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Spoilers for the very end of Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Well, pleased to say…..

DONE!!!

I think. Cuz credits, then all of a sudden I’m talking to Abigail.

I’m done, right?

We’ll talk. Later.

I will not be kind to this ending.

Feminina:

Well done you!

Yes, that’s the ending unless you want to go hunt legendary animals or dinosaur bones or whatever the hell other things Arthur left undone.

Butch:

Well, he didn’t go get freaky with Mary, but I doubt you can go back and do that, so I’m done.

We actually did a plan!

Safe travels. Remember to check your pockets for random cosmetics.

Feminina:

I cleared the nail polish from my pocket this morning. I’m ready.

Just a couple more meetings and a dash to the airport. It’s gonna be great.

[later]

Butch:

We back? Can I complain now?

Feminina:

Back! 97% booze-free!

Let the complaints begin!

For example…what the hell? Dutch has been chillin’ behind the scenes with Micah the whole time? Apparently? And then he just…saunters off?

Now it seems that Dutch is one of the people John has to hunt down in Red Dead 1, so clearly he did have to be alive at the end of this. And maybe there’s some sort of ambiguity in their relationship in that one, like John isn’t sure whether he likes or hates his old gang leader, and so they had Dutch save John here because otherwise it would just be a matter of “well, obviously he hates him.”

I don’t know. That’s the best explanation I can think of for why it was in any way necessary or desirable to randomly toss Dutch in here.

But you go, you finished more recently than I did.

Butch:

Oh, you’re good. That’s pretty much where I would have started as well.

Cuz yeah! What WAS all that? He barely had any lines! He’s out there, all this money, freezing his ass off….why didn’t he spend the money? HE HAD THE MONEY! In the end…what…his grand plan was “I’ll get the money, then live in a cold assed out house with it with this traitor until someone I know shows up so I can shoot the traitor and abandon the money?” TAHITI MADE MORE SENSE!!!!

What was he doing up there? Why’d he shoot Micah? It’s not like John was all “Dude! It was him! He was the traitor all along! I can prove it! Here’s the proof!” No, it was just “Dutch! Don’t! I’m a nice guy oh thanks you shot Micah we good.”

AND THEN HE SAUNTERS OFF LEAVING THE MONEY BEHIND AND I CAN’T EVEN.

Usually, there’s nothing cheesier than a mustache twirling “now that you have found my lair I shall tell all” monologue, but I would have killed for one here. Two, actually! We never DID find out why Micah sold them out in the first place, did we? Nope.

But I got more to be mad about!

That trudge up the mountain. That. Trudge.

Game, if you’re going to have a big, exciting, climactic thing with music and shouting and action, DO NOT MAKE IT A TRUDGE THROUGH THE FUCKING SNOW. And game, DON’T KILL ME OVER AND OVER SO THAT IT BREAKS THE MOMENTUM!

But wait, there’s more, and now it’s irony:

Hey game? I watched the credits. You know all those little vignettes I saw? Things like finding out Pearson has a shop now? Tilly seemed happy in St. Denis? Mary Beth is a writer? That stuff? The stuff with the Pinkertons finding John and setting up the next/first game? Good stuff. I liked that stuff. You know what that stuff is?

THAT STUFF IS A FUCKING EPILOGUE!!!!! THAT!!! NOT ALL THIS OTHER STUFF!!!!

And a rant about the actual epilogue, that is, the scenes in the credits:

And after all this shit….who gets the last word? Is the last scene Arthur, the, you know, MAIN CHARACTER OF THE GAME? No. We see his grave, Mary, ok, nice. But it’s not last. No.

Is it Dutch? Another huge character? Nope. He just saunters off.

Maybe Sadie? Setting up the next game? We should be so lucky.

Nope. It’s Rain Falls.

Rain. Falls.

Not that I don’t like Rain Falls, but game, HE WAS NOT A MAIN CHARACTER OF THE GAME!!! He wasn’t even IN the “epilogue!!!!” WHY IS THE LAST IMAGE OF THE GAME RAIN FALLS?????

I can’t even.

This game somehow managed to have BOTH the best video game ending I’ve ever seen and the worst. I have to respect that. It’s like narrative quantum mechanics.

Ok, your turn.

Feminina:

YES!

What the hell, game? You’re so right. THAT was Dutch’s plan?

I mean, “let the gang tear itself to pieces, get all the money myself…” OK, that COULD be a plan.

But then “hang out in the freezing mountains with Micah for ‘some years’ not ENJOYING any of the money”…that doesn’t sound like you, Dutch.

And then, what? “You know, I’m kind of tired of Micah. And John’s worked hard. I’ll just shoot Micah and let John have the money while I wander into the mountains.”

WHATever, man. Baffling nonsense.

Ooh, ooh, here’s the only thing that really does make any sense: Dutch was somehow under Micah’s sway, the same way the gang was under his for so long! Micah had Dutch convinced that he had a plan (probably Tahiti) and they just needed “a little more money”!

And then when John showed up and everyone else was dead Dutch suddenly realized that he’d put his faith in the wrong person, just like Arthur realized that about him ‘some years’ ago, and he killed Micah FOR ARTHUR. Because he’s finally wrapping up Arthur’s loose end.

And then he walked off into the mountains because he was FINALLY ashamed of himself.

Only problem with this interpretation is that there’s literally nothing in the game to support it. As you say, could have used a couple of villain monologues.

And YES! THAT was an epilogue! I liked that epilogue! It was nice to see what people were doing and where they ended up and so forth! Good times! All the information we needed conveyed in neat little scenes that DID NOT INVOLVE ANY RANCH CHORES.

That’s how it’s done, game. You KNOW how it’s done! You can obviously do it! WHY DIDN’T YOU DO IT EARLIER?

I was also a bit puzzled by the fact that Rain Falls was the last person we saw. I mean, I liked him too, but as you say he wasn’t a central character. I suspect it was probably a well-intended nod to the fact that hey, native folks are still here today, and also maybe a hint that his hope that he could keep his people alive was not unfounded, and even a vaguely feel-good bit of “don’t be too sad about all the land-grubbing , murderous white settlement on the shoulders of which the country was founded, ’cause at least this dude here is still alive.”

Hm. I’m not really sure how I feel about that.

Butch:

I mean, maybe the takeaway was that Dutch never really wanted to leave the outlaw life? He does say (you know, back in the real game) that he spent his whole life “fighting change.” Maybe, even with the money, he just couldn’t get past having a big ol’ gang of dudes, robbing and stuff, living that life. Maybe, we’re supposed to think, that this proves that, to Dutch, lifestyle was always more important than money, that all that “We can’t stop cuz we don’t have the money” was just an excuse to not stop.

Maybe. I don’t know. I’m trying, here.

But the wandering off… Like….what? Did I miss some line of dialog? What did John do to change his mind?

And, if we want to go there, if the first game was John hunting down Dutch, why’d he let him go? There’s Dutch, wandering off, back to John, and John’s thinking, what? “Yeah, I could kill you now, but I’m just gonna let you go….spend fifty or so hours tracking you down in between collecting cigarette cards and going to vaudeville shows. Yup. Too easy to just shoot you now. You’re lucky this is a prequel, Dutch!”

It sure could have used some monologues. Still doesn’t answer the question of why did Micah sell everyone out in the first place. A good reason to sell everyone out would be to have them all die or get arrested, take the treasure and run. A strange reason to sell everyone out would be to get the treasure, convince your boss you did not, in fact, sell him out so you could go live in a frozen outhouse with him gazing at a box full of money you’ll never spend, waiting for someone to hear you’re there so he can shoot you. That’s a strange reason.

And yet, that’s all I got.

As for the ACTUAL, epilogue, Amen, sister. Preach. Though I did want to say “Hey Pearson? Dude. I get it. Those were good times. But maybe, just spitballin’ here, it might be a bad idea to hang a picture of yourself with, like, eight dudes who are wanted dead or alive and/or killed by law enforcement in your place of business.”

Though it was a nice bit of metaphor that everyone who ran away from Dutch, who broke the spell and realized that he was not going to lead them to anything good, turned out really well. Pearson was happy. Mary Beth was wearing a fancy dress and using a silver ink well. John was happy. Tilly was dressed all nice and had, we assume, a husband and child.

If Dutch really is the metaphor I thought he was (and frankly, I don’t know what to think anymore), then that’s a pretty gutsy final statement to the game.

If. Maybe. Who knows. I sure want it to be.

And even if that was what they were doing with Rain Falls, that isn’t what the game was about. Arthur, fading away, watching the sun rise on a day he will not see? Good metaphor. Metaphor consistent with the game. Minor character watching an eagle that obviously represents his son EAGLE FLIES fly away, sad that his family and way of life are ending….ok…metaphor consistent with the game, but we HAD THAT ALREADY with, you know, the MAIN CHARACTER.

If you want to put in a nod to native folk and the struggles they have and all that, fine. But as the very last thing you do in a game that isn’t really about that? What?

If that was, I dunno, the second or third scene, then that’s one thing. But what you put last matters, and this was a very strange choice to put last.

It’s so maddening, cuz, I’ll say it again, had they ended the game with Arthur’s death, had the credits (with Arthur’s grave being last), then that’s the best game ending I’ve seen in a long, long time.

But they didn’t do that.

Ironically, game endings are usually bad because they’re lazy. Pat. Developers know that only about a third of people finish, so they get lazy with endings. Kill the baddie, done. This game worked its ass off to ruin its own ending.

Sigh.

Feminina:

It did! People worked really, really hard on that baffling, nonsense, momentum-ruining ending that came after the very good ending they probably just threw together one night while drunk and didn’t realize was good. (Just kidding. I’m sure they worked very hard on that one too.)

Sometimes you just gotta know when to quit.

So in summary? I’m not sorry I played that game, but I am sorry I had to play it for quite as long as I did. It contained a lot of interesting themes and characters and lots of blog-worthy moments. And then a lot of “what the hell.”

But I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I might, so…win, I guess.

Butch:

I think win. I would have enthusiastically said win after the real ending, though. But this game is going to leave such a bad last impression…..

I think that, if we’re gonna blog on it, this is an important lesson for developers: endings matter. The last impression you have of a game is the lasting one. Shit, John and Arthur are so similar, I’m having trouble remembering details about Arthur, and that’s bad.

It’s something that has to be said, though, in games: endings matter. You don’t have to say it to other narrative forms, because far more than 30% of everyone gets to the end of a movie or a book or a play. If you’re writing one of those, of course you perfect the ending. You know everyone’s gonna get there, and you know that their last memory of it is going to matter.

Games just have to cater more to that 30%.

It sure does feel, though, that games that expect more people to finish them care more about endings. The real punchy endings I can remember from games of yore tend to be shorter ones. TLOU. Great ending. 20 hour game. Gone Home: the triumph of knowing the young lovers were gonna go be young lovers. Great stuff. And THAT’S in a non linear game! A short non linear game. I guess you figure that, when you make a six hour game, or a twenty hour game, more people are gonna finish it.

Still, endings. They matter. And if you’re not going to get them right, at least let it be because you just didn’t do it right, not that you did and you sabotaged it.

Feminina:

Well…I mean, yeah, I’m totally with you, endings matter and games should think about the people who actually finish games, etc. But who the hell was that ‘epilogue’ for if not the people who actually finish games? And we hated it!

They put it in there as something just for those of us who made it through the actual game. They WERE thinking about us. They just…have no idea what we actually like or want, apparently.

Except for that one guy who appreciated the idyllic respite. I guess they were mostly thinking about him.

Butch:

That’s what makes it so weird! In the rare instances that you feel that developers put more thought into an ending than just “Kill big bad, save world, etc.” it’s GOOD!

This is a whole new class of ending. Before this, we had:

1) put barely any thought into it, kill bad guy, move on. (See lots of games we love, such as Horizon, Dragon Age, the Witcher)

2) put no thought into it whatsoever, leave everything open ended for sequels, DLC. (See, sadly, Fallout 4, Skyrim).

3) Put thought into it, and have it be GOOD.

This is the first “Put thought into it and still have it come out like BOTH 1 and 2 above.”

I don’t think that’s the kind of innovative they were going for.

Feminina:

So creative and different! Very daring and unexpected! Like nothing we’ve experienced before!

And just not a good idea.

When we’re regretting the lack of villain monologues, you know something has gone wrong.

Butch:

Man, hasn’t it just?

****Fast forward to when we’re 80% done with DA4****

“Solas, dude, PLEASE shut up…..”
(Pompous assed Solas voice) “But I read your blog from when you finished Red Dead 2 and you said you wanted more of this…”
“I TAKE IT BACK!!!!!”

Feminina:

Oh, Solas. He WOULD monologue for three hours straight, no doubt. AND he would have read our blog, mostly so he could sneer at us, but also so he could use our previous statements against us.

Damn that arrogant bastard!

Butch:

Well, maybe, given his love of monologues, he could explain Dutch and Micah while he’s at it.

I’d tolerate him for that.

Feminina:

DUDE. Brilliant. I would love that. And if he wanted to clear up any confusing bits in other games while he’s at it, that would be awesome.

Oh man. That would be the best. There would be about 500 conversation options and you could ask him about every game ever and he’d tell you. “Were Scarlett and Roderick really insane? Should I have tried harder to make Danse love me in FO4? Exactly what DID Micah think he’d get by working with the Pinkertons?”

I would buy that game just FOR the villain monologue.

Butch:

Yeah, but admit it: You’d get the following options

? Red Dead 2
? Fallout 4
? Divinity
? Like, all of Assassin’s Creed
? Why couldn’t I bang Petra in Horizon?
? The Pattern in Rapture
? every answer to every game question ever
(FLIRT)

and we both know what you’d pick.

And we’d still never know the answers.

Feminina:

Ah, but that wouldn’t even be an option unless I played an elven woman, so assuming I picked the scariest-looking Qunari I could possibly create, we’d be fine.

ALL THE ANSWERS, right here!

Butch:

Wouldn’t stop you. Admit it: You’ve kept at it with NPCs who were so not into you, just in case they changed their minds.

I’ve never done that, of course.

Feminina:

Nah, man, I want everyone to LLLOOOOOOOOVE MEEEEEEEE, not skulk away around corners when they see me coming because oh gawd it’s THIS bundle of need and frantic leering and inappropriate exploitation of power dynamics.

Also, I mean, generally once someone says they’re not into you, the flirtatious conversation options just go away, don’t they? Which is a helpful mechanic.

Like, speaking of DAI, remember when you flirted with Vivienne (of course you did!) and she was all “haha, you’re adorably amusing, but I have a lover”? That was the end of that. Partly because there was literally no further heart conversation option to pursue with her, if I remember correctly, but also, I dunno, she said she wasn’t interested. Her soul-crushing loss, man. If she changes her mind, she knows where to find me.

In Blackwall’s soggy, angst-riddled embrace. Seriously, Vivienne, come find me anytime. I mean, her lover was also dying, right? That was a plot point that we learned later?

Once he’s dead, whenever you’re ready to love again, I’ll be over here picking through the moldy flag collection. Siiiigh.

Dude, I make the most tragic romantic choices in games. Blackwall, Benny, the dying Thane, the Threesome of Shame…

Butch:

You do, but maybe you’ve changed. It’s been so long since we were able to make such choices. Sure, we got to dance with Mary Beth, maybe try to make a move on Mary, get confused because Mary and Mary Beth are pretty close name wise and kinda look alike, but it’s not the same.

Feminina:

Oh man, I’m so glad that wasn’t just me.

Mary? Oh, I mean Mary Beth, sorry!

I wonder if maybe that was intentional, if we were supposed to feel that Arthur also was–not confused, exactly, because clearly he can tell the difference between a woman he was engaged to and one he just works with, but if maybe he had a bit of additional fond feeling towards Mary Beth because she REMINDED him of Mary. And if that came through in the player as being slightly confused.

It’s possible I’ve changed. Only time and another game with romance options will tell. I wonder if AC Odyssey has romance?

Butch:

I have on good authority that it does.

And by “good authority” I mean “The internet.”

Feminina:

The internet is never wrong!

I can’t wait to play this and make some terrible choices in love. It’s gonna be great.

Butch:

You will likely end up alone, on one of those Greek boats with lots of oars, holding the helmet and chest plate of your lover who has gone off elsewhere to brood.

Or something. Given this is AC, who knows? Maybe he was an alien. Or a French Canadian.

Ya never know.

Feminina:

You do not! That’s the glory of this series!

Or it was, before they toned the historical alien interference way down. I personally miss it, although it’s possible I am literally the only person who does.

Butch:

I’ve only played the one, and there were long emails where I asked you what, exactly, the fuck was happening and you’d write these long posts in reply that made no sense. I anticipate more of the same.

With romance!

But first, we play the freebie.

Feminina:

And that one didn’t even mention the aliens much, if at all. Imagine how gloriously confusing it was back in the heyday of the mystery.

Although there was very little romance.

Remind me what the freebie is?

Butch:

What would you do without me?

What Remains of Edith Finch. You said you already downloaded it.

There are only two freebies a month. We’re playing the one that isn’t little cartoony chefs trying not to burn the kitchen down. Hopefully that’s not the one you got.

Feminina:

Aww…no cartoony chefs? But that one seems so full of potential romance, drama and themes!

Butch:

I got it for the boys. I’ll let you know. I’m sure meatball will tell me if there’s bloggage.

 

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