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Some spoilers for plot points in Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Oh I’m on a roll now! Or something.

Did Micah’s bit. Got set up. Got beat up. Got amused that the subtitles also subtitle writing on the screen like “A few weeks later….” Thanks subtitles, I might not have heard that.

I don’t trust Micah. Why does anyone trust Micah? Maybe the game is playing the ol’ switcheroo, the “Ha! We made you not trust this guy SO MUCH but turns out he’s nice and it’s, like, Mary Beth who’s evil” kind of twist, but even if they’re doing that it doesn’t make much sense that Dutch trusts him so much. But whatever.

Certainly the line that sets up the bloggage is the whole bit about maybe the American dream is nonsense, but it’s still worth pursuing. We’ve been talking about Dutch being foolish, that he’s chasing a dream that is futile, but it’s a cool twist to think that maybe he KNOWS he’s being foolish, that he knows he’s looking for something that he’s damn unlikely to find, but he’s gonna do it anyway. Of course, if that’s true, does it make him even more of a fool? Does it make him, at some level, more evil because he’s dragging all these other people along on a crazy, futile dream and he knows it? Or is it inspirational, at some level, a “chase your dream even if you know there’s only a bazillion to one chance you’ll get it?” A “inspiring others is good, no matter what?”

I’m not sure, and not sure is good storytelling.

But the rest of it, besides, what, showing Arthur’s vulnerable, lacked themes that I could see. It sure felt like the obligatory “And now we are at that point in the game where we make the hero weak and take away his stuff and make you play a level like that” bit that all games seem to have. Why do all games seem to have that? I mean, the first couple times I played games that did that, it was kinda cool, but now that it seems to be in every single fucking game, it has gone past a feeling of “Oh my god, oh my god, what do I do? This is so different and weird!” to a feeling of “Sigh, ok, this bit.” That’s not a knock on this game in particular, but on games as a whole. It’s become part of the formula. I’m not cool with that. These bits are supposed to be stressful, different, almost a twist. If they become formulaic, they lose all that. It’s just becomes “Sigh, ok, this bit.” No medium should have “sigh, ok, this bit” as part of its formula.

Look at that! I have not one but two jumping off points that don’t involve food, illness or stressed out misery! I’m so proud.

Feminina:

This was the set up with the O’Driscolls, right? Yeah, it was kind of a twist when it turned out to be a set up, but then the lacking all your gear and being weak stuff was…I mean, it was fine, I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t new or exciting as a plot development.

The new bit was that you didn’t have to kill everyone and get your gear back, you just escaped without killing everyone and left your gear! And then the gang kindly replaced every piece of it, which was nice of them and really took the sting out of it.

Butch:

Right, we’ve gotten to the point with these bits where we say “I mean, it was fine, I didn’t hate it….” Formula. It’s too bad, really, cuz those bits used to be far cooler.

Heh. I did kill a bunch of dudes. I’m just not used to not killing! Kinda got me into the idea of throwing knives. If I had remembered those, the tobacco field would’ve gone much smoother.

You thought it was a twist? I didn’t. I knew something would go wrong. I’ll grant you Arthur being kidnapped was a nice twist. Having the game make you look down with the binoculars, look down with the scope, admit it: you were tensing up just a little all “Ok, when am I gonna have to shoot?”

Dude, if they took all your gear permanently? White hot rage.

Feminina:

Oh, definitely the twist was Arthur getting grabbed, not something going wrong. Something was obviously going to go wrong. It would have been a surprising twist if it HADN’T.

I only killed the one guy! Then I crept off quietly and rode away. I was all weak, man, I didn’t want to get into fights.

All right, at a meeting. Must pay attention.

Butch:

Dude, you taught me two things: Always be looting, and KNIVES FOR EVERYONE!!!!

Haven’t gotten to do that second one in far too long.

You and your meetings. Work is too much work. You should just stay home. It’s nothing but relaxing and resting and quiet and games and self delusion.

Feminina:

Yeah, I have shamefully neglected the throwing knives in this game. Not following my own closely-held principles! Ahhh, good times. KNIVES!!!! KNIVES FOR EVERYONE!!!!

Well, the looting principles I’m still clinging to. Even if it kills Sean!

It’s the self-delusion I mostly miss, not being at home in the peace and quiet with the bonbons.

As for your larger questions, I don’t know why anyone trusts Micah. It’s a good question. Or–since I’m not sure anyone really does except Dutch–why does DUTCH trust Micah?

Is Micah telling him what he wants to hear, in a way no one else will? Or we talked about how Micah and Arthur are both “children of Dutch,” so does Micah maybe represent the cherished ‘younger son,’ the spoiled one who is doted on despite his reckless ways? Does he maybe, with his youthful recklessness, make Dutch feel younger himself? Is Micah a way to recapture the energy and enthusiasm and endless optimism of the gang’s early days, when they were fill of big plans for big scores and the world was their oyster?

Is Dutch chasing not only an impossible dream of idealistic freedom, but the equally impossible dream of his own youth?

Butch:

I also keep forgetting about dynamite, which is as close as we get to area effect spells, and you know how I love those. The two times I have remembered to use it, it was spectacular. It just makes Kevin go away.

I’ve spent the whole morning doing nothing but sipping whiskey and reading my magazine, not the back issues, mind you, I finish these right away, what with all the quiet.

Hmm. Dream of youth. Maybe. It’s funny that Dutch’s words toward Arthur always bug me, and now I know why. He always says, and has said multiple times, “You’ve always been like a son to me, Arthur.” Now, that sounds nice, but it isn’t saying “You ARE like a son to me, Arthur.” It’s subtle, but it’s a difference. It could imply that “You WERE like a son to me, but, hey, out with the old, in with the Micah.”

But even if that’s so, there’s still the why. Arthur, as far as we know, hasn’t done much to alienate Dutch. That said, I get the sense that Blackwater was the first thing that made Arthur go “Uh…Dutch?” That in and of itself might be enough for Dutch to start wanting to move on.

Dutch does romanticize the past, that he does. That said, he did at least sound like he was apologizing to O’Driscoll, all “I really am sorry I killed your brother.” He was, if we take him at his word (which may well be something no one should do), willing to move on from that part of the past. Now, we didn’t get to see if Colm apologized for killing Annabelle, so we’ll never know if Dutch would have accepted that. Would’ve been interesting to see.

Ok, diversion time. Not derail. This is serious.

So Junior’s birthday is a week from tomorrow (thus ending birthday season. FINALLY). He asked for a game. A specific game. I figured he was old enough so I got it for him. So what’s the problem you say?

He asked for Civilization 6.

Again, you may be thinking “but that’s a good game, and perfectly appropriate for a twelve year old” and you would be correct. That you would.

But Femmy…..

I’ve played many, many games in my life. The one I spent the most hours on? Civilization 5. Second on the list? Civilization 4. I’m not kidding.

You think I had a gwent problem? HA!

I have a Civ problem. A bad one.

And I got off of it cuz only the ex could run it! It’s been so nice! I was free, Femmy, FREE! But they put out 6 (and all its expansions….its fascinating, game changing expansions…sorry, sorry, I gotta focus) on the switch. We have one of those.

And now Civ 6 is in the house.

Right over there. On the table in the kitchen. Just…sitting there….waiting to be played…..and played again and again and again and

YOU GOTTA HELP ME HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Feminina:

Dude! Not Civ!

This is serious.

Dude. Think of the blog. Think of the time you must save for pondering narratives.

Think of the fact that I will never play Civilization, and thus you can never talk about it with me.

DO YOU WANT TO KILL THE BLOG, man?!

Butch:

I do not want to kill the blog! I also don’t want to kill my children, and if I get back into Civ I may well forget to feed them!!!!

Dude, you have no idea how addictive this is. It’s not just me, either. You know when you quit out of a game and it says “Are you sure? Yes/no?” Civ says “Are you sure?” and gives you two options: “Yes,” and “Just….One….More….Turn…..”

Seriously. They do that.

I want to save the blog! And my marriage! And things like basic personal hygiene!

And now it begins for Junior, too!

I’m a terrible parent.

Feminina:

Clearly, you must take it back to the store right now and get him a less damaging game. Maybe EverQuest. Or WoW.

At least you don’t have a personal history with those.

Butch:

Sorry….it was calling to me….my precious…………

Maybe just one game……….

Feminina:

FIGHT IT!!!!!!

Have some booze. You know you can’t play when you’re drunk.

Heh.

Butch:

No! I know.

Treadmill. I shall use the treadmill.

I know I’d be glad I had it one day.

Shit, if I have to use it fight this I may well run the marathon next year I’ll be so jacked.

Feminina:

YES! Do that. Good save.

Games: promoting fitness in unexpected ways.

And yes, it’s true that Dutch does often seem to use that rather half-hearted phrasing. Arthur HAS always been like a son to him, but is he NOW?

And Dutch is obviously a master of words and charm and charisma, that’s how he leads, so he undoubtedly knows what he’s saying. I’m sure it’s a quite intentional hint to Arthur to watch himself if he wants to remain “like a son” to Dutch: a note that he should consider where his loyalties lie and the extent to which he wants to question Dutch’s decisions.

Butch:

And they say games are bad for you.

It worked! I’m too tired, thirsty and sore to play!

Hooray. I think.

Feminina:

Let’s go with “hooray.”

Butch:

You say so.

I think that that’s also an aspect of the larger theme of nostalgia and all that. Sure, Dutch is pushing a version of nostalgia, and he is using it to keep people in line. “Stick with me, and we’ll get back to simpler times!” That’s a rallying cry of….certain Americans. Simple. Better. All apple pie. Of course, that’s a) bullshit and b) propaganda. Shit, it was propaganda then, too, in a sense. And here’s Arthur, buying it. At least, he’s bought it up until now. Now, it seems, cracks in the idea of a simpler time for simple people are sinking in.

It’s funny, because Arthur really isn’t surrounded by any trustworthy people. Well, no, I take that back. He’s not surrounded by any trustworthy white man. He can count on the women (we think), and Lenny and Charles (who are also the most educated. Did you find the note from Lenny’s dad?). The others? Either sketchy, stupid or both. Indeed, I got a bit of side dialog last night where Charles essentially tells Arthur to knock off the “I’m just a stupid meathead” act because he isn’t.

Not sure Dutch would like that, though.

And when you fit that into the overall metaphor….

Feminina:

I’ve also gotten dialogue where Dutch basically refers to Arthur as the family clown–a guy who makes jokes, amusing but not to be taken seriously.

Which on the one hand could be seen supportive and might be appreciated (Arthur DOES make a lot of dry jokes, and we all like to be recognized for our funny lines), but on the other hand is not-very-subtly dismissing Arthur’s ability to contribute to ‘grown-up’ discussions or to have any serious thoughts worth considering.

There’s going to be a confrontation here one of these days.

Butch:

One would imagine.

Because, despite all the gang “unity,” there’s fault lines everywhere. One that I’m very curious about is Molly. There was that mission that was set up as Molly, but right when she asked for help, Charles came in and it was all something else. She is NOT happy.

And did you catch her once saying that he must be looking at other girls, probably someone younger? Like he trades in the people he “cares” about.

Hmm.

Feminina:

Molly is definitely not happy (although I don’t know much more about it than you do so far), and Dutch has complained about Molly (being too needy, etc.) more than once. I think that union is not destined to celebrate a golden anniversary.

I mean, even assuming any of them live that long.

Butch:

No, no it will not.

I can see her selling him out, though. Or trying. I still wonder what she wanted help with. I have a feeling we’ll find out.

Feminina:

It does seem like the kind of plot element that will eventually be followed up.

And yeah, I could see someone deciding to try to take the Pinkertons up on that generous offer, and if she feels betrayed by Dutch (because he’s tiring of her or looking to trade her in or whatever), she may not mind betraying him in return.

And, honestly, i think we would have to have a serious discussion about whether she was even wrong to do it…he’s probably leading the whole gang to ruin, he has (perhaps) broken his own promises to her assuming he ever vowed to love and cherish her…so is it a bad thing to stop him?

I mean, obviously, honor among thieves, group loyalty, etc.–it’s a hideous betrayal and none of them would ever forgive her. You don’t turn on your family/gang, and that’s one of the most fundamental principles of human social interaction. But we’re not talking about people with a lot of moral ground to stand on, so would it really be, objectively, WRONG of her to turn on him?

Based purely on wild speculation (I don’t know anything about whether this actually happens or not) I’m inclined to say yes, it would be wrong, but more because it would hurt the rest of the gang (who, if they don’t turn him in themselves, all probably have their own warrants out) than because she owes Dutch any personal loyalty.

Hm. Again, wild speculation about something that may or may not actually happen.

Butch:

Well, you gotta think someone is going to take that offer at some point. We’ve already seen two people asked why they didn’t: Dutch asks Arthur, Arthur asks Charles after Charles saves Arthur in the corn fields. It’s got to be only a matter of time before someone goes “You know….”

Even if not Molly, someone.

Feminina:

“Hey, yeah…why DIDN’T I take that offer?”

Tell you one thing: it’s not going to be Kieran.

Butch:

I agree. Game’s saying something, there.

Feminina:

Is it ever.

Butch:

You must admit, your issues with this game aside, it is good on the bloggage.

Feminina:

Hotmail admitting it has no idea what we’re talking about:

“I can’t take it.”
“Thank you for the comments.”
“It’s a good one.”

I mean…I guess “it’s a good one” applies? Like, “yeah, you’re right, it’s a good one for bloggage.”

Don’t quit your day job, Hotmail.

I can’t take it.

Butch:

Rare that hotmail derails before we do.

Feminina:

We had an unusually focused day, it’s true. Except for…the thing that shall not be mentioned.

Butch:

I’ll reward myself with one game…..just one…..preciiiiiiousssssss…..

Feminina:

No! Fight it! Back on the treadmill!

Butch:

Sorry, sorry, sorry. You’re right. Phew. That was close.

Ironically, Meatball, who is doing his spelling game, just asked me to help him spell “madness.”

Feminina:

Nice work, Meatball. Wrap it all up for us.