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"Life Is Strange" (2015): Chloe Was Supposed to Die


Lee loves science fiction and pretty much any video game with aliens, mutants, robots, and time travel.

Chloe and Max ride in Chloe's car.

Chloe and Max ride in Chloe's car.

Life is Strange is a 2015 science fiction adventure game released by Square Enix. And it's insanely popular, especially among lesbians, given that the two main characters, Max and Chloe, are in love.

I remember hearing a lot about this game when it came out. The fact that the two main characters were women and they were in love was enough to intrigue me (being a lesbian myself and all) but I also remember that 2015 was actually a really bad year for me.

At the time, I was really pissed at Bioware for Dragon Age: Inquisition, and I was too busy ranting on my blog about how much the game had disappointed me to care about Life is Strange.

I was also ass-deep in playing Fallout 4 and romancing Curie. So it was years before I bought this game and sat down to play it. If I had known it was a Square Enix game, I probably would have played it a lot faster. But ah well. At least I played it at all.

And when I did, I was amazed. The story was really good! And as someone who loves the time travel genre, it followed all the conventions of traditional time travel stories. This is largely the reason why I believe Chloe was supposed to die, and keeping her alive is not only selfish . . .

It endangers the very fabric of reality.

The Variable

Max, the protagonist of Life is Strange.

Max, the protagonist of Life is Strange.

I'm going to counter every argument I've seen on the internet from people who believe that Chloe should live. But first, I'm going to explain to you why I believe Chloe should die.

Life is Strange isn't shy about the fact that it takes inspiration from time travel movies such as Donnie Darko, The Time Machine, and even Final Destination (which wasn't about time travel but was very similar).

What do all these films have in common? The variable.

When something happens on a timeline that wasn't supposed to happen, it creates a tear in the fabric of reality and the Universe basically turns itself inside-out trying to fix what was broken. The variable is the reason for the tear.

In Donnie Darko, Donnie was the variable. He wasn't supposed to survive the plane engine crashing on his house. When he survived, it created a twenty-eight day time loop that could only be ended with his death.

In the 2002 film The Time Machine, Dr. Alexander Hartdegen creates a time machine in an attempt to go back in time and save his fiancee from dying. Every time he goes back, however, Emma dies in a different way. He can't save her.

Alex spends the entire film searching for the answer to his conundrum, only to realize in the end that he can't use the time machine to save Emma when her death was the reason he created it in the first place. In other words, the time machine itself was the variable. . . . It wasn't supposed to exist. Just as Emma wasn't supposed to survive.

In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard finds himself stuck in a time loop after steering his ship through a wormhole. He goes back in time to try and save the ship, creating an endless loop where the ship flies through the wormhole. Eventually, he realizes that the only way to break the time loop is to kill the version of him that arrives from the future. Captain Picard realized he was the variable.

See where I'm going with this?

Chloe and Max.

Chloe and Max.

Chloe was the variable. She was supposed to die in the bathroom, and when Max saved her, it ripped apart the very fabric of reality!

So yes, Max did cause the storm. Not by messing with time, per se, but by saving Chloe's life. She changed something that was suppose to happen, creating an entirely new reality different from the original intended one.

I'm not sure why so many people have a hard time accepting that Max is responsible for the storm, but she most certainly is. Just like Donnie Darko was responsible for the wormhole in his story. Just like Captain Picard was responsible for the time loop.

Chloe is the variable that needs to be removed to reset the timeline and repair the rip in reality.

Some fans believe that Max was gifted her powers in order to save Chloe, and thus, letting Chloe die would make her powers pointless. I don't agree with this at all, however.

Native American Spirits Intervened

Nathan fights Tobanga.

Nathan fights Tobanga.

It's my belief that Max was gifted her powers by the spirits of the Native Americans in Arcadia Bay, who were tired of watching Nathan Prescott and his family destroy their land.

They didn't care about saving Chloe. They cared about having Nathan go to jail, thus tearing down the Prescott empire by ruining their reputation. Because if Nathan isn't arrested for murder, then he's killed by Jefferson, which casts him in a sympathetic light. The only way was to have Nathan get caught after having killed someone. Chloe is just a tool used by the spirits to make this happen.

Unfortunately for the spirits, however, Max is not going to stand by while Chloe is killed. So the spirits give Max the power to turn back time, giving her one week to be with her love before ultimately realizing that she has to let her die.

Basically, the only way to get Max to stick it to the Prescotts was to allow her to rip apart the fabric of reality before she would stand by and let Chloe be killed . . . that's how much Max loves Chloe.

The world has to be ending before she will let her die!

A deer spirit guides Max.

A deer spirit guides Max.

The Native American spirits that granted Max her power communicate with her by sending her visions of a doe. Apparently, Max is the only person who can see it. It's also transparent, which means it isn't real. It has been sent to guide her.

Multiple times, the doe guides her to the lighthouse and even to Rachel's grave. The spirits are trying to guide her into exposing the Prescotts by unearthing Rachel.

I believe a doe was chosen because Max seems to like them, especially given that she's a photographer. She wears a shirt with a doe on it, and at the end of the game, at Chloe's funeral, she wears a doe necklace.

Max rides the bus.

Max rides the bus.

I believe Max was chosen by the spirits for a number of reasons.

For one thing, Max is smart, nosy, and determined. She is a detective in the making. Out of everyone at Blackwell, she is the one most likely to figure out what's going on behind the scenes.

For another thing, Max is an outsider. She is often bullied and belittled on a regular basis by everyone, especially Nathan. So she has a personal motivation to see the Prescotts go down.

Honestly, while playing the game I felt terrible for her. It was like she was hated by everyone just for existing. Reminded me of my own life . . . Unfortunately, I see a lot of myself in Max.

With all that being said, if Max is responsible for the storm, then it only stands to reason that she should end it and save the lives of the town. Up until the end of the game, Max has been presented as someone who is intelligent and responsible and cares about people. She's flawed but she's also still, at her core, a good person. Not saving the town is completely out of character for her. I honestly feel as if that half-assed ending was added for people who would be angry about Chloe dying.

Chloe's Death Montage

The game also makes it clear that Chloe is supposed to die by having her die five different times throughout the story. All these deaths are the Universe trying to fix the rip in reality by putting things the way they're supposed to be.

Unfortunately, Max keeps finding ways to bring Chloe back, foiling the Universe's efforts to fix itself. Because of this, the Universe grants Max the ability to time jump through pictures. Max goes back in time and saves the life of Chloe's father . . . causing Chloe to get in a car accident in his place.

Max is then forced to live out a reality where Chloe is in a wheelchair. This happened on purpose. The Universe wanted to show Max everything she couldn't see in the other timeline.

Chloe asks Max to kill her.

Chloe asks Max to kill her.

Blue-haired Chloe and Wheelchair Chloe are as different from each other as night and day. Because her father never died and because she never met Rachel (who did her more harm than good, in my opinion), Chloe seems more emotionally stable and well adjusted. She's not bitter, selfish, and angry. She doesn't have a problem expressing her feelings or being vulnerable.

When Max first arrives at her house, Chloe allows herself a huge smile that we never see in the blue-hair timeline. She is not afraid to show Max how happy she is to see her. She gives Max a doe-eyed love stare as they are watching a movie. She tells Max over and over how much she loves being with her and how happy she is to see her. She even tells Max that she loves her!

Blue-haired Chloe is so incapable of this type of expression that Max (as revealed in the dream sequence) thinks that Chloe secretly laughs behind her back and actually hates her. But the reality is, Chloe loves Max deeply, as more than a friend. A less emotionally damaged Chloe has the ability to express it.

But Chloe's love isn't what the Universe wanted to show Max.

The reason why there is no storm in the wheelchair timeline is because Chloe is dying. Chloe is dying of respiratory failure and it's stated in the game that she will be dead soon. Thus, there is no tear in the time continuum. Whether Max pulls the plug or not . . . Chloe is going to die. The Universe is trying to tell Max that Chloe's death is necessary.

The scene also serves as a foreshadowing. Chloe explains that she has zero agency and wants the freedom to make her own choices. She doesn't want her parents to suffer for her and she's tired of suffering herself. She asks Max to please set her free, end her suffering and the suffering of her parents.

Wheelchair Chloe isn't selfish because she hasn't been emotionally damaged by the world's cruel treatment of her. She wants to die for the sake of everyone around her.

Sacrificing Chloe Completes Her Arc

Sacrificing Chloe.

Sacrificing Chloe.

The entire speech by Wheelchair Chloe is repeated by Blue-haired Chloe at the end of the game: she doesn't want her parents to die in a diner for her, she doesn't want the entire town to die just for her, and she wants to be able to make that choice for herself . . . but she concedes that (once again, unknowingly to her) her life is in Max's hands.

At the end of the game, Blue-haired Chloe is no longer selfish and destructive because realizing that Max loves her has healed the wound in her heart. There's a very sweet moment where Max is telling Chloe about all the times she hopped timelines and realities just to save her life. The smile on Chloe's face is very touching because she's realizing for the first time how deeply Max loves her.

When Max has finished speaking, Chloe grabs her in a hug and thanks for her suffering through multiple realities just to save her "ungrateful ass."

I know that we're all tired of sad lesbian deaths, but Chloe's death and her tragic life are an inescapable part of what is a beautiful story as a result. That she should die at the end was the intended and correct outcome. It shows her character growth that she would be willing to die for others and it aligns with Max's own selfless morality.

Soulmates Don't Always Stay Together

Max and Chloe walk hand-in-hand.

Max and Chloe walk hand-in-hand.

A lot of people want to keep Chloe alive and to hell with the town because Max and Chloe are soulmates and belong together and deserve to be happy, etc, etc.

We live in a society that has a pretty warped definition of a soulmate. Most people think a soulmate is the perfect person for an individual, someone who shares an amazing and incredible spiritual connection with another on a cosmic level.

While this is partially true, in reality, a soulmate is a person who comes into your life to help you grow as a person. They love you unconditionally and they help you become stronger and better. And once you've grown, they typically leave.

I'm not talking out of my ass, either. I used to scoff at the idea of soulmates . . . until I met mine. She changed my entire world. And now I'm a stronger, better person. Once I grew and became stronger, she left.

We had such a deep, inexplainable bond that I went online looking for answers to this baffling phenomenon, and I discovered the true definition of a soulmate.

On top of helping you grow as a person, soulmates are often in love with and/or involved with someone else, which is ultimately why they leave you. They aren't there to have a relationship with you. They're just there to help you grow.

My soulmate had a girlfriend already but was drawn to me and me to her. We never had a romantic relationship, though we both wanted to. She stayed long enough to nurture the wounds in my heart (much as Max's love healed Chloe) and then she was gone.

Max and Chloe forever.

Max and Chloe forever.

Likewise, Chloe is still in love with Rachel, even while she's in love with Max. She talks about Rachel constantly, and the scene where she discovers Rachel's body is heartbreaking (particularly because of Ashly Burch's great voice acting). So when Chloe dies, it's like she goes on to be with Rachel. Jefferson even has a line in the game where he says that Chloe and Rachel are f*cking in Heaven.

It really sucked to be Max and to listen to everyone comparing her to Rachel. For whatever reason, the narrative really drove it home Rebecca style (it's a book, look it up) that Max would never be good enough to replace Rachel and/or that Max was trying to replace Rachel.

I don't like Rachel as a character. I'm pretty convinced she's a horrible person, so the idea of Chloe going on to be with her in Heaven is . . . gross to me. But it seems to be what the writers were aiming for: Chloe helps Max grow into a stronger person, then gets to be happy with Rachel as Max goes on with her life.

After all, people have multiple soulmates. The thought that there's only one soulmate for everyone is another common misconception. Max will no doubt go on to find love and be happy, and maybe Chloe gets to be happy with her father and Rachel on the other side.

Either way, Chloe was supposed to die to stop the storm. Allowing her to live is not only selfish and in direct conflict with her character arc, but it also means that the rip in reality will just grow bigger.

If Max chooses to keep Chloe alive then she has ultimately doomed the world for the sake of her love. Which is selfish and messed up . . . and really romantic.

Gives me Buffy flashbacks of Willow trying to end the world because Tara had died. Sigh. So tragic and yet so beautiful.

That being said, I really am tired of every lesbian story being tragic (yes, Chloe and Max are lesbians to me, not bisexuals). I look forward to the day when we can have a lesbian story that is a)explicit about the sexuality of the characters and to hell with offending homophobes and b) has a happy ending. Just like straight stories!

Because that's we want, folks. That's all we want.

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