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Some spoilers for story bits in Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Butch:

Ok! We’re moving now!

After five or six more tries on the sliding, I got it! Then back to Paititi, got the bow, made the kid king, went back to the mission to poke around and get supplies (they fixed it up pretty quickly!), helped the kids with the treasure hunt (you’re right, that was rather sweet), and spent WAAAAAAY too long making the whole follow the cross thing more complicated than it had to be. Figured it out, turns out that shooting a rope arrow was the way to find her (Like, dudes, you’re standing RIGHT NEXT TO A ROPE THING try that), found her, now I gotta get out of there.

Back me up on this: When it says “Look through me to find the way,” and it has a big fucking hole in it, that suggests you look through the hole and go that way. It does. Really. I looked through that damn hole every possible way. I GAVE UP and that’s when I found the other crosses.

Look through me my ass.

But what I really want to talk about is the Narual or whatever the hell it’s called.

There was stuff there, and I’m still pondering. It certainly was a callback to the first jaguar. Not the empress one we skinned, but the FIRST first one, the one that is about to kill Lara and gets in her face, but then turns away out of…what…respect? This seemed like that again, Lara and this animal facing each other and sharing some degree of respect. Only Lara DOESN’T spare her opponent the way the jaguar did. Lara is more the “animal.”

But that aside….how’d you read all this? It WASN’T just a jaguar, the way I thought it would be. It had clothes and a mask. So….what? Is it really a mythical shapeshifter? Can Amaru really control it? Or is it some kind of ritual thing, people went out and…what, dressed it? And what did you make of the fact that her unmasking it was drawn out? They wanted to say something with that, but I’m still pondering what.

It was a good scene, and I get some of it, but I’m curious as to your take.

Feminina:

Yes! Onward and forward!

You are not wrong: “Look through me” does indeed suggest that looking THROUGH THE DAMN THING would be important, and I also tried several times to get somewhere by looking through the circle on top of the cross before finally giving up and wandering over to look at the other crosses by the gate, after which I noticed that hey, there are more out here! It was super easy after that, so maybe “look through me” was just their way of adding a little misleading challenge to the whole thing?

That dressed-up jaguar was very interesting. Here’s kind of what I made of it: it was a sham, created by Trinity/Amaru to keep people in line. If I recall, one of the people she talked to about it mentioned that it hadn’t been seen in years, it was just a legend, and then lately it’s actually been seen, and maybe that’s an omen or whatever.

Maybe it’s an omen…or maybe it’s a way of keeping people from wandering around outside the village where they might run into Trinity’s soldiers/camps/jeeps/etc.

I think the jaguar was probably in considerable discomfort from being all dressed up like that (though it also probably received some sort of armor bonus), and that’s why, when it was wounded, it simply lay there and let Lara walk up and kill it. And I think she recognized that as well, which is why she was so ready to simply kill it rather than leave it be (which might not have been that much of a kindness anyway, depending on how badly injured it was–yay, I get to die slowly in pain and confusion!).

I could be wrong, but that was my read.

Butch:

Ah, see? This is friendship. Knowing that, when I feel stupid, you did the same stupid thing. We’re in this together.

Hmm. I can see the jaguar as that. Seems an odd place to put the bow, though. After all, the other stuff was guarded just by dudes.

But, you know, gameplay. Been a while since we fought a jaguar.

But I’ll take hoax/sham. I’m very curious to see if hoax/sham stays a possibility….

She did treat it with a kind of reverence. Not reverence, respect. Utzu even says “He must have respected you greatly to choose jaguar.” There certainly is something to their mutual respect (or general mutual respect jaguar-wise).

It’s interesting that the only real mutual respect with opponents we see in the whole game is her an the jaguars. She doesn’t share any mutual respect for any Qevins or Amaru or anyone. They all just call her Croft or Ixhi or whatever. Amaru and Lara spend all their time calling the other crazy. But with the animals, there’s this connection.

Add to that the fact that so many skills have animal names. Serpent this, eagle that, etc. You learn stuff, you get skills, you get more “animal.”

Hmm.

Feminina:

It is interesting that the opponents she really respects are the animals, and as you say, the cool skills are named after animals…she becomes more like them in her ability to hunt and survive in the jungle as she gains experience. Hm. I mean, undoubtedly partly it’s just that animal names are locally relevant/sound cool, where ‘Grandma Trinity’s Secret Grenade Recipe’ does not, but also from a thematic perspective, the animals maybe could be seen as the ones who live in the world without all these human complications we’ve been dealing with. Maybe the animal connection gives us some larger tie to the world as it is, something to be interested in saving aside from the humans?

We talked yesterday about how it’s all very well to imagine remaking the world free of sin but what happens to all the people living in it now, etc., but even that was a pretty limited perspective, focusing only on the effect of this action on HUMANS.

It’s not just about people! What about all the animals, what about the many unique environments that would be harmed by the (likely) destruction involved in remaking the world? Maybe Lara’s depicted respect and connection to animals is meant to (or does, even if not intentionally planned to) hint at an awareness that these things are also worth some consideration, even though a concern specifically for them is never spelled out.

Butch:

Right. The complexities of being “inhuman.” What really makes you an “animal.” Or a monster or a reaper or whatever.

This game plays a lot with the idea of “are you really the good guy? You’re just like the bad guys!” Add to that the idea that you’re just like the inhuman bad guys, too.

And THEN make it that the inhuman bad guys are the ones you kinda want to be like. Or at least respect.

This game, in general, is not too keen on humanity.

Feminina:

Well, I don’t know. It’s not as if it’s promoting a “humans suck, the world would be better without them” message (which it could have, with that whole ‘remaking the world’ thing).

I don’t think I’d really say it’s not keen on humanity, so much as that it argues that being human is complicated. We all have similar emotions and share the broad outlines of many experiences (loss, fear, love, longing for booze), but we react to them in different ways. We do what we think is the right thing, but is it? Sometimes we do what we think is best, sometimes we obey the rules and do what society thinks is best, and which approach is really better?

Some of us choose to make passion plays out of mummies! Others…do not. But maybe we should!

Butch:

Nah, let’s stick to booze. Easier. Cleaner. I have enough clutter around the holidays (relevant because packing the last of that up today). I don’t need to jumble my house up even more with mummy dioramas. It’s bad enough Mrs. McP has all these little Danish elf thingies that she has posed. 

Now that I look at them, they’re creepier than mummies.

Feminina:

Yeah, see! Although the mummies would take up a lot more space.

So yeah, let’s stick to booze.

Butch:

I dunno, man. She has a LOT of these little fuckers.

And nutcrackers! So…many….nutcrackers….

Which are also creepy as fuck.

Feminina:

Hm. Kind of a toss-up, then. Maybe you’d be better off trading them for one mummy.

On the other hand, if you had to trade them for the same number of mummies, forget about it. You wouldn’t have any room left in the house.

Butch:

I already didn’t have any room in the house. Ferdinand the Duck is famous for screaming “Christmas means carnage!” in Babe, the Sheep Pig, but he really should have said “Christmas means clutter!”

Boy does it.

And creepy. Elves, the elf on a fucking shelf (he’s watching you….), the nutcrackers, the fact that, thanks to my parents, practically every ornament on my tree is a picture of my kids (THEY’RE watching you…..), the fact that the only outside lights you can get these days are LED and, while environmentally sound, are VERY vivid (and, thus, creepy)….

I’m just here for the booze and cookies.

But watch: someone will find a way to make THAT creepy.

Feminina:

I firmly have nothing to do with the damn Elf on the Shelf.

NOT IN MY HOUSE YOU CREEPILY SMILING BASTARD!!!!!

Give me the genuine spiritual dedication summed up by a mummy passion play any time.

But then, I’m not married to Mrs. McP.

Butch:

Dude, she regretted it the minute she brought it home.

But the kids still ask where it is if it doesn’t show up on the first.

I think they just want it out to torture their mother. Who completely deserves it.

Here, watch this:

The Elf on the Shelf – TV Spot

They say “What you say and what you do.”

So I changed it to “The elf on a shelf is watching you, what you drink and who you screw” and sang it to Mrs. McP. And now she says that’s all she can think about when she sees the thing.

She completely deserves it.

Feminina:

Hahahaha! That’s awesome.

And well deserved.

Butch:

Indeed it is.

Mrs. McP’s tombstone will read “It looked like a good idea when I saw it on Pinterest….”

Feminina:

So many things do! Probably.

This is why I stay the hell off Pinterest.

Butch:

Very, very wise.