THE TOP STORY
Marc Laidlaw reveals how Episode Three might have ended.
Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw, who left Valve in 2016, posted an article on his personal website that is almost certainly the story outline for Episode Three. Titled ‘Epistle 3’, the story concerns a certain ‘Gertrude Fremont’ who travels to Antarctica with ‘Alex Vaunt’ to look for a missing ship called the ‘Hyperborea’. You don’t have to be an expert in Half-Life lore to know what he’s talking about there. What exactly inspired Laidlaw to release this information, and whether Valve approves, is a mystery. But the fact he did suggests this is a story that will never be told elsewhere.
After the funeral of Eli Vance, who died at the end of Episode Two, Gordon and Alyx fly to Antarctica to find the research vessel Borealis, only to discover that the Combine has built a base around it. This is how Episode Three would have begun had it ever been made. After that, far too much happens to summarise here, but the story ends with Gordon trying to destroy the Combine homeworld, only to catch a glimpse of its advanced technology and realise his mission is futile. Gordon is rescued by the Vortigaunts, the G-Man whisks Alyx away, and we end on another cliffhanger.
Wallace Breen, who sold humanity out to the Combine, was set to return – albeit with his consciousness transferred into a giant slug. The Borealis, which is apparently phasing in and out of existence, would take Gordon and his companions to alien worlds and let them witness past events, including the Seven Hour War. And Alyx would get her revenge on Judith Mossman, killing her before setting the Borealis to self-destruct in order to destroy the Combine homeworld. It sounds like it would have made for a fantastically dramatic Episode Three, which makes Laidlaw’s reveal bittersweet.
On Twitter, Laidlaw said his website post was “an emotional release, not a tactical one”. He adds, “It was related to my own internal creative process, retirement, wanting to put things aside so I can move forward.” If Valve ever does return to Half-Life, it’ll likely start fresh, which might leave a bad taste in the mouth of anyone who’s been waiting for a resolution to that cliffhanger. But Laidlaw’s outline provides some kind of closure. I can’t blame Laidlaw for wanting to put the series behind him, and if this helps him move on, so be it.
IT SOUNDS LIKE IT WOULD HAVE MADE FOR A FANTASTICALLY DRAMATIC EPISODE
The third Episode would have seen Gordon and Alyx team up again.