With the series’ now across the halfway mark, Catch A Ride continues Tales from the Borderlands‘ clever juggling of quirky characters, funny gags and over-the-top action in impressive fashion – even if does sacrifice some momentum on the altar of the season’s major plotline.
However, when a game opens with a musical title sequence as stylish as Catch A Ride’s – it’s hard not to get caught up in the fun of it all.
Minor Spoilers Below
Though I did originally hope that Tales from the Borderlands would attempt to tell five self-contained capers, the last two episodes make a good case for Telltale’s ability to tone down the serialization that drives their other series. Each episode of Tales starts and ends with a clear narrative direction – Atlas Mugged saw the cast separated then reunited and Catch A Ride sees Rhys, Fiona and company discovering an overgrown and abandoned Atlas facility and attempting to unfold the mystery of the GORTYS project.
Though it does devote more time to the broader series plotline than previous episodes, Catch A Ride manages to keep things relatively easy-to-follow. There’s a definite feel that this is the middle chapter of the story and while the episode certainly packs in a few revelations (and easter eggs for fans), it’s propelled more so by exposition than it is actual action. Though spread more sparsely than they were in the first episode, Catch A Ride’s escape and chase sequences are some of the series’ best since Zer0 Sum – even if they do occasionally feel a little fragmented (and undercut by animation bugs).
Perhaps given that the series’ major plot thread involves (yet-another) hunt for a Vault, it’s for the best that Catch A Ride also devotes some time to developing its lead characters. While Rhys’ arc is all about him determining what his endgoals are (and whether trusting Jack is something he is willing to gamble on in order to achieve them), Fiona spends a lot of time throughout the episode interacting with Athena – who helps her understand what it takes to become a Vault Hunter. These subplots add a fun undercurrent to things that helps support the episode where the uneven pacing pulls it down.
Though there are some genuinely hilarious moments peppered throughout, the episode’s desire to make you laugh is overshadowed by its efforts to develop the season’s major plot thread. Hopefully it’s just a case of mid-season jitters – rather than an indication of a tonal pivot for the remaining two episodes.
Catch A Ride features some fun action sequences but lacks some of the comedic rhythm that uplifted the first two instalments of Tales of the Borderlands. It invests in the series’ future instalments at the cost of its own momentum and, while it’s not bad per-se, it doesn’t do a great job of recapturing the spark and energy that made the first two episodes of Tales such a delight.