of the Prescotts' ancestors. On reaching it, they find fresh tyre tracks. Further investigation of the interior turns up a mysterious hatch, which leads to a bunker full of high-tech photo equipment and, yes, red binders full of photos. Chloe and Max find photos of Rachel (as well as Kate and many others) being drugged, bound and posed. Unfortunately, the final few photos show what appears to be a body being buried at the junk yard. "Mountains" by Message To Bears plays as they rush over there and start digging, confirming the worst. Chloe breaks down sobbing before getting very angry (this time, quite reasonably).

Knowing they need to track down Nathan, they head to the End of the World Party at Blackwell's pool to find him. They meet Warren outside, who (apparently drunk off half a beer) stops Max to take a selfie with him. Chloe rushes off, eager for blood, causing Max to head in to find Nathan before she does anything rash. As if things weren't ominous enough already, two moons hang in the sky.

Inside the party (featuring "Got Well Soon" by Breton, amongst other licensed music), Max gains entry to the VIP section (one way or another, depending on how nice you've been to various Vortex Club members), but Nathan's nowhere to be seen. Victoria, however, is. If Max has been nice to her, they can bury the hatchet, and she'll even believe her warnings about Nathan. Otherwise, they'll have a catty argument. Chloe finds her way in from the back, having failed to find Nathan either. Jefferson then announces Victoria as the winner of the contest as the girls leave, when Max suddenly gets a text, apparently from Nathan, taunting them that he's about to destroy the evidence.

Back at the junk yard, Max and Chloe carefully make their way to Rachel's grave, Chloe muttering threats, Max telling her to keep quiet. They dig Rachel back up, and find her corpse is still there. Realising it's probably a trap, Max backs away, only to get a needle jabbed in her neck, leaving her powerless to intervene as Chloe is shot in the head! As Max loses consciousness, the Big Bad looms over her, but rather than Nathan Prescott, it's none other than Mark Jefferson!


Tropes featured in this episode of Life Is Strange:

  • Burning the Ships: After going back to restore the original timeline, Max burns the photograph of her and Chloe she used to travel back.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: This episode and the one following are noticeably darker in tone. This is even lampshaded in one of Max's soliloquies, where she says how much she dislikes feeling so dark at the party.
  • Character Development: At some point in between their argument at the end of "Chaos Theory" and when Max returns to the main timeline, Chloe seems to have began addressing her It's All About Me tendencies, starting with contacting Max and apologising shortly afterwards.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The selfie Max takes with Warren will become important in the next episode, when Max needs to return and warn Chloe.
  • Dead All Along: They discover that Rachel was killed by Nathan accidentally overdosing her with the drugs he's been knocking his victims out with, and has been dead since she disappeared in April.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The text Max receives from "Nathan" is noticeably different from the other texts he's sent, cluing the player in on the fact that he's not the one who sent it.
    • It's possible to tell from the coordinates that Jefferson and Nathan have been to the same place at the same time (specifically, the barn). Even if you don't recognize his car's number plate, this still makes it clear that Nathan isn't acting alone.
  • Irony: Max warns alternative Chloe to be ready to yell in case she makes a mistake putting in the morphine drip. Chloe intends to ask her to deliberately give her an overdose.
  • Heroic BSoD: Chloe has two; one if she's forced to kill Frank and his dog in self defense, and one when they discover Rachel's body.
  • Kindness Button: Mentioning Rachel's photo when interrogating Frank reminds him of how much she meant to him and he gives max and Chloe his client list when they insist that it would help them find her.
  • Mercy Rewarded: If you where able to talk Kate out of her suicide attempt in Episode 2, Max visits her in the hospital. She is visibly doing much better, the relationship with her mother patching up, her art has lightened up in tone and it looks like she will make a full recovery. If you failed to save her, all you get are texts discussing how the funeral went.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • In hindsight, Chloe's attempt to shake down Nathan was this, since it turns out he specialises in drugging and kidnapping young women (and, indeed, was the one who killed Rachel).
    • Jefferson subverts this, since even though he has no way of knowing his student has Time Master powers, his MO counteracted them without leaving him any the wiser.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Chloe's ready to go on one when she finds that Nathan killed Rachel. Shame Jefferson already decided he's no longer needed.
  • Sadistic Choice: Chloe in the alternate timeline begs Max to overdose her, freeing her and her parents from the burden her condition has forced upon them.
  • Scary Flashlight Face: Mark Jefferson has one when he's revealed as the villain, courtesy of Max's dropped phone.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: Max's journal entry makes it clear that she's relieved that the "main" timeline Chloe is back, even though alternative Chloe was much nicer.
    "I've never been so glad to see Chloe in my life. The second I saw her blue hair and that beautiful pissed off face I wanted to kiss her again.note "
 
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Mark Jefferson has one when he's revealed as the villain, courtesy of Max's dropped phone.

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