So, let’s talk quickly about big, bad Victoria Chase.
First of all, it’s noteworthy that the second episode caps off with a scene of Victoria crying, which parallels Kate’s scene at the end of episode 1 and seems to suggest that episode 3 will feature Victoria (and the consequences of the choices you’ve made with her) more intimately.
However you feel about her, Victoria is not going to be a one-note villain; Dontnod have purposefully made her sympathetic, and complex. Several characters in-game (Max, Zachary) wonder aloud what Victoria’s problem is and why she behaves the way she does — doesn’t she have everything? Zach says she’s “hot, rich, and popular” and doesn’t understand why she creates drama and makes things equally difficult for herself as she does for those she bullies. These are obviously questions intended to prompt us, the audience: why DOES she behave the way she does? Why is she so caustic and vile when she’s got nothing to complain about?
I think that Victoria is deeply unhappy and insecure, and we’ve been given some brief but significant glimpses into that person from both Max’s perspective (the paint, Taylor’s comments about her friendship with Victoria) AND from the perspective of an omniscient viewer (Victoria crying in her room at the end of episode 2). This is interesting, because it functions multilaterally: Victoria is made sympathetic and complex to the player, but also to Max the character, who — if you choose to comfort Victoria — notes in her journal that Victoria is a confused teenager just like she herself is, and ends up with a much less narrow view of what would otherwise be an archetypal schoolyard bully. What this says to me is that Victoria’s character will begin to unravel in some interesting ways, and we’ll see more of that vulnerability and insecurity from episode 1 in a way that is contingent on her developing relationship with Max, and how you choose to direct it.
I didn’t like Victoria in episode 2, but I’ll be goddamned if she isn’t turning out to be the most interesting character so far. It’s easy to love Kate, it’s easy to hate Nathan; we are meant to receive Victoria with a little more ambiguity, a little more cautious hopefulness. Dontnod want us to wonder if Victoria could maybe, possibly be better than this. I think she is. I think Max thinks so too.