"Seriously, though, I could frame any one of you in a dark corner,
and capture you in a moment of desperation." — Mr. Jefferson in "Chrysalis"
Mark Jefferson (born April 11, 1975) is a photography teacher at Blackwell Academy and the main antagonist of Life is Strange. As a famous photographer and a widely recognized artist across America, he gained popularity during the '90s. Introduced as the cool and nice teacher who is greatly admired by his students, including Max Caulfield, he is later revealed to be the true main antagonist in Life is Strange. Throughout the game, Jefferson was either directly or indirectly responsible for the (potential) deaths of a total of seven characters.
- 1 Personality
- 2 Appearance
- 3 Biography
- 4 Background
- 5 Episode One - "Chrysalis"
- 6 Episode Two - "Out of Time"
- 7 Episode Three - "Chaos Theory"
- 8 Episode Four - "Dark Room"
- 9 Episode Five - "Polarized"
- 10 Alternative Timeline
- 11 The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
- 12 Life is Strange 2
- 13 Deaths
- 14 Associated Deaths
- 15 Relationships
- 16 Symbolism
- 17 Memorable Quotes
- 18 Theories
- 19 Character Creation and Concept
- 20 Trivia
- 21 References
Outwardly, Jefferson appears to be a charismatic and charming man, an active and passionate photographer and teacher. He seems to care about the work of his students, making sure all of his students enter the "Everyday Heroes" Contest with a gentle reminder at the end of his photography class session in order to have a chance at progressing their artistic careers. However, his dismissive treatment of Kate's problems as she asks for help in "Out of Time", already portrays him as somewhat callous and insensitive at that point.
Jefferson seems to be cautious around the flirtatious nature of his student Victoria Chase. Despite her efforts to flirt with him, he declines; especially as she becomes more explicit in "Chaos Theory". This could be because of the value he places on innocence.
In reality, Jefferson is a cold, methodical, sadistic and nihilistic individual, with an obscure obsession to capture the frame of "innocence" in others. He is obsessed with the idea of "capturing that moment innocence evolves into corruption", and is prepared to kill anyone who he deems a liability to him or his plans, stopping at nothing to achieve his personal objectives. He is willing to manipulate others to his advantage while making sure that they remain silent. Jefferson seems to have situations planned out well in advance, this combined with his high intelligence and extreme cunning has allowed him to continue what he is doing without being caught.
Mark Jefferson is a tall man of average build in his late 30s. He has brown hair and brown eyes. As an arts subject teacher, Mark has a laid-back modern look. His hair is a choppy messy style, and he has a light trendy beard. His attire is smart casual; he wears black loafers, blue jeans and a white button-up shirt with a black blazer over it. He also wears black and white trendy glasses.
Not only is Mark Jefferson one of the best photographers in the world, he's also my teacher. And one of the reasons I wanted to come to Blackwell. How often do you get to be mentored by one of your inspirations? I've always loved his deco and goth style and he's so versatile with all of his incredible print and advertising work. Still, Jefferson can be a bit condescending. He's pretty hip for his age, but kinda aloof and sometimes pretentious. He has this smug smile when he thinks he's right...
But I do think he's preparing us for how tough it is to be a full time "artist". He acts like he understands my own work and obsession with analog images.
He really wants me to enter a photo in this "Everyday Hero" contest but I've done a good job of avoiding that. The winner gets to fly to San Francisco to represent Blackwell Academy and get national exposure. I'd like to think my work could be good enough to win and I'm honored Jefferson even bugs me about the contest.
Jefferson was born in Arcadia Bay and at some point in his life, developed an interest in art and photography as a student. He attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, most likely majoring in photography. It is likely that he graduated with high honors. Eventually, Jefferson's work would become widely recognized during the 90's and this would lead to him becoming a well-established photographer with his most popular work being his black and white shots. His work is specifically focused on black and white portrait photography and shots involving female models in sexualized positions though he does have a diverse portfolio. His shots have been published on front covers of various fashion magazines and also has his own book published on taking the perfect photograph.
It appears that Jefferson has very strict opinions on art and photography and is prepared to criticize other artists' views and opinions on specific art styles, for example, his early comments on the famous photographer Diane Arbus. He believes strongly in the beauty and innocence that art should maintain, such that he believes true beauty is almost impossible to obtain "without a beat".
In the late 2000s, Jefferson took a well-publicized detour into teaching around the country, inevitably ending up in a permanent position at Blackwell Academy. When he was offered a teaching position at Blackwell Academy back in Arcadia Bay, Jefferson accepted this position as art lecturer. This would lead to a huge increase in popularity of Blackwell as numerous students applied from around the country just to get a place on Mr. Jefferson's art course including Victoria Chase as well as Max Caulfield who was successful. Much of his work is displayed around the Blackwell campus, particularly at the front of the building in large-scale, outdoor frames. However, Jefferson used his position as an art teacher to find and seduce suitable models for his secret illegal photography he pursued in the Dark Room, a bunker in the possession of the Prescott family.
It's unknown when exactly Jefferson became involved with the Prescotts. It's highly likely that they had some sort of connection prior to Jefferson returning to Arcadia Bay to teach. It is further likely that they had involvement in Jefferson's criminal photography for quite a while. Upon his return, they allowed him complete access to the bunker, dark room and their fortune. In return, Jefferson would mentor Nathan and allow him to photograph his subjects in the dark room but in reality, Jefferson was manipulating Nathan.
Episode One - "Chrysalis"
Max initially snaps out of her vision in the middle of Jefferson's photography class. Jefferson wants his students to each submit a photo for the "Everyday Heroes" contest. Max tries to avoid it, but he tells her she needs the courage to share her work. Max can rewind several times in order to impress Jefferson; specifically to steal Victoria's answer about the Daguerreian Process, and to quote John Lennon.
After some exploration in the classroom, we can see that he took a picture of his students in the first week of the semester as well as his photos placed on the front cover of fashion magazines, his highly expensive photography equipment, and various art/photography books.
As it starts to snow at the end of the episode, Mr. Jefferson is shown working on his laptop inside his empty classroom. He notices the snow from the classroom windows and slowly looks up to witness the event.
Episode Two - "Out of Time"
He is seen talking to Kate about her problems, dismissing her worries and quoting Hamlet, "perhaps she doth protest too much". She asks for help, but becomes frustrated and leaves the school. His insensitivity contributes to her suicide attempt. When Max makes a comparison between Kate and Rachel Amber, Mr. Jefferson remarks that "Rachel was nothing like Kate" and adds that he misses her. As Max tries to find out more about the conversation, Jefferson moves away to take a phone call. He then commences class with another lecture about black and white photography but is interrupted by the commotion surrounding Kate at the Prescott Dormitory.
In Principal Wells' office after the incident with Kate, Max can choose to blame Jefferson for the incident. Wells makes it clear that he should have been more attuned to the needs of his students.
Blame JeffersonIf Max blames Jefferson for not being attuned to his student's needs and being dismissive of her, Wells suspends Jefferson from attending the "Everyday Heroes" Contest, saying that he is no longer a good representative for the school after not showing enough consideration towards his students; particularly due to knowing Kate well after she helped him after class occasionally.
Blame either Nathan or DavidJefferson takes no blame and is sent on his way from the office.
At the end of the episode, Wells and Jefferson can be seen arguing as Jefferson leaves the Parking Lot in his car.
Episode Three - "Chaos Theory"
If Max Blames JeffersonIf Mr. Jefferson is suspended for his involvement in Kate's successful or attempted suicide, a social media page supporting Jefferson is set up by his students. Victoria comments on the page, saying, "The major reason I came to Blackwell was Mark Jefferson".
Near the beginning of the episode, Max and Chloe overhear Jefferson talking with Victoria. He was helping her review her portfolio after school hours. She flirts with him and attempts to blackmail him into picking her photo for the "Everyday Heroes" Contest. He refuses her explicit attempts at flirting, and disciplines her, saying she should return to her dormitory. It seems as though he has no interest in pursuing anything with her, and takes a professional approach.
Episode Four - "Dark Room"
As Max and Chloe enter the Blackwell campus to search Nathan's Room for proof of his involvement in the disappearance of Rachel and the drugging of Kate, they encounter Jefferson. He engages Max and Chloe in conversation and asks why someone as cool as Chloe doesn't go to Blackwell. The girls seem happy with the quick chat, as Chloe comments that Mark is "hot for a teacher" to fluster Max, and teases Max about her having Jefferson all to herself now that Chloe isn't at Blackwell.
After Max talks to Victoria in the VIP section of the End of the World Party, Jefferson appears and has another chat with her and Chloe. He seems happy that she has turned up to the party, and does not act suspiciously if Max asks about Nathan. He excuses himself, getting on stage to make a speech about the winner of the "Everyday Heroes" Contest, which Victoria has won.
After receiving a text from Nathan, Max and Chloe rush to the junkyard to protect Rachel's body from being tampered with. As the girls uncover the body again, Max warns Chloe to be quiet and is approached from behind. Jefferson drugs Max by injecting her with a needle, and then shoots Chloe in the forehead. Max is unable to use her rewind power due to the drugs and is unable to save Chloe.
It is now clear that he had a hand in Rachel's disappearance and death and he is most likely working or had worked with Nathan and the Prescott family.
Episode Five - "Polarized"
In the beginning of the episode, Max will wake up inside the Dark Room, bound and strapped onto a chair, while Mr. Jefferson is nowhere to be seen or heard. Upon traveling back to the past from a photograph which Jefferson took of her on a nearby tray, Max wakes up to find herself being exposed at from different angles while Jefferson takes shots at her with a camera. He praises Max for her innocence and beauty but suddenly becomes very frustrated and angry as Max whimpers and cries, ruining his shots in the process.
Jefferson calls Max special and begins to set her aside from Rachel Amber. He mentions Nathan and his inability to create specific styles and themes, but notes that he had an eye for shadows and an eye for a "whole lot more as his elitist family will find out along with Arcadia Bay". Jefferson berates Max for being nosy and explains that the Dark Room was under 24-hour surveillance, which is how he discovered Max and Chloe's interference before texting them from Nathan's phone. He then tells Max that she should have focused on her school work and that he's "sorry" that he killed Chloe in what he calls self-defense, mentioning that she had a troubled history and that nobody will care about her death--but people will care about Max when she dies, bringing up Max's "gift" again. He gets close to take more photos but becomes frustrated as Max keeps moving and suggests another dose to calm her down. In her struggle, Max kicks away the trolley with the drugs and her folder, causing it to spill over her photos. Jefferson becomes annoyed and yells at Max for never listening and that had she listened in class, she may have seen all of this coming. He tells her that he's had his eye on her and noticed that she had become more fearless that week than ever before. As Max begins to struggle, Jefferson tells Max to remember his number one rule "always take the shot", before sedating her with more drugs. Max loses consciousness and returns to the altered present.
Max, returning to the altered present, notices another photo on the nearby tray as she recalls kicking the trolley, making the drugs spill on her folder which forced Jefferson to take the photos out. She focuses on the photo and goes back in time yet again, this time she is strapped onto a chair while Mr. Jefferson takes photos from a distance. He remarks that Victoria would kill to be in Max's position. However, she did not understand the connection between himself and Max. He praises Max as his winner, choosing her portrait and not anyone else. Max asks Mr. Jefferson why he's doing all of this. Jefferson, rather glad that she asked that question, explained that he's obsessed with the idea of innocence and the transaction between color. He further explains that most models become too cynical and arrogant which results in the loss of their artistic potential. Some students, on the other hand, have that artistic potential and those few are chosen by Jefferson as his subjects.
Max calls him a psychopath and warns him that this is his last session. Jefferson responds by claiming that he's so sane that no one would suspect him. He then brings up Chloe, telling Max not to start talking about her again and that he dealt with enough punk girls in his Seattle days and that he shot her in self-defense. Jefferson mentions Kate and says that she could have been his masterpiece, had things been a little different. He reveals his plan to use Nathan as a cover-up for his actions and took on Nathan as a student in order to gain access to the Prescott fortune and his very own darkroom but was wise not to tell Nathan everything. The truth about Rachel Amber's death comes to light as Mr. Jefferson reveals that Nathan was incapable of being taught and Mark eventually became frustrated with Nathan's lust for Rachel. In a bid to try and produce his own images, Nathan accidentally gave Rachel an overdose. Upon Max asking where Nathan was, Jefferson reveals that he had already killed and buried Nathan. Max belittles Jefferson by telling him that he couldn't possibly get away with all of this, although Jefferson has little concern and vows to make sure there's nothing left of Max. With that, Jefferson puts on some music and goes to his computer to develop his images. Max notices her diary at the side of the room and rewinds to get Jefferson to give it to her. Max then focuses on her selfie that she took during class and travels back to that moment.
Upon realizing that this is her opportunity to bring Mr. Jefferson to justice, Max shrugs off Jefferson's question about the Daguerreian process prompting him to become quite bemused by her behavior. She then sends a text message to David Madsen revealing Jefferson as a criminal. When Max approaches Jefferson at the end of the lecture, Jefferson asks if everything is okay but Max ignores him and gets straight down to submitting her photo. Jefferson remarks how easy that was in which Max responds that it was not easy at all. Rather glad that she entered her photo, Jefferson tells Max that maybe they'll both be heading to San Francisco together and that anything could happen in a week. Max responds by telling Mr. Jefferson that he'll find out.
Thus, Max creates another timeline resulting in her winning the Everyday Heroes contest and making a plane trip to San Francisco with principal Wells in Jefferson's place after Jefferson and Nathan were both arrested. At the Zeitgeist gallery, a number of guests express anger and disappointment at Mark Jefferson's absence, believing that he was going to be attending the exhibition. Upon receiving a phone call from Chloe back in Arcadia Bay that the storm is destroying the town, Max goes back in time using her competition photo. She destroys her photo that she would have handed into Mr. Jefferson and creates another timeline where she doesn't win but ends up in the dark room again.
Back in the dark room, Max expresses shock at how Jefferson is still free and notorious rather than being in jail. It just so happens that Jefferson was in the middle of asking Max a question and comments that she's still zoning out just like in class. He prompts her to answer his question but Max responds with an insult much to Jefferson's amusement. He notices that her nose is bleeding but assumes it's due to dosing her with drugs, he remarks that a nose bleed should be the last of her worries as he intends to kill her very shortly. He comments on Max's waste of talent and reveals that he burned her diary when he found out that she destroyed her photo entry for the Everyday Heroes contest. He mentions that he's noticed Max's transformation between nerd to hero and considers it being very weird, he then makes reference to the storm outside and remarks how it's all very weird again.
Jefferson praises Max for being his subject, describing it as an "honor" to work with her during their final sessions. He hopes one day that her photos will be appreciated for what they truly capture "the loss of youth". With that, Jefferson decides to end Max's life. Max tries to plead with Jefferson telling him that he doesn't understand what's happening but he simply ignores her. Just as Jefferson's about to deliver the fatal dose, David Madsen arrives. After several attempts of trial and error with Max using her ability to aid David, he finally overpowers Jefferson and places him under arrest. David then frees Max and enquires about what happened to Chloe.
Tell David the truthMax reveals to David that Jefferson killed Chloe. Upon hearing this, David becomes incredibly angry and distraught. In a fit of rage, he pulls out his gun and shoots Jefferson in the head, killing him. David then apologises to Max and laments upon what he's done, as he sits on the floor and grieves.
Hide the truthMax tells David that Chloe avoided Jefferson by deciding to stay behind and "medicate". David, relieved, says that for once he's glad that Chloe's a stoner. He then tells Max to leave as she's seen enough of this place. As Max goes to leave, David investigates Jefferson's computer and Jefferson himself is left alive with the intention of locking him up for good.
However these actions hold no future consequence as Max goes back in time yet again to prevent Chloe from going to the End of World party. Which prevents the sequence of events that follow: Chloe's Death, Max being captured and Jefferson's potential death. Instead, they reveal all of what they discovered to David. Thus, Chloe lives and Jefferson ultimately is arrested for his crimes.
Jefferson makes an appearance in Max's nightmare, he is first seen in his classroom where he asks Max if she would like to spend the rest of her life with him in his dark room. Max is forced to comply with an agreeable answer which makes Jefferson happy. He is later encountered again as one of the first people hunting for Max as she tries to escape her nightmare. He will have specific lines depending on the choices made involving him previously.
Sacrifice Arcadia BayIt's unknown what happens to Jefferson in the Sacrifice Arcadia Bay ending, it's presumed that he likely survived the storm, as David is confirmed to have rescued Victoria from the Dark Room in this timeline during the storm and survives.
Sacrifice ChloeIf the timeline is reversed and Chloe had been shot dead by Nathan back in Blackwell, Nathan is placed under arrest and is interrogated by the police. During his interrogation, Nathan reveals Jefferson's crimes and he too is arrested.
Although we do not directly meet him in the alternative timeline, his photographs are still on display around the Blackwell campus. This calls into question whether alternative Max came back to Arcadia Bay for his teaching or not. However, Rachel Amber is still missing, meaning that Jefferson's involvement with her kidnapping and murder could still be possible in the alternative timeline.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
Life is Strange 2
Episode 5 - "Wolves"
Mark Jefferson is mentioned by Victoria in a letter that she had recently sent to David. She doesn't disclose whether or not Jefferson is dead or arrested, but considering that David will only kill Jefferson if he knows that the latter killed Chloe, it can be presumed that he held Jefferson for the police.
Mark Jefferson can possibly be killed by:
- David Madsen (Direct)
If Max reveals to David that Jefferson killed Chloe, David becomes incredibly angry and distraught. In a fit of rage, he pulls out his gun and shoots Jefferson in the head, killing him.
- Kate Marsh (Indirectly Caused/Intended, Determinant) - Kate was dosed at a Vortex Club party by Nathan Prescott with the purpose of being taken to the Dark Room. Jefferson took photos of her while she was drugged, contributing to her feeling of "being dirty" which, along with the party video of her kissing people while being dosed and the bullying resulting of said video going viral, was part of the reason for Kate's suicide (attempt, unless she was saved by the player). In Episode 2, he tries to gaslight Kate not taking her worried confession of her unhappiness seriously. If Max manages to stop Kate from committing suicide, Jefferson will later imply to Max that he plans to kill her.
- Rachel Amber (Indirectly Caused, Involved) - Jefferson was involved in the coercion and kidnapping of Rachel Amber, which led to her accidental overdose caused by Nathan Prescott.
- Chloe Price (Caused, Direct) - Jefferson shot Chloe in the head after sedating Max with a needle, causing her to be unable to use her rewind.
- Nathan Prescott (Caused, Direct) - Mark informed Max that Nathan was a flight risk and he could not "keep him as a protégé" for much longer after Rachel's overdose. Jefferson says to Max that he is "dead and buried."
- Victoria Chase (Caused, Direct, Determinant) - After Max's return from the timeline in which Mr. Jefferson is arrested before her capture and she is sent on the "Everyday Heroes" trip, if Victoria believed Max's warning and was kidnapped by Mr. Jefferson, he informs Max that he "had to let Victoria Chase go", keeping it vague at first until Max's hope of her being alive were sparked to which he corrected in saying, "Don't be stupid, okay? She is exactly where she deserves to be."
- Maxine Caulfield (Potential (Alternative Timeline), Intended) - Jefferson had intended to kill Max after he finished photographing her in the Dark Room. If Max warns David too early then Jefferson attacks her with a tripod, forcing her to rewind.
- David Madsen (Potential (Alternative Timeline), Intended) - Once David entered the Dark Room to find any surviving Dark Room victims (Max) and apprehend Jefferson, Jefferson tried to kill him. In the first course of events without Max rewinding and asking for a last wish from Jefferson, Jefferson will bludgeon David unconscious or dead with the camera tripod. Jefferson will also reach for a gun and shoot David dead after David manages to disarm Jefferson and cause him to drop his tripod. With the aid of Max's ability, after several trial and errors, David will finally overpower Jefferson. David may also get a scar on his forehead during the fight with Mark Jefferson.
- Principal Wells - Throughout the game, it seemed that Wells and Jefferson were on good terms together. In reality, Jefferson only saw Wells as a drunk foolish headmaster, as he revealed in "Polarized".
- Sean Prescott - The depth of Jefferson's relationship with the Prescotts is unknown. There appears to be, to some extent, a level of trust the Prescotts have/had for Jefferson by allowing him to mentor Nathan and giving him access to their fortune. Jefferson also had hold of personal information regarding the Prescotts and their history. Despite all of this, Jefferson does not seem to hold the Prescotts in high regard and mainly sees them as a tool to get what he wants. Principal Wells reveals in "Polarized" that Sean was the very person who gave Jefferson a position at Blackwell.
- Nathan Prescott - Jefferson was his mentor and father figure. At the start of their student-teacher relationship, Jefferson found it quite touching but he eventually became irritated and annoyed with Nathan's incompetence. After Nathan, according to Jefferson, accidentally overdosed Rachel Amber and probably messed up the kidnapping of Kate Marsh by giving her too low of a dose, he decided to get rid of Nathan and began to plan his elimination. This could also be an excuse to eliminate him because he knew the most about the Dark Room; as Nathan is known to be quite unpredictable and this would increase the threat of him being exposed. If Max claims to have cared more about Nathan than he did, Jefferson will get furious and deny this. This may indicate that he did care about Nathan.(See here for more information on their relationship.)
- Victoria Chase - Victoria very much had a crush on Jefferson which he seemed to be aware of but completely ignored her at anytime she tried to make advances on him. He revealed to Max that he saw her as a spoiled brat and will decide to kill her if you warned Victoria about Nathan. Despite all of this, Jefferson still gave his time and dedication to Victoria as a teacher to help her with her artwork.
- Max Caulfield - From the beginning of Episode 1, Jefferson saw Max as "special". Why he saw her as unique and having a "gift" compared to any other student is never really revealed but it's possible that he saw her as the most innocent out of the bunch. From that point onwards, he tried to passively persuade her to enter her photo for the Everyday Heroes contest so they could go to San Francisco together, most likely to lure her into his Dark Room. Having her captured in the Dark Room, he praises her innocence and beauty and explains that he always was impressed by her perfect self-image. At least from this point on, it became clear that Jefferson had a sick obsession with Max. Max was very much inspired by Jefferson's work, so much so that she applied to Blackwell Academy specifically for Jefferson's art course. He was certainly a very influential figure in her life and she had a large amount of respect for him. She admired him and never dared to suspect him throughout the game; until she finally found out about his true nature as a sick and manipulative psychopath who uses art and passion to seduce people, after Jefferson mercilessly killed her best friend, Chloe, kidnapped her to take photos of her, and later even tried to get rid of Max herself.
- Kate Marsh - Kate was one of Jefferson's past victims, he saw her as pure and sweet but naive. He tells Max that Kate could have been his masterpiece instead. Sometime during the semester, Kate became Jefferson's classroom assistant and it appears that she trusted him enough to some extent to go to him for help in Episode 2; but he dismisses her telling her she was overdramatizing everything, most likely to get rid of her and evidence of the Dark Room. If Max saved Kate and says Kate will outlive Jefferson, Jefferson will become annoyed and say that after he is done with Max, he will return to Kate to kill her.
- Rachel Amber - Although it is now clear that Rachel was in love with Jefferson, and that they were in a rumored sexual relationship, it is unknown whether he reciprocated her feelings towards him or if he took advantage of her love for him to get her to pose for his photography. Jefferson appeared to know about Frank and Chloe while they were totally unaware of each other's relationships with Rachel as well as Jefferson's relationship with her, which begs the interesting question if Rachel trusted Jefferson more than anyone else. Regardless, while explaining her fate to Max, Jefferson seemed hardly emotional which does imply that he never really cared about her. (See here for more information on their relationship.)
Jefferson is heavily associated with the colors black and white, due to both his clothing and photography style. These colors have been heavily associated with death in the game, and back up theories about Jefferson being involved with the disappearance of Rachel Amber. As of Episode 4, these theories have been confirmed.
It is highly possible that Jefferson's spirit animal is the owl. Its appearance twice in Episode 4 could mean his association with the areas in which it is featured; the barn, which he has obviously been associated with due to the Dark Room beneath it, and the junkyard right before Jefferson appears to intercept the girls. This owl could have been foreshadowing; ideal in this particular situation considering the symbolism of the owl totem.
The owl is highly representative of wisdom and change, as well as the ability to look beyond the ordinary and take inspiration from the things most people cannot see. This makes complete sense considering Jefferson's profession as a photographer; finding inspiration in the tiny details of the world creates good photos. His personal inspiration taken from the beauty of innocence, vulnerability and desperation could be symbolized with this totem. Most importantly, the most traditional symbol associated with the owl is the approach of death, creating change. This is highly applicable for Jefferson after his encounter with the girls, and his association with Rachel's death.
- "Given your selfie output, I'm sure you must have about a thousand pics by now."
- — said to Max in "Chrysalis"
- "Always take the shot."
- — said to Max in "Out of Time"
- "The slightly unconscious model is often the most open and honest. No vanity or posing, just... pure expression."
- — said to Max in "Polarized"
- "They're fucking together in heaven right now. Is that what you wanna hear?"
- — talking about Chloe and Rachel to Max in "Polarized"
- "Please understand, Max... The only place I can be "myselfie" is in the Dark Room."
- — heard during the maze segment of Max's Nightmare
Note: These are theories developed prior to the release of Episode 5: Polarized.
There were some theories about Jefferson being responsible in some way for the disappearance of Rachel Amber, and possibly the drugging of Kate Marsh before he was officially confirmed to be the orchestrator of the Dark Room events. His black and white photography focuses on sexualized young ladies at the height of their innocence; highly suspicious. His work focuses on innocence, but is similar to the tortured black and white images in Nathan's room, as well as in the Prescott Bunker. His words from Episode 1, "Seriously though, I could frame any one of you in a dark corner, and capture you in a moment of desperation", also seem to be a clear foreshadowing of him primarily being involved in the dark room events.
His profession's association with "Dark Rooms", used to develop photographs, fed the theory that Nathan's drawing of "Rachel in the Dark Room" from "Chaos Theory", is related to him in some way. This combined with the rumor about Jefferson and Rachel engaging in sexual relations, all led to Jefferson being involved in the suspicious incidents at Blackwell. It also was speculated that unrequited feelings of love could be involved.
After it was clear that Kate Marsh was drugged, and dragged to the underground photography studio bunker in order for her photograph to be taken in compromising and vulnerable positions, it was highly implied that Jefferson is in part responsible for this; as well as being responsible for the photographing of many other victims, as well as the photographing and death of Rachel Amber. This was supported by his behavior towards Kate when she was crying to him and asking him for help and he told her to knock off the "martyr act" and blamed her for what has happened. He was rumored to have slept with Rachel, and he claimed "Kate was nothing like Rachel" in a vaguely sinister manner while talking to Max.
There was also a strong possibility that he was associated with Nathan Prescott, due to Nathan's link to drugs and his known involvement in the Vortex Club Parties. The bunker was clearly paid for by Sean Prescott, linking the family to the victims, as well as to Jefferson.
As of the end of Episode 4, Jefferson was already most likely responsible for kidnapping Rachel and Kate, along with various other students he keeps logged in files. It was not fully confirmed whether or not he and Nathan Prescott are working as a team, although the fact that these crimes took place on in a bunker owned by the Prescott family, made this a strong likelihood.
While Mr. Jefferson has been revealed as the orchestrator of dark room events, many fans still speculated over his true motives. Many simply believed that he was using young women to his advantage in his photography in a deal with the Prescotts. Others believed that he had a much more complex and sophisticated role in the series and that not all was as it appeared to be. Fans continued to point out pieces of information which didn't seem to all add up to what Mr. Jefferson is doing in the dark room, for example:
- Why he kept and released Kate Marsh alive.
- Why he refused advances made on him by students (particularly Victoria). But since Victoria is not the pure and innocent Jefferson was looking for he so decided to ignore her.
- Why he has a very large amount of food and drink stored in the Dark Room.
Theories ranged from him knowing about the end of the world and aiming to prevent it, to being a psychopathic serial killer.
A common flawed speculation was that Mr. Jefferson was actually Sean Prescott, Nathan's father. There are two major factors which proved against this theory. The first was the photograph of a young Nathan as a child with his father Sean which can be found in Nathan's dorm room. The second was that during the End of World Party Luke mentions that he met Nathan's father once and described him as a "Mean bastard" - if it was actually Jefferson then Luke would have instantly known.
Association With Time Travel
Another popular theory was the belief that Mr. Jefferson, like Max, had time control powers and/or knew about Max's own abilities; hence why he chose to sedate her in order to prevent her from using her powers to rewind time at the end of Episode 4. This also was considered an explanation as to how he managed to get to the junkyard extremely quickly at the end of the episode, as Chloe and Max left the party Mr. Jefferson was still speaking on stage (this logic is flawed, as if he could rewind time and not do his speech, Max wouldn't see the speech.) although this has been dismissed merely as Mr. Jefferson driving a faster vehicle. Besides from Chloe, Mr. Jefferson was the only other character who is hinted to know about Max's powers throughout the game. Jefferson's very first line from Episode 1 makes a distinctive link between time and photography mentioning Alfred Hitchcock's "little pieces of time". His constant mentioning of Max's "gift" in Episode 1 could have implied that he somehow knew about her abilities, but it was just a foreshadowing to Max having such special abilities. Furthermore, it was speculated that he could aim especially for girls with those rewinding powers, and as Rachel could have also had those he killed her and now was trying to kill Max.
In Episode 5, when Max warns David of Jefferson waiting to attack him, he briefly turns to her, surprised (likely due to her knowing the identity of the person approaching without being able to see David), exclaiming "How did you know that!?", which strongly suggests that he has no knowledge or understanding of Max' time travel powers. Yet in that same episode if Jefferson repeatedly takes down David he will comment on déjà vu hinting he might have a sense of awareness to Max's powers.
Jefferson's Phone Call
There has been much debate on who called Jefferson in Episode 2, but it was never revealed. During the Square Enix charity livestream, when the fans asked about the identity of the caller, DONTNOD didn't reply.
Character Creation and Concept
Jefferson's unique character and significant role as an antagonist brought many dark themes to Life is Strange which contributed towards strong development of the story and relationships between other characters. When asked by the fans during the Square Enix Livestream of Life is Strange, the developers revealed that they pretty much had Mark Jefferson's character set in stone since the beginning. They wanted him to appear as the "cool teacher" and they had a lot of positive feedback from the fans during the earlier episodes saying how much they love Jefferson, but they anticipated the antagonistic hate for him after fans played Episode 4.
As a clear demonstration of his deceptive nature and personality, they noted how Jefferson's true evil colors appeared in the Dark Room during Episode 5. They also revealed in the chat that Rachel Amber was in fact in love with him before her death and that her letter written to Chloe (which can be found in the junkyard during Episode 2) was referencing Mark Jefferson. Mark Jefferson was not suspected by many people as he used his cover as a teacher, therefore creating a "perfect" image.
Fred Augis, the concept artist who designed Mr. Jefferson, explained in an interview that, "Jefferson was supposed to look like a veteran of the art world, but he was also meant to be charming and easy to talk to. We wanted him to look like someone who loves it when people are paying attention to what he’s saying, or looking at his works at an art exhibition."
- Jefferson's zodiac sign is Aries.
- Right at the beginning, Jefferson's role as the main antagonist is foreshadowed by his lecture about innocence and black and white photography as well as his most memorable line, "Seriously though, I could frame anyone of you in a dark corner, and capture you in a moment of desperation." Also, mentioning Hitchcock and Diane Arbus are not idle references, both the filmmaker and the photographer have been accused of manipulating people in the service of their work.
- Jefferson is the archetype of a psychopath.
- He possibly has some OCD traits during his "photoshoot sessions", it is also likely that he has some form of personality disorder thanks to his lack of empathy.
- During "Dark Room", Dontnod cleverly throws players off the trail, as they receive a positive image of Jefferson from the playful and helpful conversations he has with Max and Chloe throughout the episode.
- Jefferson's license plate is TPFTHLK, a reference to Top of the Lake. The show is about a detective investigating the case of a missing girl.
- In "Out of Time", Jefferson says, in reference to Kate, "maybe she doth protest too much," a reference to "the lady who doth protest too much, methinks" from the play "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare.
- During Episode 3, Max views a social media page supporting Mr. Jefferson, which will appear if she caused his suspension in the previous episode. The page states that his birthday is April 11, 1967, and he attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago.
- The background of his computer in the Dark Room is one of the photos he took of a drugged Kate.
- During the "investigation" scene of "Dark Room", David's clues include a photo and location data of Jefferson's car. Cross-referencing the time of Kate's abduction with both Jefferson's and Nathan's vehicles shows that they were both at the same location, at the same time on the evening of the 4th of October.
- In "Dark Room", a note addressed to Nathan can be found attached to the computer screen in the bunker, and is assumed by Max to be from Nathan's father, but is very likely from Jefferson. The note implies that Jefferson's relation to Nathan is that of a guide and mentor.
- In "Polarized" during Max's nightmare sequence, she can see a map of her dorm from the time of Rachel Amber's residency. The girl listed as staying in room 217 is Kelly Davis, possibly the "Kelly" marked on one of Jefferson's red binders in the Dark Room.
- It appears that Mr. Jefferson has a fondness for jazz and blues which is shown from his selection of music in the Dark Room, and an appreciation for Japanese manga from owning an original signed illustration.
- According to the map of Blackwell Academy, Mr. Jefferson has a bigger office than the principal. It seems unusual in such a small school. It showcases how important Jefferson is for Blackwell Academy. This bigger office could actually be part of the deal which convinced Jefferson to come to Blackwell Academy to teach (along with showcasing his work on the campus).
- Jefferson's camera is a modified version of a digital Hasselblad medium format camera, probably based on the DSLR (H2D, H3D, H4D or H5D series). The player can find the same Hasselblad model in the Dark Room.
- Jefferson's name might be based on an American geographer and cartographer or a New Zealand cricketer, both of whom are named Mark Jefferson.
- With a patch update on January 19, 2016, Jefferson's date of birth, as seen on Max's computer in Episode 3, was changed from April 11, 1967 to April 11, 1975, which makes him 8 years younger.
- A photography book by Mark Jefferson, previously owned by Emily Eriksen, can be found on a shelf in the Eriksen Household in The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit.
- This information can be found on a website opened on Max's computer in Episode 2 set up to protest against Mr. Jefferson's suspension if he got suspended in the earlier episode. Originally, Jefferson's date of birth was April 11, 1967, but it was changed with a patch update on January 15, 2016.
- "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."
- If you blamed Jefferson in Episode 2, while having a conversation about Kate, he will say to Max: "When you told the principal that I made Kate cry, I thought you almost had me. It's good our esteemed Principal Wells is, like most administrators... a closet drunk..."
- During the Life Is Strange Livestream, the developers confirmed that Rachel was in fact in love with Jefferson and that to Chloe in their hideout actually referred to him.
- Fred Augis on What Makes a Good Character Design (August 28, 2016)
- Psychopathic Traits and Characteristics of a Psychopath (healthyplace.com)