Nationals at Astros World Series Game 2 odds, picks and bets

Giants - Royals Game 2: Preview, Betting Odds, Prediction, TV Channel, Start Time For 2014 World Series

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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jun. 17, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
3-4-2002 3-11-2002 3-18-2002 3-25-2002
4-1-2002 4-8-2002 4-15-2002 4-22-2002
4-29-2002 5-6-2002 5-13-2002 5-20-2002
5-27-2002 6-3-2002 6-10-2002

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Some of you may have missed last week's post because I didn't do it on Wednesday. Ended up posting it Thursday instead, so it's there in the archives below if you missed it. I know this 2002 series of Rewinds doesn't really have the momentum or appeal that it had back when I was posting them 3 times a week for years on end. Sorry about that, like I said before, I just decided to post these on a whim when the virus started and didn't really prepare for it so it's all kinda haphazard. But just didn't want anyone to miss the one from last week if it flew under the radar.

  • Steve Austin walked out of WWE this week and threw everything into upheaval. As a result, Raw featured Vince McMahon challenging Ric Flair to a match for ownership of the entire company. It was the ultimate final blow-off to a huge long-term angle, and they did it with only 2 hours of build-up. With Vince now in charge of both shows, questions are swirling about whether this spells the end of the brand split, only a few months in. The reason this all happened is because, only 6 hours before Raw went on the air, Steve Austin showed up to the arena and found out he was scheduled to wrestle (and Dave thinks put over, though he hasn't confirmed that yet) Brock Lesner. Dave immediately points out the obvious, that an Austin vs. Lesnar match is something you should build up ahead of time, not throw it on free TV with no build up at all. Plus, he's still so new, he's incredibly green, and he's spent the last few months selling way too much for people like the Hardyz and Bubba Ray Dudley. Hell, before he debuted in WWE, he wasn't even the most over guy in OVW. He's nowhere near the level you'd expect for him to be winning matches with Steve Austin un-hyped on free TV. In fact, Lesnar should probably go through just about everyone else on the roster before putting him against Austin. That's a potential Wrestlemania-level match and Dave seems befuddled that they would just book it for Raw like this.
  • Apparently Austin felt the same way because he and his wife Debra left the building and flew home before Vince McMahon even arrived to the arena, the second time since Wrestlemania that he has walked out on the company. A source who was there when McMahon learned of the news said that, for the first time anyone could remember, Vince seemed to drop his "game face" and there seemed to be genuine panic about what to do. Rock has one foot out the door to Hollywood. Undertaker and Triple H are banged up and won't be around forever (bet). Business is already collapsing. And now the biggest star the company's ever had just walked out the door. Last time Austin walked out after Wrestlemania, he was only away for 2 weeks. This time, there's a feeling it could be much longer. Those close to Austin say he's been unhappy for months and this decision wasn't anything specifically to do with the Lesnar match. That just happened to be the final straw. Austin made news last week when he went on the WWE's Byte This show and voiced his frustrations with the company's creative direction. Plans had been put into motion over the last couple weeks for Austin to feud with Eddie Guerrero and then Chris Benoit, which he was happy about (he was enjoying his recent house show matches with Eddie and Benoit is one of Austin's favorite opponents) but that's out the window now. Austin and Vince McMahon reportedly haven't been on good terms for several months now and word is the night before Raw, the two of them had a very heated conversation over the phone that left Austin pissed off and frustrated even before this went down.
  • And that's the deal on Austin. He has more money than he'll ever be able to spend and doesn't have any financial need to wrestle. He only does so because he enjoys it. And if he doesn't enjoy it anymore, then by all means, it's his right to leave and he doesn't owe the business anything if he wants to hang up the boots. But Dave does feel like Austin owes WWE at least a few weeks to write him out of storylines since he's such an important piece of the company. Walking out from a live TV taping is unprofessional and it leaves guys like Guerrero and Benoit left hanging, thus screwing up their future plans and money-making potential too (yeah, that's something that doesn't get talked about much. Austin walking out fucked Guerrero over pretty hard here. It would take him another 2 years to get back into that main event scene that he would have been involved in here). That being said, pretty much everyone in the locker room sympathizes with Austin and agrees with his complaints about the creative direction of the company, but not many of them were defending the way he walked out. And given that this is the second time he's done it, the feeling is he shouldn't be allowed back without facing some actual punishment this time.
  • So anyway, the day of Raw, they went into panic mode and had to re-write the entire show. And with the feeling Austin won't be coming back anytime soon, Vince felt they needed to do something big. So they went with blowing off the dual-owners angle in a match that was designed to turn Flair babyface again and establish Vince as the heel owner of everything. There was also discussion of turning Undertaker babyface again, since he's been getting more cheers than RVD when they work together at house shows lately but they decided against that for now (they end up doing it in a couple weeks). So now Flair has been abruptly turned back, after only turning heel a few weeks prior. The brand split may or may not be dead. And there we stand.
  • In what would have been a major story during any other week, DDP has officially retired from wrestling at age 46. Unfortunately, Austin's walk-out overshadowed everything. The decision on DDP's retirement was actually made by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross, who pretty much made the choice for him after they got his medical reports. DDP has been advised by multiple doctors that his spine is shot and he needs to retire. For the company's own liability, WWE decided to listen to the doctors and DDP agreed. There has been talk of finding ways for DDP to work the remainder of his contract for the company in a non-wrestling capacity. (He obviously ends up wrestling a handful of matches in the years since, but for the most part, this really was the end of DDP's in-ring career as a full-time wrestler).
  • There were a couple of moments on Raw this week where Shawn Michaels was cutting a promo and made a comment about Austin "losing his top spot" and another comment later about Rock "stealing Triple H's spot." A lot of people in the company backstage were upset, feeling like this was the same ol' Shawn, going into business for himself and trashing on Austin and Rock and yada yada. Not the case. Those comments were actually scripted for Shawn to say because they want to get over the idea that Shawn on the mic is a loose cannon and you never know when he might start "shooting" and say something he's not supposed to. It's all very dumb, you see. Almost like Vince Russo is coming back any day now or something.
  • Dave gives a big preview and rundown of the Jarrett family's new NWA-TNA promotion, which has its debut show next week on PPV. Not all cable systems are carrying it, however. Cablevision and Dish Network both declined to carry it, but DirecTV is. This cuts down on the number of available homes for the show and probably cuts 20-30% off their potential revenue. The main PPV provider in Canada, Viewer's Choice, has also declined to carry it. Steep mountain to climb here. Dave expects them to do decent numbers for their first show but predicts an XFL-like collapse after that. By week 3, Dave is scared for their chances. From here, Dave gives the whole history of other promotions who've tried to make it on PPV in the U.S., with varying degrees of success and failure. UWFI, UFC, ECW, WCW, PRIDE, etc, WWF has even toyed with similar ideas. In 1991, they did the one-off Tuesday In Texas PPV as a test to see if they could run PPVs back-to-back (Survivor Series was only the week prior) and it was a flop. The original concept for Shotgun Saturday Night was for it to be a weekly Saturday night PPV with a similar >$10 price point, but that idea got scrapped before it got off the ground and it became just another TV show. Dave doesn't think TNA is going to make it without a TV deal. This PPV exclusive plan just has too much working against it. The Jarretts have talked about the millions of disenfranchised fans that stopped watching after WCW died, and it's true. Those people are out there. But those millions of fans all checked out between 1999-2001, and TNA isn't going to win them back by using the same people and the same concepts that ran those viewers away from WCW. All your wacky booking ideas, your Vince Russos, your Jeff Jarretts as champion, bringing in guys that even WWE won't touch (Scott Hall), etc. Those are all the same things that ran away those WCW viewers. Dave just doesn't see how this experiment can work in its current form.
  • Vince McMahon himself was the latest guest on WWE's Byte This show and needless to say, it was interesting. Vince denied the idea that the wrestling business is "cyclical" and said it's more like a series of peaks and valleys that have slowly been trending upwards over the years. Vince also admitted WWE doesn't always make the best decisions but says their batting average is good overall. Vince also said he's proud to have the word "wrestling" in their company name, which is a pretty big about-face from all the years he's tried to publicly claim they were "sports entertainment, not wrestling." He admitted things are rough right now but said there are huge changes coming soon that will change the entire industry but wouldn't elaborate on what he had planned (I think time has proven that the answer to this was nothing whatsoever. They had no idea what they were doing during this time and were just making shit up as they went along). Vince acknowledged that Austin has been frustrated lately and said Austin is the most demanding of all the wrestlers in WWE. Vince also said he pays no attention to the internet because everyone thinks they're a booker. He also complained that it's hard to live up to people's expectations because fans all think they know everything now. Acknowledged ratings being down and played it off like, yes, WWE is sick. But it's only a cold, not pneumonia or anything, so don't panic.
  • More notes from Vince on Byte This because huge unbroken paragraphs suck: he hinted at producing movies starring WWE talent. Dave thinks that's a bad idea. "No Holds Barred," anyone? Criticized backyard wrestling, which Dave actually agrees with him 100% on. Was asked about bringing Vince Russo back and said he hasn't given it any thought but he has an open door policy (see you next week, Russo! Jeez, it almost makes you wonder if Vince got the idea from this interview or something). When asked about the recent Jim Cornette/Ed Ferrara incident, Vince basically seemed disinterested but said he admires Cornette's passion for wrestling but felt spitting in Ferrara's face was unprofessional. When asked about NWA-TNA, Vince said he didn't understand how they could do it without television. Trying to get people to pay $9.95 a week for a 2 hour show (a minor league product at that, because anything other than WWE is basically minor leagues at this point), when they already get Raw and Smackdown on free television. Otherwise, he said he has no opinions on it because he hasn't seen it, but Vince seems to share Dave's opinion. He doesn't see this PPV model as sustainable and doesn't seem particularly threatened by it.
  • NJPW's latest Best of the Super Juniors tournament is in the books and was a disappointment, just like everything else in NJPW lately. Koji Kanemoto won a pretty boring tournament. There was only one new name involved, which was Michinoku Pro wrestler Curry Man (Christopher Daniels under a mask). He's talented and charismatic but he's not even that big a star in Michinoku Pro, much less to the NJPW audience. Otherwise, it was more of the same, with no real notable matches.
  • Zero-1 in Japan is hoping to put together a working relationship with NWA-TNA. Specifically, they're hoping they can do a Shinya Hashimoto vs. Ken Shamrock feud, perhaps over the NWA title.
  • While training for his comeback, Kenta Kobashi messed up his shoulder doing bench presses, because of course he did. Doctors have told him not to return too soon but he still plans to be back in the ring by next month. Because of course he does.
  • NJPW's latest show at Budokan Hall was a disaster. From photos Dave saw, he figures there couldn't have been more than 3,500 fans in the building. Even at its weakest after the NOAH exodus, AJPW never fell below 7,000 at Budokan and this show looked to be half that. It's likely the smallest crowd NJPW has ever drawn to that arena. The whole show was said to be terrible because of the depressing atmosphere of a building that was 2/3 empty.
  • This week's World Cup game between Japan and Russia did a 66.1 TV rating, making it the #2 highest rated sports broadcast in the history of Japan. This is notable because by doing so, it surpassed the Rikidozan vs. Destroyer match from 1963, which did a 64.0 rating, knocking it down to #3 (for what it's worth, it's believed that a Rikidozan vs. Lou Thesz match in 1957 was actually watched by even more people, but official ratings weren't kept as detailed back then, so it can't be counted for sure).
  • Dave has read some excerpts from the new Shaun Assael book on Vince McMahon called "Sex, Lies, and Headlocks." From what he's read, Dave says it's a very good and accurate portrayal of how the WWE has grown to what it is today. Vince's former close friend and VP of Titan Sports during the expansion era Jim Troy and Jim Barnett were both interviewed for it, among others. If you're a hardcore fan who's been following the Observer for years, there's nothing new here that you probably don't already know from a major story standpoint, but there's some interesting details at least that were new to Dave. But to the average fan, this should be pretty eye-opening. Dave expects to have a full review soon.
  • CZW held its second annual Best of the Best tournament at the old ECW Arena and the show got rave reviews. Particularly British wrestlers Jodie Fleisch and Jonny Storm, who tore the house down in their match. Trent Acid defeated Fleisch to win the tournament.
  • The Coen brothers, producers of the movie "Fargo", have had talks with Bobby Heenan about doing a movie based on his life (this pretty obviously went nowhere).
  • New Jack is no longer working with XPW and has jumped ship to work with a rival local promoter in Southern California. Perhaps not coincidentally, the last check New Jack received from XPW promoter Rob Black for $800 ended up bouncing. Dave says New Jack probably isn't the guy you want to write bad checks to.
  • NWA-TNA has changed its taping plans and no longer plans to tour, and they will now be live every week. The first two shows will be taped this week in Huntsville and after that, all future shows will be live from Nashville at the 9,000-seat Municipal Auditorium. Apparently the rent for that building is really cheap because a newer, more modern arena was just built nearby, so TNA can afford it. That being said, with as much trouble as they're having selling tickets for the debut show in Huntsville, Dave thinks it's pretty optimistic to start trying to run live tapings in the same 9,000-seat building every week. He thinks they would be much better off running a small 800-seat building every week, with a smaller, more intimate atmosphere that would come across a lot better on TV than a big cavernous arena that, inevitably, is going to be mostly empty (to this day, 18 years later, TNA/Impact has never once drawn a crowd of 9,000 fans. Never even really close actually).
  • Various other TNA notes: Dave runs down the list of confirmed names for TNA's first taping. Rick Steiner, K-Krush (formerly K-Kwik in WWF), Konnan, Steve Corino, The Harris Brothers, Psicosis, and a bunch of others. Don Frye has talked to Jeff Jarrett about coming in to work a match with Ken Shamrock. Jackie Fargo is going to be there doing something. They made an offer to Shane Douglas but he only agreed to come in if they didn't hire Francine (some kind of falling out between them). TNA decided they'd rather have Francine. They're expected to be doing some kind of old school vs. new school angle so....yay. More latter-years WCW shit. Mike & Todd Shane are coming in as a tag team called Dick & Rod Johnson and will have costumes that apparently look like penises, just in case you were still on the fence about whether Vince Russo is involved. The top stars are basically making around $3,500 per week which is a pretty decent salary for one day's work every week. The guys without name value, on the other hand, are getting $300 per show and are covering their own transportation. Just in case you were still on the fence about whether Jerry Jarrett is involved.
  • Ken Shamrock did an interview and acknowledged that he hasn't done pro-wrestling in a few years and knows he's going to be rusty. He also said he's worried because with only 1 show per week, he won't really be able to get enough matches under his belt to get good again. He also said he's signed a 3 fight deal with UFC and will be fighting Tito Ortiz in September, which turns out to be a pretty huge damn deal.
  • Dave saw the K-1 match with former WCW developmental wrestler Bob Sapp vs. some dude. Doesn't matter. What matters is Bob Sapp is enormous ("makes Brock Lesnar look like Jerry Lynn"). And he mauled this poor guy. In fact, it looked like Sapp was trying to get DQ'd, as he started kicking and kneeing the guy while he was down and just treating it like a street fight, violating lots of rules in the process. He was DQ'd but then K-1 booked Sapp and this other dude for a rematch in July. That leads Dave to think this was planned as an effort to get Sapp over as a lunatic, but if it was a work, somebody should have told the other guy because Sapp fucked him right on up. "This was like everyone feared Mike Tyson would behave, but 1,000 times worse and from a man far more scary." Furthermore, Sapp came out in a full Ric Flair robe and to Ric Flair' ring music, and the arena went insane. Sapp has massive superstar appeal in Japan right now and promoting him as a violent psychopath who has no regards for the rules in a shoot fight appears to be getting over huge.
WATCH: Bob Sapp vs. some dude. Doesn't matter. K-1
  • Edge will not need surgery for his torn labrum injury, so he'll only miss a few weeks of action instead of a few months. Edge is in the midst of the biggest push of his career and this is his chance to finally break through to the next level so needless to say, good news.
  • Notes from Raw: show opened with Vince walking out, which was unexpected since this is Flair's show. He said Austin wasn't there and made a point of saying Austin was too much of a coward to be there. Pretty well buried Austin and buried Raw as a bad show (blaming Flair in kayfabe for all the show's real life problems. Sorta like last year when they actually turned the bad ratings into a storyline by trying to blame it on Corbin. Some things never change). They're doing a storyline with Trish making fun of Molly Holly for allegedly having a fat ass because, again, some things never change. Former Tough Enough contestant Chris Nowinski debuted doing the Harvard grad gimmick like the heel jock in every teen movie. "The heel jock." Never change Dave. Shawn Michaels made his big return, cut his promo joining the NWO and turning heel on the fans before superkicking Booker T out of the group. So theoretically, this should mean Booker T should have to work his way through the entire NWO one by one before getting to Shawn at the end, in what should be Shawn's first match back. "I'm not holding my breath," Dave says. And of course, Vince beat Flair to take control of both shows. Horrible match but considering it was a last minute panic move, understandable under the circumstances. Lesnar ran in and helped Vince win the match.
WATCH: Vince McMahon opening promo with Ric Flair on Raw
WATCH: Ric Flair vs. Vince McMahon for sole ownership of WWE
  • Notes from Smackdown: during a big pull-apart brawl, several agents ran in to break it up. Among them were Dean Malenko and Fit Finlay, appearing on TV for the first time in their new backstage roles, and John Lauranitis who was also shown on TV last week. More gay jokes with Billy and Chuck and Rico, which Dave calls Russo-esque. Not quite yet. Jamie Noble was introduced with Nidia from Tough Enough season 1 as his valet, in a feud with Hurricane. There was a big effort to make Bob Holly a star this week, starting a feud with he and Kurt Angle and they really pushed Holly hard as a star and Angle busted his ass to try and get him over. And they did a show-long angle with Maven in the hospital (he's legit injured) and Torrie Wilson shows up, it's implied that she gives him a blowjob, and then Dr. Tajiri shows up, mists Torrie and beats up Maven. Dave is at least happy that they're trying to make an angle out of Maven's injury so he has a storyline to come back to, which is more effort than they put into most stuff these days.
  • Various WWE notes: referee Tim White suffered a torn rotator cuff in the Backlash Hell in a Cell match and will need surgery that will keep him out of the ring for months. Rey Mysterio is scheduled to debut on WWE house shows this week and, as of now, is expected to be wearing his mask again. Terry Taylor has been reaching out to get hired, but the company won't return his calls (they eventually re-hire him in September).
  • There's been a lot of praise for the new Spiderman comic "Tangled Web" which was written by Raven (I had to research this, but yeah. "Tangled Web" was a Spiderman anthology series that lasted about 2 years and had 22 issues. Each issue was written by different authors. Issue 14 was called "The Last Shoot" and sure enough, it was co-written by Raven alongside Brian Azzarello, who is the mind behind one of my favorite comic series of all time, 100 Bullets. And I had no idea. Wild).
  • The long-discussed plan of having Arn Anderson as Chris Benoit's manager seems to be off the table now. The thought is Anderson has been devalued so much in recent months (they pretty much wheel him out every time they need someone to take a beating for heat in a Flair feud) that he wouldn't be effective as a manager for a strong, serious heel.
  • Tough Enough II winner Linda Miles made her in-ring debut on Velocity, against Ivory. She was accompanied by fellow winner Jackie Gayda, who turned heel on her and cost Linda the match. Dave thinks it's waaaaaay too early to put these 2 women in a feud against each other considering how green they both still are.
WATCH: Linda Miles vs. Ivory - WWE Velocity 2002
  • The Rock, Vince McMahon, Undertaker, Jerry Lawler, Jm Ross, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Shane McMahon were all in Memphis at the Mike Tyson/Lennox Lewis fight last week. Rock could be seen on camera a few rows deep throughout the fight, while Vince was shown on camera as a celebrity in attendance before the fight. The others were never shown on-camera, but they were all there. The PPV is estimated to have done 1.8 million buys and grossed a record $103 million, which are numbers that WWE can only dream of. Prior to the PPV, Rock co-hosted a pre-show party with guests such as Halle Berry and Britney Spears.
NEXT WEDNESDAY: Steve Austin accused of abusing Debra, much more on that situation and Austin's walkout, Jesse Ventura not running for re-election, Rock wrestles in Hawaii, and more...
submitted by daprice82 to SquaredCircle [link] [comments]

Ranking every PM Chapter/World before TOK releases: #06

Ranking every PM ChapteWorld before TOK releases: #06
Welcome back to the Top 10s everyone. If you're just now joining us, this project has been ranking one or two chapters a day to count down to The Origami King's release, but also just to reflect and take a walk down memory lane. The rankings positions are purely the opinions of me and u/ulk96. More information can be found on the first post, Rank #36, and every previous entry is linked at the bottom of the page.
6 posts, 5 days people. The Origami King is coming faster than we ever could've expected, despite the fact we knew the release date when it was announced, and that the passage of time is logically the most predictable thing possible. I dunno man, it just snuck up on me somehow! I remember starting this series and being like "Man, there's so many Chapters to get through" and now here we are and "Hi". -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Don't make waves and stay in line. Follow the Count's design.
Chapter 8: Castle Bleck, Super Paper Mario
This chapter marks the end of a game, both by literally being it's last chapter, and also the last one put on this list. It's a bitter sweet feeling, saying good bye to Super Paper Mario in regards to the series, but at the end of the day, it's one that I think has to happen now as opposed to later. While I over all enjoy Super Paper Mario more than the positions of the chapters in this series would suggest, it's undeniable that Super Paper Mario is the game that benefits least from having the chapters examined individually. It's a game that takes a lot of risks, and not all of them pay off, and the ultimate strength it has is something that can't really be reflected by any one Chapter alone.
I think it's fairly cliche to say that Super Paper Mario's biggest strength was the story, because everyone and their grandmother has heard that a million times. I bet you there are people who don't even know what Paper Mario is that will say "Yeah, Super Paper Mario, right? I heard it has a good story". That's how well known and obvious the fact that the story here is good. Chapter 8 lands this position solely because of it's sheer importance in concluding that narrative, and how masterfully and climactically it manages to do so. While Chapter 6 also developed the narrative brilliantly, it was ultimately more of a glorified pre-Chapter 7 intro than a Chapter and had to be rated as such. No such restrictions apply to Castle Bleck which both pulls off a capable dungeon, with respectable scores in all other aspects, while also stealing what made the final dungeons of previous games special.
The biggest knock against Castle Bleck which I'd like to address now is the castle itself. As you can see in the image, the aesthetic of Castle Bleck is ultimately gorgeous, and an intimidating and suitable final dungeon, however. This aesthetic does not change or build on itself as you progress through. Thanks to the level divisions within Super Paper Mario, each chapter feels significantly longer than it otherwise would, and you can only have so many artful rooms made of black backgrounds and white lines before they start to blend together. It's hard for me to even visualize from memory a single specific room from this area, apart from Bleck's minions' meeting room, which was given to me in the cutscene before hand, and the staircase I explored in Peach and Luigi's brief interludes.
I would've preferred the shot of them holding the roof up together but alas, I find what I can find at decent sizes.
Castle Bleck's main gimmick to it is the bossrush of Count Bleck's minions, all of which are deep and beloved characters in their own right, and the way your party dwindles as each member if left to confront their foil. While the levels between each confrontation are well designed, their ultimately much less memorable thanks to the issues I mentioned. At the very least, they do provide a fair and respectable bit of challenge for the final dungeon, although the same can't be said about the boss rematches unfortunately.
O Chunks and Mimi are the two minions who serve Count Bleck loyally, and they're more than willing to show it. I like both of these characters, O Chunks because he manages to be comedic in a cast of villains that really aren't, yet doesn't come across as out of place or distracting from the seriousness of things. He's ready to lay down his life for the Count and he makes sure to let you know it, and clearly has his own code of honor, when he's the one who initiates saving the heroes from the falling wall. Mimi on the other hand is practically an eldritch horror in her own right who's given a number of players nightmares, but when she ultimately begins to play nice alongside O Chunks, it doesn't feel forced because she's never been outright malicious, only childish and loyal. Both of them are affable characters who serve a complex and tragic villain, and when the time comes to face the real threats, they don't feel out of place.
Unfortunately, O Chunks does not get a new bossfight, instead being refought four times just "stronger". It doesn't help by making his opponent Bowser, which makes sense as they're the dumb tough guys, the game is practically begging you to cheese him with fire breath. Peach is similarly a rather obvious counter to Mimi, who's attacks can easily be blocked with the parasol. Beyond that, she uses her Chapter 2 bossfight instead of her Chapter 6 bossfight, likely for creepy factor, but ultimately making her easier than not. And the two of them strongly add to the feeling of watching your party dwindle slowly, and are responsible for supporting the Count just before the Pure Hearts return.
This is the only valid Super Dimentio strat. Bowser OP, plz nerf.
In 8-3, Luigi is left behind fighting Dimentio the same way Peach and Bowser are left behind against Mimi and O Chunks. Dimentio's been forshadowed as being far more dangerous than the other two, and ultimately, while Peach and Bowser have fairly logical reasons for showing back up, Luigi got blasted and just was found by the other two, which should immediately raise red flags. At the same time, the fact that he's had a Floro Sprout planted on him still comes as a very well designed twist, because you're not expecting an element from a filler chapter like Chapter 5 to make a comeback, and you've been led to believe that the four heroes would be united in the end game, like they come together before Count Bleck himself.
Sure enough, Dimentio is indeed the usurper as he forms one of the most creative and twisted final bosses in the series, albeit not very powerful due to the multitude of gameplay problems in this game. The fight against Super Dimentio at the very least features fantastic music, as well as giving Tippi and Bleck the chance to reconcile without feeling forced by the plot, and letting them truly assist the players in removing the invincibility on Super Dimentio.
The finale of Super Paper Mario is problem one of the best things committed to video game narratives period. First, we have established and visualized stakes thanks to Chapter 6. Second, every single major character plays a specific role. Third, we have pay off to every arc in the game: Tippi's memories of her romance with Blumiere, the lingering Floro Sprout mystery from Chapter 5, Luigi's hiatus as Mr. L from Chapter 4. No other final chapter ever manages to come across as this climactic or threatening. It helps that the nature of the conclusion is still left vague when you enter Castle Bleck, unlike most final dungeons where the ending is long since determined.
And there's one last thing to talk about still.

Blumiere and Timpani, somewhere better.
I want to warn you all that this will probably be more ramble-y, personal, emotional, and unprofessional than most of my content but I've been staring at this picture trying to put my love of Super Paper Mario into a structured essay and yet I can't.
I've never been a fan of the romance genre, because for the most part, it can give very unhealthy expectations for what dating is actually like. A lot of people end up feeling entitled to the affections of those they love because the nature of how romance works in life is a lot more complicated than just the fact that every match was simply meant to be. Whenever a story I'm experiencing begins to hint at a potential relationship being developed, I'm immediately more wary with the story as I worry about whether or not said relationship would be a good example, would be healthy, or functional.
Reading this, a lot of people might speculate as to if I've been "burned" in the past or had some kind of traumatic event related to dating. I've had a handful but honestly, most people have been or will be. Your first relationship isn't likely to end up perfect or special. Love is a skill that takes practice to hone. And I'm honestly shocked how well the Paper Mario series does this.
Koopie Koo and Koops explore how confidence can't necessarily be foster from support alone and that sometimes, people do need the space to overcome their personal traumas. Giving someone space or needing space is important and isn't something to feel guilty about. Bobbery and Scarlette are a surprisingly dark and complex take on how one needs to balance their own needs and desires with duty to your partner: devoting yourself at the cost of the things you love to your lover isn't going to make either of you happy. You will be miserable and the love of your life can never be happy knowing you're miserable.
Blumiere and Timpani at the end of the day is a relationship that fell apart. Count Bleck hits every single button on what you shouldn't do in a relationship. He's pathetically insecure without Timpani, mired by trauma. He's closed his heart, is jaded, and trying to put the entire world out of his misery, in a manner that isn't going to make him any happier. Everything he does is counter intuitive to his desires, he's an absolute mess, and is honestly begging to be killed and stopped on the inside.
And yet, it's scary because... it's so human. His cardinal sin is that his relationship wasn't healthy, that he was dependant on his lover due to a loveless childhood and everyone is going to go through a difficult relationship at some point in their lives. This isn't a monster, or a greedy one dimensional human being. This is a man who just needs therapy, and to accept the friends and family he never realized he was lucky enough to have.
There is so, so much that can be learned from Count Bleck. This is a character that can be given literary analysis after literary analysis, and that's not even starting on Tippi, a tragic victim forced to fight against the love of her life in order to protect the very fabric of reality. I'm in awe at how Super Paper Mario handles the depth of this issue, at how they acknowledge the unhealthy nature of Bleck's relationship but also the human behind it, so that when the two try again, you can believe that it might be better this time. Wherever the two of them are.
Okay, recap time. Super Paper Mario's Chapter 8 is largely responsible for the deep narrative that defines the entire game for many of us, but it cannot take the credit for that alone. The Chapter itself does have flaws, in that the areas blend together, the boss refights are poorly designed even if the narrative needs them, and it suffers a lot from the overall gameplay flaws with Super Paper Mario as a whole. That said, the sheer depth provided in the narrative, combined with the beautiful location, incredible music score, and many many more aspects I gushed on balance out these flaws. In the end, while the Chapter itself settles into the 6th position, the overall story of the game is higher. We are saying good bye to Super Paper Mario in this series for now, but let it be known that the game as a whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. I'll talk about my overall thoughts on each game more at the end of the series. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Previous Entries: Rank #36 Rank #35 Rank #34 Rank #33 Rank #32 Rank #31 Rank #30 Rank #29 Rank #28 Rank #27 Rank #26 Rank #25 ( Bonus ) Rank #24 Rank #23 Rank #22 Rank #21 ( Bonus ) Rank #20 Rank #19 Rank #18 Rank #17 Rank #16 Rank #15 Rank #14 Rank #13 Rank #12 Rank #11 Rank #10 Rank #09 Rank #08 Rank #07
submitted by ToadBrigade5 to papermario [link] [comments]

Analysing the past and theories for the future of Modern Day (May contain spoilers)

Edit: For clarification, I’ve avoided topics or plots I know to have been resolved in the games or elsewhere, Here I am attempting to string together unanswered questions from the lore in a meaningful way.
Okay so this is a pretty long theory and requires revisiting some themes from the narrative that haven’t entirely been explored, explained or completed as of writing.
We’ll also need to establish a few things to flesh out where I think the Modern Day narrative is going. Some of these are vague references so bear with me.
The fate of Desmond:
There is foreshadowing as early as AC3 as to what is now occurring in the present.
One piece of dialog worth noting is this very odd interaction between Desmond and William that will become more interesting later on.
Desmond: ‘It just keeps happening over and over again’
William: ‘what does?’
Desmond: ‘Everything’
Minerva also explains this to us clearly at the end of the game.
Including that Juno had twisted the eye towards another purpose. Ie: her own purposes, planning the domination of ‘her’ world.
Minerva: ‘Divination through numbers, there is a pattern to existence, to comprehend the calculations is to tame time. This was my focus. And so I built the eye to aid us . But she (Juno) turned it towards her own ends.’
Further, we have established what the grand temple is, and what it does. It is a vessel for transference of the mind. Essentially a huge computer system to store an Isu (or other) consciousness. But for that consciousness to leave requires a price to be paid.
‘we forged a new vessel, one that might endure. It proved easy enough to enter. But to leave. To leave required something more… something wrong*. And so this too they abandoned.*
I wondered, though.. were they right to turn away?’ – Juno describing the capability of the grand temple.
Juno is describing the grand temple in this scene, a vessel that might endure to store consciousness.
And the price that must be paid to leave is a life, which Desmond paid when he touched the orb and released Juno into the world.
Here’s where the theory starts. Desmond didn’t ‘die’ when he touched the orb. His body did, yes. But his mind transferred into ‘The Grey’
How do we know this? Lets run through it.
Into The Grey:
“...Into the Grey - the digital frontier, the singularity - the space in which she dwells being both made of light and the embodiment of darkness.” Part of the credo of the instruments of the first will (AC Black Flag)
These themes are touched on starting with Black Flag and well into Unity, and I believe they paint a very clear picture that not only Desmond, but Clay are alive within the worlds data networks.
Let’s first return to that security breach memo but focus on a different part of the text.
From Database: 14. Security Breach Memo
\122\145\147\151\156\141\112\165\156\157: TheWorldIsTendingThis.BePatient.InDueTimeAllWillPlugin.NoneWillLeave.NotOne.NotClayNotDesmondNot.AllAreHereWithMe.AllLiveInBliss.SoMustYouDoAsWell.SoMustYouAll.SamplesCollect.DataProvide.ToReviveMyRace.TheHiddenTwelve.ToRemakeMyWorld.
So we have this very interesting memo, which is clearly Juno communicating and specifically mentions that Clay and Desmond are alive. If that’s not enough we have the following.
This next entry I think is the most interesting, I believe it directly hints at not only Desmonds existence, but that he’s actively working towards something from within ‘The Grey’
Database: 16. Chat Log
Chat Log: [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]); [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
-Message sent at 3:27pm-
V.DACOSTA: Mel. Got a minute?
M.LEMAY: Sure.
V.DACOSTA: You've been briefed on the security breaches?
M.LEMAY: Broad strokes. I have a meeting @ 17:00 to learn more.
V.DACOSTA: I'll be there. Just a heads up though - expect some panic.
M.LEMAT: ??? What's going on?
V.DACOSTA: A new breach this morning. Something we've never experienced before.
M.LEMAY: Is it bad?
V.DACOSTA: Probably. Not sure yet. Someone slipped right through our firewalls with one of the most well coordinated attack we've ever seen. Seventeen seperate servers compromised simultaneously in perfect unison, each via completely separate backdoor programs.
M.LEMAY: Meaning?
V.DACOSTA: Meaning somehow a single entity was capable of launching 17 completely independent attacks rather than one attack on 17 targets - the equivalent of someone playing and winning 17 separate chess games in the span of a few seconds.
M.LEMAY: Assassins?
V.DACOSTA: I can't imagine how. They have good tech, but they're never so blatant and they never split their priorities. This was a massive data sniff perpetrated by a single person or small group.
M.LEMAY: What did they take?
V.DACOSTA: They didn't TAKE anything, but they scanned almost everything. Genetic memory archives, precurses analyses, raw DDS data. Lots of things people on the outside shouldn't even know about. They were looking for something, but I can't be sure if they found it.
M.LEMAY: Could it have come from the inside?
V.DACOSTA: That's what we assumed. What makes the whole thing strange, though, is that the data seems to have been moved around Abstergo's servers multiple times over the course of the attack. Shuffled, reorganized, and most likely altered.
M.LEMAY: Meaning what?
V.DACOSTA***: It's hard to explain. It's almost as if two parts of a single program - one on the inside and one on the outside - just... sort of "joined up" and came to life, so to speak.***
M.LEMAY: Talk to me like I'm 5. What does that mean?
V.DACOSTA: It's going to sound nuts...
M.LEMAY: Try me. I'm getting used to it.
V.DACOSTA***: It's almost as if some sort of rogue bot or AI program is actually "living" in the network, so to speak. Moving freely around our servers. And somehow it has found a way to slip in and out of our network without tripping our alarms.*** We only managed to notice this time because we were going over the packet logs one by one today.
-Last messge sent at 3:34pm-
V.DACOSTA: You there?
-Last message sent at 3:54pm-
M.LEMAY: Sorry, I had to make a phone call. Your last message sent me spinning.
V.DACOSTA: Thought it might. Any ideas?
M.LEMAY: One. I hope I'm wrong.
M.LEMAY: Have you done any research into Digital Cognizance Imprints?
V.DACOSTA: I studied the Kaczmarek case about a year ago. Is that what you mean?
M.LEMAY: That, but possible on a far greater scale. Are you coming to the meeting tonight?
V.DACOSTA: Sounds like I should.
M.LEMAY: You'd better.
V.DACOSTA: K. See you there.
Okay so let’s unpack that.
We have 17 simultaneous attacks from 17 different sources on 17 targets AT THE SAME TIME.
As if some sort of program joined up and came to life. A rogue AI living in the network.
While it’s possible that these attacks are Juno, I just don’t believe it is.The symbolism involved with the repetition of the number 17 is just too glaringly obvious to ignore.
Juno even mentions at the end of Black Flag that
‘Signal is still too weak, and I am spread thin. Unfocused. Like static’
This wasn’t Juno, It was Desmond.
And let’s not forget, Desmond learned from the best.
Desmond discusses this with his father in voice messages left on his phone, Clay passed on all his knowledge directly to Desmond before disappearing:
‘he PASSED THEM to me.. just before he died, or got deleted, or whatever. Everything he’d learned, everything he’d seen’
‘right before he vanished, clay passed on his memories. To me… he showed me everything HE had seen, and lived through’
TL;DR – Desmond Miles is alive.
The Hidden Twelve:
In Unity one of the security breach memos reads thusly.
\122\145\147\151\156\141\112\165\156\157:TheWorldIsTendingThis.BePatient.InDueTimeAllWillPl ugin.NoneWillLeave.NotOne.NotClayNotDesmondNot.All AreHereWithMe.AllLiveInBliss.SoMustYouDoAsWell.SoMustYouAll.SamplesCollect.Dat aProvide.ToReviveMyRace.TheHiddenTwelve.ToRemakeMyWorld.
Now it’s pretty hard to be sure what Juno was referencing here but I believe it refers to the twelve apples of eden that the Isu sent skyward, as mentioned in AC3.
The apples weren’t just used to control humans but they (Isu) discovered that if enough people willed a thing to occur at the same time then the apple made it so.To protect against the coronial mass ejection, the Isu sent one skyward.
‘We resolved to send one into the sky where it might illuminate us all. Once placed, a sentence would be uttered: Make us safe’
‘But it never came to be. We sent a dozen of them skyward – but there was no way to maintain control. To direct the beam. To enthrall the world. To speak the words’
Why would these need to be sought out? Well Juno says it herself
‘when enough sat in thrall and were told to believe their thoughts took on form’ – (edit) Juno discussing how the apples of eden were used to control humans, but another use was discovered in that they could manifest thoughts if enough people willed it at the same time.
However, in Origins we look to the sky, at a number of stone circles. 12 stone circles to be exact, and what is revealed once all are discovered?
Segment 6 of the Empirical Truth
You can read it all here:'Aa%20Poo
Why is this important? Because it literally spells out how to change reality, to alter time.
“It could escape the code*. It could do that leap, and make possible a decision that defies the order of things that are.”*
The Empirical Truth
The current modern day has been foreshadowed for a long time.
Put simply, the Isu have been playing with time and twisting the fate of the world.
Why is this important? Because in doing so they broke something.
They used their machines to find Desmond, in a desperate bid to stop the coronial mass ejection and to save the world. But it was never meant to be.
‘he saw Minerva and Juno, and Tinia trying to work out their… calculations’.
‘They had these tools.. these powerful machines… that could predict POSSIBLE FUTURES… not what was GOING to happen, but what uh… what COULD happen… probabilities. And … well they spent a lot of energy trying to figure out what was the most likely scenario for the future. Their’s and ours. And in the end I guess they figured I was their most likely candidate… some guy named Desmond, living at the beginning of the twenty-first century of the Common Era… but which Desmond was the right one? Because, you see, probability is a weird thing… it can branch out in so many ways… which version of me did they need? Was it the Desmond who got married early and had a son… the one who stayed single in New York .. oor was it the Desmond who moved to San Francisco to be a waiter or maybe it was the me who never ran away from his parents in the first place. The First Civ had countless variations to chose from but… in the end.. the lucky one was me. I’m the Desmond their best calculations spit out… I’m the Desmond they left their messages for… and I guess I have to live with that honor.’
- Desmond Miles discussing Clays memories in voice recordings
So what is the Empirical Truth? Well it broadly refers to the idea that everything is a simulation, nothing is real.
Edit: To clarify here, To say nothing is real I believe this refers to the flow of time.
“Time is a system that defines what comes to be. That is how we understand it.
The Code is Time, and Time is Code. As you scratch the surface and uncover the truth, ask yourself if there is something more? Something else.”
That suggests that time is flexible, the flow of time and physics to the Isu are fluid, laws can be bent and broken.
It also speaks to the idea that the Isu predictions that led to Desmond activating the orb and preventing the coronial mass ejection were flawed. They thought that outcome would save the world, but:
“Then, on the morning of December 22nd 2012, humankind was graced with yet another morning. They never knew that on the previous day, the world almost ended.
We thought that would have been enough.
And it was until it wasn't.
Time is unyielding. It always corrects itself*.”*
We’re also introduced to the idea of time as nodes, and that there are fixed points in time that cannot be altered:
“Nodes are static, changeless.
And the wave function collapses the paths into nodes which branch out. Again, and again, and again.
And so I wonder. Can you feel the wave collapsing, trying to course correct Desmond's act of defiance?
The incoming node needs the world to end.”
“The node is near.
Perhaps you knew. Perhaps you felt it too.
That the world is closing in on you.“
It’s clear that Desmond, under Isu instruction was attempting to stop what cannot be stopped. That the incoming node NEEDS the world to end because that is as it should be, however there’s an out.
Layla is given the direction to:
“(Break the code. Break the Node.)”
Additionally it is made clear that the Isu removed from humans the ability to truly understand time, the 6th sense.
“We removed our ability to read those stories from your original template.”
“We have six senses, you have five. Can you guess the one missing?
[...] (Overload your mind's capacity)“
“The real cage is not around you. It is in you. Your mind will not allow you to wander in uncharted territories.
A Faraday cage, for the mind. A concealed strait jacket.”
And something I consider extremely important going into Valhalla:
“The Animus was humankind’s first unconscious attempt to explain what it could not see. Understanding genetic memories, an eye into history.
But the Animus bears a fatal flaw. It follows the rules from those who embrace Order just as we did. It allows you to witness – but not alter.
Your Animus is different. As is the mind that imagined it. It could escape the code. It could do that leap, and make possible a decision that defies the order of things that are.
Wake up.
Be the chaos that comes to be. Gods are just like you and me.
Nothing is real.
Everything is permitted.”
And then we’re introduced to Alethia, an Isu who believes that they have meddled long enough, and humans deserve to know the truth. And thus we’re put through a series of simulations showing the difference between order, chaos, and the flaws of the Isu.
And Layla has recovered the staff of Hermes, a piece of eden that managed to preserve Kassandras life until she passed it to Layla and can (possibly?) alter time.
The (Possible) Future
The way I see the Modern Day moving forward in Valhalla is something of a hard reset on the ‘end of the world’ narrative. Or as Darby has suggested, to set us up for the next game.
Layla will close the loop on the incoming node and prevent another world ending catastrophe, probably in the context of ‘Ragnarok’ and probably in a DLC.
Will this mean a new MD protagonist in the future? Yes I think so. Layla has (or will) have served her role by the end of Valhalla.
Who will it be? I think it’s likely to be Elijah. Desmonds Son.
I also think its probably that before the end of Valhalla we see Desmond or interact with him in some form, how that plays out for him I don’t know.
Personally I’d like to see Layla go back in time and actually interact with him in 2012.
It’s possible that somehow with a combination of the Koh I Noor, Ankh and Shroud of eden Desmond could be made corporeal at some point in the future but I think the only person with a vested interest in that would be either William Miles or Elijah.
It’s also possible that narratively, whatever does Layla in-Animus could physically alter time and work as an in-universe ret-con to prevent desmond from ever touching the orb in the first place in parallel with some other preventative measure to stop the world from ending. Although I reckon that would be pretty weak to completely ret-con everything since the end of AC3.
Basically with the story in the current state it’s in, I think all bets are off and pretty much all the cards are on the table in terms of what can be done, and what is likely to be done.
I’m excited to see what happens and where we go from here!
Thanks for reading 😊
Edit: fixed a few typos
Edit 2: Updated a few things for clarification. (still vague as mud I know)
Edit 3: updated a few more little bits for clarification after discussion
submitted by AzzyAus to assassinscreed [link] [comments]

July 2020 Noteworthy Releases on Switch

I occasionally see people respond to my weekly Upcoming Releases posts with comments like “it's just a buncha' shovelware”, and I don't think people realize the potential in some of the games they're dismissing. And especially with Nintendo stepping back from their regular Nintendo Directs, I think there's likely to be a fair number of Switch players asking themselves, “so now what?”
Because of this, before we jump into the next month, I'm going through the list of upcoming games for that month that we know about, and highlighting the ones that have a strong chance of being worth paying attention to, as well as a brief snippet about the game explaining why it's worth watching.
I will specifically only be highlighting games that have a reasonably strong pedigree, or that are otherwise particularly noteworthy in some way beyond “this looks good, it could be interesting...”. This means that I'll likely be mentioning a lot of ports, as it's easier to know a game will likely be good if it was already good on another platform (I'm including games that scored 75 or higher on Metacritic on other platforms, 80% positive or higher on Steam, and/or 4 or higher rating on Google Play store). I'll also mention games whose developer has a decent track record for producing quality.
Oh, and before getting into the games, I should note that this is just the list we have available right now – there are likely to be new games announced after this list comes out, as well as games on this list that get delayed. Also, I should note that this is not a list of the only games worth getting on the Switch this month – just the ones that I feel can be backed up with more than just “feels” given what we know now. And of course, since these games aren't released yet, I obviously can't know they're good, they just look promising.
Anyway, onto the list!
7/3 - Infini (Trailer) Metacritic score: 62 (With 6 Reviews) – Released earlier this year on PC and PlayStation 4, Infini went mostly overlooked by reviewers, but the small handful of players who rated the game on Steam were unanimous in their praise for the game – as of this writing, it has a 100% approval rating. It's definitely hard to get a feel for the game from the trailer, but it seems to be a sort of bizarre puzzle game.
7/3 – Singled Out (Trailer) (No Metacritic score as of 7/16) – Much like the first game on this list, Singled Out was released last year on PC and went mostly overlooked by reviewers, but once again the small handful of players who rated the game on Steam were unanimous in their praise for the game – as of this writing, it has a 100% approval rating. It's pretty easy to tell what this game will play like – you're spotting the face in the crowd that matches the characteristics before time runs out. So it looks kinda' like one of the Microgrames you'd expect to see in a WarioWare title, expanded into a full game.
7/6 – Gerty (Gameplay Footage) (No Metacritic score as of 7/16) – Yet another game that critics overlooked, but got a high rating on Steam (94%) from the few players who played it. Gerty is a two-stick shooter with Roguelike elements.
7/7 – Catherine: Full Body (Trailer) Metacritic score: 81 (With 23 Reviews) – Catherine has been out on multiple platforms for a while now, with the expanded “Full Body” version hitting PlayStation 4 late last year. However, every version of the game has consistently rated well, in the high-70s and low-80s on Metacritic. This is a character-based puzzle game interspersed with story-based sections that follows a young man who gets entangled in the middle of a love triangle of sorts, and where his less than honest actions result in him having nightmares of a monstrous woman climbing a tower while he struggles to escape her.
7/7 – Superliminal (Trailer) Metacritic score: 82 (With 4 Reviews) – This is a game I missed in my original predictions, but list here for those looking at this article after the fact. This game is a reality-warping first-person perspective puzzle game where the perspective is one of the most important parts of the gameplay, since you use that perspective to change the size of objects.
7/9 – CrossCode (Trailer) Metacritic score: 85 (With 7 Reviews) – First released to PC in 2018 and garnering a strong Metacritic score of 86, the game's console release has been pretty highly anticipated, with CrossCode having the look of a classic 16-bit Action-RPG, but turning up the dial on the “action” side of that formula.
7/9 – Demon's Rise: War for the Deep (Gameplay Footage) (No Metacritic score as of 7/16) – First released to PC and mobile devices in 2018, the game currently sits with an 83% positive rating on Steam and a 4.0 score on Google Play. Demon's Rise is a Turn-Based Strategy set in a Fantasy world, and technically the second game in its series. Judging by fans' reactions, expect this to be a game mostly focused on the tactical gameplay and not graphics or story.
7/10 – Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 (Trailer) Metacritic score: 83 (With 11 Reviews) – While the release of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night on Switch was problematic, the original Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was pretty widely accepted as a fantastic old-school platformer in the vein of the classic NES Castlevania titles, getting a Metacritic score of 82. Only just announced, we won't have long to wait to get the follow-up, with the eShop listing for the game putting it at July 10.
7/10 – Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise (Trailer) Metacritic score: 58 (With 49 Reviews) – I'll just say right now, there is a strong argument to be made that this game does not belong on this list. The original game was a broken, buggy mess... but that's partly the reason it is so beloved by so many. Deadly Premonition has been compared to the film The Room in that both have a unique “so bad it's good” quality to them, and I can guarantee you that if I left its Switch-exclusive sequel off of this list, there would be more than a few people who would demand that it be added. So for those people, here you go. And I genuinely hope that it is everything you've been wanting in a sequel.
7/14 – Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town (Trailer) Metacritic score: 78 (With 37 Reviews) – This game is a full remake of Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, a 2003 Game Boy Advance game considered by many to be one of the series' highlights. If you enjoyed Stardew Valley, this is absolutely a game to keep your eyes out for.
7/14 – Neon Abyss (Trailer) Metacritic score: 80 (With 4 Reviews) – Developer Veewo Games is probably best known for the Super Phantom Cat series on the Apple App store, which has consistently gotten Metacritic scores over 80. While those games were fairly simple, lighthearted retro platformers, Neon Abyss is something else entirely, an action-platformer with tons of screen-filling gunplay.
Announced 7/2: 7/16 – Neversong (Trailer) – Previously titled Once Upon a Coma, Neversong released just in May of this year on other platforms, and has a score of 75 on Metacritic on the PC version, and while other versions don't have enough reviews yet for a score, the reviews already released are strong. This is a short (4 hours-ish) Puzzle-Platformer with a striking look and a dark tone of a world where a mysterious figure has kidnapped your best friend and for some reason all of the adults have gone missing.
7/17 – Paper Mario: The Origami King (Trailer) Metacritic score: 81 (With 53 Reviews) – Of course the question on everyone's mind regarding this game right now is... will it be more like the first few Paper Mario games, or more like the last few... because the N64 original game and its GameCube follow-up are beloved by fans, and the more recent games... well, aren't. However, every game in the series has a score over 75 on Metacritic, so whether this game ends up being truly great or merely just good, it's still probably a safe bet.
7/17 – Warhammer 40,000 Mechanicus (Gameplay Demo) – Originally released to PC in 2018, Mechanicus got a Metacritic score of 78, with critics praising its strategic turn-based gameplay and high level of customization.
7/21 – Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break (Trailer) – While the Switch version of Rock of Ages 2 was generally considered to be a lacking port, it was nevertheless still a good game, rating 75 on Metacritic, and with any luck this time will hopefully be better, with the game being developed for all platforms at the same time. For those unfamiliar with this series, it's an odd blend of tower defense and ball-rolling arcadey game, where two opponents are trying to build defenses to halt the forward progress of the enemy, and then roll a ball through those defenses to smash the enemy hiding in their castle.
Announced on 7/1/20: 7/21 – Crysis Remastered (Trailer) – When it originally released in 2007 on PC, Crysis became the benchmark for computer graphics for years to come, and earned a score of 91 on Metacritic. This game is now getting remastered and brought to multiple modern platforms, including the Switch, and suffice it to say that even despite the age of this First-Person Shooter, people are eagerly waiting to see how this game performs on a handheld. Also, the Switch can always use more First-Person Shooters, and Crysis is one of the big guns in the genre.
Announced 7/1/20: 7/22 – Creaks (Trailer) – The developer of Creaks, Amanita Design, consistently churns out quality games, including Machinarium, Botanicula, and the Samorost series. Of the games that have scores on Metacritic, every single one of them has a score higher than 75. That's a phenomenal track record, and there's no reason to think their upcoming Creaks will be any different, being that a dark, comedic Puzzle Platformer fits well within their comfort zone.
7/28 – Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection (Trailer) – This one's a bit of a cheat, since it's just a collection of seven classic arcade fighting games, but they are seven fighting games generally considered to be excellent entries in the genre, with added online play and bonus features, and with a price tag of $40, that works out to just under $6 per game, which isn't a bad price (for comparison, the ACA series of Fatal Fury games sell for $8 each). Fighting game fans wanting to own a series of genre classics will undoubtedly want to pick this up.
7/30 – Locomotion (Trailer) – Once again, we have a game that reviewers missed, but players are praising. Locomotion was released last year on PC and was overlooked by reviewers, but the small handful of players who rated the game on Steam were unanimous in their praise for the game – as of this writing, it has a 100% approval rating. This game is a train-based puzzle game with self-contained levels that look just a bit like dioramas (I'm getting a little bit of a Captain Toad vibe here).
7/31 – Castlestorm 2 (Trailer) – The first Castlestorm got a Metacritic score of 78 on the Switch, and was an excellent take on the tower defense genre, with players building their own castles between battles, and then during the battle requisitioning troops based on changing battlefield conditions while aiming a ballista at the enemies and their own castle.The sequel looks to keep much of the same gameplay while adding in a very Monty Python-esque style of humor.
Anyway, that's what I could find for July 2020 on the Switch, but no doubt some of you have specific games you've got your eye on this next month. Please feel free to give a shout out to any game you feel deserves attention! :-)
submitted by CaspianX2 to NintendoSwitch [link] [comments]

Ranking every PM Chapter/World before TOK releases: #11

Ranking every PM ChapteWorld before TOK releases: #11
It still doesn't feel real to me that I'm already at the 11th to last chapter. I started the project for a few reasons, one of which was to pass the time before the release of The Origami King. Now, the Origami King will be out in ten days, and when it is, this series will come to it's end. It's been a wild ride, and by the time you all read this, there'll just be my Top 10 (tm) Paper Mario Chapters left to go.
If you're just now joining us, more information on the project can be found on the the first write up, at Rank #36. But as the general basics, this list is based entirely on the opinions of me and u/ulk96 who helped put the list together with me. Please be civil about any potential differences in opinion.
With that, introducing the runner up of the chapters, the one just shy of the Top 10....
Okay, but does your religion serve orange soda in the afterlife? No? I thought not.
Chapter 7: The Underwhere, Super Paper Mario
So, I want to highlight the fact that only in Super Paper Mario would they be brave enough to try a depict a PG version of Hell, only to be zany enough to make it a freakin' underwear pun. I'm almost glad that shifting a certain Paper Mario 64 chapter up kicked this one out of the top ten because I feel immature just making this write up.
A lot of people commented in today's other write up ( Rank #12 ) that they felt I was too easy on Sammer Kingdom's gameplay flaws and lack of development. u/TopHattedTroopa, like always, was super insightful in that he referred to Chapter 6 as not quite a chapter but as a build up to this Chapter. I really like this take, even if I don't think the placing needs adjustment. Part of why Chapter 6 got a pass for it's bad gameplay was because it wasn't trying to be a chapter, and in serving a different role in the structure, it both felt more stand out, and accomplished what it set out to do better. By virtue of being called a chapter, it had to be included on the list, and that really worked to it's benefit.
Part of why Chapter 7 is so strong, by extent, is because of Chapter 6 leading into it. Chapter 6 ends with Dimentio killing off Mario, Peach, Bowser and even Mr. L, which really added to the whole intensity of the situation of having lost all control over predicting what's about to happen. When the screen goes back and fades in with the first scene of Chapter 7, you really have no idea what to expect at all. Even if it makes sense in hindsight... you probably weren't expecting to *actually* go to hell. I mean, jeez Super Paper Mario. First you show me killing off a world, then you send me to hell, then you tell me that is in danger of getting unmade too? Say what you will, Super Paper Mario is willing to take all kinds of risks.
Let's talk about the hell itself. The Shaydes here are played for all kinds of dark death comedy, and use of the phrase "game over" instead of "death" allows for the game to get away with all kinds of delicious implications. Queen Jaydes, a beleaguered managerial devil expy, is an absolute joy with very amusing dialogue, who's both played seriously and comedically, and is an excellent NPC. Helping you restore the Pure Heart and letting you come leave back to where you came from after finding that you aren't dead but teleported just shows that even hell can have benevolent management, and I loved that take. The atmosphere is likewise phenominal, and I appreciate all the mythology references (River Styx, Charold, Underchomp, etc.)
We also unlock Luigi here, and this was honestly the best way to resolve the Mr. L subplot that I could think of. He's only in your party for two chapters, which is kind of a disappointing, but he's more than welcome and his stint as a villain was very enjoyable. I appreciate the way Dimentio killing him off really makes you question his motivations. He claims it's on behalf of the Count punishing L for his failure, but well, it's Dimentio and this is when you start to suspect there might be more to him. Dimentio's eventual reveal is better foreshadowed than say, Beldam, so ultimately I do appreciate that.
And then we're back to filler again.
With Luigi in tow, Mario returns to Flipside and opens the way to Chapter 7, ending up back in the Underwhere. This surprises no one, as they've introduced a level and left multiple plot hooks behind like Luvbi, so obviously Chapter 7 was going to be re-explored. Especially since the "7-0" phase already had more depth than Chapter 6 did. And of course, if Mario was teleported here, then Peach and Bowser would've been as well and they still need to be found.
Queen Jaydes recognizes Mario and Luigi as two of the four heroes this time and tells them that Grambi in the Overthere has the Pure Heart, and that Luvbi needs to return to the Overthere to rejoin her father. So you begin the journey to escort Luvbi to her father, and admittedly... these levels aren't the greatest in the world.
7-2, Underwhere Road, is better. There's a few Dorguys that give off similar puzzles to Paper Mario's Guard Doors, and the level is fairly dynamic, getting less and less hell-like as you climb. It's a fairly dynamic level, even if some of the darkness mechanics are frustrating and you fight Bowser again. It's an amusing misunderstanding, but ultimately his bossfight is a carbon copy of the original, which boils down to flip and Boomer.
But ultimately, this level does have fun moments. The Dorguys keep you from going too long without something of interest and Dorguy the Third brings in the Underchomp, a Cerberus-expy who is absolutely fantastic with a creative RPG-Simulated battle that has some very witty lines. Ultimately, it's one of the better filler levels in the game.
The same can not be said for 7-3, the Overthere Stair, which boils down to some fairly awful mechanics, a lot of back tracking, and feeling even less necessary. Unlike Bowser who is confused and needs his senses beat back into him, Peach is cursed a sleep and needs to be reawoken with apples this time. As opposed the last time she was unconscious and needed soup. Why is this a recurring mechanic again?
The downside to this is that there are a lot of apple trees, spread across a maze like cloudy environment, and almost all the apples are duds who do random nonsensical effects that torture Peach. The result is that you're left in an unfun maze that, like a lot of Super Paper Mario's levels, really really makes you want to look up the answers rather than deal with it. I'm looking at you, Jasperoid and Rubee Vault. Ultimately, Overthere Stair has very little going for it. It's designed much more standardly than the actual hell section, and there's much less going on in terms of plot and events.
You never thought you'd cry over her, yet here you are, huh?
In 7-1, it's briefly mentioned that Luvbi needed an escort because a monster escaped from the Underwhere. The D-Men in 7-2 imply this was Bowser, but when you arrive at the Overthere, you find it under attack by Bonechill. You're tasked with rescuing and rallying three major angels in order to storm the palace and save the day as usual. I honestly think that 7-3 could've been cut and 7-4 expanded into two levels, starting the invasion when you first arrive at the Overthere, because while what we have is actually fairly good, Bonechill is in the end a very lackluster villain due to how randomly he shows up, anticlimactically he's defeated, and how little context he has to existing. Giving him some time in 7-3 to establish himself could've gone a long ways.
But ultimately, it's water down the bridge because the real highlight of the chapter is the Divine family depicted above. Luvbi as a character is a shining example of how Kersti as a character archetype could've been done right. Luvbi is a complete and utter spoiled brat from beginning to end, but ultimately, she never crosses the line into being full on abusive. She's child like, annoying and mean spirited but on many instances shows somewhat sympathetic moments and ultimately human desires. You tend to tolerate her bedgrudgingly until you ultimately realize that she has to die.
At the end of the day, Jaydes, Grambi and Luvbi are a loving family, even if they wish they couldn't be. The act of turning a Pure Heart into daughter to disguise it ultimately filled a void in what was otherwise an empty relationship. Now, however, the metaphorical and powerful "God" and "Satan" of this after life have to reap what they sowed and are ultimately as helpless to their fate as any human would be: the fate of letting go of their own daughter.
Luvbi ultimately takes this in stride in the way only a child good, even a child who might've been a brat. She tries to save her parents feelings by lashing out against them comically to get them to hate her, before ultimately caving and admitting that she loves them and accepting her fate anyway. It's such an innocent and well intentioned screw up that it casts all of Luvbi's previous bratty behavior in a different light. Every time you raged at her, you were getting pissed at a socially awkward, terminally ill kid. You actual monster.
I really can't say enough how much Chapters 6 and 7 do for Super Paper Mario, even if they're flawed. From establishing the stakes with such a powerful moment by interrupting your adventure in Sammer's Kingdom, to just as suddenly damning you to hell, you're offered a sheer roller coaster of emotion that sets up the finale of the game perfectly. You're offered both the stakes, as well as a fantastic and wild chapter to directly compare and contrast what's at risk. You have an ultimately human arc with Luvbi that restablishes how much needs to be protected. And your team is finally put together, all four heroes and all eight pure hearts. It's a fantastic lead up to the last chapter of the game.
Hey, u/nouuua, I included the whole game today after all!
This two Chapter arc ultimately has a number of flaws in gameplay, 6 more so than 7, but they're so intertwined that I really can't imagine separating them on a list like this. 6 leads directly into 7, and it wasn't designed to stand alone. Can you fault it for being weak on it's own when it was never meant to stand on it's own? I'd argue that Chapter 7 would be lower as well without Chapter 6 to tie Luigi into it and introduce the concepts of death and the difference between death and total erasure.
These chapters are the actual backbone of Super Paper Mario, even if they aren't it's best designed Chapters. They take risks, not all of which pay off. Which is ultimately Super Paper Mario's purified essence, really. Daring set ups that don't always pan out but look spectacular when they do, coupled with some moments of serious bad game design, and stories that grab your (pure) heart and refuse to let go.
For the sheer amount that they do for the game, Chapters 6 and 7 of Super Paper Mario in the 12th and 11th places, just shy of the Top 10. And I think they've earned that, not alone, but together.
We're now officially entering the Top 10. To recap what's remaining, we've got 2 Chapters from Paper Mario 64 (3 and 7), 2 Chapters from Super Paper Mario (3 and 8), 2 Paint Stars from Color Splash (Purple and Orange), and 4 Chapters from Thousand Year Door (3, 4, 5, and 6).
I'm giving no more hints, as there's not really enough left for them not to be total giveaways. Bet with your own daring!
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A Lengthy, Comprehensive Analysis of “The Last of Us: Part II”’s Controversy, Responding to Prominent Criticisms, and Discussing Criticisms of My Own

About a month ago, I wrote a post to provide some clarity regarding the leak Naughty Dog sprung about a month ago. In it, I addressed some of the criticisms that were being levied at the time without unveiling any of the spoiled material, that way my curious spoiler-virgins would go unsullied until release day. There, I explained why all the major criticisms at the time weren't (and still aren't) warranted. Toward the end of the post, I noted that the outrage was not only political, but also emotional. I correctly predicted that there would be some spoiler-virgins that would not be pleased with the game's controversial narrative direction. I wish I'd been taking bets because not only was I right, I was right to an extent I never imagined. The response to this game has been chaotic, to say the least. This post will explore this phenomenon, directly respond to the most prominent criticisms and those who make them, and address my own criticisms of the game (as well as how I believe those flaws can be fixed).

Part 1: The Chaotic Controversy

I need to lay my cards on the table: I thought this was a fantastic game. Having purposefully indulged in the leaks back in April, I knew about every major death/plot twist before it happened, and I approached the story with an open mind. While I thought TLOU was a great game, TLOU2 blew me away with its darker, more complicated themes, the tiny details that collectively enrich the game's themes of gray morality, superb character interactions, the gosh diddly darn adorable relationship between Ellie and Dina, the endearing big sister-little siblings dynamic between Abby and Yara/Lev, and the excellently crafted set pieces that made each part of the game unique. I also loved the new gameplay mechanics that made stealth satisfying, such as crafting silencers for the pistol or taking cover in tall grass/ferns. It irks me to no end that such an obviously great game has received so much undeserved abuse. Can it be criticized? Of course it can. There's always room for criticism, but I think this is downright pathetic.
It should be noted that this avalanche of negative reception is not coming from a single body of grievances. It is, in fact, coming from up to at least three different factions. Sometimes there is crossover between factions, but a member of one faction should not be immediately assumed to belong to another.
Faction 1: "Get Woke, Go Broke!"- The Reactionaries
Not every person who dislikes/criticizes TLOU2 is a homophobe/transphobe/racist/misogynist. Make no mistake, though: there is a significant portion of "h8ers" that most certainly are angry at this game solely for its unapologetic progressivism. These are The Reactionaries. The anti-SJWs.The anti-feminists. The "YouTube skeptics". The traditionalists. Whatever you want to call them. Back in 2018, TLOU2 took E3 by storm with not only a gameplay trailer but also a front-and-center kiss between Ellie and Dina, marking a historic moment for LGBT inclusion in video games. While the explicit romance did receive some negative feedback from The Reactionaries1, the worst was yet to come. Fast forward to April of 2020. Naughty Dog sprung a devastating leak that revealed every card TLOU2 had up its sleeve. Controversy ensued, particularly around a new character named Abby, who was presumed to be male-to-female transgender due to her masculine features and silhouette. A contemptuous amount of abusive anti-transgender slurs and jokes were subsequently forwarded against Abby on places like 4chan, Reddit, and even YouTube. These assumptions ended up being bullshit, but that didn’t stop TLOU2 from solely representing itself. No, April 2020 was the moment this game became more than itself; it became a symbol for progressivism in high-profile video games–a perceived weapon in a culture war. If you think these people and their audiences only make up a small portion of this outrage mob, think again:
1Name: "Naughty Dog's SJW Agenda in Gaming Exposed"
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 160,000+

Name: “Last of Us Part 2 Ending Leaks Reveal Progressive Agenda”
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 70,000+

Name: “Last of Us 2 Influenced by SJW Anita Sarkeesian”
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 100,000+

Name: “Last of Us 2 Spoiler Talk, This Gets Really Woke!”
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 65,000+

Name: “LGBT Activists: The Last of Us 2 Needs MORE WOKE Representation!”
Uploaded by: Lauren Chen (Roaming Millennial)
Views: 30,000+

Name: “The Last of Us Part 2 LEAKS ONLINE | Another Franchise Falls To SJW Pandering”
Uploaded by: Geeks + Gamers
Views: 180,000+
Sometimes it seems like TLOU2 goes out of its way to stick it to these people, what with its female-driven narrative, unapologetic pro-LGBT stance, and racial diversity. It should be said that TLOU2’s progressivism is a neutral element in terms of how it contributes to the story’s quality, and the game should be neither defended or criticized solely on these grounds. It is, however, a heartening sign that these people’s neanderthalic values are dying out. Stay mad, you slobbering troglodytes.
To close this section, it is undeniable that this specific contention with TLOU2 is not in the minority of the overall controversy surrounding the game. If you are not a fan of this game for unrelated reasons, I’m afraid it is a fact of life that you are going to have to perpetually disavow and distance yourself from these people when you criticize the game. Some of The Reactionaries are wise enough to realize that “it’s bad because it’s woke” is a flimsy criticism, so they will cling to any other criticism that simultaneously grants them credibility and tears the game down, no matter how unwarranted or slanderous that criticism is. They are disguising themselves as one of you. If you are arguing about this game with someone, do not get mad at your interlocutor when they have to verify that your criticism doesn’t come from a place of bigotry, and stop pretending everyone is eager to use bigotry as a scapegoat that dismisses good-faith criticism.
Faction 2: “Neil Disrespected the Fans!” - The Entitled Fan
The Entitled Fan thinks TLOU2 is a poorly-written game simply because they did not like the themes it explores or the narrative direction it takes. Whatever it was they wanted, TLOU2 didn’t do it, so that means the game had bad writing!
Faction 2, on the surface, is similar to another group of people I dub “The Disappointed Fan”, but there’s a key difference that separates the two: whether or not they think the game was poorly written, and if they do think the game was poorly written, why they think the game was poorly written. The Disappointed Fan is not its own faction because they can fall into either Faction 3 (which I will discuss next) or Faction 2. When The Disappointed Fan falls into Faction 2, that is when they evolve into The Entitled Fan.
Before we proceed with my addressal of this faction, let me make something really clear: if you didn’t like the game because it wasn’t what you wanted it to be, this section doesn’t apply to you unless you think the game was poorly written because it wasn’t what you wanted it to be. Got that? This isn’t me calling you entitled just because the game disappointed you. With that said, let’s move on.
Never go into a piece of media with expectations.
Judging by a lot of the discourse I’ve seen regarding this game, many people were expecting to simply get more of what TLOU was, this time with prettier graphics. As such, I’ve seen several posts, videos, comments, etc. that keep comparing TLOU2 to TLOU, then criticizing it for not containing a certain element that was in TLOU.
“TLOU Ellie was funny, but now she’s not.”
“TLOU was about a blossoming father-daughter relationship, but TLOU2 shits all over that.”
“TLOU had Ellie’s immunity as a source of hope. TLOU2 is just nihilistic and depressing.”
“TLOU didn’t throw a character I don’t like at me and force me to play as her.”
Stop. Stop judging this game for what it’s not. Judge this game for what it set out to do and how well it did so.
So what did this game set out to do? TLOU2 sought to be a dark tragedy surrounding the true toll of violence on the end of the perpetrator and the recipient. It’s a tale showing how a tragedy blackened our plucky heroine into a beast aching for destruction which, in the end, only resulted in more tragedy. It’s a tale that explores how the heroes in our eyes may be the villains in the eyes of another and vice versa. Hot dog did it depict these themes with brutal proficiency. Whether or not you personally like these themes or the writer’s decision to explore them is irrelevant to the story’s artistic quality. To act otherwise is beyond annoying; it’s childish and entitled. Yeah, I said it. I think it’s outrageously entitled for someone to lash out at a writer for not writing a story the way they wanted it to be written.
I think TLOU2, for its depressing themes/atmosphere, is of a specific, bitter taste many may not find appetizing. That's fine. Personally, I get a thrill out of stories that take the Shakespearean tragedy angle because stories that give its protagonist(s) an undeservedly tragic ending are rare and particularly gutsy. I think this direction, on top of being unique, is fascinating... and most of all, especially fitting for a world like TLOU. Let me ask you something: did you honestly think this game was going to give Ellie or Joel a happy ending? TLOU has always been a grim series about the loss of everything people held dear. Their homes. Their security. Their family. Their friends. Their own lives. Those who are calling TLOU2 "ToNaLlY iNcOnSiStEnT" must've missed how TLOU depicted this inescapable aspect of this hellscape: it sucks for everyone, and nobody is safe! If TLOU2 never had the guts to pull off what it pulled off, the series as a whole would've wound up bankrupt of stakes and suspense. Who the hell’s going to care about an action scene if we knew the author couldn't scrounge up the temerity to disrobe the main characters of their plot-armor?
If you were disappointed that the game did not meet your expectations... I'm sorry. I genuinely am. It sucks when something you've been looking forward to ends up being different from what you were expecting. This is why I said what I said near the beginning of this section: never go into a piece of media with expectations. Chances are, they won't be fulfilled. Not only will expectations leave you disappointed, they'll also close you off to something you may have otherwise appreciated.
Unfortunately, many fans were already too emotionally attached to Ellie and Joel to possibly consider the idea that they're villains in another perspective (especially the latter). The game wasn’t even asking the players to like Abby and co. over Team Jackson; it just wanted you to at least acknowledge that Abby’s course of action was sympathetic in her perspective. There's nothing inherently bad about being emotionally attached to a character, but Jesus Christ is it frustrating when that emotional attachment makes people unreceptive to an unconventional narrative direction.
Naughty Dog decided to take a controversial, but fitting, route with the next chapter of TLOU, and whether some people like it or not, they did an outstanding job. No, the professional critics were not bribed by Sony. No, the defenders are not deliriously fooling themselves into liking the game because they spent years emotionally invested in the project. No, the defenders are not SJWs who “secretly know the game sucks but are defending it because it advances their political agenda”. We've simply looked beyond our emotional biases and saw this game for what it is: a nuanced, gut-wrenching tragedy. I'm sick of hearing otherwise from a bunch of entitled children who are too busy longing for a game that isn't there instead of analyzing the game that is.
Faction 3: “Why ‘The Last of Us: Part II’ Doesn’t Work” - The Good Faith Critics
The final hostile faction against this game are The Good Faith Critics. While they accuse TLOU2 of being poorly written, they do so not through an emotional or political lens, but through a critical lens. While I have counterarguments to almost all of their criticisms, Faction 3 tends to be the least toxic of the three factions. For that, I tip my hat to most of them for actually behaving like civil adults that are capable of having a critical discussion about TLOU2’s potential hiccups.
I will address their most prominent criticisms one-by-one in the next part of this post. But first I need to mention the last combatant in this bloody battleground:
The Opposing Side: The Professional Critics
While the audience response to TLOU2 is almost literally split straight down the middle, the professional response to has been overwhelmingly homogeneous in TLOU2's favor.
It has been a common sentiment that professional art critics/reviewers are pompous and not worth listening to–that their "professional opinion" is not worth more than the average Joe's. This sentiment stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the job of a media critic. It is the job of critics and analysts to know how to take a story apart and understand what makes it tick. Once they've arrived at a proper diagnosis, they relay it to their audience. The audience can then make an informed decision over whether or not that movie/game/book/etc. is worth their time or money. Professional critics are supposed to abandon their personal opinions and emotions while reviewing a work and view it strictly through an analytical lens.
That said, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that almost all of this game’s praise is coming from the people who are specifically trained to disassemble and analyze the inner mechanisms of a story… and almost all of the antagonism is made by... oh, how do I put this... casuals who in large part have no interest or experience in the art of storytelling (in addition to the YouTubers who’ve realized they can make some sweet ad revenue off the outrage).
And no, I'm not siding with the critics here because they affirm my enjoyment of this game. There are plenty of cases in which I agree with critical praise for pieces of art I personally don't like, my favorite example being "Persona 5". I went into "Persona 5" with an open mind genuinely believing I'd fall in love with it. The opposite happened. I couldn't connect or empathize with the characters for the life of me. I thought the gameplay was restrictive and repetitive. I didn't like the jazzy music style. I didn't like the minimalistic, toon-shaded art style. Suffice it to say I don't like "Persona 5". However, despite my personal opinions on "Persona 5", I'd be insane to dare insist it is a bad game. While they failed to click with me, the characters were fleshed out, rarely written with inconsistent behavior, and had a ton of rich dialogue. While it's not to this metalhead's taste, the snazzy music is competently composed and played. The gameplay features unique mechanics that were sturdily programmed (i.e., very few bugs/glitches). "Persona 5" deserved every 5/5, 10/10, 90%+ score it got because it is a well-crafted game. Anybody who's honest should be able to say the same for TLOU2, regardless of whether or not they personally enjoyed it.
It is worth mentioning that there is a certain sect of the internet, usually those from Factions 1 and 2 (or both), that insist there was an under-the-table quid pro quo that occurred between Sony and major game reviewers. As I do with every conspiracy theorist I encounter, I’ll simply quote the late Christopher Hitchens to these people: “that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
Let’s move on.

Part 2: Responding to Criticisms

"If I were to lose you, I would surely lose myself."
Joel's song at the beginning of the game foreshadows Ellie's spiral into darkness. The blackening of Ellie's personality over the course of the game was not bad or inconsistent writing, it was intentional and seamlessly executed. One of the first things that struck me as I played through the first few hours of the game was how consistent Ellie's dialogue was with the last game. As the game progresses, Ellie devolves into a restless, cold-blooded girl who is fixated on nothing but vengeance, even if that means throwing away a peaceful life. All of this culminates into one of the game's most important scenes, where Ellie finally realizes that her pursuit of revenge stripped her of everything she held dear–even herself.
A tragic hero at its finest.
I appreciated how TLOU2 starred a variety of characters that fall under the LGBT umbrella. Not only does it normalize LGBT people (which is good), it was also a refreshing change of pace that truly makes this game stand out. I also appreciated how TLOU2 had this sort of diversity without patronizingly pandering to these groups. TLOU2 treats every LGBT member of its cast as real people whose status doesn't make them exempt them from hardship. Dina and Ellie's disagreement is a component of this, for it is treated no differently than any straight couple's. They're not two lesbians who have a bitter end; they're two romantic partners who have a disagreement, which, believe it or not, happens to people in relationships. If Ellie were Elliot, the dynamic between him and Dina wouldn't have to be altered. That, friends, is how you write LGBT people: you don't treat them any differently than non-LGBT people!
I should briefly lay another one of my cards on the table: I approached Abby with an open mind, but also trepidation. Unexpectedly, she ended up becoming my favorite character from the franchise. What is discussed in my response to this particular criticism is part of the reason why.
Ellie and Abby are different people with different backgrounds. Unlike Ellie, Abby is a literal soldier who distinguished herself in the WLF as one of their top Seraphite killers. The result is a jaded girl who copes with trauma on an internal level; she bottles up her sorrows, seldom making them outwardly apparent. When her stoicism does slip, her insecurities usually escape in the form of snappishness2. No, this isn’t me desperately clawing to delegitimize this criticism. It is simply a fact that (and I hate to sound pretentious here) Abby is indeed a well-written but also complicated character that is difficult to read on a surface-level. Diagnosing her thoughts2,3,4, motivations5, reactions, and desires6 often requires a more attentive analysis, as they are rarely expressed in a straightforward manner (except in extraordinary circumstances). Here are some independent points that should paint a picture of what I mean:
2Abby: "Hey. Why have you been avoiding me?"
Mel: "I wasn't avoiding you."
Abby: "C'mon. You've barely said anything to me since Jackson."
Mel: "I don't know... I guess I was... Shook by Jackson too."
Abby: "You don't think Joel deserved what he got?"
Mel: "I think he deserved worse, I just... I just wish I didn't take part in it."
Abby: "I get it. What kind of person could do that, right?"
Mel: "I'm not saying that."
Abby: "Let's see if there's a way to the hatch."
Mel: "All right..."
This exchange from Seattle Day 1 more than suggests Abby has begun to internally acknowledge that the way she killed Joel was inhumanely brutal, and she’s already having second thoughts.
2. 3Since the player is not always directly told Abby’s thoughts, they are often relayed through dream sequences. Each of Abby’s dreams return her to the exact same hall in St. Mary's Hospital and end with her opening the door to the operating room where her father was murdered. The repetitiveness of these dreams communicates that Abby has never gotten over Jerry’s death, and it is constantly on her mind. This is further exemplified by her continued interest in collecting state quarters: one of the only connections she still has to her father. You'll notice, however, that Abby never speaks of this issue–not even to her friends. Compare this to Ellie, who is very open about her grief over the death of Joel.
3. 4At the end of Seattle Day 1, Abby finds Owen in the cabin cruiser at the aquarium. This is when Owen reveals his plan to travel to Santa Barbara to find the remaining Fireflies, a decision for which Abby chides Owen. We then get this exchange:
Abby: Sorry I grew up. You should try it.
Owen: Oh yeah? How do I do that, Abby? Should I go find the people who killed *my* family? Cut into 'em? I could torture them until they're crying in their own-"
Abby interrupts Owen violently, shoving him into the cabin’s walls. She does this because she knows what she did to Joel was cruel and perhaps unjustified, and she cannot bear to listen to Owen remind her of her monstrous actions. Their clash then shifts into a rough lovemaking session. This sex scene was not implemented arbitrarily; this is Abby trying to make the guilt go away. She’s desperate for any kind of temporary pleasure (like a night of coital bliss with the man she loves) that could distract her from her regrets. Unfortunately, this rash action ultimately exacerbates her guilt.
4. 5Abby’s motivations for returning to Yara and Lev are externally dubious. Some players may think Abby helped them out of pity or a sense of obligation since they saved her from being lynched. Mel suspects that Abby wanted to use the kids as a means to manipulatively gain the favor of Owen (who’d begun to grow sympathetic toward the Seraphites). In reality, it’s none of those things. Abby was motivated by a desire to cleanse herself of guilt. Guilt for animalistically torturing Joel to a degree that even made her friends uncomfortable2. Guilt for betraying Mel by sleeping with Owen. Guilt for not being there to save her father. The most beautiful part of Abby’s arc, I believe, is how these selfish motivations evolve into a fiercely protective fraternal love for Yara and Lev.
5. 6In the scene where Abby prepares to slice Dina’s throat, her enthusiastic “good” upon discovering that Dina was pregnant was born not out of sadism, but a grief-fueled desire for Hammurabian justice. This is a component of how she copes with losing her friend Mel, who was also pregnant. “Good”, in this instance, translates to: “oh, you killed my pregnant friend? Then I’ll kill your pregnant friend”. Lev, thankfully, pulls Abby out of her vengeful tunnel vision before she could follow through with the deed.
6. All of this is not to say Abby is 100% a hardened killer who never reacts to trauma in the moment; during gameplay, after you kill your first two Wolves as Abby, she is programmed to always exclaim: “oh shit… shit!” in a severely distressed tone. She is mortified that she is killing her own comrades to protect Lev.
Does this complex style of characterization make Abby difficult for many to empathize with? Probably. I can understand why many people are unreceptive to her semi-abrasive disposition, especially if they’ve already decided to hate her from the get-go. Is it impossible to empathize with her? Absolutely not, especially if you are willing to analyze her with an open mind. Does her polarizing depiction make her poorly written? Hell no. A well-written character is not always universally likable, and Abby is an exemplar of this. For her nuanced portrayal, subtle execution, endearing dynamic with Yara and Lev, and continued mercifulness toward Ellie, I think Abby is a remarkable (and woefully misunderstood) character.
While Ellie does hate Abby for killing Joel, she also hates Abby because she represents something Ellie has spent years wrestling with: what Joel did in Salt Lake City, an act for which Ellie has never forgiven Joel. It was never revealed to Ellie that Abby's quest to kill Joel was to avenge her father, so she has always operated under the notion that Abby and co. traveled to Jackson to avenge humanity, which had been robbed of its only chance at a cure. Thus, in Ellie's perspective, Abby is an agent of karma–the inevitable consequence of Joel's actions. Abby's very existence, to Ellie, is a reminder of how Joel took away her chance of making her life meaningful.
While drowning Abby, a glimpse of Joel strumming his guitar on his porch flashes through her mind. It isn't too long later in the game when it is revealed that this is a memory of the night Ellie makes her first conscious effort toward forgiving Joel for his selfishness. When Ellie releases Abby, this isn't her forgiving Abby; this is her forgiving Joel.
This particular criticism is so silly I almost consider it to tread in the “dishonest” territory. While TLOU2 is undoubtedly more violent than a bulk of its M-rated peers, it has most certainly not earned the crown of that category. Here is a fatality from “Mortal Kombat (2011)”, where Kung Lao drags his opponent crotch-first through a buzz saw until they’re sliced perfectly in half. Here is the first combat scene in “Bioshock: Infinite” where Booker DeWitt slams the face of a policeman into an operating Sky-Hook. Here is a scene from the beginning of “Resident Evil 2: Remake” where Elliot Edward’s hip is torn off his torso, entrails hanging out in all their glory. Here is a scene from “Spec Ops: The Line” where the player is revealed to have deployed white phosphorus on military relief efforts and civilians. For Satan’s sake, here is Joel getting his jaw torn off his face by a Bloater. This objection against TLOU2 is nothing more than a red herring that has been brought up and blown out of proportion for dishonest purposes. Since when were Gamers™ concerned about violence in video games? That’s the job of Karens and Republican politicians. If we take a step back from the outrage, we’ll see that the degree of violence portrayed in TLOU2 is not abnormal–if anything, it’s tamer than some of its contemporaries.
But even if TLOU2 were the most violent video game ever made, that has no bearing on whether or not the story is well-written. If anything, its exorbitant violence is justified since it actually serves a narrative and thematic purpose in this game, unlike the scenes I mentioned above (except “Spec-Ops: The Line”). In a story that focuses on the emotional consequences of horrendous acts the main characters perpetrate, violence is an excellent tool that adds stakes, highlights the ruthlessness of its world, and most importantly, shows the audience how traumatizing brutalization can be, which helps you empathize with distraught characters. If your stomach is too weak to handle this kind of violence, that’s fine, but it isn’t an objective mark against the game.
Frankly, I'm of the opinion that TLOU2 respects Joel by making him the most important figure in the entire game. Joel is at the center of everything. His morally gray legacy lives on in an adult Ellie, the privilege she gets to experience in her peaceful life with Dina, her pursuit of revenge, Abby's pursuit of revenge, and the continued misery the rest of the world faces with the Cordyceps fungus. Killing off a character is not always the end of that character’s role, and that’s especially the case with Joel. His presence, be it implicit or explicit, can be felt everywhere in the game. I believe this was an excellent way to handle a character as morally dubious as Joel. It wouldn’t be right if the story allowed him to live the rest of his life peacefully in Jackson–not after condemning humanity. Millions will continue to die and suffer because of what he did. However, it would also be cruel of the story to simply kill and leave him by the wayside. Selfish or not, he was still a grieving father who obeyed the urge to save the one he loved, something anyone can empathize with. Joel deserved death for his betrayal of humankind, but he did not deserve to be demonized. TLOU2, as demonstrated by the flashback sequences, treated Joel as anything but a villain.

Part 3: Criticisms From Yours Truly

It's time for me to lay down my shield and pick up my sword. Here we go!
A neat addition to the game was how human enemies call out to their fallen comrades by name. This humanizes the enemies and tremendously adds to the game’s exploration of the consequences of violence. However, this remarkable detail falls flat on its face thanks to one hiccup: names are repeated a lot. By the time Ellie killed her third Ashley, I was having a difficult time taking this detail seriously.
But that’s just a nit-pick. Time for me to break out the big guns. My biggest grievance with this game can be summed up in two words: Santa Barbara. Santa McFreaking Barbara. Like a malicious Cordyceps that hijacks the mind and distorts its host into something unrecognizable, the Santa Barbara segment takes TLOU2 and warps it until you have to keep reminding yourself you're playing the same game you were playing an hour ago. The characters it built. The message it built. The themes it built. It is all thrown out the window. Here's why:
1. The Rattlers and their portrayal betray the game's theme of ambiguous morality. The Rattlers are unapologetically sinister, what with how they enslave their captives with a degree of brutality that makes death preferable. They keep and taunt their captives even after they become mindless zombies, which is unjustifiably sadistic. They tie up and leave their misbehaving slaves to die in a macabre yard of decaying bodies that wouldn’t be out of place in the middle ages. Unlike the Seraphites or the WLF, both of which are shown to have sympathetic qualities, the Rattlers are blackened to the bone and indefensible. This results in the most explicit case of thematic inconsistency I've ever seen in any professionally-written story.
2. Finally, the worst offender: the time skip. While I felt a tense emotional investment in the Ellie vs. Abby fight in the theater, I felt the opposite during the Ellie vs. Abby fight on the coast of Santa Barbara, which was supposed to be the emotional peak of the story. Here's the difference between these two events:
-In the theater, I had a deep investment in both of the involved characters. I'd spent 25+ hours watching both girls brave the dangers of Seattle. I saw Ellie banter with Dina, cope with the trauma of losing Joel, discover a new type of infected, chase and beat the snot out of Nora, discover the Seraphites, kill Owen and Mel, and surrender to Abby to protect Tommy. I saw Abby's interpersonal drama with her WLF comrades, meet and bond with Yara and Lev, cross the bridges, descend deeper and deeper into the infected hotel, face the terrifying Rat King, refuse to move from Isaac's line of fire, and grieve after discovering her murdered loved ones. These were the characters I was with every step of the way as they seamlessly evolved during the trio of days in Seattle, and I wanted neither of them to get hurt by the end of it.
-On the shores of Santa Barbara, I didn't know who either character was. I guess Ellie helped Dina start a farmhouse and deliver a baby, dealt with chronic PTSD attacks, and shared a peaceful life with Dina and JJ on the farm, but I never saw any of that, so why should I care about the person these experiences made her into? I guess Abby had been enslaved, beaten, starved, and on the cusp of escape (only to be denied it), but I never saw any of that, so why should I care about the person these experiences made her into?
Whoever these new characters are, they're not the ones we spent the entire game getting to know. Those characters are long dead and gone, lost in the 1-2 years between Seattle Day 3 and the moment we first find Ellie in the farmhouse. As much as I hate to say it, the Santa Barbara segment, in only a mere hour, renders all the hours that came before it obsolete. Worthless. A waste of time.
This isn't me getting upset at the ending. I have no qualms with it at all. How we got there is where the issue lies. Is there a solution to this massive problem? Yes, and it's quite simple: time. It would've been worlds better if this game ended with Abby and Lev leaving the theater (preferably on this screen), which makes for a juicy cliff hanger that leads into Part III (which is probably inevitable with sales like these). If Part III was almost or entirely dedicated to fleshing out the Santa Barbara segment, I firmly believe these problems would cease to exist.
Time would allow us to marinate in the aftermath of Seattle. Maybe we get to see Ellie and Dina search for a farmhouse to claim. Get some sheep. Plant their crops. Dust up the house and make it a home. See Ellie's simultaneous terror and joy when JJ finally comes into their lives. See the ups and downs of Ellie and Dina's shared parenthood. In the meantime, packs of infected and wandering bandits are sure to spring up, providing the player with some stimulating combat as Ellie and Dina defend their new home and family. But in the meantime... Ellie wrestles with night terrors. She continues to see and hear Joel in his final hour. She sees Abby lurking in the theater, but she can't reach her weapon fast enough! The PTSD Ellie carries provides an undercurrent of negativity to her and Dina's otherwise peaceful life, and the pressure only builds over time. It makes her colder. Snappier. Maybe she even occasionally lashes out at Dina, only to quickly apologize afterward. But one day, Tommy pays his first visit in months, and he's brought a map and some information...
Time would allow us to see Abby and Lev's journey to Santa Barbara and their search for the Fireflies. Their big sister-little brother bond grows stronger in their adventures. They probably have lots of run-ins with the infected. A trader probably tips them off to the Rattlers in the area. When they're ambushed and kidnapped, Abby does everything in her power to resist their captors to make sure Lev isn't mistreated, as his transgender status likely puts him at considerable risk for abuse. Resistance is her initial instinct, but she quickly realizes that she can exchange her compliance for Lev's safety. So she works gruesome jobs for gruesome hours. Maybe after realizing how much leverage they have over this talented soldier, the Rattlers give her a weapon and force her to help hunt for escapees and unfortunate travelers (of course, if she turns her weapon against her captors, they'll make sure Lev faces a fate worse than death). After months, Abby finally builds up the confidence to stage an escape with Lev... but their operation fails. She is punished severely for her misconduct. She's starved. Tortured. Beaten. We see her spirit break, and her body emaciates until she is just as weak and helpless as the man she killed in Wyoming. She thinks of him and wonders if this was how he felt. Once the Rattlers are through with making an example out of her and Lev, they're strung up and left to die among dozens of corpses... until a familiar voice comes calling through the fog...
Unfortunately, as it exists now, the rushed nature of the Santa Barbara segment alienated the player from all of the characters involved-even Ellie, who the player is in control of throughout the entirety of the segment. Now, alienating an audience from characters via a time jump can certainly be used to great effect in some stories, but one such story is not this one. For 30ish hours, TLOU2 established itself as the kind of story that earned your investment through subtle character growth. What is the natural predator of incremental character growth? Time skips that gloss over major character-altering events. This was a disastrous decision on the writer's part, and it critically injures what I'd otherwise call a nigh flawless game.


Yes, my criticism of the Santa Barbara section was harsh, but it heartens me to remember it was only ~1.5 hours long. I wouldn't dare condemn the entire ~30-hour game for a fraction of a fraction of its content, especially not when the rest of it was as masterful as it was. A poorly paced ending does not make a story bad, and shame on anyone who thinks it does. It's about the journey, after all, not the destination, and by Satan was this an emotionally thrilling journey indeed. Excluding its ending, I’m glad to give it the highest praises I can offer. Unfortunately, due to a perfect storm of circumstances, this sequel may have cemented itself as the most controversial game ever made. I think that’s a crying shame because this is a great game that often goes where no game has gone before. It is one of the few games that not only challenged its players mechanically, but *mentally,* for it encouraged them to question their biases and see the reasons behind every seemingly evil action. It made giant steps forward for social progress, playing a part in making the world a better place for everyone. I sometimes fear the vitriolic reaction to this game may intimidate future screenwriters from making such bold decisions for their stories, and I believe that would ultimately hold the medium back from its fullest potential, particularly in the storytelling department. I have hope and a little bit of faith that this work of art will eventually stand the test of time, especially once the outrage simmers. Cheers to the developers for making such a wild ride, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
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A close examination of the story. Part 6: What did Jennifer REALLY want to learn from Red?

in this series I have been examining how the Blacklist's apparent narrative makes sense from a distance, but when examined closely it crumbles, likely because we are being fed a charade.
Most of the charades come from identity. For the part of the Real Raymond Reddington (part 4) and "Katarina Rostova" (part 3, part 2) it seems to stem from their not being real persons, but an alias, or a myth inhabited by many people. In the case of Fitch (part 5) is about what his real relationship to Red really was, and even the abduction of "Masha Rostova" (part 1) makes no sense when looked at closely.
At every turn, the characters and the events closely associated with the mythology seem to make little sense as the apparent narrative goes. Look into why would Red remain RR after getting the money from the banks and what is left has little to do with the apparent narrative. (The only plausible reason is to keep Carla and Jennifer Reddington in WITSEC by being a live criminal still to be prosecuted for treason among other crimes)
When we explore the events with logic, assuming the writers have a story whose beginning, ending and crucial points are set, and assume they write well the characters, what emerges is a fascinating story.
u/EddieV7 was asking about 5.22. What did Sutton Ross wanted, why would Jennifer be associated with Ross. But in order to understand 5.22 there is a lot to understand before. We must understand a character who, like Fakerina, seems all over the place.
Let us turn to Jennifer Reddington, or "Lillian May Roth". She was first mentioned in season 1 as the abandoned daughter, by name on season 2, and then she appeared on season 5. When we first meet her, she is this downtrodden woman, working at a bar, dependent on Ian Garvey for a weekly visit and a hug. There seems to be little joy in her life. A kind woman, who gives money to a drunk man to take a cab.
The most stunning moment of transformation comes in 5.22 when she emerges, smartly dressed, and with confidence galore, to show Liz a DNA report that identified the bag of bones as those of their father, the "Real Raymond Reddington", then they start investigating him, sending him to jail and the death sentence (which she toasts to enthusiastically) , and then she leaves so that she does not become "him".
She is all over the place: Afraid that Red would see her, angry at Red for the death of her mother and for Garvey's, toasting to sending Red to jail, convincing Liz to stay on the plan to send Red to jail, finding hacker friends, being a vulnerable young woman interceding for the life of a man who "saved" her. Desperate to get a clue, afraid of turning into Red.
But why? When a character appears all over the place, it generally means we do not understand their motivations. We are falling for a charade of their own.
So, let us examine what we KNOW of her, and try to separate facts from fiction.
DOM SAYS KATARINA SAID IN THE RASSVET TALE: She's nearly the same age as Masha. Jennifer's her name
What is curious to me, is that Dom mentions this on the tale.
CARLA: I don't know where Jennifer is. She knew you would come for her one day, and she left*. I don't know where she is.*
While Jennifer says the one who "walked" out of her life was her mother:
JENNIFER: I know what it's like to have somebody love me so much they would rather cut ties than see me hurt. My mom did that. And not by slinking out in the middle of the night, sitting me down when I was in college and patiently explaining how terrified she was of you, that one day you'd want back in my life, that you'd force her to tell you where I was. To protect me from that, from you, she walked out of my life.
Except that the official report (not worth much since likely Garvey helped her get a new identity and a new life) says Jennifer left:
I confirmed your daughter was placed in protective custody with her mother in 1990. The Marshal Service lost contact seven years ago. She is unaccounted for.
while the US Marshals seem to know where to find the former Mrs. Reddington, now married to Frank Hyland. Right there in Philadelphia, where she was placed in WITSEC.
Jennifer was in college, and if she is about Liz's age, she was finishing college then. We have 10 missing years in her life. We have no idea what she studied, and what she did in those 10 years. Is she an artist? A criminal? A forger? An actresss? A profiler? Where did she live and work during those missing 10 years, from 2007 until 2017?
Lillian May Roth. 35, worked here for two years. Before that, she lived in Virginia. Never married, no kids. Nothing.
She was shot twice coming out of her apartment. No one knows why.
I didn't even know she was dead until she'd been gone nearly a year.
Her husband finally tracked me down, told me some enemy of yours once kidnapped her, cut off her finger.
We can confirm seeing a grave in the snow. And the name on the gravestone is "Naomi Hyland".
BUT Red is the one who gave Naomi and Frank Hyland their new identity, papers, likely a residence and a car,
The arrangements have been made: passports, identities, a new life.
I have your papers. Dembe's outside. He'll need your signature on some of the documents. Frank is gonna pack the car.
Red cannot find them with these new names that Red gave them, or he would not need to ask Jennifer. It is likely Red gave them a residence as well as he did with Janet McNamara, and likely bank accounts, as he did with Emma:
There's a cabin in Vermont on Lake Champlain. Remote. Simple. Once you're settled, you'll open a bank account. Money will be transferred into it to cover expenses, Will's education.
Red also cannot find ANY death certificate, any police report (think he can get the mental health records of FBI profilers ) anything on the news related to that incident. A fatal shooting on the street in front of a residential building?
That means that death is a fake one. Can we trust Jennifer's account? Do we know if she believes this story? Is that gravestone a real one? or is it a plastic one half buried in the snow?
A clue that she knows the death is not real, but is the death of the identity "Naomi Hyland" is that she offers Red to take him "to Naomi", not to her mother.
JENNIFER: I can take you to Naomi.
We have a confirmation that something related to Naomi Hyland happened between 2017 and 2019 for Garvey goes from wanting to blackmail Red to wanting some whole truth. I suspect this has to do with the reason Naomi was hiding. Garvey did not seem to care for Liz AKA Masha Rostova, or for Tom Keen. His only interest was in Carla and Jennifer Reddington.
Jennifer was good about investigating things. Would she not have investigated this murder?
The fact that she knows about the finger and Berlin means at least she learned that from Frank, as she claimed to have done, but she could have learned it from Naomi herself. We only have the word of each other that they were not in contact. Before finding out that Naomi survived, it is likely Ian Garvey had believed her dead, if she had not communicated with Garvey in 2014 after being relocated by Red.
If Frank tracked her when Berlin could not, is likely to be because Naomi had left some instructions to reach her through Garvey. There is a very important indication that Garvey learned of this "death", in his change of objectives from 2017 to 2019.
Remember that circa 2017 Garvey gives Jennifer a new barebones identity, and Jennifer seems miserable at that bar. Also between the time when Garvey first learns of the CODIS match in 2017 and the time he dies, Garvey went from wanting to blackmail or control Red, to wanting to know a "whole truth", and the only thing that changed for him, is likely that he learned of the "death". We do not know if Garvey believed it or not, as he would also have the resources to investigate it further.
GARVEY IN 2017: Curiosity killed these cats, but for me, it's a gift that's gonna keep on giving. Whatever you imagine the answer might be, it's better than that. Reddington's power is legendary. With this, I control that power. You're going to set up a meeting between us so I can tell him the good news.

GARVEY IN 2019/20: Let's start with the truth.
RED: You have the bones. You already know the truth.
GARVEY: A truth. I want the whole truth.
That is the extent of what we know. Not much.
In this section, I will explore the aspects of Jennifer that relate to Red. What did she really wanted. There is a lot too in what she wants and learns from Liz, but that is the subject of another post.
So, when she sees Red at the bar, and she stands in front of Garvey, she knows:
When Jennifer and Red met at the bar, Red does not recognize Jennifer. She tells him who she is, and pleads for Ian's life:
Look at me. Anything? I'm your daughter. The one you abandoned 28 years ago on Christmas Eve.... Did you think of me at all? In my pink room, in my pink pajamas, waiting for Santa. When I went to sleep, my world was perfect, and when I woke up, it was destroyed. My daddy gone. Did he just leave? Was it an accident? We didn't know. All we knew was my daddy, my good, kind, and decent daddy was gone.
The way she identifies herself is telling. She is the abandoned daughter, means that she believes her father did not abandon his other daughter, Liz. That is an element of jealousy, like Liz feels jealous of Jennifer when she thinks Red is trying to track her down in season 2 (he was not):
Reddington is…. The bane of my existence. And yet, here he is, trying to reconnect with his daughter? Trying to find her? And I find myself feeling possessive. Possessive of him, jealous of the girl he's trying to protect. And if that's not embarrassing enough, that's exactly how he predicted I'd feel.
it also gives us a sense of the timing of events. RR disappeared. THEN the fabricated evidence surfaces:
And then come to find out you weren't good or kind or decent. You were a traitor.
THEN they go into what she calls "hiding" and in the restaurant she calls going into Witness Protection.
And we were sent into hiding. From you. From my father.
What we can gather from this is apparently Jennifer had grown up not knowing why they were in hiding. She had believed it was in fear of her father. But Jennifer already knows about the "death" of Naomi Hyland. She knows that the whole pretending to be afraid of Red is a charade, because Frank Hyland told her about the Berlin affair.
And I'm telling you this because if you are at all happy to see me, which I'm sure you're not, but if there's one shred of relief that I made it through this ordeal, it's because of Ian. He saved me. That's why I'm standing here, asking you, my father, to please save him.
Why does she think Red is not happy to see her? What does she think is happening? She already knows she was hiding for no reason, she knows Naomi was not afraid of Red, and that he protected her and gave them new identities. They are acting in concert, not against each other.
Her father abandoned her in 1990, and supposedly her mother abandoned her in 2007. No wonder she feels downtrodden and unwanted.
Garvey had told her that there was a reason for him becoming a criminal:
JENNIFER: I know about the Nash Syndicate, about Zarak Mosadek.
GARVEY: Whatever you've been told, there's an explanation for all of that.
and at the bar, Garvey tells Jennifer:
GARVEY: There's so much you need to know.... Everything you believed for the last 30 years has been a lie. You've spent a lifetime hiding for no reason.
So one way or another, Jennifer knows there is a giant lie somewhere. And has been there since they were hiding (30 years). She knows from Hyland's story that her mother was not afraid of this man who she believes to be her father. She knows she had been lied to. She also has to remember that Liz and Red had been linked when Liz was on the run.
The Director in 2015: ... they are based upon information provided by Raymond Reddington, a traitor to our country and a fugitive who is helping ex-FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen avoid arrest. The daughter of a notorious KGB spy, Keen is a wanted terrorist. My accusers are criminals, the subject of one of the largest manhunts ever conducted.
Jennifer knows Liz knows Liz is RR's daughter.
JENNIFER: Perhaps you've heard of him. His name's Raymond Reddington. He's been on the FBI's Most Wanted List for 20 years.
LIZ: You're Raymond Reddington's daughter?
JENNIFER: Why do you look so surprised?
LIZ: Because I am, too.
She has no reason to know that RR did not raise Liz, while he abandoned her. She does not know about Sam, that Liz grew up without either parent, or that she has no memories.
And she also hears that Liz is after uncovering a secret that Red has and Garvey knows:
GARVEY: Hear what I have to say about Reddington's little secret.
After Garvey dies and until she meets Red at the restaurant, Red has her under surveillance:
RED: Anything from Stav?
SMOKEY: Not in the last 10 minutes.
RED: He's on her person and her phone?
SMOKEY: Yes, and checking in more often than my mother before the cancer got her. If Jennifer visits Naomi or calls her, we'll know.
RED: Garvey must have had a death switch in place a way to get one of them the bag. We just need to find out what that is.
So, when did Jennifer received that bag? Was it really given to Sutton Ross? Or did Garvey left it for her somewhere, because there is one strange piece of dialogue:
LIZ: Did Garvey ever mention that duffel bag? Did he tell you where it might be? A locker? A storage unit?
JENNIFER: I-I don't know. Maybe.
Is it possible that when Jennifer suddenly decides to call Red, is because she already has the bag? In fact, could she have had it when Red came to her door? I would say YES. Because Reddington had Jennifer watched, and her phone intercepted.
What was her objective in that meeting?
JENNIFER: I can take you to Naomi.
RED: What changed?
JENNIFER: I have questions I need you to answer. I don't think you'll be honest unless properly motivated.
Can we trust that answer? That she is bargaining answers for taking him to her mother? She did take him to the cemetery, to Naomi Hyland's grave, so she must have got answers then, right?
Not so fast, note the wording. "I can take you to Naomi,", not "I can take you to my mother." Because if she knows that Naomi faked her death, or suspects it, she is not going to say she can take him to his mother. But that is perfect RedSpeak. It seems Ms. Roth (Roth means red) is pretty good herself at using clever turns of phrase and that Red, like the rest of us, falls for it when his emotions are involved.
Red tells her that he stumbled upon the cabal, and they tried to destroy him.
JENNIFER: How does you getting targeted by a scary group of people who think they rule the world explain why you abandoned us?
RED: You weren't abandoned. You were protected.
JENNIFER: Yes. So, you forget my ground rules, which is I take you to Naomi in exchange for honest answers.
This answer (that she was not abandoned but protected) is NOT what she is looking for. Why? But it speaks to her already knowing that she and her mother were not hiding from him. Apparently, the next one DOES the trick. WHY?
RED: In 1990, the KGB and the CIA had almost nothing in common except the mutual determination to hunt down one individual.... Being a fugitive from American law enforcement is a lot easier than being a fugitive from the two most powerful nations on Earth. And anyone close to a target of theirs becomes a target themselves....Especially family. Unless they're abandoned on the side of a road on Christmas Eve.
Jennifer apparently thinks this individual, chased by the KGB and the CIA is Red. But Red does not answer, he ignores the interruption.
WE know that it was Katarina who was the one chased by both CIA and KGB, not him. Jennifer seems to think this individual was Red. So, why would this be satisfying for her? Hearing that she was not abandoned by her father, but that the reason her father did not come back was to protect her and her mother from the cabal because HE was being chased by the CIA and the KGB?
JENNIFER: After you left, we went into Witness Protection.
Why does Jennifer thinks there were put in WITSEC? As a child I understand she would not question this placement, but as an adult? WITSEC comes from providing evidence or testimony.
Is THAT what she is trying to understand? Is that the reason why his answer is satisfying to her? Remember that supposedly, by then Jennifer knows her mother is dead, and that her mother was not afraid of him, that he had got her a new identity after the abduction by Berlin.
Red tell us that someone was being chased by the CIA and the KGB, Jennifer talks about being put in WITSEC.
Katarina fabricated the evidence, Carla Reddingon ends up in WITSEC.
Is this what she is trying to understand? Why were they in Witness Protection? Her mother lied TO her, told her she was terrified OF Raymond Reddington, did she also lied ABOUT Raymond Reddington?
But unless Carla had been lying to Red, it also means that her mother had not wanted to keep in touch with her. That after being abducted and given a a new identity, her mother had not reached out to Garvey and/o her. IF Carla was not lying. Maybe that was to protect Jennifer from ever being found by an enemy, but Jennifer may not know this.
We know Jennifer does not know everything, because she is asking questions. But at this point she knows her mother survived the kidnapping, even if she lost a finger, and that Red protected her and her husband, and based on her words (I can take you to NAOMI), she also knows the two shots are also a fake death.
But this line of questioning, is not really about her father. Is about her mother. Because she knows her father did NOT abandon her (put where the father would not find her), as she asks in the next one:
RED: Put where the Cabal wouldn't find you.
JENNIFER: Or my father.
Red is saying he did NOT know where they were (this is true, Red thought they were in Protective Custody, not WITSEC, Red had to read Carla's new name, and Red kept asking about where Jennifer was to Carla). Jennifer's questions means she knows that too.
RED: An effective, albeit excruciatingly painful solution.
JENNIFER: Effective?
RED: You survived, as did your mother, to whom I hope you are now willing to take me.
Red describes the solution in which he was kept away from Carla and Jennifer as "excruciatingly painful", which is a very telling thing. He loved Carla and Jennifer, but being away from them was not his choice, it was Carla's, who got herself and Jennifer into WITSEC, to stay hidden from someone (Red says the cabal) and be able to survive.
Jennifer may know that death was a fake (the use of the assumed name Naomi, not "my mother") but she does not know why, and it seems she wants answers as to WHY and HOW were they hiding:
The audience has a different POV from Jennifer's. If WE think NOW this answer seems satisfactory, about the reasons for the 'abandonment" being that a woman who used an identity of "Katarina Rostova" had to go on the run from the CIA and the KGB:
In 1990, the KGB and the CIA had almost nothing in common except the mutual determination to hunt down one individual.... Being a fugitive from American law enforcement is a lot easier than being a fugitive from the two most powerful nations on Earth. And anyone close to a target of theirs becomes a target themselves....Especially family. Unless they're abandoned on the side of a road on Christmas Eve.
We have to start questioning things. For Jennifer, she may know from the news that Liz was the daughter of a KGB spy, that Liz is the daughter of RR, and that she remembers Liz at the beach house, she might believe that Liz is the cause of all their problems. Her father abandoned her mother and her, but kept in touch with the daughter of the KGB spy. Her mother was lying to her about being scared of him, and was working with him. In Jennifer's POV, everyone is lying to her, and Garvey admitted he was a criminal for some reason.
But the most important question, one in which Jennifer was truly being honest, is the first question, one that Red, not knowing what she knew, did not understand:
Okay, here's a question Why am I here?
Red believes is because she wants to know why HE abandoned her,
You want to know why your father abandoned you.
but why was she really there? Because Red wanted those bones. It is extremely likely that Jennifer already had those bones, likely even when Red went to her house. Why was she there? Because Red wanted to keep those bones hidden from Liz.
For those who believe that the bones were those of RR, that seems a satisfactory answer, but for those who put trust in conversations written by Bokenkamp and Eisendrath themselves, such as this one:
DEMBE: Ross wants blood. He thinks you (RED) ruined his life.
RED: I didn't give Sutton Ross bogus plans for the Grayscape Seventeen.
DEMBE: But he thinks you (RED) did, and because of that, he wants to world to know what's inside the duffel. (a secret Red wants to keep)
it means that for sure, those remains would NOT be identified as those of RR, but likely a secret Red wants to keep from the world, and from Liz in particular.
We have other clues as to how Red believes those bones would be identified:
DEMBE WHEN FINDING THE BONES GONE: Raymond I'm not sure Elizabeth will ever be ready to learn about what you did to Katarina
and Dembe and Red think the bones are valuable enough to be sold at auction as the most valuable item, the last item:
SMOKEY: If what you're looking for is as valuable as you say, why why why why didn't they put it up for auction?
RED: I have no idea.
And there is only one thing we know is valuable as a set of bones: a confirmed death of Katarina. The bounty of the Townsend Directive, for those who bought in.
The issue is then, why would Jennifer ask this, if she knows whose bones are they? Because maybe she does not. Because in 1991, it is unlikely the bones would have been identifiable by DNA. Instead they would be by dental plates.
So, HOW were they identified through CODIS is what we should be asking ourselves, especially since what we know about the available DNA in CODIS precludes the apparent narrative that they were RR's:
LIZ: Who is this guy? He claims he's Reddington?
SAMAR:: Yes, and we can't disprove it with DNA because there's nothing on file from 1990 when Reddington disappeared.
COOPER: We confirm it's actually him?
RESSLER: It's him all right. Prints match.
And why would Ian Garvey, US Marshal assigned to Carla and Jennifer Reddington, placed in WITSEC after her husband was deemed a traitor with fabricated evidence, be the ONLY one notified of the match, which means Garvey was who introduced the DNA against which the match was made.
Which leaves us with two choices:
But the fundamental question Jennifer is asking is "why is she there?" Why was she being left those bones. Why does Red want those bones. Why did her mother lied to her about why were they hiding, and what is really going on? Why were Red and Carla playing this game? How did they ended up in WITSEC?
And what satisfies her is being told about the individual chased by the KGB and the CIA, a much harder job that being chased by US law enforcement. She seems to believe this individual was Red, but we know who was: Katarina.
But for Jennifer, she still thinks is Red. But she knows likely her mother faked her death, she knows Liz and Red are in contact, she knows she was lied to by her mother. She still believes she was abandoned.
I bet Jennifer is one angry woman. And that anger has one main target: Liz and Red.
submitted by TessaBissolli to TheBlackList [link] [comments]

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