There can be no doubt that “Escape Plan Bravo” is a solid entry in the series, and a worthwhile way to spend a few hours. Sadly however, it just doesn’t meet the high standard set by the previous episodes.
Captured by Vallory, our band of con artists and corporate runaways are forced to come up with a plan for sneaking onto Hyperion and stealing the final piece of Gordys, making episode 4 a good premise to start with. From the onset, the episode is laid out like a classic heist, with the exaggerated planning, all the way through the crazy execution. In this way, “Escape Plan Bravo” opens particularly strong, playing the heist-formula off some genuinely emotional scenes in the fallout from the events of episode 3. In truth, seeing Fiona’s reaction following the cliffhanger of the previous episode stands out as easily one of the best character moments of the episode.
That substitution of surprising, heartbreaking emotion in the place of the game’s usual hilarity reaches a pinnacle in a particular scene that, while well done, felt out-of-place and unnecessary when compared to the complete lack of tension in the latter half of the episode, something I will touch on in a moment. The scene in question is made all that much more dubious by the fact Telltale may find themselves angering as many fans as they sadden. Whether the scene worked or not will likely come down to personal opinion, but, had the ominous nature of it carried through, it would have made for one of the best Telltale episodes to date.
Unfortunately however, the latter portion of “Escape Plan Bravo,” the actual execution of the break-in, just falls flat. After offering a rather good twist on a previous character, all the tension just seems to melt from the proceedings as the gang just sort of walks around Hyperion. For what is essentially meant to be our characters going from Pandora, a depraved world of psychopaths, to Hyperion, a depraved world of psychopaths in nice suits, it never really feels like there is all that much danger.
Though the moment-to-moment writing is still exceptional, with a handful of spot-on comedic moments woven in, mostly courtesy of Gordys, the cutest robot you will likely ever see, the lack of action, paired with the lack of tension and danger, make the tail end of the episode lose its momentum and begin to drag. The only action scene in the entire episode ends up being a hilariously brilliant, but ultimately non-lethal, shootout in the Hyperion common area. While fun on its own, the scene just doesn’t hold enough of a candle to the death-races, frantic chase scenes, or massive vault-hunter fight scenes that have colored the series so far.
Because of this, the episode just, rather abruptly, comes to an end. Unfortunately, this will lead many to see the forth episode as merely a transition, a set piece to get characters in place for something more fun and intense to happen in episode five. Whether that is a fair assessment or not, what can be said it that “Escape Plan Bravo” does fail to deliver in the same way as previous episodes.
Present segments, with Fiona and Rhys being interrogated by the mysterious masked man, don’t progress much throughout the course of the episode either. And while episode 3 saw multiple connections being drawn between the past and present, there is none of that to be found in “Escape Plan Bravo.” With only a single episode to go, the number of questions still hanging in the air actually seems a bit worrisome. In the end, it would have been nice to see at least a few things begin to work towards a resolution.
Overall, “Escape Plan Bravo” is still incredibly well written, combining comedy throughout with a handful of surprisingly touching moments (some of them even involving Handsome Jack of all people). While ‘that one scene’ will likely anger a number of fans, it does open a number of interesting creative doors, and ramps up the stakes going into the final episode. “Escape Plan Bravo” does ultimately fall short, not delivering on the action or insane hilarity of the rest of the series, but that is mainly in comparison to the fantastic strengths of Tales from the Borderlands as a whole. Despite any weaknesses however, one thing is for still for sure: it will be a very hard wait for episode 5.