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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for getting sort of near the end of Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Ok, shot up an oil field. I found that bit a tad harrowing. Rain Falls there begging his son not to go and die was tough to watch. Yes, Dutch did turn his back on Arthur there, didn’t he? I still don’t get how the rest of the gang isn’t seeing this. Maybe it’ll be explained.

Two thoughts! Well, a thought and a question:

Thought: I read in reviews when this game came out that they had a major problem with fights and it became apparent last night. That problem? Kevin be Kevin. Now, yes, Kevin is always, to some extent, Kevin. But last night I was reminded that he REALLY is in this game.

In this shootout, there was a little cutscene where the train opens and HEY! A Gatling gun! It was so unique in this game that it jarred. I realized that there is no variation in Kevin. We’ve been shooting the same damn Kevin this whole time. Maybe some have shotguns and some don’t or whatever, but there’s no visual cue to who is who, which means a) you can’t really plan a fight in terms of “Ok, gotta get him first, then them, then him…” and b) the only way they can make fights harder is to throw more of the same Kevin at you.

Now….I get realism. In reality, that’s how it goes. Everyone wears the same uniform, you don’t coincidentally keep running across dudes with weapons or night vision or anything you’ve never seen before the deeper you get in the story. I get it. Arthur would be facing wave after wave of indiscernible Kevin. But it’s making these late game fights tedious. It’s hard to justify being a slave to realism in one sense of combat (they’d all be the same!) and not others (our guys never die and we can get shot a million times and heal with corned beef!).

This is getting old.

Question: What was with, after the coughing fit, him being nursed back to health by the German family he saved/evicted way back in Chapter, what, two? That was a pretty extreme callback. Them helping, wanting to help more, him pushing them away….game was trying to say something but damned if I know what. Shit, was that even real? Or was he dreaming of those people? If that’s the case, why?

What was your take on that?

Feminina:

It is getting old, but, recalling yesterday’s discussion, maybe that’s also brilliant because it’s both realism AND a reflection of how Arthur feels about things right now. How tired is HE by now, of fighting the same old fights against the same old enemies, all random strangers he can’t tell apart and doesn’t personally know from anybody? Probably very tired.

As for the bit with that family…yeah, I was also confused by that. It certainly SEEMED as if it was the same people: “I’m so glad we get a chance to help you the way you helped us” or whatever. But they were heading west last we knew (I thought), so why are they up there in the north? I suppose plans can change. Why shouldn’t they have heard of an opportunity in the north, and thought “hey, that sounds just as good as whatever we were planning to do in the west! Let’s go!”

But then why did they apparently just dump him out on the street in Annesburg while he was still only semi-conscious? I basically figured they must have done as much as they could for him and he was raving that he couldn’t get too far away from the gang, so they dropped him off in the nearest town and continued on their way, but…it was all a confused haze, for sure.

Butch:

Yeah, ok, true, weariness, but it’s not the same fight. It’s a fight with A LOT more Kevin. The game is trying to make itself harder, but doing it in a really blah way.

And maybe it is harder! Maybe they do have better guns or something! But damned if I know cuz they all dress the same and act the same.

It certainly was the same family, what with the “way you helped us” bit. And he does affirmatively leave. You see him saying “I can’t stay” or something and stumbling out the door. So he does go on his own, which explains why he’s not with them, and why they didn’t dump him on the road. But as for the “They weren’t supposed to be here,” I’m not so sure it WAS them. Maybe he hallucinated the whole thing and he was on Roach until Annesburg. Maybe another family helped him, but, in his delirium he thought they were the Germans, and it was a half dream where his mind was trying to point out the good he did or something.

It was different, that’s for sure.

Feminina:

It was different. And since you were just complaining about how Kevin isn’t any different, you should be delighted with that!

At last, a change of pace! Throw the game some praise here, it’s trying so hard.

And yes, whether imagined or real, I think it was trying to demonstrate to Arthur/us that even though he’s done a lot of bad things, he’s also helped some people (however reluctantly, and even if only because Charles insisted), and to show that the good we do, as well as the bad, can come back to us when we least expect it.

Oops, you reluctantly beat up a sick guy and now you’re dying of TB!

But oh, look, you reluctantly helped a family and now they’re nursing you back to some semblance of health.

A sort of “you never know the consequences of your actions” message, perhaps.

Butch:

Hmm. Perhaps. But that would be odd in a game that is, at some level, about predictability. We’ve known the end of this game since the beginning (and we didn’t even play the first game!). It’s been so bad (good?) about telegraphing its “twists” that we wondered if it was doing it on purpose (I still think maybe it is). This game has been a march towards the known inevitable. Why have a “Hey, man, you never know?” moment in a game where we’ve known everything all along?

I dunno. I kinda feel that, after being very consistent in its narrative and metaphor, the game is drifting a little bit.

Feminina:

I’m not going to argue with you on that, for as you know I have thoughts about the end. And the long, drawn-out final approach to the end. Which, I may have mentioned, goes on for a long-ass time. One might possibly say, longer than it really had any need to. But maybe I just don’t understand how deep and meaningful it all is.

But we shouldn’t get too sidetracked from a point you made at the beginning, about how harrowing it is when Rain Falls begs Eagle Flies NOT to do all this, but he does it anyway. I agree, that was a tough scene. The father (who is a character I quite like) tries so hard to explain himself to the son, begs the son not to go get killed, but to no avail.

And we’ve talked before about how Dutch is always saying that Arthur is like a son to him, and I wonder if there are some interesting parallels here. We have two (real or symbolic) fathers, one pleading with his son to stay home and not fight because, in the long run, he wants to preserve the lives of his people: the other actively goading BOTH sons to battle because he hopes to twist their likely deaths to his own advantage so HE can escape to Tahiti or whatever.

As we mentioned at the very end of yesterday, the Indians can’t win this conflict with the US Army by fighting, and I said they can’t win by not fighting either, but on reflection, I’m not sure that’s right. They can’t defeat the army, but they can, perhaps, outlast it. I think victory, as Rain Falls sees it, comes in surviving, in not allowing his people to be eliminated. As, indeed, they were not. They’re still around today (though also still dealing with the repercussions of the unjust treatment shown in the game, so it’s not like everything is sunshine and puppy dogs, yay!). So maybe in the long run, we ARE meant to see that Rain Falls was right. Sort of, anyway.

Eagle Flies rushing off to die in a blaze of glory is noble and dramatic, and I totally get his anger and understand where he’s coming from, but if surviving is the goal…does this help his people survive? No. It does not. At best, it removes several sets of genes from a shrinking gene pool, and at worst it brings down the army on the survivors’ heads and makes their lives harder.

I wonder if maybe Eagle Flies is a bit like Dutch here, thinking mainly of his personal story and how he looks to others (I can’t stand for this! people can’t treat me this way!), while Rain Falls and Arthur, though they understand and have also suffered, are mostly concerned at this point with making sure SOMEONE gets out of this alive.

They both see the end coming in a way that Dutch and Eagle Flies maybe refuse to do, and while they don’t expect to survive it themselves, they want someone else to. When you know the apocalypse is coming, get your people into the Vault!

Butch:

Hmm. It’s very true they are similar in a lot of ways. Maybe they’re more similar in how they see the endgame (or lack thereof) as well. There were certainly a lot of parallels between how Rain Falls acted at the end and how Dutch has acted the whole game: When shit goes bad, you have to move. Have to run. Have to go where they can’t find you. We see Rain Falls breaking down his camp. Dutch as done that every chapter.

Dutch has even said, several times, that “We. Are. Surviving.” That’s been the doable goal each time. I think the only difference between Dutch and Rain Falls is that, for Dutch (and to Eagle Flies), surviving is a means to an end, the end being some place where they can be left alone and have their lives, a metaphorical Tahiti. To Rain Falls, surviving IS the end. This is it. Saying “Well, not dead yet” is as good as it gets. Part of his plea is trying to get Eagle Flies to believe that saying “No reason to fight, there’s nothing better than this” isn’t weakness, it’s strength. He IS strong because he sees the goal (not dying) for what it is, and he’s achieving that goal. Whether you’re a success or a failure, strong or weak, depends on what test you apply to yourself. Rain Falls has a different standard. We like him because he gets what the standard really is in real life, whether you like it or not. Dutch would be much better off if he just tried to survive.

I’m not so sure that Eagle Flies is selfish enough to be worried about his own story. When Dutch says he’s all about the gang and nothing else, you can smell the bullshit a mile away. I got the sense that Eagle Flies really was earnest, if misguided. He did care about his people. When he’s all “Better to die a glorious death than a slow one,” I don’t think that’s so much HIM, but he sees the bet of either winning everything or losing everything, right then and there, as what is best for his people, even if they lose. If they lose, at least the suffering is over.

Dutch, on the other hand, is full of shit.

Feminina:

Very true. Eagle Flies is sincere, and I think you’re right, he IS thinking about what’s best for his people, to his mind. I feel like maybe to him the important thing is to call the government on its bullshit, basically.

“You’re pretending this is all OK, you’re pretending it’s fine, it’s legitimate, and that we’re just going along with everything because there’s nothing wrong with it, but that’s not true, and if we come and fight and die for this right now it at least shows that it’s not true, we didn’t just accept your lies and broken promises as if it was all totally cool.”

Again: is that going to help them all survive as a people? No. But maybe dying to make the statement that THIS IS NOT OK is worth it to him.

To him, Rain Falls’ quiet acceptance of every slight and every abuse and every broken treaty is a sign of weakness, a sign that his people agree with their treatment, an implicit acknowledgement that the US Government is in the right. To Rain Falls, it’s not condoning, it’s just pragmatism, a recognition that sometimes you have to take the injustice even when you know it’s wrong because if you survive it, maybe it will be better for someone else later.

But I think Rain Falls, with the experience of age, and Arthur, with the experience of approaching death, are both thinking about others living on beyond them, generations yet to come, while Dutch and Eagle Flies are both thinking in the present. I don’t think Dutch has any concept of a future beyond his own life, and Eagle Flies maybe just sees himself dying slowly and miserably in captivity and can’t look any farther than that for his people either, so, as he says, better for all of them if they go out now in a fiery protest than linger on.

Butch:

I see that. I certainly think we see some thoughts on future generations with Arthur in regards to John, Abigail and Jack. Arthur genuinely cares that they turn out ok, even if he isn’t around to see it (and, let’s face it, he won’t be).

Though that differs a lot in regards to Rain Falls. Rain Falls wants his people to survive, but to continue the ways of the past. Arthur is telling John to take his wife and kid and do something completely different. To change.

Now, true, what John is doing is something that really should change. They are bad people, the Native Americans are not. But, all the same, we don’t see Rain Falls saying “our ways are doomed, you young people should go learn accounting” or some shit. Arthur is saying that (well, metaphorical accounting) to John.

And really, you gotta say that Arthur’s take on everything is correct. Whether you live in the now, or the past, or care about the future or not, the best way to survive in the 20th century is to adapt. Trying to preserve the present, even if that means running and living in peace, like Rain Falls, isn’t going to work, whether the people trying to preserve the present are good people or bad.

Feminina:

Hm…yeah, Arthur’s take is correct, I guess, in a “do as I say not as I do” way. Even before he knew he was dying, it never seemed as if he was going to actually change or adapt or do anything different himself.

He can see enough to realize that adaptation is the path with the greatest chance of success, maybe, but he can’t manage to do anything practical about it.

Maybe he’s taken more of a lesson from that old slave-catcher than we thought. As we discussed, that guy tried a number of jobs once his old livelihood collapsed, but nothing worked out for him. Maybe part of the reason Arthur was so mad at him was that he seemed like a valid prediction of what would happen to Arthur, if he were to quit his doomed gunslinging career and tried to get a job on the railroad or something. It’s easy to imagine that, indeed, Arthur would keep getting fired and would eventually end up wandering around drinking, reliving past glories of when he and the gang were free and respected, and being, in the present day, nothing more than an irrelevant annoyance to the people around him.

Butch:

Hmm. Good point. But then, he believes that John can avoid a similar fate (something I’m sure the millions of people who played the first game could comment on, but we ain’t them). Is John, like, that much younger or something? He’s old enough to have a, what, six year old or so?

I can’t figure out how old the game wants Arthur to be. I think they want to play it so that he’s older than the average gang member. They’re betraying themselves on that with pesky things like narrative timelines, but the whole thing plays like an older dude all “Don’t make my mistakes young man.” There’s that picture where it’s just him, Dutch and Hosea, younger. The fishing conversation where it seems they were the original three. The fact he looks far younger in the picture of him and Mary that she mails him (though she doesn’t look all that different….). I dunno. Inconsistencies aside, I think we’re supposed to buy that Arthur is older, almost a father figure himself to John, Lenny, Sean et al.

And if that’s so, most of Arthur’s “children” didn’t make it. Just like his real child.

Feminina:

I concur, it’s a bit confusing that it’s presenting him as a wise older figure (to Lenny and Sean, etc.), but he himself is a son-figure for Dutch and Hosea. So…he joined up with them in his early teens (based on his statements), and if we figure they were, what, maybe in their early-to-mid-twenties? Old enough to seem like grown-ups to a kid, but still not actually that old themselves. And if that was about 20 years ago, as has been suggested in conversation, then he’s maybe 35 and Dutch is in his 40s. And 10-ish years IS the kind of age difference that seems very large when you’re younger but steadily diminishes in importance as you get older, so it could work out.

There’s also the fact that experience can make make one person seem older than another in certain situations, so maybe it’s just his years of outlaw-livin’ and his experienced calm in gunfights that make him seem like a grizzled elder to the newer members (and to himself), even though they’re maybe in their 20s, and therefore not that much younger than he is. Plus, all those years of riding the range, getting sun and windburned on a daily basis, hardly ever bathing and probably NOT moisturizing regularly…that’s hell on the skin! No wonder he looks so weathered compared to 10 years ago or whenever he had that picture taken with Mary. It’s a hard-knock life.

But John, that’s especially confusing, because John really doesn’t come across as a young kid like Lenny (LENNNNNNYYYYYY!!!!!). Even setting aside the fact that he HAS a kid, he just doesn’t seem that much younger than Arthur. Maybe it’s not so much that he’s that much younger in years, as that Arthur thinks he might still have the capacity to change, where Arthur himself does not? And/or the MOTIVATION to change, based on the desire to take care of Jack, that Arthur doesn’t think would be enough to compel him to follow through (though he certainly cares about Jack), but might be enough to compel John?

I don’t know. And it might mean more to us if we’d played the first game and had some sense of whether or not Arthur’s belief was accurate or not, but we don’t, so whatever.

Hm…OK, just read the RDR summary. Don’t, it has spoilers, and anyway I think this one needs to be evaluated on its own, but…hm.

We can make a note to talk about it later.

Butch:

Certainly a lot of hmm.

At trumpet. Back to the grind.

Feminina:

Ah, trumpet.

The question now becomes: Does riding the range getting sun- and windburned and never moisturizing age and weather one as much as getting children to their activities?

Butch:

Dude, you’ve seen me.

No doubt at all that I’m older than everyone.

Feminina:

This explains why you take on the role of grizzled, fatherly adviser even for those barely younger (or even older) than yourself. Not that we ever heed your hard-earned wisdom.

Except that one time when it was about goats.

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