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Spoilers for story points in Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Idly thinking about other games, as I sometimes do when I can’t play, and Sony’s little announcement that we didn’t really care about, and how we haven’t seen anything about The Last of Us 2 for a while. We need a new trailer.

Because if the trailer for TLOU2 is really, REALLY depressing, then you’ll be a lot happier with playing RDR2 for a while longer. Make the weariness cheerful in comparison!

Ha.

We do LIKE games, right? We do. Right?

Feminina:

I THINK we do. Right? I mean, we wouldn’t keep playing if we didn’t. Probably.

Unless we’re just addicts. Grimly chasing the ‘enjoyment’ of the early days when this habit was all a big party, unable to make it through the day without a hit of discussion about narrative or character development even when it’s not about ‘fun’ as much as it is about ‘sanity’…

Naw. We like them. I’m pretty sure.

Butch:

I’m pretty sure, too. Pretty sure. One must remind one’s self that one likes the things one likes from time to time.

Usually when I’m sitting down to play/drink and it’s loud. Or I’m paying someone to do shit in Junior’s closet.

But on Sony blowing off E3 and doing little announcements instead…man, wouldn’t it be awesome if next time they did some shit all “Hey, tune into this little livestream….no biggie….couple of trailers and PS5!!!!!!”

We can dream.

Feminina:

Ooooh…that would be cool…

We can dream!

And we must like games, or we wouldn’t be dreaming. Right? I think this must be right.

Butch:

Either that or games are the only dreams we have left.

****sob****

I better go play.

Feminina:

Go play now. You’re depressing both of us.

Surely playing will help, because we like to play! Or…

Just go play.

Butch:

It did kinda help!

Did a lot of stuff.

Let’s see….

First, met a guy who wants orchids and feathers I guarantee I will never bring him. Arthur’s continued incredulousness over what people want collected is amusing. The hats. “Can I get you a hat?” Nice touch. And I have a thought: the game is mocking people who do collectibles in games. We’ve talked on how this is a linear game that seems to have shoved stuff in, right? It’s at its best when we’re not running around, right? Every single time we’ve gotten a collect the stuff bit Arthur has basically says “Who would want that crap?” Cigarette cards (“They pay for these?”), fish (“They hang these on the wall?”), dinosaur bones (“They want things this old?”) now orchids and feathers (“Just….”). Arthur isn’t just shaking his head at people in his world that want them. He’s shaking his head at players choosing to waste their time. At least, it’s meta enough to think that.

Ain’t getting no feathers.

Second, decided to go get moonshine SPECIFICALLY for the last line you mentioned. Did NOT expect the dude was building the electric chair, which really is a ghastly commentary on modernity, isn’t it? I’d love to talk about this last line but I can’t cuz the QUEST IS ENDLESS. Literally. I stole the shine, trekked all the up to get the bad guy, trekked up again cuz Roach died and I reloaded, got the guy, thought the speech about electricity was wonderfully ghastly (this game is complicated in the way it treats modernity), gave the guy away and now I HAVE NO ICON AS TO WHERE TO GO TO FINISH THE QUEST AND I’M SO MAD CUZ THAT TOOK FOREVER AND STILL NO BLOGGAGE.

So I calmed down by

Third, went to the show and SAW ENTICING KNICKERS so happy.

Fourth, got into a fight at a gallery, which was a very cool dovetail with the electric chair guy. On one hand, here’s the ghastly future of executions. On the other, here’s the rather wonderful future of art. I feel kinda awful I helped the professor. On the other hand, I’m rooting for the artist. And yet, both are a) flawed people and b) representations of the future.

Hmm.

Fifth, went to see Mary. Did all of that, including MORE ENTICING KNICKERS. Dude….RUN AWAY WITH MARY! NOW!

This was the last thing I did, and I’m still pondering in the overarching central metaphor. We’ve pretty much known that he’s marching towards inevitable doom, both of the gang’s way of life and the probable end of his own, and all the metaphor that entails. Here, the story gave him an off ramp. He COULD have gone. Really. His excuses were just that, excuses. Notably, they were loyalty to the gang, in other words, a loyalty to a metaphorical way of life. He’s clinging to his ways DESPITE THERE BEING SOMETHING BETTER HE COULD HAVE.

Once upon a time, my father in law (I keep mentioning family in this game) was in the Navy. He was successful, so successful he got offered a full scholarship to Annapolis, which is, of course, very prestigious. He turned it down, and, instead, went back to the dying, working class logging town in which he and his grandparents and his great grandparents were raised. It was a shithole, and a dying one at that (it has lost two thirds of its population in the last twenty years. Even its McDonalds is boarded up). Why did he do that? Why did he go back to a dying way of life when he had an off ramp? Well, his reason (I almost typed excuse): “My people were there.” Seriously. I often wonder if it was that, fear of something different, or both.

What I do know is he regrets that decision, the decision not to take that off ramp to Annapolis.

But people make that decision, not to take the off ramp to something better because of their people, or fear, or both, every day. And a lot of them get rewarded by watching their way of life die.

I watched that scene and was mentally screaming at Arthur “GO, YOU MORON, GO!!!!” But I wonder if that, once again, is my perspective living how I do. Maybe there were a lot of people who watched that and thought “Yeah, sad that he won’t be with Mary, but it’s true, you gotta stay with your people.”

Something to think on, anyway.

Feminina:

Ain’t gettin’ no feathers. And I like your take on it. Arthur is telling us we’re silly to fall for these collectible items! They’re ridiculous! Let’s all scorn to participate.

The moonshine quest IS kind of endless. It’s one of those things where you have to wait for a while before the next step comes up. But discussion fodder! Electricity, the wonder of the modern world…obviously must be used to kill people!

But the guy really means well, because he thinks it’s going to result in painless and humane executions, compared to hanging. So is he really trying to do something good? This is the future, all right…is it an improvement on the past, maybe, a little? Or is it just a modern, equally horrible take on something horrible? Arthur certainly seems pretty skeptical that it’s an improvement.

And here’s another thing that really struck me: Arthur is kind of a monster here. He’s intentionally taunting and tormenting that guy, trying to freak him out and make him miserable and terrified, and apparently just thinks it’s entertaining to make him cry. Why? That guy didn’t do anything in particular to him that dozens of other guys haven’t done before (that is, try to kill him to avoid capture). He’s not any worse a criminal than any others, as far as we can tell. He doesn’t represent some particularly awful brand of outrage, like he’s a known baby-murderer or something. Normally Arthur just lugs his bounties back to jail and dumps them–why does this one guy deserve to be regaled with awful details about all the horrible things that are going to happen to him?

I think it’s maybe just supposed to show US that Arthur doesn’t trust this newfangled invention, but it shows us that through him essentially torturing this random dude. I felt pretty gross about that whole bit. I felt like saying, Arthur, SHUT UP. Maybe it’s meant to indicate that newfangled inventions–and therefore modern civilization in general–make people cruel and nasty? “This is a cruel new thing, and it makes those complicit in its use turn cruel as well?”

On the other hand, this behavior isn’t completely unfamiliar from Arthur, so maybe “it turned him cruel” is inaccurate. Maybe it just reminds us how cruel he’s always had the capacity to be. He was pretty mean to Kieran for quite a while, and taunted him with threats of death and torment a few times. Maybe it’s just that, at least the way we’ve been playing it, all white-hat and helping people and not antagonizing the people in camp, I’d kind of forgotten what a jerk I thought he was, back near the beginning. Hm.

Enticing knickers!!!!! This reminds us that we do like games. And then you got to see the enticing knickers again with Mary! Good times. Did you try to put your arm around her? I did. Then looked sheepish and stopped when she gave me a stern glance.

And yeah, man…he should have gone with her. He could have! You really felt it, in that moment, that he could have just gone. Of course he didn’t because loyalty, and he’ll probably wind up dead because loyalty, but I believed Mary really wanted him to go with her, and that he did think about it for a couple of seconds.

And then of course he said “after this is done,” and she said “sure,” and you know that will never happen. Sigh.

And I’m sure you’re right, that there are people who watch that scene and feel that he did the right thing, that he DID have to stay with his people, and who knows? Loyalty is a thing. “My place is with my people” is a valid decision. It’s just interesting that even though he clearly does love Mary, she’s NOT one of his people. “My place is with my wife” would also be a very convincing argument, and yet the idea of it doesn’t override his sense of his duty to the gang. She’s an outsider (he doesn’t even attempt to suggest that she come back with him to the gang), and his duty lies with his group.

Still, it was nice that they got to see a show together and have one good evening to remember each other by.

Butch:

The taunting was out of character, but I don’t think it was making a point about Arthur so much as it was trying to get out of the corner they painted themselves into, narrativewise. They had to make the point that the professor isn’t just the kind, benevolent force he thinks he is (maybe), that it’s far more complicated than that. The quest couldn’t be “Hey! You made the electric chair! Way to go!” But they didn’t have a character who could do it besides Arthur. Who else could do that? That’s what happens when you send the player way out to nowhere. That’s not a defense of it; it’s sloppy writing. But I think that was it.

As for Mary…..

I agree he didn’t see her as one of his people, but he also didn’t want her to be BECAUSE HE LOVED HER. He was all “I’m an outlaw, and the people near me will be considered outlaws.” He WANTED her to stay an outsider. That would suggest that the gang isn’t the people he LOVES. He wants to keep his loves at arm’s length. When it comes to the gang? Loyalty for sure. He’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with them. But Mary? He’s of the opinion that the last place anyone he loves should be is with the gang.

Arthur doesn’t love the gang, but he stays with them anyway.

Hmm.

Feminina:

Hm…yeah. I agree, it did feel like the game wanted us to know that it wasn’t all “rah-rah the electric chair is awesome!” So, yeah, maybe just awkward writing, that Arthur had to be the one to get this message across, and had to do it by being a jerk to a prisoner.

He was being a serious jerk, though. LEAVE THE MAN ALONE ARTHUR. I mean, he could have expressed these doubts to the inventor, that would have been easy enough to write. “Hey, are you sure this is a good idea? I’ve seen cows struck by lightning” etc. etc. Let the scientist argue for his idea! “Oh no, it’s going to be great because I carefully target the nerves” or whatever. We could still have gotten all the same points.

But no, we have to hand over this poor criminal, whimpering in terror, to a probable grisly and nightmarish death. I think it’s partly we’re meant to feel kind of bad about participating in the whole thing. And maybe “I feel bad about myself for being such a terrible person” is a fair approach to that.

And Mary, yeah, I can see that too. He doesn’t want the woman he loves to get mixed up with the gang. I don’t know that I’d agree he doesn’t love the gang, though. I mean, obviously not every individual person in it, but he loves Dutch and Hosea, and I think he loves the core idea of the gang and its principles of freedom and so forth. He loves it, I think, the way other people love their country. It’s his home, his identity, part of who he is. You can’t give that up just for romance! At least, some people can’t. He can’t.

Butch:

Yeah, it was clumsy writing. Though maybe someone SO fell in love with that conversation happening in a lightning storm they put up with the clumsy writing.

Whoa, I agree about the love of the ideals, that I do. But you think he loves Dutch? I think he feels he owes Dutch because of all Dutch did for him, but love? I’m not sure he even likes Dutch, or, at the very least, he hasn’t thought it through. He thinks Dutch just is, and him being with Dutch just is. Him thinking about if he likes Dutch is like thinking if you like the sun coming up in the east instead of the south west. The sun just is. We certainly haven’t seen any emotion from Arthur re the gang like we saw with Mary.

This day’s bloggage turned around! It’s like I played.

Feminina:

My conversation with that dude didn’t even happen during a lightning storm! No excuses. Lazy writing, or it’s supposed to remind us that Arthur is kind of a jerk. Which he does keep telling all the people who say “you’re a good man”! “No I’m not,” he always says. Maybe he’s right.

But dude, you think all this “you’re like a son to me” and their shared history and the fact that Dutch practically raised him, that’s all nothing? See, I think Arthur does love Dutch, the way people love the (sometimes terribly) flawed people who raise them. It’s not a logical thing, and yes, logically he can see (and is more and more coming to see) that Dutch is a deeply flawed human, but emotions famously do not answer to logic. Dutch and Hosea took him in when he was a kid and took care of him and gave him home and family. I think of course he loves them.

Butch:

Dude, really? I thought for sure it was staged. Like, right at some point where he says something particularly nasty, there was a pause and a lightning bolt struck right in the middle of the sky. I remember thinking “Nice touch. Little cheesy, but nice touch.” That was dumb luck?

Re: love. Hmm. I’ll give you that. But not like he loves Mary.

 

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