Image courtesy of Telltale Games

Warning: Spoilers for “Same Stitch,” as well as previous episodes of “Batman: The Telltale Series” follow.

One of my favorite parts about “Batman: The Telltale Series” thus far has been how Telltale has subverted expectations in many interesting ways all throughout the series. This finale finds John Doe finally becoming the Joker officially, either as a vigilante or villain depending on your prior choices. What happens after though, particularly around the climax of the episode, fails to live up to what I have come to expect in terms of a satisfying conclusion for this season. There are certainly things to love in the episode, like Anthony Ingruber’s Joker, but much of what brings the episode down serves as a reminder of what could have been.

Two weeks have passed since the showdown between Joker and Director Waller on the bridge from the last episode, and since then John Doe has begun to thrive as his new persona. From my choices, Joker chose the vigilante path, modeling himself after Batman and trying to take on crime with his own crew. The episode begins with a fight with Batman and Joker against Bane, who is now under Waller’s control thanks to his new suicide squad style collar. After the fight, Joker becomes obsessed with getting back at Waller for double-crossing him back on the bridge, forcing Batman to try to talk down Waller and end her manhunt for Joker. Once they come to a deal, Joker becomes delirious and frustrated at Batman for coming to terms with the ‘monster’ and blames his pathetic code as the result. After a mishap with one of Joker’s bombs, Bruce wakes up in the bat-cave, where Alfred has enlisted the help of Tiffany Fox to track down Joker and stop his rampage.

This is right around when the episode begins to fall apart for me, it’s not necessarily bad, just disappointing based on what could have been. Joker takes Waller hostage and Batman must face him. With the help of Tiffany, he is able to get Waller to safety and stop Joker for good. It is also revealed by Tiffany in the fight that she was the one who killed the Riddler as vengeance for her father Lucius, which was a bit surprising but felt inconsequential to everything else considering it happened four episodes ago. Joker ultimately falls to Batman, where both sit across from each other beaten and battered with Joker asking whether at any point Bruce every truly considered the two as friends. This is one of the few touching moments of the finale, as I wholeheartedly believed that what I was choosing was for the benefit of formerly John Doe and not taking advantage of him as he believed. I do commend Telltale on delivering a compelling new backstory for a nearly 80-year-old character, one that revamps him in an exciting way. One thing that didn’t work well for me was the wasting of Harley Quinn, Bane, and Catwoman as purely punching bags because of their explosive collars. I think they got to the finale realizing they probably had way more characters than they had time to develop, meaning that the three’s potential and buildup from previous episodes was naught in the grand scheme of things.

The very end of the episode finds Bruce returning home to find Alfred with his bags packed, and he explains to Bruce how choosing to leave behind this life of violence instantly cured the shaking in his hands and anxiety that plagued him. Alfred tells Bruce how he realizes Batman has been the cause of most of his villains’ formations like Two-Face, Joker and Penguin, and that perhaps Gotham would be safer without Batman. He gives Bruce the ultimatum of promising to leave behind the cowl for good, or continue on without him. Of course, who could let poor Alfred walk away like that, so I chose to leave behind the role of Gotham’s protector, partly because I am also interested in seeing how they follow up on this choice if there is to be a season three.

While this episode does carry both bad and good qualities, overall I think it is a serviceable finale; one that had the potential to be so much greater. John Doe’s transformation to Joker was fun to see based on how your choices played out, and the odd post-credit scene depicting him in his cell finding someone who looks like Bruce Wayne outside his cell window means this likely won’t be the last we see of him. My final complaint comes that we never get to really tap into the Bruce Wayne side of the hero in either this episode or the last, though that may just be because he was so present in the first three episodes. A minor point, but I was happy to see Gordon back in action albeit unofficially, and his banter with Bruce and Tiffany as they investigate the crime scene was a highlight of the episode. Despite my grievances with the finale, I think that Telltale has delivered another satisfying season overall for Batman and I am excited to see what comes up next for the caped crusader. For the rest of 2018, it appears as though Telltale’s main focus has shifted towards the final season for “The Walking Dead,” which I’m hopeful will be a terrific end-cap to the character of Clementine.

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