Borderlands Part 10: More Characters

By Shamus
on Sep 21, 2017
Filed under:
Borderlands

Since the city of Sanctuary is the only real town in the game, the developers were able to pack it full of interesting details and a large cast of characters. You get a few quests as you enter town that will steer you into meeting these people.

Sir Hammerlock

Trivia: This voice actor also does the (english) voice of Kyoya Ootori from Ouran High School Host Club, and Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist. This role is... not like those other two.

Trivia: This voice actor also does the (english) voice of Kyoya Ootori from Ouran High School Host Club, and Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist. This role is... not like those other two.

Technically we met Sir Hammerlock during the previous chapter, but I was too busy complaining about pacing to introduce him. He is both a zoologist and a big game hunter, which is kind of like being a marine biologist and a whale hunter. Sure you can be both of those things at the same time, but people generally… aren’t. But this underscores two important points:

  1. The wildlife on Pandora is crazy dangerous, to the point where a zoologist has to be able to slay creatures just to do his job.
  2. Everyone on this planet is a little crazy, even the scientists. No, especially the scientists.

He’s one of my favorite characters in the series and I’m always glad when one of his ridiculous jobs of questionable scientific merit comes up.

Dr. Zed

Don`t feel bad about the patient, he`s a bad guy or whatever.

Don`t feel bad about the patient, he`s a bad guy or whatever.

Zed is a character built around one joke: He’s a doctor who somehow lost his medical license on a crazy lawless world where murder is about as scandalous as flipping someone off in traffic. The joke is the sheer absurdity of this situation: Who is in charge of medical licenses out in this anarchic wasteland? What could he have possibly done that would be severe enough to have his license revoked? Who would possibly care enough to punish him if he continued to practice medicine without one? Why does he maintain a clinic if he’s not allowed to practice medicine, and why do people go to it?

Marcus

It`s not his refund policy that`s the problem, it`s his trade-in prices. He`s basically the Gamestop of firearms.

It`s not his refund policy that`s the problem, it`s his trade-in prices. He`s basically the Gamestop of firearms.

Marcus is a strange one. He narrates the introduction movies. He runs all the gun vending machines. He’s portrayed as this grubby amoral businessman. And since he’s a weapons merchant on a lawless world of violence and will sell weapons to anyone, I guess that’s a fair appraisal.

In the first game Marcus kept calling up the player every few hours and asking if they could be “partners” once the vault was opened. The gist is that he was going to help the player sell whatever treasure they found. Eventually he started assuming you’d accepted his offer. It felt like some sort of plot was being developed, but the whole idea was quietly dropped before the end of the game.

There was also a conversation where he confided that crazy-pants Tannis hadn’t used the commerce grid in years, meaning he had no idea how she was getting supplies. Since she lived all alone in a wasteland full of danger, this seemed to imply that she was getting supplies from some unknown party. This plot thread also didn’t go anywhere.

Now he’s just the voice of the vending machines and occasional bestower of sidequests.

Crazy Earl

WHATCHU WANT?

WHATCHU WANT?

Earl was a crazy recluse who gave nonsense quests in Borderlands 1. This time around, he’s running the “Black Market”, where he sells inventory upgrades. Sometimes you’ll get a few chunks of eridium as rare drops, and sometimes you’ll get a few as a quest reward. You can give them to Crazy earl to expand your carrying capacity for different ammo typesThis is actually really important. As you go up in level, guns tend to consume more bullets and your field excursions tend to last longer. I tried to skip these upgrades once, and found that I was constantly starved for bullets and forced to switch to my less-powerful weapons..

This is the perfect use for Earl. It ensures there’s always an excuse to keep this beloved character around in future games, and it lets us have interactions with him without needing to awkwardly work his antics into the main plot.

“Since I’m protecting him, why doesn’t Earl give me these much-needed upgrades for free? Where does he get this stuff? And what’s he doing with all this eridium, anyway?”

The answer, of course, is, “Get lost, jerkwad!”

The Fate of Helena Pierce

As you listen to the audiologs in the quest, you discover that Pierce was riding a train through the snowy wastes. I wanted to do a "Snowpiercer" joke here, but I couldn`t make it work.

As you listen to the audiologs in the quest, you discover that Pierce was riding a train through the snowy wastes. I wanted to do a "Snowpiercer" joke here, but I couldn`t make it work.

Let’s talk about a character who isn’t in this game, despite the fact that she was a prominent character in Borderlands 1. Pierce was the narrator in the original grim-n-gritty trailer for Borderlands 1 and the administrator of the only real town in the game.

It turns out Handsome Jack killed her in the gap between Borderlands 1 and 2, and had a laugh while doing it. For me, Pierce was always a symbol for the original, much darker version of the game. I’ve always assumed that she was a central character in Dark Borderlands, and was sidelined once her design began to clash with the new tone. Her dialog was always serious, and her disfigured face hinted at a past that was brutal in a not-funny way.

I’m sure the writer killed her off as a way of tying up loose threads from the previous game (while also building up our villain) but I’ve also sort of viewed this quest as Borderlands 2 shedding the last of the leftover baggage from Dark Borderlands. Shep Sanders is forgotten. Lucky is dead. The bleak characters are all gone, the strange tonal dissonance is resolved, and the series is now committed to action comedy.

Well, all except for one last holdout…

Patricia Tannis

Saying random nonsense is SO crazy!

Saying random nonsense is SO crazy!

The Borderlands 2 writing is a huge improvement over the writing in Borderlands 1. The tone is more consistent, player action is better justified, the plot exists, the villain is properly establishedPerhaps even overly established?, the jokes are both more frequent and more consistent, the stakes are better conveyed, and the characters are more vibrant. It’s better in every way… except for how Patricia Tannis is handled.

Tannis is the last of the ugly seams between Dark Borderlands and the Borderlands we got. She’s an odd one because she’s a (present day) goofy character with a (backstory) of dark misery. She can’t really be written out of the story as easily as the others, since she’s more or less in charge of all vault study and exposition.

This new take on Tannis doesn’t work for me. I get that the previous version of Tannis was a mixed bag. Sometimes she was roughly sane and sometimes she was nutty. Most of her humor was based on confusingly constructed sentences. In the first game she’s got a line that goes something like:

“They took the artifact from me and killed my dog, which is the third and final piece of the vault key.”

It wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but it was kind of amusing and it basically worked. Here in the sequel I have no idea what they’re doing with her. When we meet her in Borderlands 2, we find her recording the following message for Roland:

“As I’ve said Roland, now that Jack has the vault key it’s only a matter of time until he opens the vault. Also, I require a new ventilator. This lab smells of bacon. Bacon is for sycophants and products of incest.”

I realize I’m coming dangerously close to reviewing individual jokes, and there’s no way that argument can go my way. But I don’t actually see a joke there. It’s strange, yes. But it comes off like chef random dialog. And that line is supposed to be her big introduction to the audience?

Also, her character is wildly inconsistent. One bit establishes her as terrified of people to the point of paralysis, but other times she’s more than happy to talk. There’s quest text that refers to her as “an introvert with Aspergers” and neither of those things describes her in any way, much less act as defining attributes.

I have no idea what the writer was trying to do with this character, but unless their goal was “confuse the audience” then I don’t think it worked.

It’s not that this hurts the game or anything. Tannis is just here to explain the various space magic conceits to us and we have very few interactions with her. I’m not bringing this up because it’s a big deal, I’m bringing it up because it’s really curious. What happened to this character and why was she handled so differently from the others?

Roland

The only thing Roland hates more than Handsome Jack is the way people around him are always making "Turret Syndrome" jokes.

The only thing Roland hates more than Handsome Jack is the way people around him are always making "Turret Syndrome" jokes.

Roland has a new voice actor, a new accent, and a new personality. In Borderlands 1 he was Mr. Enthusiasm. He was always excited to shoot a guy, level up, or even just get into a car. Here in the sequel he’s got a low voice and he’s stoic, stiff, and awkward.

If I had to guess, I’d say the real world leaked into his design. Everyone referred to Roland as “the boring one” because he didn’t have space magic powers, he didn’t have a killer bird, and he wasn’t a seven foot tall pillar of angry muscle that could punch bandits into red mist. He was just a guy with a gun who could sometimes summon another gun. He seemed a little pedestrian compared to his more fantastical teammates. But then somehow his reputation as “the one with the boring powers” became”the one with the boring personality”.

Maybe his personality changed because they couldn’t get the original voice actor to reprise the role and they figured it was easier to just re-cast and re-writeBorderlands 1 was his last role.? I don’t know. On the upside, he’s paradoxically a lot funnier now that he’s more boring. When the other three Borderlands 1 alumni arrive in the story later on, his social awkwardness will make for a lot of fun dialog with them.

Scooter

CATCH-A-PHRASE!

CATCH-A-PHRASE!

I strongly suspect that Scooter’s original design was inspired by Cooter from the Dukes of Hazzard. Yes, he’s just a round face with automotive grease and a trucker cap, which isn’t exactly a design that jumps off the page. But combined with the accent, the background, and the name similarity, it really does seem like Scooter is either an homage, a reference, or a rip-off. I mean, just look at Cooter:

Click to see a clip of Cooter in Dukes of Hazzard

Click to see a clip of Cooter in Dukes of Hazzard

In the first game he was an uncouth mechanic that pinged a few redneck stereotypes. He was dim and didn’t seem to be particularly gifted.

Here in the sequel his redneck shtick has been cranked up to 11 and he’s a mechanical savant that can hotwire a long-dormant spaceship to make a city fly.

When you finally get into Sanctuary, Angel gives you a really important line of dialog. She explains that Sanctuary was built atop (or from) an old Dahl mining ship of the same name. However, you must stop in the courtyard just as you enter the city if you want to hear this. If you just keep jogging towards the current waypoint marker then Scooter’s introduction will start and you’ll never hear the line about the city being partly made of spaceship. This is an awful line to miss, since later on Scooter makes the city fly and this is the only dialog to explain why that isn’t ridiculous and random.

Sanctuary does not look like a spaceship. It’s made of concrete and there aren’t any spaceship-looking parts aroundAside from the big hunk of metal in the center of town. But that doesn’t look like part of a spaceship so much as modern art.. It’s got a paved road leading to it and it seems to have things like concrete sidewalks and other non-spaceship parts. There’s nothing to visually hint that this was ever anything like a spaceship. Scooter is a car mechanic, so having him make a giant city of pavement and concrete fly without explanation is just too outlandish, even for a world as crazy as this one.

As far as I know, this is the only place in the entire game where someone explains that Sanctuary was built out of a Dahl spaceship, and you must stop in this courtyard to hear it.

As far as I know, this is the only place in the entire game where someone explains that Sanctuary was built out of a Dahl spaceship, and you must stop in this courtyard to hear it.

This is a really minor complaint, but it would be easy to fix. The Angel line should trigger without fail, and Scooter ought to follow up with a reminder so we do a kind of rule of three thing. I bring this up because the rest of the story is usually really good about this kind of stuff. I wonder if somewhere on the cutting room floor is a line from Scooter explaining the origins of the city, and that line was left out or forgotten for some reason? This section is actually pretty thick with people talking as you crisscross the city on errands, and perhaps this important bit of exposition was left out to leave more room for his jokes about incest and bloodshed.

The problem right now is that Roland is missing. He was supposed to meet us here in Sanctuary, but he went out on an errandThere’s a sidequest where you collect audiologs that reveals he was stopping by to visit Lilith. and never came back. For some reason, Scooter thinks the thing to do is make the city flyTo be fair, Roland came up with this plan himself, as a contingency for a situation where he went missing. I give him credit for thinking really far ahead, but then his plan doesn’t make a lot of sense so it sort of cancels out.. I’m not sure how that was going to help. If Roland came back he’d be stuck on the ground, looking into the crater where his city used to be and wondering how to get home. Meanwhile, everyone else would be stuck in the city with no leader, no plan, and no way to get groceries. Great. Your city is flying. What now, dumbasses?

So it’s perhaps for the best that Scooter can’t get the city to fly just yet.

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Footnotes:

[1] This is actually really important. As you go up in level, guns tend to consume more bullets and your field excursions tend to last longer. I tried to skip these upgrades once, and found that I was constantly starved for bullets and forced to switch to my less-powerful weapons.

[2] Perhaps even overly established?

[3] Borderlands 1 was his last role.

[4] Aside from the big hunk of metal in the center of town. But that doesn’t look like part of a spaceship so much as modern art.

[5] There’s a sidequest where you collect audiologs that reveals he was stopping by to visit Lilith.

[6] To be fair, Roland came up with this plan himself, as a contingency for a situation where he went missing. I give him credit for thinking really far ahead, but then his plan doesn’t make a lot of sense so it sort of cancels out.


2020242 comments. (Insert played-out "meaning of life, the universe and everything" joke here.)

From the Archives:

  1. Flux Casey says:

    Shep Sanders isn’t quite forgotten in 2. He’s revealed as the one who betrayed New Haven. Brick decides that for this transgression (and the fact that it indirectly led to the murder of his puppy), Shep needs to be killed. A lot. Like, a lot a lot. So yeah, not present due to a severe case of being beaten into paste by a Slab (heh) of raw muscle, but certainly not forgotten.

  2. MichaelGC says:

    He is both a zoologist and a big game hunter, which is kind of like being a marine biologist and a whale hunter.

    Oh wow – I just had a hazy childhood flashback which required some digging to establish it was to the Willard Price series of Adventure novels, where a young boy and his even younger brother would travel the world seeking out endangered species so that they could … capture them for their father’s collection. They really put the ‘zoo’ in ‘zoology’.

    And these two reckless environmental vandals were absolutely and emphatically presented as the Good Guys. It was a simpler different stupid time.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willard_Price%27s_Adventure_series

    Oh wow – and they were called Hal & Roger Hunt. I only just got that. We see what yer did, there, Willard…

    • Zak McKracken says:

      That’s actually how zoos started happening, and that’s also how zoology started happening.

      The first few generations of zoologists were people who hunted animals and had them stuffed.
      It was generally accepted that a trophy hunter was hunting the animals he admired, out of admiration.
      And I remember reading somewhere (don’t remember where that was, sorry) about some ornithologist who was incredibly happy that he was personally able to shoot the last specimen of some type of bird on some pacific island, so he could add it to his collection of stuffed rare birds. The whole idea that nature was something to be preserved and not conquered had not really entered the public’s consciousness.

      …which I can understand in some ways, as not too long ago, nature was also the main thing trying to kill you…

      • Kamica says:

        Not to mention the prevailing Christian ideas of the natural world being made for humans, thus belonging to humans.

      • Dev Null says:

        Compared to the beginnings of archaeology, early zoologists were practically saints. Early archaeology frequently literally involved people tooling up to a ruin with a picnic and a box of dynamite, lobbing TNT through the door, and carting any remaining intact pieces home to set on the mantlepiece – or if you were very lucky, back to the British Museum.

        • Munkki says:

          Yeah, and there are – sadly enough – reasons for that as well; without going into too much depth the gist is that very few people cared, relative to the number of ruins available. I mean treasure hunters did damage sites that other people probably wouldn’t have touched, but in their real heyday there were other people out there using antiquities sites for landfill and construction materials. Which there is evidence for stretching back into antiquity itself, because of practical concerns; it just got progressively easier and cheaper to do over the last few centuries.

  3. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    I don’t remember the line about Sanctuary being build from a space ship, and I always thought that Scooter somehow jury rigged the town to fly from old parts. That seemed fitting with the over the top tone of the game.

  4. Awetugiw says:

    The interesting thing is that Tannis’ backstory isn’t really that much darker than a lot of the things that happen in BL2. The difference lies in how the tragedy is presented.

    Tiny Tina’s story, for example, is pretty grim. But it is presented as comedy. Not only does this presentation make the tragedy fit into the world better, but, to me at least, the contrast between the content and presentation made the story much more emotionally resonant.

  5. Grudgeal says:

    To be fair, zoology is mostly about the study of animals in the individual physiology and genetics sense (studying entire populations, their ancestry and their environmental effects is more the domain of ecology).

    Up until very recently, the best way to study an animal involved killing and dissecting it. Darwin brought a whole bunch of dead animals with him from the Galapagos (and plants, insects and rocks, given that his expertise was geology and entemology), because not all of them could be kept alive for the trip.

  6. Darren says:

    I kind of like Tannis. Her monologue about falling in love with a chair who was “tortured” and “killed” by Handsome Jack manages to be extremely heart-rending despite being about, you know, a chair.

  7. Lachlan the Sane says:

    The Ctrl+Alt+Delete link is broken. I think that this is the comic you meant to link to: http://cad-comic.com/comic/the-rainbow-goes-smoosh/

  8. Abnaxis says:

    I very much disagree with your evaluation of Tannis, and I think by extension I think your assertion that BL2 is “less dark and gritty,” is way off the mark.

    Virtually every piece of BL2 is permeated with this idea that below the crazy zany antics, lies a dark and gritty and shitty world. There’s the town where nobody can leave their house because they’re all infected with space-black-lung, all while the uncaring corporation that inflicted them with it and won’t treat them blares absurd corporate policy and bylines over the loudspeakers. There’s the little girl who sends you on a quest to gather cutlery and guests for her tea party (isn’t she zany and fun?) just before she gleefully electrocutes one of those guests for murdering her parents (wait what?). And don’t even get me started on the Firehawk quest–that shit gets DARK fast.

    Pandora is presented as a place where absolutely everyone has been through hell, and the sane ones are the ones who just ignore the misery and continue to crack jokes, make merry, and unremosefully murder all the kooky ones who didn’t have the mental fortitude to continue to exist in society (this is what bandits are). There is always mayhem and jokes and fun, but there is also this ever-present undercurrent of darkness that is easy to overlook if you just want to focus on the jokes and the zany personalities.

    This is why I think Tannis works extremely well–better than Hammerlock in my opinion–and partly why I think she doesn’t resonate for you. I mean, the particular joke you mentioned just didn’t reach you (your reaction is supposed to be “WHO HAS THIS ATTITUDE TOWARD BACON CLEARLY THIS WOMAN IS DISTURBED.” I lol’d), but also you’re really resonating with the funny, kooky slapstick Pandora.

    I, on the other hand, see the Cards Against Humanity, dark, holy-shit-that-is-really-messed-up-but-still-funny Pandora in every corner, and Tannis is a part of that. In fact, Hammerlock is one of my least favorite characters because he never really fit into the dark world for me–though even he tried, with his whole “limbs got eaten by a monster” schtick, it just didn’t ring true–and I suspect a lot of our evaluations for the “good” versus “bad” characters and themes would be similarly opposed.

    The point you’re working up is that Borderlands started as this grimdark world with gruff voices and serious business but from the rewrite of the first game has been trying to separate itself from those origins. I would argue that the grimdark has never left, nor have the developers been trying to get rid of it, but rather they’ve got much, much better at integrating it with the rest of the world.

    • Nessus says:

      This. This is how I always perceived it as well: a thin candy colored layer of “conventional” zaniness atop a whole huge cake of black humor.

      Case in point: the Scooter thing I always remember is the sidequest he gives you to deliver a love note to a woman in town. Apon learning that Scooter has an eye for her, she freaks out and [i]immediately commits suicide[/i]. Apparently Scooter has a rep, to put it lightly. I was actually kind of surprised Shamus didn’t mention that, given how he dwells on Tannis’s “darkness”.

      And there’s all the little stories about assorted horrifying shit Jack’s done, which he gleefully recounts in the course of [i]trying to tell you he’s the “good guy”[/i].

      • Echo Tango says:

        Tales From The Borderlands, is almost complete zane, with a few dark moments sprinkled in here and there (not really even black humor, just some somber moments). I never played the pre-sequel, so I don’t know what the tone of that one was, but the series has definitely wasn’t consistent.

        • Fade2Gray says:

          I’m not sure Tales is a good example here since it was made by a completely different dev studio.

          The Pre-Sequel still had it’s dark moments, a lot of the background stuff with Jenny Springs could be pretty dark, but I don’t remember there being as much as in BL2. I think Abnaxis is right about the darker undercurrents of BL2, but I also think Shamus is right about the general direction the series has been heading in.

      • Ani-kun says:

        And there’s all the little stories about assorted horrifying shit Jack’s done, which he gleefully recounts in the course of [i]trying to tell you he’s the “good guy”

        The audio logs at the animal preserve. Pretty much don’t need to say more there, that was some dark shit.

      • Hector says:

        Echo(net) that.

        I do not understand how Shamus can possibly say that Borderlands is “shedding bleakness”* when BL2 is on the bleakest of black comedy scales.This is a world where horrible things have to be played for as much laughter as possible given how unbelievably nightmarish things are. Otherwise it would be too unpleasant to actually play. But yeah, this is a world where everybody we know has endured a truly awful life. Probably the least unfortunate example is Brick, who had his adorable pet puppy killed in front of him purely for the malicious cruelty of it.

        *Quote marks for summarization of an idea, not to imply this is a direct quotation from the article or from Shamus.

    • I don’t disagree with you per se, but it ultimately didn’t work for me because if I’m going dig past the superficial zaniness to find the tragedy, I have to do a very precise amount of digging where I go only and exactly one layer down. Because my next question is “If Pandora is such hell, why is anyone even alive? How can there possibly be nothing but bandits on this planet? Beyond just what do they eat, who is productive in any way on this planet?” I can dig one layer down, but then I ram into a hard bedrock floor.

      I can create an absolutely horrifying sci-fi tragedy if the revival stations are in fact canon and work for everybody, and the answer to the question of “who is doing anything productive” is “nobody”. Why is everyone a violent psychopath? Everyone’s starving all the time, but when they die of starvation they get callously revived just to die again. The only hope of food is to kill someone and stuff them in your mouth as quickly as possible, which is why there are so many cannibals around. Pandora’s a living hell because it’s actually a living hell. However, the revival stations are explicitly not canon and the writer is on the record as regretting giving them voices and even writing them into one quest and that they are video game affordances and not canon, so that doesn’t work. (Unless I just headcanon it, though, honestly, this actually overshoots how horrible Pandora is presented as being.)

      • Echo Tango says:

        I think they’re explicitly canon in Tales From The Borderlands, but I don’t know if that game itself counts or not. :)

      • Aevylmar says:

        My assumption was that food and whatnot was digitized, or whatever else the handwave is for how a Catch-A-Ride station can still produce more giant trucks, no matter how many I blow up. Pandora is technologically a post-scarcity society, but because of wildlife, madness, evil alien artifacts, and the doomed-ness of the world, everyone is too busy pointing guns at each other to sit back and enjoy the wealth. Instead they just use it to blow each other up.

        • Exasperation says:

          There’s actually a fair amount of mention of where food comes from in the games. Offhand:
          Corporations that have workers mining, etc. will ship supplies from off-world (this also addresses the “who is doing anything productive here” question; Pandora is – or was – mineral-rich enough to have wars fought over it, even before the discovery of the Vault, and is now the equivalent of a gold rush town after the gold rush ended).
          Some of the indigenous species are (varying degrees of) edible.
          Food CAN be digistructed (presumably not for free since other methods are still in use) – I forget whether it’s BL1 or BL2, but the first vehicle you get in one of the games comes with a pimento taco (technically food) in the glove compartment.
          There are farms (or the remains thereof) in evidence.
          Some inhabitants resort to cannibalism.

          • Hector says:

            A Pimentaco!

            Actually, what’s really weird about that… is that Gearbox didn’t try to turn it into some obnoxious recurring meme or repeated the joke until it became unfunny. It’s just a one-time gag. It still somehow catches me off-guard.

      • Awetugiw says:

        I’m not sure that the tragedy in Borderlands is really “in a level below” the zaniness. It is not necessary to think things through in order to realize that BL has some very dark aspects. In fact, I would consider both of them to be on the surface level since, as you mentioned, neither the comedy nor the tragedy of Borderlands can really withstand scrutiny.

        I think it is more a case of dissonance. It is a bit like someone who listens to Re: Your Brains for the first time. They might take a few moments to notice that despite the relatively happy music the lyrics are about having your brains eaten. Still, I would not say that the brain-eating is a deeper layer of the song.

        I should, by the way, stress that dissonance is not always a bad thing. Whether it is tonal dissonance in a piece of music, thematic dissonance like in Borderlands and Re: Your Brains or ludonarrative dissonance, as long as the authors know what they are doing the dissonance can improve the work.

        This is also why I really like BL2 but don’t care much about BL1 and the pre-sequel: in my opinion, BL2 uses the dissonance almost perfectly, while the others don’t. YMMV, of course.

        • Michael says:

          BLPS was interesting for how the humor was off the mark. Humor, in general, is incredibly contextual, and somewhere in the transition to an Australian dev team, the weirdness of Borderlands got seriously warped.

          You can see where the dev team was trying to keep the tone, while cracking jokes that made sense to them, and the result was… peculiar.

      • Michael says:

        Probably worth remembering that Pandora isn’t the only habitable world in the setting. So, however bad things are there, it’s not a universal truth. IIRC, the only playable Pandora natives are Krieg, Salvador, and (maybe) Nisha (I honestly can’t remember).

    • Jeff says:

      Huh. I’ve always liked Hammerlock because he was pretty chill, but you’ve just perfectly explained why it felt like he never really fit in – even for his own DLC.

  9. Russ says:

    There is actually at least one more way to discover that Sanctuary was a spaceship- a side quest you can go through later in the game (once sanctuary is flying) that takes you into the caverns that were underneath the city. I think you can trigger it by talking to Hammerlock once you get back to sky-Sanctuary.

    During the quest, you recover some audiologs from the captain and crew of the Dahl Corporation’s Sanctuary mining vessel, explaining why they landed the ship there and why they never took off again.

    • Mintskittle says:

      Marcus will send you down there to recover a chest of “personal items” that fell off the ship when it took off. The chest landed on Blue, the large crystal creature that the head miner befriended, and you have to kill to recover the chests’ contents.

  10. Nessus says:

    I never got the impression that Zed lost his medical license from any authority on Pandora. After all, there is no authority on Pandora.

    My impression was always that he lost his license with whatever agency governs the greater galaxy (or whatever planet he’s from), and he came to Pandora because it was a place he could still earn a living without a license. Or he came to or got sent to Pandora for other reasons, and ended up making a niche for himself as a “doctor” because no one was in a position to care he was unlicensed (or to report him).

    • Fade2Gray says:

      Yeah. The idea that he had somehow lost his licence on Pandora never occurred to me either. I always figured it was meant to highlight how lawless and desperate Pandora is that the best doctor they have, the one who’s face is plastered all over every medical vending machine, is a man who lost his medical licence in the civilized galaxy. That he ended up fitting in so well on Pandora just highlighted this fact.

    • Destrustor says:

      I always thought he never even had a license in the first place, and that the joke was that Pandorans are so desperate for a doctor that they’ll take anyone, even the rando that keeps mentioning how he isn’t a licensed professional.

      He always seems to be bumbling his way through the profession, demonstrating both an attitude of “i don’t freaking know, why’re ya asking me” and a mild lack of knowing what the hell he’s doing.

      It’s like he either lied to get the job, figuring it couldn’t be that hard; or got it assigned to him by other people and went “okay I guess.”
      By virtue of doing it for so long, he’s managed to get somewhat competent at it, but that seems to have been mostly through brute-force trial-and-error, as evidenced by the way he’s almost always surrounded by horribly mutilated corpses.

    • Theo says:

      I think I recall that during his intro in Borderlands, he either states outright or strongly implies that, since he’s lost his licence, you won’t be able to rely on him for medical assistance, but luckily there are these vending machines you can use instead. So I definitely shared the impression Shamus has that he does not currently practice medicine, and I always wondered what was stopping him.

      Now, how seriously we should really take a sort-of throwaway line in the first Borderlands, I don’t know.

  11. Galad says:

    Wow, in all my ~170 hours of playing BL2, never did I wonder why/how Sanctuary could fly. Not sure what that says about me, but it’s probably not pretty. =X

  12. Alexander says:

    There was also a conversation where he confided that crazy-pants Tannis hadn’t used the commerce grid in years, meaning he had no idea how she was getting supplies. Since she lived all alone in a wasteland full of danger, this seemed to imply that she was getting supplies from some unknown party. This plot thread also didn’t go anywhere.

    This was meant as a hint that Tannis was being supplied by Atlas under the table. The place that it goes is her being directly linked to Atlas.

    • Francis-Olivier says:

      Holy shit you’re right. Clever. Although it probably could have been stated clearer for idiots like me. I’ve always took it as her using what supplies she managed to keep from her days as a Dalh employee. How the hell would she have managed to keep those supplies on a planet filled with banditry mind you I have no idea.

    • Spurdo Sparde says:

      Additionally, while you’re running around Old Haven shooting Atlas goons, Tannis has a line about how something is going to be dangerous, but not for her, because she’s “safe sipping a nice Chamomile”. That was foreshadowing, not a throwaway line; how did she get Chamomile tea on Pandora? It was part of the bribe package Atlas gave her.

  13. `Retsam says:

    Trivia: This voice actor also does the (english) voice of Kyoya Ootori from Ouran High School Host Club, and Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist. This role is… not like those other two.

    Looked this up, saw that it was J. Michael Tatum and thought “Whoa, how did I not know that Scar’s voice actor was the same actor as Okabe from Steins;Gate?”. Then, looked closer and realized that he only plays Scar in the Fullmetal Alchemist remake, Brotherhood, which I’m still only a handful of episodes into.

    But, apparently Scar’s actor from the original series is the same voice actor as Handsome Jack. So Borderlands 2 has two voice actors who have played the same character in the past, which is somewhat entertaining.

  14. Kalil says:

    I’ve also sort of viewed this quest as Borderlands 2 shedding the last of the leftover baggage from Dark Borderlands. Shep Sanders is forgotten. Lucky is dead. The bleak characters are all gone, the strange tonal dissonance is resolved, and the series is now committed to action comedy.

    They made me kill Bloodwing! How is this not bleak tonal dissonance?

  15. Redrock says:

    interestingly enough, I never heard Angel’s line about the Dahl ship, but I still wasn’t too annoyed by the whole flying city thing. Maybe it’s because by then Final Fantasy has trivialized the concept for me. You hear “Sanctuary”, “defense mechanisms” and the first thing that pops into your brain is “yeah, this thing is probably mobile”. But the fact that the line is so easily missable is probably an oversight.

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