Fallout Episode 101 recap and easter eggs: "The End"

It's time to head out into the Wasteland: Prime Video's adaptation of Fallout is here! Let's recap the massive, 75-minute series premiere.
Ella Purnell (Lucy) in Fallout.
Ella Purnell (Lucy) in Fallout. /

Crawl out to the fallout, baby, because the new Fallout television show is out now on Prime Video! Based on the beloved video game series by Bethesda Softworks, Fallout is a story of have and have-nots in a post-apocalyptic Wasteland where resources are scarce and morality even scarcer. Move over The Last of Us, because there's a new sci-fi video game adaptation in town!

We've seen all eight episodes of Fallout, and we have thoughts. But now that the show is available for binging, we're also breaking down each episode to help you get the most out of your viewing experience. Because let me tell you, Fallout is absolutely laden with Easter eggs, references, and fun tidbits of foreshadowing to catch.

Read on for a recap review of Episode 101, "The End." There will be SPOILERS.

Walton Goggins (The Ghoul) in Fallout. Credit: JoJo Whilden/Prime Video © 2024 Amazon Content Services LLC /

Fallout Episode 101 recap: "The End"

Despite being a story firmly entrenched in the post-apocalypse, Fallout begins by doing something which Bethesda director and executive producer Todd Howard said is "the one thing we could never do" in the games: it shows us what the world looked like before the Great War, from the perspective of a man who, we come to learn from his future mutations, very clearly did not make it to the safety of a Vault. That would be Cooper Howard (Walton Goggins), a gunslinging Western actor who at this stage of his life is performing at children's birthday parties.

This seven-minute opening gives us a glimpse into the vibrant, retro-futuristic time period of pre-apocalypse Fallout, set to the tune of "Orange Colored Sky" by Nat King Cole. That's a bonafide Fallout video game soundtrack classic which featured in Fallout 4. Those sorts of Easter eggs are plentiful in this show, to the point where it'd be madness to try and catch them all. Then again, we genre fans do love a bit of obsessive madness. And it's very clear that Fallout knows exactly who its catering to and what we like.

This opening scene gripped me from start to finish, as we see how Cooper uncomfortably navigates posing for photos in a job far below his pay grade, before giving his young daughter Janey (Teagan Meredith) some advice to cool her nerves about the impending nuclear war that's the talk of every news station. The following moments are a punch straight to the gut, as Janey is the only person at the party to see the silent flash of the first bomb go off while her dad is rustling up a piece of cake for her from the party. I loved the way Fallout played this moment by focusing on Janey and Cooper's expressions, then the mushroom cloud reflection of the window behind them, before finally turning the camera to show the explosion just before the initial shockwave rushes toward them. The tension!

As more bombs hit, Cooper throws Janey onto his horse and takes off. It's an arresting start that fully gets your attention before launching you 219 years into the future, to see what's become of the world after that fateful day.

Fallout - First Look
(L-R) Ella Purnell (Lucy) and Kyle MacLachlan (Overseer Hank) in “Fallout” /

Welcome to Vault 33

From a nuclear apocalypse, we launch straight into meeting Fallout's happy-go-lucky main protagonist: Lucy MacLean, played by Ella Purnell of Yellowjackets and Arcane fame. This is also our introduction to Vault 33, one of a number of underground bunkers where small human communities weathered the apocalypse. They're several generations deep at this point, which means some particular rules have sprung up around procreation in order to avoid inbreeding. "After 10 years of cousin stuff, I'm ready for the real thing," Lucy tells her friend Steph (Annabel O'Hagan). Fallout doesn't explain the zinger; it's already halfway to the next. The jokes are relentless in this show, and it makes for a blast of a viewing experience.

Lucy is applying to be picked for a marriage exchange with someone from the neighboring Vault 32. Every 10 years or so one of these trades occurs, as evidenced by the dates written on Lucy's wedding dress, which has been used for this purpose for decades. The trade seemingly goes well, the reception is a cheerful affair, and Lucy takes her new husband back to their home to consummate the marriage. It's another fun, seemingly harmless sequence, so you just know something is going to go sideways real soon.

And so it does. Lucy's brother Norm discovers that Vault 32's wheat fields are long dead, and finds the body of one of the Vault's keepers. Meanwhile, Lucy hears screaming outside her door. Between her new husband's fascination with the running water of her kitchen sink and the fact that her Pip-Boy wrist computer detects high radiation levels from him, it becomes clear that the people from Vault 32 are actually raiders from the surface.

Kyle MacLachlan (Overseer Hank) in Fallout. Credit: JoJo Whilden/Prime Video © 2024 Amazon Content Services LLC /

The fight between Lucy and the raider is brutal. I like that Fallout didn't pull any punches; it's a bloody, close duel where Lucy gets thrashed and stabbed before she finally manages to take the raider out with a blender to the face. That's only the barest precursor of what's to come in the brutal, absurd massacre that follows. "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific plays as raiders gleefully murder people, some eating cake while they do it, others laughing in slow motion. Steph gets stabbed in the eye with a fork and then unloads a full machine gun clip at the raiders with the utensil still protruding from her eye. Lucy's father Hank MacLean (Kyle MacLachlan) drowns her mangle-faced husband in a bucket of pickle juice. If you want to see the black humor of Fallout in a nutshell, it's this sequence. And by god does it work.

The massacre at Vault 33 ends with Hank being given a difficult choice by the raiders: either let them kill Lucy or a group of hostages. Hank chooses to save Lucy, shutting her safely in a store room. He's then promptly tranquilized and kidnapped by the raiders before they set off a bomb and give the remaining hostages a chance to run. The explosion hits, Lucy is knocked out, and the screen cuts to black.

We're at the halfway point of Fallout's massive 75-minute premiere, and the scene finally shifts away from Vault 33 to give us a few minutes to catch our breath.

Fallout - First Look
Power Armor Suits in “Fallout” /

Initiates of the Brotherhood of Steel

Now it's time to meet the last member of our trio of lead characters: Maximus (Aaron Moten), an aspirant to the Brotherhood of Steel. The Brotherhood is a militant organization which takes the law of the Wasteland into their own hands, enforcing their will with advanced weaponry from the pre-war era like suits of imposing mechanical power armor. Power armor is easily among the most iconic pieces of imagery from Fallout, up there with the Vault Boy bobblehead. I was delighted by the way the show used real, practical power armor suits instead of CGI.

But it takes quite a bit of training to wear that armor, and Maximus is nowhere near ready when we meet him. Instead, he's being beaten by his fellow aspirants as a form of hazing. There's some interesting, fast worldbuilding as we discover that the Brotherhood takes in young orphans they find in the Wasteland, feeds and houses them, and trains them to join the ranks of the Brotherhood warriors as adults.

This sequence also features an excellent guest appearance by Xelia Mendes-Jones, who played the sul'dam Renna in season 2 of The Wheel of Time. Here, they play Dane, another Brotherhood of Steel initiate and Maximus' only friend. Dane and Maximus share a tender moment admiring the power armor of the newly returned Knights before Dane is pulled away to stand before the leadership. Far from being in trouble for sneaking in to see the armor, Dane is promoted to squire. They'll now follow around a Brotherhood knight, lugging their gear and helping them in the field.

This sends Maximus into a spiral, smashing things and screaming because he's tired of shoveling literal shit as an initiate. Then the show quick-cuts to the following morning, where Maximus is awoken by Dane screaming after someone lined their boot with razorblades, effectively ruining their chance to be a squire. Maximus falls under scrutiny, and is interrogated.

Aaron Moten (Maximus) in Fallout. Credit: Prime Video © 2024 Amazon Content Services LLC /

Did Maximus do the deed? Though he denies it, he confesses that he wanted it to happen. Moten gives an intriguing performance as Maximus, who is a far cry from the heroic knight archetype you might expect of a character in his situation. Instead, he stumbles over his words and acts meek in front of authority figures in a way that feels at odds with his private persona. Although, who wouldn't be nervous with someone in a massive suit of power armor looming behind them?

Whether the Brotherhood leadership believes he's innocent or not, Maximus is let off the hook...and promoted to squire in Dane's stead. He's branded by his knight and given orders for their first mission: someone has escaped from the Enclave with a dangerous artifact, and the Brotherhood is sending out a group of knights with their squires to track the fugitive down. What's the Enclave, and who is this mystery person and their artifact? Questions for next episode. But from the hand-drawn, graph paper mugshots, it looks like actor Michael Emerson (Benjamin Linus from Lost) and a dog.

Maximus and his knight board a vertibird helicopter and set out on the hunt. I don't know why, but I find the design for the oversized bags the squires carry around so funny. It almost makes them look like glorified golf caddies, except their bag is filled with enormous guns instead of golf clubs.

Fallout - First Look
Ella Purnell (Lucy) in “Fallout” /

Into the Wasteland

Back in Vault 33, Lucy is licking her wounds and trying to encourage her fellow Vault Dwellers to go on a rescue mission to save her father from the raiders. However, seeing as how no one has ever left the vault before, there's no support for her plan. Instead, she enlists her brother Norm and admirer Chet (Dave Register) to help her sneak out.

The escape from the vault is relatively low pressure — the whole show hinges on Lucy leaving it, so there's no real chance she won't succeed. But that doesn't matter, because the proceedings include several more hilarious jokes. Even when we know what's coming, Fallout makes getting there a good time.

As the impressive, practical effects-driven vault door grinds closed behind her, Lucy has to face what's ahead. She doesn't get more than two steps outside the vault before she comes across corpses and high radiation readings on her Pip-Boy. In the distance, she sees the ruined Pacific Wheel over Santa Monica pier. The Wasteland is utterly desolate, and Lucy has absolutely no leads for finding her father aside from the name of the woman who took him: Moldaver. Fortunately, she's got a can-do attitude and plenty of optimism. She sets out into the Wasteland with an "okey dokey" to get to work.

Walton Goggins as The Ghoul in Fallout /

The Ghoul

We end the Fallout premiere the way we started it: with Cooper Howard. However, the Cooper Howard we see during the final minutes of "The End" is vastly changed. He no longer goes by that name; instead, he's known only as The Ghoul.

A group of bounty hunters sneaks into a defunct castle run by someone named Don Pedro, where a legendary bounty hunter that they want to enlist for a dangerous job is supposedly being held. And by held, I mean buried: this guy's a ghoul, a person who was mutated by so much radiation that they're hideously disfigured and hardier to the conditions of the Wasteland. They also live for a long, long time — more than 200 years, in this case.

This scene sneaks in a few more laughs for the road, including some of my favorites of the entire episode as the bounty hunters argue over whether feral ghouls can abide chickens, and The Ghoul compares them to an Amish production of The Count of Monte Cristo.

We find out that these bounty hunters are searching for the same person as Maximus and the Brotherhood of Steel. More, they believe that Enclave escapee is heading for Moldaver. But The Ghoul isn't too interested in helping out. Instead, he kills them and sets out to claim the bounty for himself. His final line, that "us cowpokes, we take it as it comes," mirrors something he said to his daughter Janey 219 years ago. Walton Goggins is magnetic as The Ghoul. He's always consistent no matter the project, but Fallout gives him some top notch material to work with. From these first scenes, I'm optimistic he'll make the most of it.

"The End" closes with the song "Crawl out to the Fallout" by Sheldon Allman, another hit from the Fallout 4 video game soundtrack. And all is right in the world.

Easter egg highlights

  • At the birthday party in the beginning, you can hear the voice of a Mr. Handy robot.
  • The kids are also watching Grognak the Barbarian, which is a pulp magazine you can collect in the Fallout games!
  • In the Fallout games, you always play as a Vault Dweller just like Lucy, who is forced to go to the surface for one reason or another. You customize your Vault Dweller with a number of different personality, physical and intellectual traits, similar to building a Dungeons & Dragons character. The way that Lucy runs through her skillset, from maintenance to her atheltic prowess, scientific know-how and rifle training, is basically the show's version of explaining her character sheet to the viewer. Fallout is filled with meta references to not only the game franchise's lore, but the actual mechanics of playing it. It's fascinating from an adaptation perspective.
  • During Lucy's introduction montage, her brother Norm is playing a video game on his Pip-Boy. That's Atomic Command, which is an actual holotape arcade mini-game you can play in Fallout 4.
  • When the projection screen over the crop field is ruined, it first makes the walls seem like a fiery explosion, before changing to a screen that reads "Please stand by..." This is the loading screen from the games.
  • After the raid on Vault 33, we see Norm bang on a Nuka-Cola machine! This is a prop from the games. Actually, there are quite a lot of those all over the Vault 33 set, from the particular style of string lights over the field to the jukebox and more.
  • One of the bounty hunters who wakes up The Ghoul uses a junk jet gun to kill the guard outside the castle. That's a Fallout game weapon that lets someone load any sort of junk into it to fire at their foes. In this case, a baby leg protrudes out of the guard's chest after he's shot. So...they're shooting...baby parts at people? Only in the world of Fallout.

All eight episodes of Fallout are available to stream now on Prime Video. We'll be recapping more of them so you can make sure you catch all the little details. Check back soon for Episode 2 and beyond!

Fallout E2. Fallout Episode 102 recap and easter eggs: "The Target". dark. Next

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