The following feature contains spoilers for Tales from the Borderlands' finale, The Vault of the Traveler. If you have not played this episode, turn back now, because we're going down the spoiler well.
It's been a week since Telltale Games released the season finale, meaning Tales from the Borderlands is officially in the books. The five-episode season that was set after the events of Borderlands 2 has concluded and, as some expected, it's shaken up that series' landscape quite a bit. Certain stories have been completely wrapped up, some set pieces have been moved around, and overall, there appears to be a new normal for the Borderlands series. After multiple episodes of asking the big burning questions, there's one big question that must be asked now that it's all over: Where does Borderlands go from here?
So let's analyze the big events from The Vault of the Traveler and ask what they'll possibly lead to in the future? Will the fallout of these events be felt in the eventual Borderlands 3? Or is there also a potential second season (or at the very least, an epilogue) of Tales from the Borderlands on the horizon that will have these answers? Let's examine…
What becomes of a post-Handsome Jack universe?
This is how a Borderlands fan truly knows that it's the end of an era. Handsome Jack has been the central figure in the franchise since Borderlands 2, acting as an egomaniacal, megalomaniacal villain with a surprising amount of pathos that was explored over the course of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Tales from the Borderlands. The events of The Vault of the Traveler pretty definitively (although, I slightly hesitate to use that phrase, given one of the big options in the final episode) spelled the end for Handsome Jack, once and for all. So now that Jack's gone… what happens to the universe?
Not only is Jack gone, but everything he built has likewise been destroyed. There's nothing left of Hyperion as an organization, burning to ash alongside the Helios station. However, that doesn't mean Jack's legacy has entirely been removed. After all, Hyperion's part of the reason that Pandora is armed to the teeth. But even with all the altruistic intentions in the world, it's still important to remember that Pandora is an extremely dangerous place. It's not a place that's about to change with Jack's death, so it'll still be a planet inhabited by bandits, psychopaths, and murderers.
Even if it was ultimately perverted by his own brand of twisted evil, Jack's goal was a noble one on the surface. He wanted to make Pandora a better place. Perhaps someone else can step into that role? Or a couple of someones, like…
What should be expected of the Children of Helios?
The destruction of the Helios station had a widespread effect on the universe, not only putting an end to any Handsome Jack comeback, but also killing hundreds of Hyperion employees. Those that managed to evacuate the station landed on Pandora, where they essentially emerged as clean slates. Not familiar with anything outside Helios, the hostile planet was a shock to everyone's system, with the refugees described as "newborns."
That left Vaughn to take charge, elected leader after he had survived everything Pandora threw at him. Vaughn has trained the Children of Helios to put their skills to good use, making them capable survivors that work exceptionally well as a tandem. They look to have gotten out of the weapons game, though it's clear that Pandora still has its share of threats. The immediate future of the Children is a little murky, but it's safe to say their presence will help shape Pandora's immediate future. After all, they're looking to distance themselves from the violent legacy of Handsome Jack.
That means if there's a Borderlands 3, there's a good chance the Children will be around as allies, potentially assisting with weapons or research. This definitely won't be the last we've seen of them or their efforts to make Pandora a better place. And speaking of groups hoping to make Pandora a better place...
Can Atlas shake off its violent past?
If a weapon wasn't manufactured by Hyperion, it was likely made by Atlas, a competing war conglomerate that also turned Pandora into a weapon-filled hotbed of misery.
Here's where the Rhys story gets immensely fascinating. Remember, no matter how Rhys was played, he still inadvertently (or not, depending on how he was played) wound up following in the footsteps of his one-time hero, Handsome Jack. If he followed his violent path, then he made quite a good protege. If he tried to handle things nonviolently with the hope of making things right, Jack would remind him that that's how his story started. No moment symbolically hammered home the similarities in their paths like the moment that that Vaughn pointed to a decapitated statue of Jack with the label "Rhys." That spoke volumes.
So where do Rhys and Atlas go from here? Everyone starts off with the best of intentions and Rhys certainly intends to become Pandora's answer to Tony Stark, in the sense that he hopes to turn Atlas from a ruthless organization of war into an agency of peace. But will Pandora's chaotic nature eventually weigh them down? Will Atlas eventually fall back to its old weapon-making ways and will Rhys, by extension, continue to travel down Handsome Jack's path?
That's a question that probably won't be answered right away, because…
Where did Rhys and Fiona disappear to?
It was hard not to personally groan at the cliched "disappearance" ending, but it's not like happy endings aren't easy to come by. Anyway, I digress. The final seconds of Tales from the Borderlands saw Rhys and Fiona open the titular Vault of the Traveler, only for a bright blinding light to briefly illuminate the Vault before Rhys and Fiona were nowhere to be found. That leads to the obvious question: Where did they go?
That's a difficult question to answer and one of the few leads may be the very nature of the Traveler itself. It's a monster that can teleport from place-to-place and that means having what's essentially a pocket dimension filled with monsters inside of its body. It's possible that even with the Traveler destroyed, the strange area within it has continued to exist.
After pondering this for over a week, this is the toughest of the big questions to answer, because the possibilities are almost endless. The explanation can also be something as simple as the pair falling into a different part of Pandora (or even the universe) entirely. They might even be dead, with the story of their deaths mentioned in passing during a Borderlands 3 side quest. It's impossible to tell, but at the very least, the Vault of the Traveler will remain a major mystery moving forward. Whether it's addressed in a future season of Tales from the Borderlands (assuming there is one) or in the eventual Borderlands 3 remains to be seen. Personally, I'm hopeful there's one last standalone episode to tie this and other loose ends up and lead into the next big chapter of the main Borderlands series.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Tales from the Borderlands - Where does Borderlands go from The Vault of the Traveler?
That ending was kinda meh. Really liked the Power Rangers spoof though!