Fallout Episode 4: The Ghouls


You know what you’re getting from us. Decent content and inexplicable two week hiatuses from that content. The end of the school year always kicks my ass and this year is no different. But, I’m back with Fallout Episode 4 and a plan to finish the series by the end of June and our celebration of all things Fallout. No sign of Max or Thaddeus in this episode because it concentrates on The Ghoul, Lucy, and Norm.

Plot Summary and Analysis

Click here for the plot summary.

As mentioned above, this Fallout episode 4 concentrates on a smaller list of characters. This allows them to advance two main narratives; what happened in Vault 32 and Lucy’s trek to find her father. Thought, if I’m being honest, this part of that trek feels more like a side quest than a main quest. That’s not bad, mind you. Because, it serves to develop Lucy’s character a little bit. But, more on that in the next section.

Norm and Chet stumble upon the remnants of Vault 32. Surprisingly, this is where most of the plot of the series develops. They learn that the residents of the vault, driven mad by something, most likely either killed themselves or each other. In some cases, maybe both. When Chet theorizes that the madness drove them to let in the raiders, Norm corrects him. They opened the door from the outside.

Then, the biggest bomb of the episode. They used Rose McLean’s (Norm’s and Lucy’s mom) Pip Boy to open the door. Does that mean that she’s still alive? That she’s worked with the raiders? I mean, she could still be dead and they stole her Pip Boy. But, they seem to be setting us up for the fact that she’s still alive.

Character Profiles

The Ghoul: He continues to show himself to be a completely selfish individual who sees everything and everyone around him as tools to be used to advance his own goals. I was wrong. He didn’t want to kill Lucy. Instead, he wanted to use her as a bargaining chip to get more vials. I know I should hate the world for what they made him, but I just find myself hating him. Maybe they can redeem him eventually.

Lucy: She fights against the monster that the Wasteland wants her to become. A couple of times, back against the wall, she succumbs to the darkness. She never intentionally hurts anyone, even purposefully missing when shooting at the Super Duper Mart burn outs. She bites The Ghoul’s finger off, but I feel nothing but contempt for that shit bird. Additionally, she often atones for her acts or the reasons for them are egalitarian. Unlike The Ghoul, who is just a cartoon villain at this point, Lucy’s character has layers.

Norm: Betty says the quiet part out loud. Norm is one bad mamajamma (hush yo mouth) and he proves it by staking out Vault 32 and coming out with the reveal of the episode. He reminds me of myself when I play the games. Always searching. Always questioning. Never satisfied with the surface explanation of everything. I can’t wait to see what else he uncovers in the vaults.

Snip Snip: Voiced by Matthew Berry and with many of the laughs in this episode, Snip Snip nearly meets a tragic end before being resurrected for Lucy’s escape plan and then discarded like so much trash by the end of the episode. I hope to see more of them in the future.

Supporting Characters: The stoner warlords in the Super Duper Mart made me chuckle a couple of times. I laughed out loud at the air conditioner comment. Chet gets a starring role with Norm, but serves mostly as a foil to keep him from learning the truth.

World Building and Setting

We get a Super Duper Mart. When they walked up to it, I thought of the first time I went into the Mart in Fallout 3. I got killed by some raiders because, for some reason my dumb ass never considered that they’d use it as a hideout. The show never fails to impress with their attention to detail when dealing with important places from the games. They also showed some of the horrors that befell some residents of the vaults. We all knew that it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorn farts down there, but it gets real dark real fast as Chet and Norm explore.

They also live up to the title of the episode. Ghouls get some love in the episode. We see several in the moments right before they go feral. The Ghoul tells us that he’s been around “a long time”. 219 years? When Roger mentions that he’s turning after only 27, that makes me respect The Ghoul a bit more. But, just a bit.

Themes and Social Commentary

The main theme of Fallout episode 4 explores the idea introduced in earlier episodes about how quickly things go wrong. Vault 32 fell after over 200 years. We can only guess what happened right now, but it looked quick. The two dudes in the Super Duper Mart get their faces eaten off in less than a minute. The Ghoul drops in a heartbeat and that allows Lucy the upper hand and escape.

They push the narrative of it’s not the action that counts, but your reaction to it. The Ghoul chooses to be completely selfish and survive that way. Lucy, on the other hand, mostly keeps her innocence and kind nature in spite of the horrors that she’s endured. I mean, give her 219 years of wasting away in a debilitating fashion and who knows.

Narrative Pacing, Structure, and Soundtrack

Music serves a slightly different purpose in this episode. Instead of matching the music with the scene (it happens once or twice), the music works to enhance the mood of the scene. Because they still use period pieces for the music, it fits in just as well. To prove my point, at least one person put together a YouTube playlist of the music. While I could just use that for my videos in the plot summaries, I like the thrill of the hunt.

I wrote in the last article that I liked when they switch rapidly between the different stories. That happens in this episode as well. and it keeps everything moving. It also allows them to put breadcrumbs into the story and make us think that maybe the stories ultimately connect somehow.

The Verdict

Fallout episode 4 advances the story, develops the characters, and gives us some great music along the way. Even without Max this time around, I still enjoyed the episode. Halfway through the season and things are still looking good for the show. I can’t wait to see how they wrap things up.

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