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Minor spoilers for early points in Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Butch:

Well, despite the insanity of a holiday weekend, played some, but I’m not sure I have that much to say. Can’t tell if that’s the game or the soul my children crushed. Or the fact that Mrs. McP had to get up early. AGAIN.

But what did I do?

Got to the village there. Met the Sassy Female Person of Color (more on her in a sec), found a campsite, realized I can fast travel (more on that in a sec), and instantly magpied. Went back to the plane wreck and did a crypt (more on that in a sec…maybe I do have stuff to say…) and now I’m right about to start the tomb by the plane crash site.

On the Sassy Female:

Ok, so was Lara jealous there? She sorta gave that “Ok, I’m a third wheel..I want to be the second wheel” look there. Can’t blame her. I think Lara is SO into Jonah. Wouldn’t you be? (Now that I think on it, he is kind of your type. Broods. Beard. Just imagine the tattoos are a carapace.)

But still. I don’t like the trope. The Sassy Female Person of Color is SO common and makes me a little uncomfortable. These characters usually exploit the stereotype that women of color (ESPECIALLY Latina women of color) are somehow BOTH more masculine than the average woman and more sexual than the average woman. And that’s playing towards an uncomfortable racial stereotype.

[The ultimate example of this was the short haired, super tough space marine Vazquez in Aliens. Two lines sum up the trope. Vazquez is on the ship doing, like, one handed pull ups and a fellow marine jokes “You ever been mistaken for a man, Vazquez?” and she stopped working out, scowls, then smiles, winks and says “No. Have you?” Manly/flirty. And…hmm.]

That happened right off the bat here. Short hair, baseball cap, tattoos, obviously tough. Then, very flirty with Jonah. Did you stick around and listen to their chat? Like, four lines in he’s all asking about tattoos and she’s all “Maybe you’ll see them someday….” Baseball cap. Short hair. Tough. Flirty. Trope.

ALSO, the Sassy Female Person of Color usually is there to give an out to the Male Person of Color who might be romancing the White Woman. This goes something like “Male Person of Color is cool. We want to see him happy. But the obvious love interest is white, and we’re unconsciously racist, so we can’t have that. Better plop a Female Person of Color in there so he can be happy and our unconscious racism is assuaged.”

Another uncomfortable racial reason for the Sassy Female Person of Color.

Ok, something more mellow….On Fast Traveling:

Why then? Usually, when a game opens shit up and says “Ok, player, go forth and do your thing,” it’s at a point where a) the tutorials are wrapped up and you can now do pretty much what you want, b) the exposition is over and the game is saying “Ok, I got all that out there, we can take a narrative break while you magpie,” or c) both. This was neither. There wasn’t a mechanic you learned right then, and, if anything, the village was the START of some exposition and I immediately left it.

I’m not objecting to fast travel. I like it. It just seemed a weird place to say “Ok, you can do it now.”

On Crypts:

The fuck are with crypts? I mean, are these just tombs for people who, like, couldn’t afford proper tombs cuz they died with student loans or something? There wasn’t much going on there. Like, ok, watch out for traps, go through that crack in the wall, get some loot, use a rope arrow…scene. No real puzzle, no real action…what was that?

That about sums us up. Starting by saying “I dunno…don’t have much to say,” then failing entirely to shut up.

Feminina:

Yeah, see, you have plenty to say!

Valid points about Abby. Very valid. I hope she turns out to be more of an actual, well-developed character, but we’ll have to see. I mean, I like her in some ways. It’s nice they put in a woman character besides Lara, and it’s nice that she’s competent and confident, and it’s nice that she’s a local instead of another white woman who happened to have wandered in and settled down there (that would be weird). And narratively, it’s nice that Jonah has someone to talk to while Lara is off raiding tombs, because we know very well that Lara’s going to be off raiding tombs a lot and we don’t really want company in the action bits (interestingly, I didn’t really take Lara’s “I’ll let you two talk” as “I feel like a third wheel”, I took it more as “great, you’re happily occupied, I’m going to look around”).

But as you say, there’s the flip side of all those nice things, which is stereotypes. We’ll see whether or not they navigate that balance successfully.

I also am not sure why the fast travel was enabled here instead of somewhere else. It seems like kind of a random spot. I guess there’s a sort of ‘home-base’ aspect to it, like you have to make your way to somewhere you’re safe and can get food and supplies before you start backtracking into the wilderness, but beyond that…enh.

But certainly I’m not objecting to its existence! It’s nice to have the option to go back, especially when you get to things that can’t be opened without tools you don’t have yet.

Ha! Crypts for the poor, debt-ridden losers who don’t deserve tombs. Yeah, it did have kind of that feeling. Maybe crypts are practice tombs? “We did this first to try out some ideas, and then we made the REAL tomb.”

Butch:

I should know that I usually do have plenty to say.

There was just that one parting, hesitant glance that seemed to say “Oh you want to talk…oh…uh….I’ll just…um…bye.” At least that’s how I read it. Maybe I’m wrong.

But maybe, if it is in there, it’s not romance so much as the fact that Jonah is really all she has left in terms of any human connections, and him getting all distracted with someone, anyone, else leaves her truly alone.

We’ll see. That we will.

Maybe the village was a ‘home base.’ But it did come out of nowhere. A welcome nowhere, but still.

That’s the very first thing I did, was go back! All those pretty icons….

Crypts and tombs are sorta like murals and monoliths.

“Ok, let’s make sure we have our ancient, vague lingo DOWN before we really lay shit out on those monoliths, man. Gotta get those correct.”

Feminina:

So true! “Aww, look at the mural Jr. did at school! He’ll be working on monoliths in no time.”

That’s so funny how differently we interpreted Lara’s leaving Jonah with Abby. I’d have to look at it again, maybe I missed a meaningful glance, but I really saw it as almost relief: “You guys are good here? All right, I’m going to go explore!”

Not necessarily because she was anxious to lose Jonah, because I agree he’s important to her–as you say, she really doesn’t have anyone else right now (except possibly the Butler…Winston?…whom we haven’t actually met and I don’t know if we even know he’s alive, but Lara said he made all those puzzles for her when she was a kid)–I just took it as her being glad that he had something to do while she went to do HER thing.

But as I say, I might have missed a meaningful glance in my haste to look around…and I might have put my own interest in exploring (and relief that Jonah was taken care of, because I wouldn’t want him to be sitting around bored) onto the character.

Butch:

I bet those murals are tacked up to what passed as a fridge in ancient times. Displayed proudly for the family. Behind there is probably some old mustard and a thing of baking soda.

That is weird, our different takes. We’re usually so similar.

Maybe it was because I thought, erroneously, just in previous play session that things were starting to heat up there between Lara and Jonah. That post jaguar conversation. Hell, when that scene ended with a pan up to the moon and a slow fade to black, I even, for a fleeting moment thought “Wait…did they just…????” After all, we’ve played many a game where sex scenes pretty much are pan to moon, fade to black. So I was reading potential romance, figured Lara might have been, too.

But no! ‘Twas not to be!

Yet.

Feminina:

Yet. Time will tell. I mean, Jonah’s cool, I’m all for them getting romantic, except that it would probably mean he was doomed (although Nathan Drake and Elena managed it).

I just didn’t pick up on that myself.

Missed that potential of the moonlight entirely, I guess. Too busy thinking about its effect on my sewing the jaguar skin: “This is great, I can really make out the seams now!”

Butch:

You’re such a romantic.

And yeah! Drake did ok! Indiana Jones did…kinda ok? Adventure heroes can have romance! They can! Or, at least, friends who aren’t doomed! Even Sam Drake survived being with Chloe!

Feminina:

Indiana Jones did OK…I guess…I mean, after first breaking up for 20 years.

But poor Jonah if he was hoping for something.

“Hey, you know, the moonlight…the crackle of the fire…I sprinkled flower petals around…it’s nice, right?”

“Oh, cool, I can use these flower petals to enhance my perceptions and kill another jaguar to make a matching cape! Thanks man!”

Butch:

Hey, man, he and Marian would have lived happily ever after had the actress who played her not gone all nuts. I’m sticking with that.


Poor Jonah. His best laid plans. Poor guy probably spend the next day thinking “It’s the necklace. Gotta be the necklace. Sam was always telling me that my bigassed necklace made my chin look fat….”

Feminina:

Nah, man, the necklace is cool. Lara’s into artifacts, I’m sure she likes it.

She’s just distracted by the mending, and the plans to murder hundreds of dudes. Happens to us all.

He should try again in between games when she doesn’t have all this other stuff going on.

Butch:

True. One must have one’s priorities.

But Lara should’ve gone for it when she had a chance. Once a tropey, sassy woman shows up, gets much harder to get your thang on.

Feminina:

She’ll have more chances. Not like Jonah’s going to want to settle down in the Peruvian jungle. He’s got the lust for adventure now, not to mention hot showers…he’ll follow her back to Croft Manor or whatever. Once it’s just the two of them again, she’ll have plenty of time to make her move.

Or so she may be imagining, only to face heartbreak later on.

Rampant speculation is how we do.

Butch:

Or he’ll die. One or the other.

Really, Sassy Trope, don’t fall for the friend of the hero. He’ll die. And you likely will, too.

Did you talk to the guy who was all drunk in the corner, all “I’ve been trying to talk to her for a year, and this guy just walks in….” Sassy Trope, stick with that guy.

Feminina:

I did talk to that guy! Sad, sad guy.

It is safer to stay focused on the people around you. Although I suppose in this case not all that safe, given they just had severe flooding and the oil company is leaving and some violent people are pillaging their local artifacts.

Really, they’re probably all doomed anyway.

Just like in real life!

Butch:

Dude this is harshing my mellow.

Feminina:

It is my way.

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