This article contains spoilers for The Wolf Among Us.
Developer Telltale Games’ latest episodic series based on writer Bill Willingham’s Fables comic-book series wrapped up a couple of weeks ago, and the Internet is falling over itself trying to figure out what to make of its last few moments. Check out this video if you need a refresher:
After Bigby has defeated the infamous Crooked Man and has broken up his crime ring, he has one more conversation with Nerissa, who has been leading him through the investigation throughout the series. As she turns to leave, she says, “You’re not as bad as everyone says you are.” And this triggers a Usual Suspects-style realization montage as our hero makes a series of connections between his informant and Faith, the woman whose death all the way back in the first episode set him on his path for the rest of the series.
See, Faith said exactly the same thing at the end of her conversation with Bigby in “Faith,” and this has fans wondering if the whole case was even more complicated than they’d thought — specifically, that Faith and Nerissa are the same person at some point.
Here’s what they’ve come up with.
Theory 1: ‘Nerissa’ was Faith
Before we get into specifics, here’s a reminder on one of The Wolf Among Us’s most confusion-inducing plot elements: glamours. These are spells that let Fables appear in different forms, and they feature heavily throughout the series. Fabletown law requires all non-humanoid residents to buy some magic so that the outside world doesn’t notice all the giant toads and talking pigs wandering around the neighborhood.
Glamours make things complicated because you’re never really sure who is whom, as when Bigby (and everyone else, really) mistakes Holly’s body for Snow White’s because it was all magicked up. So this theory claims that the Nerissa we’d been talking to the entire time was actually Faith using a glamour to look like the ex-Little Mermaid.
What does this mean, though?
It means that Faith doesn’t die in Episode 1 — Nerissa does. In this case, we have an extra-crazy-making double glamour situation in which Georgie means to murder Faith but accidentally kills Nerissa instead because she’s under the enchantment (possibly because she was covering one of Faith’s work shifts at the strip club/prostitution agency The Pudding and Pie). And then the real Faith has to disguise herself as the now-dead Nerissa to cover her tracks and keep from getting murderated herself.
This thread from the Telltale forums lays it all out, citing Dr. Swinehart’s need to run additional tests on the remains and the Magic Mirror’s inability to locate Faith as evidence of some enchanted shenanigans going on. An unglamoured head is just a head, this player reasons, and Swinehart would have no need of further testing otherwise. And if Faith is still alive, the spell binding her to secrecy and discretion in her seedy work would still be active, and this would extend to the Mirror’s ability to locate her.
At the same time, however, Swinehart’s tests could have also been to reason out the cause of death, since “magical decapitation ribbon” is probably not in a medical textbook on any plane of existence.
And check this out: Faith comes from the story of Donkeyskin, which is about a beautiful princess who disguises herself as a gross donkey lady to escape from her father. In the story, this was because he wanted to marry her, but you can maybe see the parallel other than that — in this case, Faith is disguising herself as Nerissa to break free of The Crooked Man.
This correlation is kinda of mean to Nerissa, though. I thought she was pretty.
Theory 2: “Faith” was Nerissa
This version of events says that the “Faith” we meet at the beginning of the series isn’t her at all. It is, in fact, Nerissa under a glamour in an attempt to call Bigby’s attention to the nefarious dealings going on below Fabletown’s already pretty shady surface.
What does this mean, though?
In this case, Faith is already dead at the beginning of the game, and Nerissa (as Faith) intentionally starts trouble with The Woodsman so that Bigby would show up and start snooping around. She had to disguise herself as the dead woman so that he’d make the connection when he found the head.
For this reading, Faith, the title character of the first chapter and the person from whom all of Bigby’s motivation springs, never appears alive the entire game.
This interpretation of events also makes a little more sense considering the fact that Nerissa intentionally gives herself away at the end. If “Nerissa” is really Faith in disguise as the first reading says, how much sense does it make to leave Bigby with that loose thread? She’s only opening herself up to a bunch of questions from an annoyed werewolf.
Meanwhile, if “Faith” was Nerissa, telling Bigby about it doesn’t change anything; she was just leading him along the investigation for slightly longer than he thought.
And anyway, if her entire goal is to take her life back, how much sense does it make if she has to do so as a completely different person?
If you want to read some good discussion of this hypothesis — and a bonus theory that says that “Nerissa” was actually Bloody Mary the whole time, but I don’t think anyone lends that much weight — check out this thread on the Steam forums.
Which one is real?
We sent out an e-mail to Telltale asking for clarification, but those lips are sealed.
But we’re almost sure to get some answers in the unannounced but inevitable second season. While you’re waiting, though, you might want to check out these related works.
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