Fallout Episode 6: The Trap


We continue our Fallout from the end of the school year with the next episode of the Fallout TV show. I wrote my journal the other day to finish up, for now, my coverage of the original game. And, now, I get to talk about the fate of Shady Sands as revealed in Fallout episode 6.

Plot Summary and Analysis

Click here for the plot summary.

After an episode without The Ghoul, this one delivers more on his current adventure while adding much to his backstory. He and his wife don’t see eye to eye on the dealings of her employer, Vault-Tec. Cooper hates the extra baggage that comes with his starring roles in the ads for the vaults. He puts all of this aside because he loves and trusts his wife. In 200 years, she might be the only person he ever truly loved and trusted.

Speaking of the vaults. Through his and Barb’s conversations and Lucy’s and Max’s interactions in Vault 4, we get more information about the post apocalyptic living quarters. While on the surface, not much happens (Cooper and Barb argue and Lucy and Max spend the entire episode in the vault), the episode brings up new questions even as it starts to answer some of the old ones.

An episode that easily could have fallen into the trap of being “filler”, they avoid that trap quite nicely. Almost no action. Very few sets. An extended introduction centered around a vault ad and a Hollywood party. And, yet, probably the best episode of the show so far.

Character Profiles

The Ghoul: We see The Ghoul humbled by his captors several times. He never allows that to dampen his swagger. He simply bides his time and deals with the riff raff as he always does before turning his sights on the bigger fish.

Cooper Howard: Little of the man before remains in The Ghoul other than his memories. They serve to develop Cooper’s character as a former military man who values his freedom above all. I suppose that part also exists in The Ghoul. Even so, he’s willing to go to the Communist’s meeting when invited by Charlie. He also uses those memories to remind himself of his wife and daughter, the reasons for keeping himself alive and non-feral for over 200 years.

Lucy: She starts the episode convinced that they have nothing to fear in the vault. It’s a great place to rest and relax before setting off again to find the head and then her father. When her eyes open to the fact that not all is what it seems, she digs deeper and it ends up with her in deep trouble.

Max: On the other hand, Max starts off suspicious of the vault and its dwellers. Either because the pampering erodes away at his resolve or they drug him in some way, but he finds himself at home by the end of the episode and ready to settle down. The obvious juxtaposition between the two main characters goes a long way to adding to the unsettling realization that nothing is ever easy.

Cycloptic Overseer: As usual, Parnell plays a character that makes you laugh and makes you think with an underlying message. More on that later. I remember some people didn’t like the idea of a cyclops, especially one that looked so odd, but I love the character and what he brought to the episode.

Supporting Characters: Birdie has her hand in everything both inside and, seemingly, outside of Vault 4. Sorrel, likewise, stepped in to fill a power vacuum. However, it looks like his reign might soon be at an end either by the hand of The Ghoul or as a consequence of changing allegiance. We see Moldaver in the before times but only that she is involved in the Communist movement.

World Building and Setting

As I wrote above, the Fallout episode 6 takes place mostly in a Vault, a bit on the surface, and the rest in a bar. Even so, they show that the vaults weren’t all developed to repopulate the planet after the radiation dissipated. Long time fans of the game know this, but it may have come as a shock to those who just joined us with the TV show.

Likewise, they give us a glimpse of the politics of the surface. It isn’t all just pockets of civilization with no connecting fabric. In addition, some figures rose from the ashes to build factions that work to protect their citizens and try to gain resources for themselves and their territories. Sometimes, with tragic consequences.

Themes and Social Commentary

They continue the theme of trust in the “official story”. Cooper starts to question the wisdom of Vault-Tec even as he fights to keep his reputation as a country loving favored son. The, Lucy must again question the validity of the vaults and their reputation as places of safety and understanding.

The conversation between Charlie and Cooper brings up the question of unregulated capitalism and the need for, maybe, just a little bit of communism to keep the ghouls (those who reduce everything to a dollar sign, not the radiated one) honest. You know my feelings on this and how they only get stronger as the days tick by. People starve. The planet burns. And, all we talk about is the Dow Jones and how to properly market the end of the world. Sound familiar?

While Lucy changes her mind and becomes more suspicious, Max eases into a life of comfort. It numbs him to his own skepticism and lures him into a (perhaps false) sense of security. If they keep you fat, dumb, and happy, maybe you won’t realize just how they’re screwing you.

Narrative Pacing, Structure, and Soundtrack

They step up the quick switches between scenes by adding in Fallout episode 6 Cooper’s flash backs to his former life at important parts in the story. This allows them to compare and contrast the before times to the current Wasteland. As they say, the more things change and all that. There will always be two types of people. Will they ever learn to live together? I’m not so sure anymore.

Likewise, the outsiders and their ritual in Vault 4 transposed with Cooper’s visit to the mausoleum for the Communist’s meeting serves a dual purpose. One, it makes you think that there are parallels between the cult like behavior and the Communists. I welcome such dialogue. If your ideas don’t stand up to scrutiny, then are they worth having? The second purpose establishes Moldaver as a force to be reckoned with. Even more so than as a dad kidnapper.

The soundtrack takes a bit of a back seat, especially when compared with the previous episode. It serves more as garnish, so to speak, in this episode. You’re aware of the music as adding something to the story. But, it didn’t have those exclamation point moments like the previous episode.

The Verdict

I called Fallout episode 6 possibly the best episode yet. I stand by that. As the series has gone on, the episodes have gotten stronger and stronger. That’s exactly what you want from a television show. Some may question the choice to introduce new stories and ask new questions so late in the season, but they must have known that people would love what they made and want more. I, for one. agree.

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