The particularly strong opening of The Wolf Among Us appears to be going to waste as another short episode waits until the very final moments to actually progress the story. Much like episode 3, there is a lot going on in a very short amount of time. Unlike that episode, In Sheep’s Clothing serves only to reinforce much of what you already know. The actual ending is satisfying enough, but characters are being squandered or shoehorned in and the story is lacking the same punch. The Wolf Among Us is in trouble of failing to deliver.
Things pick up right where they left off from episode 3 with Bigby in pretty rough shape. As he is getting patched up, Show begins to build up her new role, replacing Crane as top dog in Fabletown. After a brief debate about the fate of Fables who should be heading off to the farm, Bigby gets a call to his office. A conversation with Narissa reveals what moves Bigby should take next. A later conversation with Beauty and Beast presents you with the episode’s major decision. Given the choice between going to the Butchery or Pawn Shop feels inconsequential since Bigby ends up with everything he needs, despite being told that choosing one over the other could be costly.
Once upon a time Bigby was a detective trying to solve a series of murders. It is hard to remember that fact when Bigby spends most of his time starting fights or breaking them up. Even worse, he is often relegated to a Dr. Phil like role where he is apparently responsible for fixing every relationship and everyone’s problems. So, I guess fixing a bunch of minor problems is more important than SOLVING MURDERS. It is easy to actually forget what the core conflict of the game is when it is shrouded behind a bunch of nonsense.
The final ten or so minutes lacks tension and shoehorns in another character, for whom you are apparently supposed to immediately care. Even the actual ending, which is supposed to be a stunning revelation, falls a bit flat. It is almost jarring how quickly the initial excitement surrounding the story from the first two episodes has been squandered. An event like this should rival Lee being bit in The Walking Dead, but instead feels rushed. In fact, the most satisfying story arc so far is Bigby’s relationship with The Woodsman. In this episode I got the opportunity to make amends for beating the snot out of him in episode one and was excited by the idea of repairing our struggling relationship. After a brief but impactful conversation, I was more excited to see what comes of this than I was to meet The Crooked Man.
On the other hand, the meet up with Beauty and Beast, which is a major focal point of this episode’s story, lacked any sort of impact. The squabbling couple lives in a luxurious room filled with fine art and regal designs. They explain that they are used to living a certain lifestyle and that they weren’t willing to give that up just because they now live in the mundie world. Yet here they are, now owing money to The Crooked man because they couldn’t afford to live it. Ok, am I supposed to feel sorry for them? To make matters worse, especially since I really don’t care, they are resistant to my questions and generally unwilling to cooperate. Then they have the gall to ask me to make their problems go away, yeah ok, sure thing. Unlike the scene involving The Woodsman, Beauty and Beast come off as annoying and, much like many other sub plots, their series of events across the episodes results in a general let down.
That is really the best way to describe In Sheep’s Clothing, a let down. This series of games that started off so strong has repeatedly stumbled while trying to bring it’s various plotlines to a singular conclusion. It feels rushed and poorly planned, a stark contrast to The Walking Dead Season 2 which suffers none of these problems three episodes in. Whether Telltale just struggled with the use of existing characters, or just couldn’t figure out a better way to bring things to a close, episode 4 does not leave you with excitement for what is next, and instead leaves an important question of what could have been. Episode 5 has a lot to cover as well as a huge hill to overcome. Expectations should be slightly tempered, but there is always hope telltale will pull through in the end.