Batman: The Enemy Within – Episode 4: What Ails You Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Apple Mac, PC, iPad and Microsoft Xbox One
WARNING! This review may contain SPOILERS for Batman: The Telltale Series and earlier episodes of Batman: The Enemy Within.
One interesting aspect of What Ails You is that, depending on your previous actions, you may not even see Batman at all. Whether you faced the cold embrace of Harley’s vengeance, or left a knife in Catwoman’s back last episode, you will see the ripples of your actions here. The repercussions of your choices will determine how substantially you have affected the lives of the people of Gotham.
Now that the first few episodes have slowly laid out the groundwork for our finale, this episode has a fast pacing that leads to a grand payoff at the end. The Pact is finally within arms reach of the Lotus Virus and no matter what, Bruce will be there to face them head on this time. With no time to spare, he can no longer maintain his guise as a villain. This makes your betrayal of Selena particularly fruitless if you gave her up in The Fractured Mask. Otherwise, Catwoman will take a stand with Batman, and make a sassy sidekick in the fast and frantic battle with the remaining Pact members. Unfortunately, Bane has once again been relegated to an excuse for a quicktime battle. He and Dr Freeze still feel like redundant spare-parts that are only used to prop up Harley and John’s character development.
When Bruce and Selena reveal their true intent, the fragile supervillain alliance begins to crumble in its desperation. The Pact members reveal their grotesque underbelly and Harley proves herself to be a progressively ruthless companion and one not to be underestimated. Their panicked state allows the story to gather momentum that was sorely missing, and the quicktime sequence complements it. Meanwhile, the shady Agency's dubious exploits come to light, and even Waller’s colleagues are grasping for reasons to trust her.
‘What Ails You’ is another loaded episode title that teases the latest plot reveals. We’re only just beginning to learn the individual, very relatable, reasons that brought this mishmash of enemies together. Perhaps this is a little late in the season to finally gain this insight, but everything seems to be coming together in a cohesive fashion. The plot twist is not groundbreaking or shocking, but it is satisfying.
Unsurprisingly, Batman is usually the centre of the Batman saga. However, Telltale’s Bruce Wayne has been an excellent blank sheet for players to imprint themselves upon in The Enemy Within. It has allowed the ensemble of secondary characters to be the main attraction. The character arcs have been substantial enough to provide us with multiple layers of interest to digest. Most of which are now finding natural resolutions. There is no sign of Jim Gordon and his holier-than-thou attitude to be seen this time around. Although, wedged between The Pact and The Agency narratives, he would have been one of the weaker elements, so it was wise for the writers to focus on their strengths.
One thing that doesn’t quite sit right in The Enemy Within, is the increasing number of people who know that Bruce and the Bat are one and the same. Everybody and their aunt seems to know of Bruce’s dual identity, like this were a season of The Flash and not ‘the world’s greatest detective’. What is most surprising though, is that more people don’t know his secret, considering that Bruce has been terrible at concealing his abrupt exits and continually proves himself to be an adept fighter and gymnast out of his suit.
Batman has been reimagined more times than is probably healthy for one single franchise, yet Telltale has managed to develop a narrative that is fresh and fun for fans and newcomers alike. Over the course of this season of Batman: The Enemy Within, we have experienced the loss of classic characters, introductions of new characters, and innovative takes on old ones. The pinnacle of this season has to be the character development of John Doe; an eerie, nascent Joker who stands on the precipice of becoming a psychotic serial killer.
The most appealing aspect of this character comes from knowing that he may become the Joker and how much influence we have over his evolution. His unbalanced persona is a result of your manipulations and his own inner demons. John’s more troubling traits are now bubbling to the surface, no longer hidden behind the amenable jokes and playfulness.
We have previously seen how impressionable John can be, with most of his personality being moulded by his two favourite people - Harley and you as Batman. Yet, this episode, John is experiencing a breakdown of the relationships around him - a dissolving of the reality he relies on. Without Harley, John is slowly getting some of his own agency and independence, which makes for a more unnerving character. While he used to be submissive, we begin to see John openly defy his companions. He proves himself a cunning and manipulative liar, just like his friends have taught him.
The ending of What Ails You is a satisfying payoff for all of your interaction and choices with John Doe over the course of the season so far. Will there still be a chance to pull John back before he becomes the infamous Joker? The season finale won’t have too many loose ends to tie up, so we’re fully expecting episode five to set the stage for a follow-up season.