Fallout Episode 3: The Head


Welcome to the third installment in my weekly review of the Fallout television show. As you will see, this episode is a bit of a filler episode. I saw another review talk about it as “moving the chess pieces on a chessboard” and I agree. Fallout Episode 3 shifts from one character or party to another in rapid succession. We get all of the mains; Max, The Ghoul, Vault 33, and Lucy. Plus, Thaddeus makes another appearance and there’s little concentration on the NPCs from episode 2.

Plot Summary and Analysis

Click here for the plot summary.

I said that the last episode hit the ground running. Fallout episode 3 crawls a bit before running. We get more background on Cooper and his family. Then, some short scenes catching us up with The Ghoul and Lucy and their quest for the head. I appreciate keeping these parts short because, as I said, not much happens.

It still looks like this might be a complete filler episode (surprising with only eight in the season) when Max works on the armor. We finally get some action with a pretty cool fight scene. I compared it to Jackie Chan, which isn’t accurate, but it’s definitely not as long or detailed as one of Chan’s. Plus, we get to see a guy’s head squish. Always welcome.

Those waiting for a Deathclaw must continue to wait. But, they give us a gulper. I never knew about gulpers because I only played a bit of Fallout 4 and never played Fallout 76. Come back in June for the “Fallout from the End of School!” The thing looks right at home in a roster of mutated creatures from the Wasteland.

Meanwhile, we get a visit back to the vault. Surprisingly, the scenes hold up against the rest of the episode mainly because Norm shows himself to be one bad mamajama. Also, I expected the entire Max and Thaddeus story to be Max simply torturing Thaddeus to get him back for all of the pain caused. Teach me to underestimate them again.

The rest of the story serves the purpose of moving those chess pieces. The ghoul keeps Lucy, presumably simply to torture her before killing her as payback for losing the head. Max and Thaddeus seem on the way to reconciliation eventually. And Cooper and his family exist happily in the past with no inclination of what horrors await them.

Character Profiles

Cooper and Family – We get more background about Cooper. He’s a softy who doesn’t even want to kill in the movie. Then, we finally meet Barb, his wife. Their daughter completes their loving family trio. What could have happened to break these two up?

Lucy – She continues her relentless optimism in the face of the horrors of the Wasteland. Her conversation with the head, often used in television shows to show that a character is breaking, actually endears her more because it’s just her thinking aloud and trying to figure out why this man asked, no begged, her to cut off his head. And, why does everyone want the grisly trophy so bad?

The Ghoul: They do an excellent job of contrasting the good nature and loving personality of Cooper with the absolute abomination that The Ghoul has become. He’s not even an anti-hero. He’s just a straight up villain. Initially, I grasped at straws to make him one of my troubled, but ultimately understandable at least, flawed heroes. Like Walter White. But, like Walter White, The Ghoul is just a monster. Leaving CXr0r like that? Screw off.

Max and Thaddeus: This development surprised me the most. I’m not sure why. I like games that are less game and more story. When discussing with a student, who I discovered watched and enjoyed the show, she mentioned that she never played the game. Just watched people play. I replied, “I’ve played the games, but I’m mostly interested in the lore and world they built. I find myself getting lost in Fallout wiki rabbit holes often.”

CX404 – Just a good girl who finds love where she can. Her loyal streak shows up again when she attacks the gulper to save Lucy and The Ghoul. Then, The Ghoul repays her by abandoning her.

World Building and Setting

We get mostly just get filling in the blanks and gaps in this episode. Some familiar sights and call backs to help heighten the realism and make us feel at “home”. But, nothing along the lines of a Filly or even the abandoned house with the cyanide family. They concentrated much more on character development and moving the plot forward. That’s not a bad thing. Just means this section is much shorter this time.

Themes and Social Commentary

Okay, but only because I’m a card carrying (do they actually have cards?) communist, this section may get heavy. I will try to keep it to a minimum, though, in case the fascists win and end up finding this page. The old ‘Merica vs. Communism (fuck yeah!) gets introduced in this episode. They make no argument one way or another. I interpreted the scene as the excesses of the American way that push people to desperate measures and they are then punished for those actions. Someone else easily could come away with “Fuck the Commie. Kill him.”

We also see a morality play in the vaults as they consider what to do with the raiders. I spoke in one of my YouTube videos about being understanding and kind (maybe to the point of naivete) so I understand the point of view of those who want to rehabilitate. With that being said, I think I vote for killing them, especially when news of the Water Chip comes to light. It’s “Us vs. Them” and I don’t owe “Them” shit.

Along similar lines, Max seeks revenge against Thaddeus for all the shit he had to endure in the Brotherhood. Then, he gets more on the story about Thaddeus and learns that the man actually respected him and felt bad for everything. Am eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind. And, that, folks, is why I usually err on the side of peace. But, I will cut a bitch for trying to take my water.

Narrative Structure, Pacing, and Soundtrack

I plan to talk more about the soundtrack in a summary episode at the end of the season. Because, at this point, all I ever say is that the music fits each scene perfectly. Nothing changes in Fallout episode 3. Especially the closing song with Cooper mugging it up for the Vault Tec commercial. For someone who got suspended on Twitter for calling Jack a silicon valley whore, that makes me smile.

Because they wanted to move those chess pieces, they shift quickly between each scene and character. I should probably give whoever said that credit. Actually, you know what? I think that might just be a tagline or AI created content. If it’s you and you find this page, let me know. I will give credit. There is precedent for this happening.

Getting back to the quick shifts, I welcome them for this episode. It kept things moving and didn’t bog us down for very long on any one story. I know it probably seems like I’m shocked at this development, but I grew up with a lifetime of shitting video game and super hero movies. I often need to pinch myself that I now live in a time where these subjects get respect and proper treatment.

The Verdict

Fallout episode 3 easily could have fallen into the trap of being “just filler”. Again, an odd choice with 8 episodes in the season, but it could have happened. I compared the show earlier to “Breaking Bad”. This episode reminds me of the fly episode from that show. What easily could have been stupid and boring may be remembered as one of the most pivotal episodes in the show.

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