Chapter Four: Dark Room
I think it goes without saying that "Dark Room" was, by far, the best chapter of the series. It was such an emotionally charged rollarcoaster, from the beginning with the alternate timeline and seeing the aftermath of that butterfly effect, to the middle after discovering what happened to Rachel Amber and other victims, to that very shocking revelation and cliffhanger ending.
Mark Jefferson and Nathan Prescott
So, Mark Jefferson is essentially the Ezra Fitz of Life Is Strange, photographing and secretly watching young girls for his own perversion and being an adult predator of these girls who he has victimized. And while the events at the end certainly was quite shocking, with him drugging Max and killing Chloe, the revelation itself isn't that surprising especially when you look back at the clues, and once you piece them together it all makes sense.
From the prologue of the very first chapter you overhear him addressing the class with his lecture, which he then says, "I could frame any one of you in a dark corner, and catch you in a moment of desperation. And any one of you could do that to me. Isn't that too easy? Too obvious?" This is at the very start of the game, when the player is trying to get used to the controls, and unless you went back and played it again after finishing the chapter the first time you probably missed it when figuring the mechanics out. It's very easy to miss, and it probably wouldn't register on anyone's radar that early in, but looking back on it now it's brilliant in foreshadowing. It was right there, underneath our noses.
There are other clues too, for example once you look around the classroom you'll notice Jefferson's photography featured on magazines, all which include young women. There is the mysterious phone conversation which, when you overhear it in its entirety, it makes it sound very suspicious. His demeanor also seemed rather, well, weird. Surely at first impression he appeared to be the attractive "cool teacher", but there was something a bit off. He seemed to be a bit too comfortable with making "friends" with his students rather than being their teacher, adopting the cool teacher label given his appearance at the Vortex Club party (him being there was strange enough, especially since he was the only teacher there, a place where there are drugs and underage drinking) and everyone's reactions to him (all the girls thinking he's hot, everyone thinking he's relatable, his status and reputation of being a fantastic photographer giving him major points in popularity, etc). It's pretty much the perfect way of hiding who he really is. Since there was a lot of pointing fingers throughout the series so far at Nathan because of his behavioral outbursts, Jefferson easily slipped underneath the radar. Also, another thing is his fixation with Max with pushing her to enter the contest is quite creepy in hindsight, for example. In fact, it becomes more disturbing when you think about what his intentions for Max have been this entire time. Would Max have become the next unknowing victim?
And how is Jefferson connected to the Prescott family? Is he related somehow to that family? Was he someone they had helped and because of whatever condition he may have, similar to Nathan's, they have kept it under wraps, paying off people in the town to keep it all quiet? I'm very curious to learning more about his backstory and motives in the final chapter.
Nathan Prescott's role in everything is something to question, as well. I've seen some apologists defend him saying that he's a victim, which while there are some complicated aspects to the story (Nathan being diagnosed with a severe mental illness that is possibly not being treated, hence his outbursts, and the possibility of pressures or abuse at home) that does not nor should not excuse his behavior and the things he has committed. Even if he didn't kill Rachel and has been framed for what was done to her, he is still majorly responsible for many other reprehensible things and that shouldn't be ignored. That being said, there are two possibilities of his involvement: he is either willingly working with Jefferson, or he has been taken advantage of and manipulated. He is unhinged, and Jefferson saw that and wanted to use him as not just a helper but an expendable scapegoat should anyone ever start poking around and investigating, like what Max and Chloe were doing. Some have speculated that perhaps Jefferson is Nathan's father, and that would be an interesting twist. But as it is, I figure he's either a close friend of the family or a relative and took on Nathan as an apprentice.
Also, as a sidenote, someone had unlocked something from the game that allows you to see an alternate camera angle of the final scene, and it is possibly even creepier than what was used, because you can see where Jefferson appears from behind Max and what he does to Chloe.
Even though I knew what was going to happen, it was still upsetting when the reveal came that Rachel had been murdered and buried in the junkyard. That very junkyard that Max and Chloe were searching for bottles to shoot at. It was such an emotional point of the game, that was prompted after finding the binders filled with photographs of previous victims. What I find interesting about this is, even though we haven't even met Rachel, and yet she has been an integral part of this entire plot and investigation.
Aside from what we briefly learned from Chloe and some others, we don't really know who Rachel Amber was. She apparently was quite popular and well-liked by most, her student file even states that she is an exceptional student who became the face of Blackwell Academy, right alongside Nathan and Victoria. But other than that, we don't know much else. There are some speculations going around that perhaps Rachel wasn't exactly what everyone says, especially from Chloe who most likely is romanticizing Rachel considering how she felt about her. She not only places her on this pedestal because she attributes her to saving her life from dark times ("she was my angel"), but I am very certain that Chloe held romantic feelings towards Rachel, and it's possible that Rachel didn't reciprocate, hence keeping her relationship with Frank a secret. Victoria also seems to hate Rachel rather intensely, which could be either out genuine spite or envy depending. Of course, I do think with the minimal things we know about Rachel that there could be much more to her than what others say, but I don't think she was a horrible person either. I think she was a good friend to Chloe, she was a positive person, she had a bright future and wanted to get out of Arcadia Bay. Unfortunately, she fell victim of Jefferson, who probably promised her many things about her future, as it was revealed in a letter she wrote that she found someone who literally "changed her world", and with Jefferson's promises about the future she could have fallen into that trap.
So, what happened that got her killed? Since there have been previous missing girls around Arcadia Bay over the years, with the rest of the victims just being drugged out of their mind and having little to no recollection of what happened to them, it is curious why Rachel was the one to suddenly get killed. With the photographs of her, Max notes that they looked different from the others. She is sitting upright and is glaring angrily at the camera, clearly aware of what is going on. It is entirely possible that Rachel was going to go to the authorities (and did but wasn't believed), or was going to blackmail Nathan and Jefferson for what they did to her, only this got her killed. As for the photograph with the posing of Nathan and Rachel unconscious together, this could be blackmail Jefferson has over Nathan as insurance of his loyalty.
Considering how important Rachel has been to the story, I've been wondering if we might actually see her in the last chapter. I seriously want to see her appear to Max, either as a hallucination or in a dream while she is underneath the effects of being drugged, and have there be a scene with them similar to the one in Orphan Black between Sarah and Beth. I truly think that Rachel may be responsible for giving Max these rewind powers, for sending the blue butterfly connecting both Max and Chloe together again. Her death spawned these series of strange events, which the universe has allowed her to bring these two best friends together again and help solve not just the mystery of her death but prevent more from happening again. This game is called Life Is Strange, and there is nothing stranger than having an event spawn a series of strange end-of-the-world like events. I have even seen people think that these are two timelines converging with each other, and that the storm that will be passing might be when Max might meet Rachel who will provide some answers and some advice on what to do next, especially in saving Chloe. This is my hope, anyway. I don't know or expect the game to go in that direction, but I will be really happy if it does.
Max and Chloe
These two have gone through so much over the course of the story. Childhood friends brought back together underneath bizarre circumstances, teaming up to investigate and uncover the truth about Rachel Amber and what is happening in their strange little town, leading them down an unexpected road of harsh realities and self-discovery. The fourth episode hit the hardest for both of them, with Chloe learning the truth about what happened to Rachel, and Max with not just that as well but also attempting to alter the past to make a better future, only to discover that just because one thing is fixed doesn't make everything fixed. Having to watch Chloe die twice was already hard enough for her, but then the end of the episode happened where she cannot rewind time since she is drugged by Jefferson.
And this is why I firmly believe that she will be able to save Chloe in the final chapter. Just because she couldn't immediately rewind doesn't necessarily mean all hope is gone. The game introduced us to the possibility that she can rewind further back in time through Polaroid pictures. Why would the game give us this option as part of her powers if we couldn't use it again? While going that back far in time the first go around definitely showed how things can drastically be altered, this could feature us going not too far back, just enough for Chloe to still be alive and figure out a plan of action of capturing Jefferson once and for all. Some have mentioned the picture that Warren took of him and Max before they entered the Vortex party would be the picture she would use, some have mentioned the possibility of another picture she took. However it will go down, I'm positive that this is what will happen.
Since we know that Max's powers are limited, there is a high chance that whatever decision is made in her rewinding to a particular point in time will most likely be her last. Her powers are connected to the strange occurrences and the approaching storm, if she is able to go back and save Chloe and alter how things are done and exposing Jefferson and the Prescott's for who they really are, maybe the chance that the storm may pass and her powers will be no more. Which we expect this to happen, we knew these abilities had an expiration date, and that's okay. Chloe and Max don't need to rely on rewind powers to remain close with each other, that's kind of the point. They will have each other, and that's what matters.
Chapter Five: "Polarized"
The fifth and final chapter hasn't been released yet, but there's already speculations based on what we saw in the brief preview. We only see Jefferson filling a syringe with something and a girl crying in the background, pleading for him to stop, and then shots of the tornado storm.
This could be what is happening to Max after being drugged, or this could be Victoria Chase (since she was labeled as the next victim from the binders), or this could be a flashback to what happened with other girls, possibly Kate Marsh or Rachel Amber that Max is somehow seeing after passing out. This is one thing I wish that Rachel Amber will be showing her exactly what happened, and will tell her through a hallucination that she can save herself if she overcomes the drugs enough to get out, hence how Max is lying facedown on the ground outside of the lighthouse from the beginning of the game. That could very well be a foreshadowing of the events that she does get away, that the drugs making her go in and out where an opportunity of her past self to see where things might take her in the future and it's all now connecting together. I've also seen some people think that maybe David might come to her rescue, or even Nathan if he has a change of heart when realizing how far things have gone.
Either way, however Max gets out of this, whatever answers are revealed, the final chapter will no doubt be one hell of an emotional doozy. I would say the fourth chapter was the biggest one when it came to an emotional rollarcoaster, but the final one has a lot of connecting the dots to do being the climax of the entire story. It is going to be one hell of a ride, and I'm hoping that it is satisfactory as well as conclusive.