Fallout: The Ghouls
April 16, 2024 9:46 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Death to Management

Ok, so now we definitely are in full side quest mode as the Ghoul drags Lucy through the ruins of LA to everyone's favorite grocery store while Maximus gets a new squire after learning that you don't leave valuables hanging around.

Fan Service Moments
  • Super Duper Mart!
  • Mr Handy meet Mr. Berry
  • Norm actually playing the game and reading the logs!
  • good ole Abraxo
  • And ferals galore
My thoughts:
  • That's a new addition to the canon with the ghouls and their meds to stave off going feral.
  • They definitely made the whole going feral thing a ton sadder and more accessible with the "My name is Martha/Rog" bit. Was it in FO4 that they added Ferals sometimes thanking you as they died?
  • The more they show of Coop's backstory, the more terribly sad the Ghoul and his cruelty becomes
  • And not to bang on about the other acts (because this show's casting is fantastic. Matt Berry is utterly perfect for instance), but Walton Goggins and Ella Purnell as scene partners are outstanding
  • Chet must be a very confused and frustrated man
  • What's going to happen with our Raider pals? Feels like they're setting up the idea that Norm will kill them, but...
  • Matty Cardarople playing his type in the Wasteland
posted by drewbage1847 (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is the episode that made me realize: if you put Walton Goggins, Kyle Maclachlan, and Matt Berry in the same show, I will watch it regardless of any other circumstance.
posted by destructive cactus at 10:07 AM on April 16 [12 favorites]

Chiming in as a viewer not at all familiar with the game, I have to say I am more invested in The Ghoul and Lucy's journey than Maximus, so this episode was a stand-out. Maximus' whole thing feels so leaden and heavy compared to what's happening with the other two. Sure, there are horrors galore, but Maximus mopes a lot so I would rather the horrors and the Ghoul and Lucy's perspectives.
posted by Kitteh at 10:34 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]

Chiming in as a viewer not at all familiar with the game, I have to say I am more invested in The Ghoul and Lucy's journey than Maximus, so this episode was a stand-out. Maximus' whole thing feels so leaden and heavy compared to what's happening with the other two. Sure, there are horrors galore, but Maximus mopes a lot so I would rather the horrors and the Ghoul and Lucy's perspectives.

Maximus' story is interesting, but I agree, what's going on with Lucy and the Ghoul is a lot more entertaining and interesting. In part because they're a wonderfully mismatched pair, the opposite ends of a spectrum. Maximus carries that tension of what happens when the Brotherhood finally find out. He feels like a dead man walking, to an extant, because we can't trust the show at this stage to tell us what happens to Maximus? Will he actually find a way around the certain death awaiting him? The show feels like one where not everyone we watch as main characters will necessarily make it out alive.

Matt Berry's voice is like sunshine on a cloudy day.
posted by Atreides at 11:37 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]

Okay, I actually *squeed* at the whole hacking/reading of the logs. That was an *amazing* Easter Egg for those of us who played the game.

I think similarly, Maximus and the Brotherhood of Steel is very much a plotline that only works if you know how absolutely over the top the BoS is and can be in game, so it's nice to see a) Maximus trying to fool them so he can desperately try to get back into their good graces, and b) try to imagine what's going to happen when they cross paths with our hapless adventurers. Like: the ghoul went head to toe with Maximus driving the armor "like a shopping cart" and it was still hard - imagining an entire squad of knights kind of puts the tension on.
posted by corb at 11:53 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]

It may be that I would have to have been invested in the game to dig Maximus' storyline. To me, it just feels so tonally different than the rest, to its detriment. Again, I am watching this from the perspective of a non-gamer so right now the BoS thing is kinda boring.
posted by Kitteh at 1:05 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]

Okay, so in the shot with the very turquoise kitchen fixtures...

What exactly are the knobs under the kitchen sink? Like stove knobs, only under a sink?
posted by hippybear at 7:30 PM on April 16

You mean in Chet's kitchenette? You know, I don't think I ever even thought of it as anything more than decoration, but....
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:21 PM on April 16

This image from the game shows dishes placed on end through the window beneath the sink, which implies to me it might be a combination sink/dishwasher. Much more clearly visible in this fan recreation of the Fallout kitchen. (This is from a kitchen in a house, not a Vault, but you know how games reuse assets.)
posted by ejs at 4:20 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]

I am also finding Lucy/The Ghoul's adventure a much more interesting story compared to Maximus's for now. Some of it is just that Maximus's story seems to be a litany of the ways this BoS chapter sucks. (I don't think we've seen branding of underlings before, so that's a definite CHOICE on the show's part. As for "ghouls have drug requirements," okay, fine, they can have a little shiny new drama/plot button to push when needed, as a treat.)

Also, how the hell does a military, particularly a pre-bomb-drop military, develop and deploy power armor that doesn't have some kind of a manual "get me the fuck out of here" option for the user? I mean, safety standards are a whole lot laxer in FalloutWorld than here, but still. (I figure the acceptable answer is that it turns out it does, but Maximus missed out on "power armor training" classes so he only finds out about it later.)

I'm intrigued by the vault 31-33 backstory we're learning. So far it looks like they learned something about whatever experiment is going on with them and weren't happy about it. And I guess we'll get another look at how delightful and safe and loving Vault Tec is next week for The Ghoul and Lucy.

I remember seeing a picture of exterior of the SuperMart on social media some time back when they were filming and thinking that the art department, at least, had nailed the look.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:59 AM on April 17

Also, how the hell does a military, particularly a pre-bomb-drop military, develop and deploy power armor that doesn't have some kind of a manual "get me the fuck out of here" option for the user?

It probably does but Max wasn’t fully trained on the suits. In the older games you couldn’t use power armor without training. They dropped that mechanic in the newer games and you can move, albeit very slowly, in a suit with a depleted fusion core.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:22 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]

I've been appreciating seeing the BoS portrayed as a dogmatic, quasi-religious, tech-hoarding military (mostly) full of assholes -- it feels like a return to form from Bethesda's east coast BoS (I'm still irritated about having to work with them in Fallout 3; it's not the only thing that irritates me about Fallout 3, but it's probably the one that irritates me the most). I agree with the folks above that the BoS scenes are more interesting when one is already familiar with the Fallout lore. My partner, who has very little familiarity with Fallout, also found the BoS scenes boring.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 3:46 PM on April 17

So, did they do a disservice to this show by going All At Once for the episode releases instead of weekly? We've learned by now that these two release strategies have very different effects in how the work is received. I am wondering if this series is better served by the fanboy full-series binge release strategy, or should they have gone weekly to allow the slow drip of watching and discussion?
posted by hippybear at 7:19 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]

I am now firmly week by week release when it comes to shows, especially 45 to 60 minute episodes. I tuned into Fallout because of all the positive buzz I saw on social media, which has pretty much died out now. I finished it last night, but I think if I had been busy or just said "I'll pick this up later" I probably wouldn't have turned on the show. A week by week would have kept that buzz alive for a couple months, insuring that I'd be reminded and continually intrigued to look into the show.

So short answer, I think it was short sighed to just drop it all at once. Kind of makes me think they didn't have the highest hopes for whatever reason, which is ridiculous. I really enjoyed this show.
posted by Atreides at 6:54 AM on April 18 [11 favorites]

I'm not sure I'd sweat it all that much, Atreidies. The show is a bona fide hit and they're already scouting locations for season two. The advantage of The Dump strategy, especially for the first season of anything, is that one weaker episode (and there are weaker episodes) isn't going to turn into a narrative of its own.

People are talking about the relative quality of one episode vs. another but the through-line is "The show is really good." Which is about the best you can hope for in TV these days.
posted by East14thTaco at 1:58 PM on April 18 [5 favorites]

I'd be interested to see an analysis of the Dump strategy, vs the drip, vs the chunk (batches of 2-3eps dropped at a time) to see which is most effective at building/maintaining buzz.

My personal preference is the chunk; single drip is too slow, Dump is too much content all at once to properly digest.
posted by coriolisdave at 8:28 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]

Having grown up with television that was 26 episodes released one week at a time and then rerun for the other half of the year, I'm entirely okay with what is now being called the Drip strategy.
posted by hippybear at 8:42 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]

It felt very wrong to me that Lucy didn't do more scavenging of the Super Duper Mart at the end. Also that the Ghoul seemed like he was just going to load up his hat with drugs when he could have just taken that whole case. Aren't they going to regret not having this stuff later?

Why yes I do have trouble with inventory management whenever I'm playing a game.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:43 AM on April 19 [13 favorites]

Also, I prefer consuming serialized media in drips. You get to think about (and obsess) over the latest installment and then get anticipation for the next one to come out. If the show has an intro then I'll watch it to build excitement. When you go through a bunch of them in a dump each one is less meaningful and the details get mixed up and I don't feel like watching the intro that second or third time. Amazon usually releases in drips, at least for the shows that I've watched, and I've enjoyed it more than the Netflix dump a whole season approach, even if I do end up watching things faster when they're released a season at a time.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:54 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

I was thinking how in the Flashbacks, Goggins's shirt was the Vault-Boy colors, and then they retconned it into being the other way around. Nicely played.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:29 PM on April 20

I can totally get Maximus' story being kind of boring, but yah I'll confirm: I was a teenager when through some weird coincidence I was giving a copy of Fallout for Christmas, and in it's own way... it probably changed my life.

I was young enough that I couldn't recognize the game's inspiration and sources, so for me it was just a relentless buffet of wild ideas and imagery. And then after all the crazy shit the game throws at you... here comes retro-future, power-armored paladins with laser miniguns.

I've said this before, that I'm not usually a very nostalgic person. But something about the Brotherhood of Steel will always connect with me. So Maximus' power fantasy? Also trying to discover and hold on to virtue? Fuck yah. I have a stupid little Funko BoS figurine on my desk. It's not going anywhere.

Anyway, this episode had nothing to do with them. Still really good. Still really impressed by the show. I won't say that I'm blown away, but I'm almost surprised it hasn't been better received.
posted by Alex404 at 2:42 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]

OK now I am so invested into what Vault 32 was up to originally. And what about Vault 31? And who did Lucy's dad arrange a marriage with?

I am sure these questions get answered eventually.

I can't be the only one wanting to fire up a copy of Fallout: New Vegas at this point? It's my favorite of the modern games for sure.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:13 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]

This was finally the episode where it felt like some sort of semblance of plot started happening? The goddamn fetch quest for Lucy and the Ghoul wasn't grabbing me, and I swear that Maximus' story is basically there because goddamnit they needed to feature the iconic power armor, but what exactly are they going to say about it? Eh, they'll figure that out later - yo practical FX dudes, can you start carving foam? Thanks!

But what the fuck went on with the Vaults, was vault 33 the control vault and 31 and 32 had rationing or shortages or "what happens if we put amphetamines in the water supply" vault or etc etc etc? Sure, that's interesting.
posted by Kyol at 7:11 AM on April 21

Late to watch this. I don't much like this show which is frustrating to me because I love the game storytelling so much. It's too intense for me on TV, there's some awful atrocity every five minutes on screen and I'm exhausted after 20 minutes. It's not a reaction I usually have, even to violent TV or games.

Anyway my real question is; did they rename "smoothskin"? That's the Ghouls' name for ordinary humans in the games. Here the NPC Ghoul called Lucy "smoothie" instead, also some other "smooth" thing that was not "smoothskin".

I don't love the conceit that ghouls are just addicts who need their regular methadone to function. I love the way in the games where it's often the ghouls who are the most erudite and civilized despite their physical forms being so degraded. Jury's still out on that in this rendition.
posted by Nelson at 7:27 AM on May 14

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