There’s not supposed to be anything beneath the bedrock in Minecraft. As the lowest possible point at which you can dig, the dingy gray of the bedrock even seemed to infect the air, it’s darkness floating like particles to signal just how low you’ve dug.
So how do you explain the Underneath? Revealed at the end of Episode 3, the Underneath is a broken, fiery world forged by the three Admins: Xara, who we just released from prison, Romeo, the current “Admin” who is residing in Beacontown while wearing a Jesse skin, and Fred, the only one we’ve not met yet. Seeking a way to defeat Romeo, Jesse and company follow Xara down further than they, or anyone they know, have ever gone.
Below the Bedrock picks up as the group jumps into the unknown. Well, the unknown for everyone but Xara, who is still kind of prickly about not only where they are going, but her relationship with Romeo. The group reacts poorly upon seeing just how broken and hellish the Underneath looks, and then absolutely loses their minds when they’re confronted with the largest Enderman of known record. It’s big and purple and growly, and just a little less cool than the ridiculous ghost squid head from the last episode.
Arriving in Xara’s town, the group’s mission in the Underneath becomes clear; Jesse and company have to find whatever weapon Fred hid before Romeo killed him, and Xara has to fix the portal that will get them back to the surface. The rest of the episode fits with what Season 2 has kind of laid out as its structure: get to a place, explore it, find something that leads you to another place, fight some baddies, solve a puzzle, escape into another dangerous situation. What’s different about this trip though is that it’s not spent trying to get the group back together. Your time is spent instead on trying to solve a mystery. It adds some stakes to proceedings and kept me engaged beyond just the humor factor.
I also really appreciate the writing, which sounds hilarious when paired with the word Minecraft, but there’s a commitment and earnestness to everything that’s really refreshing. It doesn’t let you get away with anything either. For example, there’s a conversation a little late in the chapter where Jesse is trying to convince Xara to take the townspeople who were living in the shadow of Fred’s House. He uses the line “No one gets left behind!” to which Radar promptly adds “Well, that’s not exactly true, some people have to get left.” Xara then chimes in “Yeah, you left that villager to get me out.” It’s a great call back to her escape, it makes the world feel lived-in, like these people remember what you actually did. And it just makes for good comedy. Any time you have a talent like Patton Oswalt sounding like he’s making things up on the fly is a good time.
Episode 4 also presents a good case for Romeo not being a complete jerk. Outside of the Joker, it’s almost impossible to find a foe who’s evil just for evil’s sake, and Romeo looks poised to be no different. With the finale fast approaching, it will be interesting to see just how this plays out. I expected this turn to come, to offer up a solution that’s not just “kill the baddie” especially in a game that’s fought so hard to not be defined by its source material, and it would be a shame for them to drop the ball with the ending so close.
As one of the strongest episodes to date, there was only one complaint I had regarding Episode 4… WHERE’S STELLA?!? Yes, I know she didn’t join the group in the Underneath, but she served as such a hilarious comic foil to Jesse that I truly felt her absence from the adventure. I was smart enough to take her llama in the Nurm/Lluna trade, but, come on Telltale, give me a cutscene or something that lets a man know how his Stella’s doing!
I really enjoyed Below the Bedrock and can’t wait to see how this season is going to close itself out. Telltale seems to have solved their pacing issue, and with the inclusion of the mystery element in finding “Fred’s weapon,” have added just enough outside of the general comedy to keep me invested. Will Jesse and crew be able to save Beacontown and defeat The Admin? We’ll find out with the next installment.
Reviewer and Editor for Darkstation by day, probably not the best superhero by night. I mean, look at that costume. EEK!