Greetings! What follows is an in-depth walkthrough of the fifth episode of Life is Strange titled “Polarized”. In earlier chapters, we dove deep into detective mode, trying to unmask the main antagonist, all while assisting our peers.
Now, the villain’s identity is no longer a mystery: it’s Jefferson. He’s taken us captive and, tragically, Chloe is dead.
Episode 5: Polarized
- Dark Room
- Art Class – Focus
- Plane – Between Realities
- Art Gallery
- Dark Room – Confrontation
- Jefferson’s Car
- The Final Decision
The episode kicks off in the aftermath of the previous episode’s climax. Tied to a chair, Max finds herself trapped in the darkroom. If you previously chose to warn Victoria about Nathan, she too will be alongside, captured by Jefferson. However, in my playthrough, Max was alone.
Our immediate objective is to escape. First, attempt to free your right leg, then aim to reach the trolley on your right.
On it, you’ll find a snapshot taken during your unconscious state and a syringe filled with sedatives.
Attempting to navigate back in time using this solitary photo, we’re thrust into the chilling moment where an unconscious Max is being photographed by Jefferson. His descent into madness is all too evident here.
Jefferson converses with Max, praising her innocence, art perspective, and inspirational journey. Occasionally, his demeanor shifts to rage, criticizing Max for her discoveries and hindering his endeavors.
Admitting to framing Nathan, Jefferson reveals that Nathan was merely a puppet in his grand scheme. Sadly, Jefferson also confesses that he intends to eliminate Max.
A return to the present compels Max to time-travel using another snapshot, this time from a more lucid state.
Upon doing so, we witness another haunting scene of Jefferson photographing Max, emphasizing how she should appreciate being his chosen model, even suggesting that Victoria would envy her position.
It’s revealed that Nathan inadvertently killed Rachel by administering an overdose. After this revelation, Jefferson’s true nature is undeniable.
Post-conversation, while he’s occupied with his photos, we spot our diary in the distance.
Rewinding time allows for a dialogue with Jefferson. Choose the option “My diary“, prompting him to toss it to you.
It opens on a photo, and we transport back to Blackwell Academy during a lecture with Jefferson, marking the inception of our journey.
Art Class – Focus
Photos – 1
Just as before, Jefferson poses the same question. You can answer as you see fit, or correctly choose the “Daguerreotype process“.
Post-lecture, inspect your bag to find David’s number in a brochure. Next, send him a warning text about Jefferson.
Afterwards, approach Kate to console her, then take a photo (1).
Engage Jefferson in a conversation.
Victoria will express her annoyance, to which you retort, emphasizing her insensitivity towards Kate’s situation. Hand over your contest photo to Jefferson.
Following this, time shifts once again, reflecting the repercussions of your message to David.
Plane – Between Realities
Here, Max and Director Wells are en route to San Francisco, celebrating Max’s victory in the “Local Teacher Arrested!” contest. A newspaper headline reveals Jefferson’s arrest, a testament to David’s swift action. To your relief, Chloe texts you with congratulations, confirming she’s alive.
A brief opportunity to examine your surroundings arises before Wells awakens. The ensuing talk sees him express pride in Max’s accomplishments. But as the conversation progresses, Max’s nose starts bleeding, signaling another temporal shift.
Photos – 1
We find ourselves in the gallery where we can take in the exhibition. Rector Wells advises us to establish new contacts before allowing us to explore the gallery at our leisure.
Instead of immediately heading upstairs, we descend to the lower level, located to the right near the staircase.
We take a photo of a woman (2) engrossed in the paintings on display.
Venturing upstairs, our photograph is prominently displayed in the center of a wall. As Max approaches it, she’s hit by a sudden vision and experiences a nosebleed. We isolate ourselves to call Chloe, learning of an imminent, massive tornado threatening to obliterate Arcadia Bay. The premonition wasn’t a figment of imagination but a very real impending doom for the town’s residents.
Returning to the gallery photo, Max time-travels back to the moment it was taken. To alter the course of events, she rips the photo, ensuring she never enters the competition or travels to San Francisco.
Dark Room – Confrontation
We’re back in the dark room, this time with Jefferson. In this iteration of reality, Victoria has become the psychopath’s latest victim, and he’s hell-bent on destroying our diary.
As Jefferson prepares a syringe for Max, he’s distracted by a disturbance outside: David has arrived.
Jefferson confronts David, using a tripod as a weapon, resulting in David’s initial defeat. To change this outcome:
1. Wait until Jefferson takes the tripod and moves away from us to engage David. Warn David as Jefferson approaches.
2. Watch David’s unfortunate fate, then rewind fully. Request that Jefferson takes a final photo of us (3). Rewind again, this time asking for water. This causes Jefferson to relocate the cart to our right.
3. Forewarn David once Jefferson is away.
4. Propel the nearby cart toward Jefferson, knocking him down.
5. Observe as Jefferson retrieves a pistol, eliminating David. Rewind once more, detaching a cable on the left.
6. David, now prepared, subdues Jefferson on his own and releases us.
After the confrontation, Max realizes her photo diary is missing. She recalls the recent photograph taken with Warren and decides to retrieve it. She takes the car keys from the cabinet and exits the bunker. Prior to departure, there’s an option to confide in David about Chloe’s fate:
- TELL THE TRUTH: This results in David killing Jefferson.
- HIDE THE TRUTH: Jefferson survives.
I chose to remain silent, sparing the psychopath.
During the conversation, David commends Max for accusing Jefferson in the rector’s office. He also allows Max to apologize for the incident with Joyce, when she sided against David, forcing him to relocate to a hotel.
Emerging outdoors, Max contacts Warren, finding out he’s at the Two Whales diner. Driving the Prescotts’ car through Arcadia Bay, Max witnesses firsthand the devastation the impending storm has wreaked.
Photos – 2
The journey to the diner proves challenging as debris from ruined buildings obstruct the path. Arcadia Bay is a scene of chaos, and as you navigate the rubble, there are survivors in need of assistance.
Right at the start, to your right, before encountering the first casualty, a truck driver is trapped under debris. Take a moment to free him.
As you proceed, a column crashes down upon you. Use your ability to rewind time, swiftly move ahead, and you’ll soon spot Evan. Consumed by the desire to capture photos amidst the chaos, he refuses to find shelter. As you watch, a metal sheet fatally strikes him. Rewind and persuade Evan to seek safety.
Further to the right, in a crumbling building, Alyssa is stranded above.
Climb higher amidst the debris and locate a plank to your left.
Position it to create a makeshift bridge, helping Alyssa get to safety.
In a twist of fate, she saves you from a plummeting sign, remarking that you’re now even. Venture to the road’s left side, making your way through a building to another street section.
Here, a fisherman needs your help.
Your path forward is blocked by flames. To proceed, you must activate the overhead sprinklers. Nearby, a fuse box awaits. However, turning it on not only extinguishes the fire but also electrocutes the fisherman.
Before addressing this, first approach the fisherman, then rewind time.
Activate the fuse box again to douse the flames. After that, exit the building through a window, arriving at the diner. Observe as a swift-moving fire nears the diner, culminating in a fiery explosion.
Using nearby sand, halt the fire’s progress.
As you attempt entry into the diner, you find the main entrance blocked. Before finding an alternate way in, take a moment to photograph (4) a stranded whale on the road.
Circling the diner to the right, you’ll spot a car precariously perched atop an adjacent building (photo 5).
Lastly, locate the diner’s rear entrance to make your way inside.
Upon entering the diner, Joyce and Warren immediately greet us. Shortly after, Joyce rushes to aid the wounded, leaving us to converse with Warren. He laments not noticing the signs surrounding Arcadia Bay’s impending disaster.
Next, we interact with Frank. Initially, Joyce intercepts us, suggesting a brief talk. During this interaction, we have the choice to tell her that David is a good man, deserving of forgiveness. If persuaded, Joyce recalls David’s support after William’s departure and considers forgiving him. However, if we opt for the neutral response, “That’s your choice” she remains undecided.
We can then approach Frank again. This time, we face a critical decision regarding the information about Rachel:
- Rachel is dead. Frank becomes deeply saddened. Revealing that she died from an overdose implies Frank’s indirect culpability since he provided Nathan with drugs. However, we can choose to withhold this detail.
- We don’t know. Frank holds onto the hope that Rachel is somewhere safe.
Turning our attention to Warren, we discuss the photograph. Max divulges her abilities and theorizes that the storm resulted from her repeated time alterations. Warren attributes this to the butterfly effect, stating every action has a subsequent reaction.
At the conversation’s end, when retrieving the photograph, there’s an emotional choice involving Warren:
- HUG. During a subsequent nightmare, Warren becomes hostile. Later, in an alternative reality at the diner, he cherishes their friendship and requests Max not to harm her friends.
- LEAVE. Warren assures Max he’s unbothered by their lack of intimacy, and there are no subsequent changes.
- KISS. A nightmare sequence ensues where Warren is intimate with Chloe, deeply affecting Max. However, this doesn’t influence Chloe and Max’s relationship.
Opting for the “HUG” choice, we then attempt to focus on the photo, transporting back to the “End of the World” party.
Max attempts to caution Chloe about future events. It’s critical to convey the information gently to prevent Chloe from recklessly seeking vengeance.
The dialogue sequence is:
“Nathan is dead”
“Jefferson is a psychopath.”
“Don’t leave me.” and “Terrible choice.”
Max recounts her experience of traveling back to their childhood, rescuing William, and witnessing its impact on Chloe’s life. She also confesses to fulfilling a paralyzed Chloe’s wish in an alternate reality, ensuring she didn’t suffer.
Following a poignant scene, Max suggests seeking David’s assistance. Initially resistant due to her strained relationship with her stepfather, Chloe softens when reminded of David’s genuine concern for her. This decision leads them to David.
The scene shifts to the coast near the lighthouse. Here, Max and Chloe engage in a deep conversation. Suddenly, Max faints.
Photos – 5
We find ourselves in the art room, attending Jefferson’s lecture. It feels like a déjà vu, taking us right back to the beginning. As things progress, red paint splatters across the classroom windows, yet oddly, no one reacts.
The smearing continues until the windows are fully covered. Once obscured, the bell rings, leaving us alone in the classroom.
Rising from our seat, we survey the room. A familiar photo opportunity presents itself, reminiscent of one from the first episode—a carved inscription on a desk. To capture it, first interact with the inscription by selecting “Look” twice. After this, you can photograph the inscription “Chloe Price forever” (6).
As we head for the door, Jefferson intercepts us, musing about Max’s “purity” and hinting at a life in the darkroom. Presented with bizarre response options, we choose one at random.
Exiting the classroom, the scene shifts to a hostel corridor. At its end, we spot Kate, mourning her own demise. If we had saved her, she reproaches us for discouraging her rooftop jump. If not, she blames us for her death.
After this confrontation, Kate vanishes into her room. Following her leads us back to the women’s dormitory corridor. Making our way to the shower room, we find a key to room 218 on a windowside table.
Navigating through room 218, the environment shifts again. This time, we’re in a different outfit, and flyers about Rachel’s disappearance litter the floor. A map on a nearby wall directs us to Rachel’s room—number 224.
Another scene change has us taking on Victoria’s persona. We then proceed to room 221.
Our final transformation reverts us to Max. Before heading to our room (217), we detour to the corridor near the showers, capturing a photo of squirrels by the window (7).
Upon entering our room, the setting morphs into Blackwell Academy. The peculiar twist? Time oscillates between past and future, making conversations unintelligible.
Emerging into the main hall, a spectral deer leads the way to the restroom, the site of our gift’s awakening. Instead of immediately pursuing it, we’re drawn to a peculiar sight on the right—a skeletal figure. We approach and take a picture in reverse order, obtaining photo (8).
We then enter the restroom.
Suddenly, the scene darkens. Maze-like corridors resembling the gallery emerge, with Jefferson’s looming presence ever near. Stealthily navigating, avoiding his flashlight, we proceed, occasionally rewinding time when caught.
Eventually, we reach a circular platform adorned with posters, circled by a statue of Rector Wells. Skillfully dodging from one poster’s shadow to the next, school lockers soon line the walls. Here, our pursuers multiply – Warren, Wells, Nathan, Samuel, and David now join the hunt.
Continuing our cautious evasion, we pass Warren, then turn right past Wells, advancing towards Samuel.
Another right turn reveals Warren’s locker. Inside, a peculiar doll awaits. We snap a photo (9).
Progressing, we’re transported to a landfill. A task awaits: collecting five bottles.
The first bottle is to the right, behind Jefferson.
The second is at Chloe’s hideout—proceed straight, keeping right.
The third is upfront, on a car’s hood near the exit.
The fourth is close by, on a neighboring car’s trunk.
The fifth rests near a bus’s rear, atop a car trunk.
Approaching the exit, we spot the five bottles, perfectly aligned. Approaching them provides the opportunity for one last photo (10). Congratulations!
After the photo, the bottles shatter. Taking a seat on a nearby bench, snowflakes soon begin to drift down. Moments later, we find ourselves inside a snow globe, a keepsake from Chloe’s house. We observe a scene where William is on the brink of leaving for Joyce – his final moments alive. As we watch, a message arrives on our phone from William, asking us to relay his regards to his family and reminding us of the choice Max made, resulting in his demise.
The scene then shifts back to the darkroom where Jefferson is now photographing Chloe, who poses with delight. The two exchange words, belittling Max in the process.
Soon after, Jefferson vanishes, replaced by Warren. Chloe now flirts unabashedly with him, mocking Max. Subsequently, Chloe interacts first with Nathan and then with Victoria.
Our next setting is the restroom of the diner, the door of which is secured with a combination lock. Inspecting the control panel reveals walls adorned with a myriad of number combinations.
A glance in the mirror shows just one combination remaining – 0311. Using it, we exit the restroom and are met with the murmurs of surrounding individuals, all of whom plead for help and express their desire to live.
Moving forward, we approach a table where an alternate version of Max sits. A tense conversation ensues, with the doppelgänger condemning us for tampering with time, all for Chloe. However, Chloe herself intercedes, defending us. This segues into a journey through our memories.
We traverse a path, pausing to reflect upon each memory shared with Chloe. This reflective journey concludes at the lighthouse, with the menacing tornado looming nearby.
The Final Decision
Perched on a cliff adjacent to the lighthouse, the imminent tornado at their side, Max grapples with a profound decision. The duo understands the chaos ensuing is a consequence of their tampering with time. Their sole recourse lies in returning to that pivotal moment in the restroom when they first reunited.
Chloe produces a photo showcasing a blue butterfly perched on a bucket. The choice is agonizing: travel back and let Chloe die to save the town or maintain the status quo, sparing Chloe.
We make this heart-wrenching decision and are then treated to the episode’s concluding cinematic.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated through Episode 5 and captured all the photos in Life is Strange.