Warning: Spoilers for “What Ails You,” as well as previous episodes of “Batman: The Telltale Series” follow.
Telltale has always done a good job at creating the illusion of choice, following a bell-shaped approach in which your choices may lead you on different paths, but you almost always end up in a similar conclusion to everyone else. This is not a bad thing in any sense, and as long as the choices feel as though they have an impact, they have a purpose to serve. “What Ails You” does a particularly good job with these decisions, both from this episode and prior, as we see most of the effects of our choices come catching up with Bruce.
Coming off of last episode’s cliffhanger, we find Bruce being outed to The Pact organization, and being placed in one of Mr. Freeze’s cryo-chambers. He quickly escapes and races off as Batman to prevent Harley and her compatriots from getting the Locus virus, but after a thrilling brawl with them, to no avail. The primary focus of the episode is put on pushing John Doe to where he will end up, as Batman’s most synonymous rival or something hopefully better. Much of what you discussed with him at the cafe in the prior episode plays a large role in his outcome, though you thankfully have a few more chances to right the ship towards where you would like him to go. I found myself pushing John away from his seemingly destined path towards the clown, and based on the post-mortem for the episode, many others did as well. The character has shown a clear admiration for Bruce and Batman, as well as a trust that I spent desperately trying not to break, despite its repercussions to the plot. The way actor Anthony Ingruber plays the character displays an almost innocent nature, while still having part of his dark self come out every now and then. He makes it hard not to support John and push him towards a brighter path, even when he is standing next to a crowd of agents he just seemingly murdered.
Many other plot threads come to a climax in this episode, most concerning being the health troubles of Alfred. Bruce returns to the Bat-Cave in the episode only to find his most trusted ally collapsed on the floor, murmuring about stopping Thomas Wayne from endangering his wife and son. The relationship between Alfred and Bruce is probably the most important to the character, so ensuring he was okay was a high priority. While he seems to be left in a good state and with a doctor on the way, I am concerned on what Telltale may try to pull in the season finale. While Tiffany Fox does not get much screentime in this episode, she also gets a lesson on Batman’s code after presenting a prototype gun to Bruce.
While it is not a huge problem, perhaps the most uninteresting part of the season so far is with The Agency, primarily with agent Avesta. She is a character who seems completely inconsequential to the plot, and follows a very bland thread of someone who means well and quickly realizes who she works for may not be who she thinks it is. That said, she still has one more episode to turn things around, and her boss Amanda Waller is not suffering from her problems at all. She is a nice counterweight to Batman’s way of doing things, though I don’t see how I can agree to help her after she tries to shoot John right after he essentially saved the day.
This episode continues a strong run for the season, and still leaves room for more excitement in the season finale. While it’s not really a con, I was disappointed to find no Commissioner Gordon this episode, despite his inclusion on the episode’s promo image. I assume that is because of some of my past choices, so I hope he gets a chance to mend things with Bruce Wayne in the next one. Overall this episode is one of the strongest of the season, and I am anxious to learn more about John’s seemingly chosen path towards vigilantism. If you are a Batman fan in any way, this series is a great addition to the character’s wealth of past stories, and even continues to surprise me in a number of ways.