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Some confused spoilers for the gunslingers quest in Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Well, I had a plan, and we all know how that goes.

I based my plan around what my blogmate had told me.

See, long ago, you told me that you did the gunslinger by Flatneck and it vortexed you all the way to St. Denis. “How’d that happen?” thought I. I have been studiously avoiding this gunslinger for weeks, as I did not want to get vortexed all the way across the map. But last night, I had a plan. “I shall do this long gunslinger thing, be happily vortexed to St. Denis, then take the train from St. Denis to Strawberry, thus saving me time! I’ll be right by Micah’s thing! Boom!”

So I went to this gunslinger. This gunslinger I have been avoiding because this gunslinger is complicated.

And I shoveled pig shit. And I blew up pig shit. And I shot him. AND THAT WAS IT!

WEEKS I have been avoiding this!

In the name of everything bright and beautiful, how did you end up in St. Denis?

I still have not seen St. Denis. Nor have I seen its fucking TRAIN STATION which would have put me close to Micah. Or John. Or SOMETHING. I am now almost exactly equidistant from the two quests I have. And it’s quite a distance.

I have no idea what you did. What did you do?

Feminina:

Uh…I’m sorry. I thought the LAST gunslinger you did was the shoveling manure guy. You already did the one at the train station? And it somehow didn’t end up with you on a train to Saint Denis?

Maybe it’s one of those “the guy moves around and you’ll have a different experience depending on when you go after him” things? Because I went down to the train station looking for him, on account of that’s where his white quest marker was, and I was asking the station master if he was around, and the guy said “yeah, he’s on the train, go ahead and get on and look for him,” so I did. And then he ran off, despite the fact that I kept yelling “I just want to talk to you!” or whatever, and then we had a chase through the train cars and a quick draw competition, and then he was dead. On the train. And then I didn’t feel like leaping off a speeding train, so I just stayed on until it stopped a couple of minutes later, and that was in Saint Denis.

Where did YOU find that guy?

Butch:

That was Billy Midnight, who we discussed yesterday. The “I totally didn’t shoot him in his sleep” guy. And yes, he did flee to the roof of a train, and yes, I did shoot him on the roof of said train, but then I hopped off the train. Roach was running alongside watching, I tried to do “jump to horse” as that would have been awesome, but just as I hit circle the prompt went away and I fell but didn’t die.

So I didn’t get very far on the train.

Not as far as you got, apparently.

I was so confused last night! I kept expecting the guy to be all “I remember Granger….came through a season ago….told me he was going to St. Denis to watch Vaudeville.” When the dude was like “I’m Granger,” I thought “What? You are? For real?”

Your poor horse. Running along all “C’mon! Jump! You’re better at this than Butch! It’ll be SO COOL! Wait! You’re going back in? Then why am I and he’s gone.”

So, uh….the pig guy!

Feminina:

Oh, man! Sorry. I just assumed, since you hadn’t been to Saint Denis, that the last guy you were talking about was…not the one you were actually talking about.

But dude, why did you jump off the train? Free train trip, man! Well, I guess you’ll have to go to Saint Denis on your own sometime. It’s not super critical, there’s stuff to wander around and look at (like vaudeville shows!) and a bounty you can pick up, but it can all wait.

I’m sure we’ll have story-related reasons to go there at some point.

Butch:

I’m sure we will. When we’re stronger and can handle long, difficult bounties.

Anyway….

Pig guy!

I certainly got the sense that pig guy was completely full of shit. He talked like a complete evil badass, but, let’s face it, he was full of shit. Right? So we have this guy, the GUY ON THE TRAIN who got his reputation (we assume) from shooting a sleeping man on back to back days. These are phonies. Frauds.

I WANT to say the twist is that all the men are frauds and Belle is the one that’s for real, but I can’t think of a reason to think Flacco is a fraud. He certainly wasn’t a dashing 50’s movie gunslinger, but he had a gang and seemed to be fairly legit. That, and, when you think on it, can we believe Belle? Sure, she seemed pretty damn good with a rifle, but other than that, she was just spinning tales. I DID believe her, and instantly thought Granger was full shit, but why? Just because I liked Belle?

Hmm.

Not sure what to make of this pattern.

What did you take away from it?

Feminina:

I got something along the lines of “history is written by people looking to sell a good story.”

Because yes, at least two of these people were frauds, which says something about how an exciting story overtakes the truth. (As you say, Flacco seemed like someone who was an actual tough gunslinger back in the day, and my sense of Belle was of someone who was aware of and possibly involved in her own exaggerated reputation, but who also had legitimately done some things in her time.)

And also because the only reason we even talked to any of them was because that author guy is writing a book about still another gunslinger, and wanted corroboration that he was as bad as the rumors have it. And everyone we talked to seemed to be saying that he in fact was not, that he was a fraud just as half of them were, but do you think the author is going to accept that and decide to just not write the book? Or to write it with the unflattering truth?

I haven’t encountered him again yet, so I don’t know, but my suspicion is that he’ll write the book about the badass Boy Calloway anyway, because it’s a better story and will sell. (The other option is that he’ll decide to instead write a book about the badass Arthur Morgan, who killed several other famous gunslingers and has pictures to prove it, but we’ll see.)

There’s also obviously something here specifically about the legends of the Wild West: they’re largely lies, we can see they’re lies, we’re practically watching the lies be written, and yet it doesn’t matter, the truth isn’t interesting enough to outweigh the glorious myths that are in the process of forming even as we watch. It’s like the game is telling us that whatever images and ideas we have in mind about this period in U.S. history, the truth wasn’t that exciting, or that dashingly roguish, or that idealistically free from the petty concerns of civilization, or whatever might come to mind when we hear “the Wild West.”

It’s interesting that Arthur himself has no illusions whatsoever on this score. He doesn’t express the slightest surprise or disappointment that any of these people weren’t all they were cracked up to be, or whatever. Obviously, HE’S not the one exaggerating their stories for the drama, or invested in the myth. That’s something for people in the cultured East to do…people who don’t actually live out here in the dust and the real-but-not-usually-glamorous danger all day.

People like us, the players, presumably.

Butch:

Fair enough, Belle was exaggerating. Wearing the widow’s weeds was a bit theatrical.

I am very curious about how this is going to end. I guess that’s the mark of a good quest.

Three of these gunslingers have that “not very exciting” bit about them. Flacco’s freezing his ass off. Belle is living in a muddy shack. Granger is, well, a granger. He even says so. These are people living the people actually did in the west. Cold, muddy, shoveling pig shit. Of course they lie. Wouldn’t you?

Hmm. I guess that’s not even the only side quest that implies that folks in the cultured east are…easily fooled. The guy who wants fish was a showman, and he shared some of Arthur’s disbelief that people (presumably rich, eastern people) would pay for stuffed fish. I haven’t been able to find the wildlife guy again (his icons comes and goes…must be a time of day thing) but he, too, is taking something that’s very mundane to the people HERE (animals are everywhere) and packing up as an “ooo ahh” thing for people THERE. Arthur was confused or bemused or both about that, too.

Even the two “item requests” I have from camp (which are mini sidequests, right?) have to do with telling stories. Mary Beth wants a pen so she can write her books, Jack wants a Penny Dreadful book.

Hmm.

Feminina:

Yes, it’s us sheltered East Coast dandies and our yearning for vicarious excitement that fed that whole myth. I blame myself.

Although, to defend the dandies, they weren’t all dandies–they were also just working people who maybe lived in cities and hadn’t ever seen a big fish and wanted to view one in a natural history museum (or traveling exhibit). Maybe wanted to be able to take the kids to learn some more about the majestic wildlife of the country! As a break from their own hard lives of mining coal or whatever.

There’s nothing WRONG with yearning for vicarious excitement. That’s a large part of why we play games. (And read books, and watch movies, and tell stories, back into the mists of time.)

But certainly that yearning is not generally a reliable path to the truth of something. Maybe that’s the lesson we can take from this.

Butch:

Which is a good lesson, and one that the author hasn’t learned yet. To some extent, neither has Dutch. He still thinks his ideal could be reality.

Maybe that’s part of it, too, this idea of “facts” really reflecting an impossibly perfect reality. Some people think the west really was glamorous cowboys despite it taking two and a half seconds of thought to realize that that was impossible in any way, shape or form. But also, Of COURSE Granger and Belle and Flacco and Midnight couldn’t ALL be that cool. Of COURSE fish aren’t all twenty pound things that are posed just so. Of COURSE all wildlife isn’t as it looks in these special pictures that make everything look so perfect. But there are people who THINK that’s all true!

Which, again, is still true today.

Much like people look back on Norman Rockwell pictures and think that that all a) happened, b) is possible and c) was ever possible.

Fools, all.

Feminina:

We are a bunch of stupidheads, all right.

Butch:

You seem busy today.

I’ll switch to food news: I’m making a bison stew (a shepherd’s pie, really) and my house has been smelling like bison stew all day.

I can see why Arthur wants to preserve his way of life.

Feminina:

Mmmm…food.

Yeah, I’ve had meetings and stuff. Stupidhead work stuff.

But hey, I contributed early on there! I’m pitching in! Adding some donations to the camp register.

So, I have the fast travel map, but I can’t figure out how to use it, so I was just riding all over the place as usual last night.

Which is OK. I mean, part of this cherished way of life, in addition to bison stew, is being able to just ride along enjoying the beautiful scenery. And also, that thing I read about how “you can’t go off the roads or you’ll kill your horse” or whatever? That was nonsense. I was riding through all kinds of woods and over bluffs and heaven knows what, and the only horse I’ve had killed so far was way back on that bounty mission, and that one got shot (while I was on the road, come to think of it).

And that didn’t actually happen because there were NO SAVE POINTS, and we won’t get into that, but the point is, I have yet to have a horse die on me when it was actually my fault, except in the sense that I was the one who went after that stupid bounty that time, and we’ll say no more about it. Going cross country is fine as long as you watch where you’re going.

Which is also kind of a valuable lesson for life, perhaps.

Now watch, I’m going to kill my horse five times in a row next time I play. I will have brought it upon myself.

Butch:

Hey, we’ve been doing so well! Haven’t derailed in ages!

I promise I will figure out the fast travel map once I get it. Which I SURE hope is soon, what not being ANYWHERE CLOSE TO THE ST. DENIS TRAIN STATION!!!

I did manage to kill Roach once (I reloaded cuz ROACH man!) and it was a sneaky thing. I, too, was toodling through the brush saying “Ha! This isn’t dangerous at all!” and the brush was such that it obscured a drop off. And I dropped off. Poor Roach.

Just watch out for the drops. Those’ll get you every time.

I’ve been riding off road though, looking fruitlessly for legendary animals. It is good for finding carrots and oregano!

Did you know your body can “get used” to the effects of things like carrots and oregano? You have to wait a day for things to work again.

That’s a lot of oregano.

Feminina:

Ha! “OK, these carrots WERE filling you up and providing nutrition, but you’ve had so many that they don’t work anymore. Try again later.”

Maybe it stands in for the fact that you just physically can’t eat any more carrots or oregano at a certain point. They could have made him vomit, but instead he just stops benefiting.

Butch:

Makes sense.

And there’s Roach, over to the side, saying “Sick of that yet? I’ll finish it…..better than ginseng.”

So this stew….and I have some bourbon for later….and I haven’t shaved in a few days….

This is hitting a bit too close to home.

Oh and the bourbon? It’s actually called “redemption.”

For real.

And its label looks like a saddle oh I’ll just show you

I didn’t even do that on purpose……..

Help.

Feminina:

DUDE. Watch out, you’re going to be transported into a video game like in a bad movie.

When you get there, give Roach some of the bourbon. She deserves it.

Butch:

Reckon I will.