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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some story spoilers for Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Ok! Went to Blackwater!

Yeah….I can see how riding right into town would’ve sucked. So I didn’t.

Did all that, and, yeah, you’re right, that wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it would be. When it was over my reaction was “Uh….that’s it?” Especially as I currently have, what, one thing to do? Took me forever to find that! Seriously. I have one yellow quest in camp. Either that or I’m missing something. Am I missing something? There’s nothing else storywise unless I go talk to John in camp. Is that what you did next?

I’m wondering what is going to happen in Blackwater. There’s a whole bigass town there, right? It has a saloon marked on my map and everything. That would imply that, at some point, we’re a) going to back there for a while which means b) we’re going to be ABLE to go back there without being shot up so c) some plot point is going to happen that will make that doable. Right?

As for takeaways from this……

I think that the guy there, the New York, I find people to rob guy, is one of those guys you know a lot more about if you played the other games in the series. I had a sense we were missing a whole lot of “Oh that guy! I remember that guy! He was the guy who” stuff. Likely true for Sean as well. I’d look it up, but I don’t do that sort of thing.

I mean, ok, good level. Nice balance of shooty and sneaky, met some dudes so it moved plot in that sense, but…..now what? WHAT DO I DO?

Feminina:

Right? It was really just not that big of a deal. I thought it would be more…something.

But no. And yes, at this point I just went back to camp and talked to John, because that’s what I had to do. And talking to him turns into kind of a thing, and a couple of other things popped up, but it’s really not a huge transition piece.

More of an “OK, the gang’s all back together, here’s how everyone interacts, here’s some of their banter so you know what they think of each other, etc.”

Go talk to John. Find the rest of the gunslingers maybe…check out Saint Denis. There are vaudeville shows there! You don’t want to miss it.

Butch:

Weird. But at least I know the game hasn’t glitched and the story has stopped.

It really did seem like it would be more….something. The whole game they’ve been hyping up Blackwater. “Blackwater sure was bad. Dutch killed a woman in Blackwater. Can’t show our faces in Blackwater. All our money is in Blackwater. Oh, hey, you popped into Blackwater, got Sean in Blackwater, and popped right back out of Blackwater. Moving on.”

Weird.

I have a feeling that this talking to John, listen to banter stuff is also “stuff you appreciate more if you played the other games.” John was, after all, the protagonist of the other games, so right off the bat there’s that.

But hey, background is background. Can’t blame the game for the fact we didn’t play the other games. I’m sure there were people who played DAI who didn’t play DAO who were all “What’s the big deal with this Morrigan chick?” It happens.

Feminina:

Wait, John Marston turns into the protagonist of the original RDR? Well, I guess we don’t have to worry about him dying. Not that I was.

But yeah, these bits would probably be more interesting with that context. Or interesting in a different way, at least. Oh well. I shall never know.

And true, unlike its annoying habit with save points in bounty quests, I don’t blame this game for my not having played the previous one.

Butch:

Yeah, dude. He’s like, the guy. He ain’t gonna die.

That’s pretty much all I know. Whether any of the rest of them make it, I couldn’t say. I’m kinda surprised any of them do.

Oh, I did get something themey! Did you get the “I’ve been killing animals…innocents…I’m just so angry” conversation?

Feminina:

Uh…no. That conversation does not ring any bells.

Our serial killer, perhaps?

Butch:

No dude, Arthur says that. It’s one of the optional conversations you can have in camp. One of the “sit down, it’s kind of a cutscene” ones. He says he has all this anger because he knows his way of life, the gang’s way of life, is ending and he feels powerless to stop it.

Which, I think, is yet another comment on the state of affairs today.

I have a theory on the serial killer. Yes, yes I do.

Feminina:

Ah, interesting. I had one of those conversations with Mary Beth (?) I think. Along those lines, but I don’t remember those specific words. But definitely very glum. Grim and glum and feeling the end coming. He’s mentioned that to several people.

Butch:

Yeah, that was the first one. “I just feel maybe our time is coming to an end…and we’re gonna have to start paying for our sins.”

Go back to where you had that chat. There’s a second one.

But it’s interesting that glum has segued to anger. What are the seven stages of grief?

I do know the last one is acceptance. Wonder if he’ll get there.

Feminina:

Hm. I know the five: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I think there’s now a seven-stage model, as you say, but I’m less familiar with it (i.e., it didn’t feature in a Simpsons episode–that I know of).

I don’t know that we saw Arthur in denial, but Dutch certainly seems to be. Maybe different characters are in different stages of coming to terms with the end of their cherished way of life.

Which…I mean, it’s still a little odd to me that they keep talking about their cherished way of life as if it’s a longstanding tradition passed down from their ancestors or something. Because for one thing that can’t logically be true (the American West wasn’t opened to general expansion THAT long ago), and for another thing, their cherished way of life is robbing people, which one can really do in pretty much any setting though I’m sure it’s not as cool as on the untrodden plains, and which also is an interesting thing to be all nostalgic about. “Remember all those marks we’ve conned and stolen from over the years? Good times, good times.”

I guess if that’s your job and you enjoy it, there’s no reason you WOULDN’T look back on these things fondly, but it strikes an odd note for me, is all.

Maybe they’re harking back to a long tradition of highwaymen in other lands. Ah, Bess the landlord’s daughter! How we miss her!

Butch:

Well, their “cherished way of life” is a bit of a delusion. I don’t think they think of robbing as a “job,” per se, but as a way to preserve what they want to do, which is this weird ideal of freedom. Remember back when the O’Driscoll was taking us to what turned out not to be Colm? And he was saying that Dutch’s gang was just like the O’Driscolls, just a bunch of thieves, and whoever it was said “No! We’re just trying to live free” and O’Driscoll kinda “whatevered” him?

I think that’s it. There’s this ideal of super American FREEDOM that they cherish, and that their clinging to. Which a lot of people still cling to.

The robbing, and their failure to see that they are like the O’Driscolls, just shows how unspeakably selfish it is to think that this FREEDOM is a right of yours. It’s not. Dutch has convinced himself (and, to some extent, everyone else), that they are, at some level, better than everyone else, and, thus, they can take what they want from anyone they like if it preserves this FREEDOM.

Again, the country is still full of such people, people so convinced of their superiority that they can self justify taking more than their share if it means living how they want to live.

I think that this is yet another indictment the game is making of this idealized, Western, Norman Rockwell Americana, that it is, inherently, a selfish ideal, full of selfish people who have convinced themselves they AREN’T selfish, just better. If anything, they’re the victims! Not selfish at all. Nope.

Again, country is still full of such people.

And you’re right: the nostalgia Dutch has must be nostalgia for a past that never really was, a bullshit past.

You know. The kind that so many people are nostalgic for today.

Feminina:

Ooh, good theming! Well said.

Because you’re right, they are always on about freedom, which in practical terms must be their freedom to do whatever they want, not some general ideal of freedom for all.

“We just want to be left alone to live free! And we need some money to do that, so we’ll just steal from these losers who don’t have our enlightened appreciation for what freedom really is…they probably think it’s “freedom to not have your stuff stolen” or some nonsense…”

But yeah, at root a very selfish conception of freedom. And, as you say, a familiar one throughout history and today.

Butch:

Right. Generally, the people who say “We should be totally free to live how we want” a) have a very narrow idea of what constitutes “we” and b) generally think that people were far freer in their grandpappy’s day. Maybe the very narrow “we” was freer in grandpappy’s day! But it’s still a very, very narrow we.

Not much bigger than a gang.

And not as likable.

Feminina:

Well, that, too, perhaps is a kind of contrast of ancient and modern thinking…like, when you have small groups or small towns or whatever, everyone in the group can be known to be “one of us” and everyone outside is not, but now in the modern age as the country grows and more cities get bigger and things get mechanized, it’s harder and harder to retain that sense of a small local group.

So you can try to form your identity based are larger, more impersonal things, like a giant faceless government or the railroad or whatever, or you can try to run off with a little gang into the wilderness and hold onto that ‘family’ feeling.

And rob the blind sheep who don’t see the truth the way you do.

Butch:

Well, it’s more than the sheep, it’s the people who threaten your way of life. The government. “Pinkertons.” The other gangs that may encroach. Foreigners (remember Wroble?) Shit, we even hear them refer to that trope: “The law.” Slang in cheesy Westerns, but in this context, very much a metaphor.

(As an aside, did you see the actual Pinkerton Detective Agency, which is still around, is suing Rockstar for making them look bad?)

Feminina:

Ha! I did not see that. Poor Pinkertons. Apparently they don’t believe that any publicity is good publicity.

I would also argue that, so far at least, they don’t look any worse than the main characters in this game, but perhaps that’s small comfort.

Butch:

Small comfort, indeed.

Poor Kevin. He finally gets a real job, real place, probably has dental, and immediately gets in the middle of litigation.

Feminina:

I look forward to seeing more about how negatively the Pinkertons are portrayed. Maybe one of them is the serial killer.