I make no secret of the fact that I cannot stand the end of this series. Both of the “choices” for this ending make no damn sense. For starters, there is the “good” ending, where you let Chloe die. Did the writers not see that Max is jumping back in time again to do this? Shouldn’t that make what happened worse? I genuinely don’t get it. I guess the idea is that if she stops that, then all the other time stuff is stopped, but it still feels like bullshit, to me. Then there is the “bad” ending, where you let Arcadia Bay be destroyed. Which does go down that way. Won’t argue, it does. The entire place is destroyed. But how does that work? I thought the tornado was signifying the end of the world? Is absolutely everyone dead? Since there is no epilogue in that ending, you never know. So yeah, also bullshit. Not to mention the fact that you never learn the story behind Max’s powers, or why they chose her.
Bear with me, because this is gonna get a bit dense. Here is how I would have ended the series. For starters, I would have backed the ending up to when Max was heading to Warren to get the picture, to save Chloe. If what you learn in the time null zone is true, then that tornado is just a symptom of the timelines smashing together. Still proud of myself that I called it. However, why then, do we not see any of those timelines? If the whole deal here is that space and time are falling apart, why are none of those timelines in there? If it were me, I would have had that be the case.
As Max gets down toward the Two Whales Diner, the closer she gets, the more she sees things that shouldn’t be there. Things like Victoria, with the paint all over her. Or Kate, as she was on the roof. This would have been especially intense if you failed to save her. If you chose to let Chloe die in the alternate timeline, William would be after you, since he wanted to know what happened. Ooo, have him run into Joyce at Two Whales! That would be a mind-fuck! If you didn’t help her, then Chloe would find you and be trapped in a building. Or maybe have her at the diner. Let’s fuck with Joyce in a big way! Have a past version of Mr. Jefferson, which would be crazy if you let David kill him. The closer you get, the more timelines are just all over the place. Then, right as you are about to reach the diner, it all falls apart. Time and space collapse in front of you.
The rest plays out like the null time zone that Max had been in before, but when you get to the lighthouse, everything collapses again. Here’s how I see the next part playing out –
Max opened her eyes. She wasn’t at the lighthouse anymore. It was the strangest thing! She was back home! Not Blackwell, but Seattle! How was this possible?! Had she been changing time for this long? Walking through her house was so surreal. Her parents were nowhere to be found. Looking out the window, she saw the view down the street. What was going on here.
She heard a cup clink down behind her. In a flash, she turned. What she saw left her speechless. Sitting on the couch was Rachel Amber.
“What is this…” she asked.
Rachel just smiled and shook her head. “Don’t recognize your own home?”
Shaking her head, she stared dumb-founded. “No, not that. I mean, what am I doing here? Why are you here? What’s going on? Am I….?”
“No, Max. You’re not dead. I brought you here. I wanted to see what Max Caulfield’s house looked like. I also wanted to meet the girl that Chloe would never shut up about.”
A little smile on her face. “Chloe talked about me?”
“All the time! She would tell me of your adventures, wondering what you were doing now. She assumed that you were taking over Seattle, like the little pirate she remembered. Of course, there were also the conversations about how mad she was that you never wrote or called.”
Max frowned. “I know. Believe me, I have been killing myself for that all week. However long this week has actually been. Feels like I have been in this week for an eternity. But I have been wanting to make it up to Chloe for every single day of this week. I keep hurting her. Keep…killing her.”
Shaking her head. “No, Max. You saved Chloe. Again and again. I can’t imagine someone who would care about her more. And she cared about you too. If you hadn’t of left, I have to wonder what would have become of you. Maybe it would have been you and her, instead of her and I.”
That got Max’s attention. “Who was Chloe, to you?”
“I loved her, Max. With all my heart, I did. But…she wanted something more from me than I could offer. The days we spent together, the nights we would be up talking, I wanted to be the angel she saw and wanted me to be. But then there was Frank.”
Unable to resist her curiosity, “How did you and Frank end up together?”
“At first, I just bought drugs from him. But as Chloe and I hung out with him, I realized that there was more to him than just drugs. He was a sensitive man, who was so mistreated by so many people. More and more, I felt closeness with him, eventually culminating in us being together. I loved Frank, with all my heart. Sure, he had some bad days. Some days when he went a little crazy. But deep down, I could always tell that he was trying to do the right thing, and be good to me. We had plans, to leave Arcadia Bay. Chloe borrowed money from him for the two of us to go, but I was going to convince her to come with us. The three of us, leaving and never coming back. I would become a model, and we could actually live, not having to just survive. No more drama. No more problems. Just living. Would it be so bad if that was all it was?”
This took some time, to process. “But then Mr. Jefferson got to you?”
She looked ashamed. “Yes. I admit, I flirted with him. It was when I was crazy rebellious with Chloe. I thought it would be fun. Making the teacher want what he couldn’t have. Would have made for a hell of a story for Chloe, if not for how things ended up.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, there was the stuff with Nathan. He got crazy about it. The fact that I was flirty with Jefferson pissed him off to no end. I never got why, until the night where I was drugged and taken to their ‘dark room.'”
Shuddering. “I know how that goes.”
“I know. I’m so sorry, Max. I wish you could have avoided that. Alas, things never work out as we intend, right? I was so furious. That sick bastard and his little sick partner. They used me and then murdered me. When I died, I was so filled with anger and hate, that something happened. Something I didn’t expect.”
“I felt my anger transcending space and time. Mrs. Grant always said that there was power in Arcadia Bay. That the ancient Natives could feel energies. At least, she said that people believed that. She never bought into it all, but liked to talk about the community. Somehow, what happened to me, I tapped into the power with in this place. I needed to get revenge against Jefferson and Nathan. But how? Then I saw you return to Blackwell! Max Caulfield! If there was anyone who could help, it would be you!”
In a flash, it hit her. “The power, it came from you? You gave it to me?”
“That’s right! I wanted you to be able to put a stop to Nathan and Jefferson. To get revenge for me. It was just that simple. But when I saw how you used the powers, and how broad the consequences, I realized that I had gone WAY too far.” Rachel got very quiet, all of the sudden. “I’m so sorry, Max. I was so focused on getting revenge, that I failed to see how bad this would get for Arcadia Bay. Now people who did NOT deserve to suffer are. Including Chloe. In more timelines than one. You have no idea how guilty I feel right now, Max. I put that poor girl through hell, all because I wanted Jefferson and Nathan to pay for what they’ve done. Now I’ve gotten her killed, countless times. This has to end.”
Slowly, Rachel stood up. “That’s why you’re here, Max. I can’t go back and do this myself. Only you can. So, I’m giving you a choice.” From her pocket, she produced two pictures. “I am giving you the chance to go back, one last time. This is going to be the last time jump, Max. After this, there won’t be anymore. Hopefully you get it right, when you go back.” Setting the pictures on the coffee table in front of her. “Time and space have no meaning here, Max. So you have two options.” She pointed to a selfie Max took, back in Seattle. “Objects stay with you through the course of your changes in time. So you will still have David’s number. Text him and tell him the truth about Jefferson. I’ll be saved. But, here’s the kicker – if you do this, you’ll lose Chloe. She’ll leave Arcadia Bay with me, and I doubt that you’ll ever hear from her again, wherever we end up. Since you won’t be returning to Arcadia Bay and Blackwell, you’ll just have to rest easy knowing that I am alive and so is Chloe. Like I said, that will be it. You might also be able to save Nathan. Once Jefferson is in jail, maybe he’ll finally get the help he needs. I hate him, but looking back on how Jefferson used him, perhaps there is hope for him yet. Especially after that message he left you.”
Pointing the second picture. The one Warren took.
“The second option is to go back and save Chloe. Find a way to diffuse her anger and walk away. Again, get David. You have his hotel number, right? Have him get the cops. You might even be able to save Victoria, as well. While I was never a fan of her, and vice-versa, I don’t want her to suffer the same fate as me.”
Looking up at her, Max had a very somber face. “You’re okay, with me letting you die?”
“Max, after what I’ve done, and all the lives that I’ve hurt in all of this, I have no right to judge you for wanting to be with Chloe. I gave this power to you so you could get revenge for me. If you can send Jefferson to the prison hell that he so perfectly belongs, then I can rest in peace. Plus, I know that Chloe will be happy. Max, I feel terrible for lying to her. It hurt more than you know. But I knew that she wouldn’t understand Frank and I. Not right away. It would take some time. I really want her to be happy. If she’s with you, then I know that she’s okay.”
Leaning back, she looked Max right in the eye.
“There you go, Max. The choice is yours. Remember, after this, time will be as it was meant to be.”
That got Max to thinking.
“But what about the tornado?!”
“The tornado is caused by all the timelines that you created, smashing together. Each time you changed time, you went back, but time kept going. At first, it wasn’t much. Just a couple of strange things. But it all changed when you created a completely alternate reality. That put everything in overdrive. Time started to fall apart. That’s on me. I didn’t realize what would happen when I gave this gift to you. But there is a way to set things right. The tornado was able to bring you here, because here is a place where space and time has no meaning. A realm outside time. I gave you this gift, and I can set things back. It’s all connected to the existence of the power, Max. If it goes away, then the effect goes away. With this last jump through time, the ability will be gone, and the effect on time and space that you have will vanish along with it. All the timelines will be put right, and the ability is laid to rest. The tornado will be gone.”
Nodding, Max looked down at the photos.
“Time to choose, Max. What will it be…?”
(Note that the above conversation is just one of what would be several possible options, but with the same ending)
If you pick the former, then Max will be in Seattle. You grab your phone, and send the text to David, telling him everything about Jefferson and the Dark Room. When you reemerge in your own timelines, you’ll be at a school in Seattle, with some unfamiliar faces talking to you, and a report on the news about the trail of Mark Jefferson. The epilogue will show Rachel and Frank in LA, with Chloe working as a tattoo artist. Max will be looking at the picture of the butterfly that she took, and then finds that she does have one memento of her time with Chloe – the necklace that she found in the Dark Room. The last shot has Max in school, wearing the necklace, with a streak of blue in her hair.
If you pick the latter, then you will be back at the party. This is a little more involved. You’ll have to convince Chloe to walk away. It plays out almost identically to the way it did in the actual game during that segment, except you tell her that you were sent back by Rachel. Here’s the tricky part – if you tell her that you had had the option to save her, then Chloe will walk away, and you’ll fail. The bad ending, as it were. However, if you convince her to go to David, then you will reemerge in your timeline at the lighthouse, like you had when you first started the game. Only now, instead of it being a storm, it’s a quiet and peaceful day. If you ended things on good terms with Frank, then you would see him and Chloe at the lighthouse, talking. She was telling him about what happened with Rachel. As you come up, he leaves, thanking Max for figuring out the truth. You see Chloe again and hug her, which she remarks that the “real Max” is back. From there, you watch as Jefferson goes to prison. Victoria is alive, but forever hates Max for what happened to Jefferson. Now, depending on whether or not you cultivated a relationship with Chloe or Warren, the epilogue will play out a bit differently. If you chose to get close to Warren, you see the two of them making out at the Planet of the Apes marathon. If you chose to get close to Chloe, then you’ll have the two of them finally admitting how they feel for one-another. The episode would end with the semester ending and Max going back to Seattle, with either Chloe or Warren with her.
So yeah, that’s how I would have ended things. Instead of the contrived and ridiculously-dumb endings we got.
Until next time, a quote,
“You have NO idea what hell I went through to get here!” -Max Caulfield, Life is Strange