Borderlands Part 11: The Firehawk

By Shamus
on Sep 28, 2017
Filed under:
Borderlands

For this next chapter, let’s imagine the world from Roland’s perspective:

Roland is in his base in Sanctuary. He’s heard some radio chatter about a badass vault hunter coming this way. He’s eager to meet this person, but he has to leave town to talk to Lilith and for some reason he doesn’t just call her on the ECHOnet. Sure, it’s apparently 100% insecure, but that doesn’t seem to stop everyone else from jabbering all their plans over the airwaves.

Anyway, he makes this recording:

“Hey soldier. If you’re hearing this, I’m in trouble. Right now you’re the only thing standing between this city – hell the whole planet – and Handsome Jack’s Army. I left info about my whereabouts in my safe. You can use it to store anything you need. This is your home now. Good luck.”

He drops this recording on his desk and leaves.

When you show up later and check the safe there’s a threatening message from the Firehawk, who has apparently kidnapped Roland. Firehawk says, “Come to [my base] or people will die.” The Firehawk is using a voice modulator to disguise their voice, which makes no sense. Everyone talks about how dangerous the Firehawk is and how Roland is probably dead if the Firehawk has captured him.

So apparently Roland had a message from his own kidnapper. Inside of his own safe. And before he was kidnapped, he somehow made a note urging you to listen to this recording.

This is just a disguise. The Firehawk isn`t actually a Jawa.

This is just a disguise. The Firehawk isn`t actually a Jawa.

This part of the game drives me completely crazy. See, one of the reasons I analyze games is because I have to. Once I see that something is wrong, it won’t stop bugging me until I dig down and find the problem. This plot feels like something is horribly wrong and broken, but once you get through it you’ll find all of the discrepancies will be accounted for. It’s like the opposite of fridge logic. It’s something doesn’t make sense until you overthink it later. But because it feels dumb and broken at the outset, it still makes my story alarm go off.

The quest has you go charging into the Firehawk’s lair (as luck would have it the place is under assault from bandits at the moment so you have someone to shoot) and when you get to the end you discover the Firehawk is actually Lilith from the last gameIf you pitch-shift the original recording from the Firehawk you can hear it really was Lilith’s voice..

What you learn along the way is that Sanctuary used to be inhabited by this gang of bandits called the BloodshotsNot that they would FIT. Currently their forces fill both the dam and Frostburn Canyon. And Lilith has presumably been killing them for months. I doubt that modest little Sanctuary put a dent in their housing problem when they were at full strength. I dunno. Maybe this is where the leader lived?. Roland kicked them out and made it into his base of operations for fighting Handsome Jack. Lilith kept the bandits busy while Roland fought the Hyperion Corporation.

She really knows how to make an entrance.

She really knows how to make an entrance.

So let’s go through these “plot holes”…

Why did Roland have a message from his kidnapper in his own safe?

The Firehawk didn’t kidnap Roland. The note is there to get you to seek out the Firehawk, nothing more. It’s a contingency plan. If Roland goes missing, he wants someone to make contact with Lilith so she can take over.

But why not just have a message that says, “If anything happens to me, go see the Firehawk”?

Roland and Lilith didn’t want anyone to know they were working together. They didn’t want Hyperion going after Lilith, and they didn’t want the Bloodshots harassing Sanctuary. (Not wildly successful, that last one.)

Okay but what’s the deal with giving herself a superhero name and using a voice modulator? It’s obvious that this was done so that her appearance could be a surprise for the player, but there’s no in-universe justification for doing it.

Actually there is. Sort of. Lilith faked her own death. It’s not really explained why she needed to do this, although there’s an optional side quest that reveals Handsome Jack wants to capture her. As we’ll learn later, he’s using a siren to “charge” the vault key. (We’ll get into that later.) Maybe he wanted a backup siren? Or maybe he wanted to double his key-charging throughput? Whatever. The point is, she wanted Hyperion to leave her alone, so she faked her own death.

I’m not sure that totally works, but fine. But that still doesn’t explain why her message was so threatening. “This is the Firehawk. Come to Frostburn Canyon or people will DIE!” That’s a really strange message, given the goal. Why not just say, “Hi. I’m the Firehawk. Come see me in Frostburn Canyon?” And why doesn’t Scooter know? He’s friends with both Lilith and Roland!

Again, you have to extrapolate, but it seems like Roland is worried about Hyperion taking the city, going through his stuff and torturing information out of everyone.

This is a really complicated plot by the standards of the series. And as far as I can tell, all of this backstory gymnastics is just there to justify the surprise reveal when you meet Lilith. It’s a cool moment to be sure, but I don’t know that it’s worth going through such a convoluted setup.

Firehawk

Firehawk is hella OP nerf plz

Firehawk is hella OP nerf plz

The writer has given Lilith a new magic siren power: She can now teleport things and people. This will become important later in the story. In the meantime, they recognize that this will become a giant plot hole if they don’t address it now. So Lilith tries to teleport the player to their next objective. She messes up, and the player only moves about ten meters.

So teleporting people is exhausting for Lilith, it costs her eridium to try it, and she’s not very accurate and can easily send you somewhere random. This is a good enough excuse for why she can’t just zap you past all of the annoying doors you’ll run into in the coming chapters. I appreciate that the storyteller took the time to clarify this instead of just waving their hand, “Bah. It’s a comedy game. It doesn’t need to make sense.”

Bloodshot Stronghold

The Bloodshots live inside this dam. You have to fight through the interior, then cross the top. It`s a long trip.

The Bloodshots live inside this dam. You have to fight through the interior, then cross the top. It`s a long trip.

The Firehawk didn’t kidnap Roland, but he was kidnapped. The Bloodshots nabbed him. Instead of killing him, they’re trying to collect the bounty from Hyperion.

You have to do some quests to gain entry to their stronghold, then blast your way through their sprawling complex in the dam to get to where they’re holding Roland. As you go, you hear the Bloodshots trying to collect the bounty for Roland. They keep negotiating their price down and Hyperion never replies. Just as you arrive at where Roland is being held, Hyperion shows up and kidnaps Roland from his kidnappers.

“And that’s how Hyperion pays ransoms!” Handsome Jack laughs as Roland is taken away.

Dude, it’s not a ransom. It’s a bounty. That you posted. Dumbass. You even announced it in the first chapter of the game that you’d pay $1 million for whoever could kill the player, and added that you were still offering a reward for Roland. Presumably, the reward for Roland (who has been harassing Hyperion for months) would be much larger than the reward for the player, who hadn’t actually accomplished anything yet.

Roland is kidnapped while already being held prisoner. Here a robot is grabbing him with glowing chain-shaped tractor beams or whatever.

Roland is kidnapped while already being held prisoner. Here a robot is grabbing him with glowing chain-shaped tractor beams or whatever.

Jack is an outrageous, over-the-top cartoon villain, but he’s also kind of grounded by having a lot of the faults and shortcomings of your typical real-world tyrant. He’s got tons of wealth and power relative to the local populace, which means he can easily crush whoever he wants to. He then thinks that this makes him a military genius. He calls all of his foes bandits – even ones that do not engage in banditry and are in fact victims of same – so he can feel good about killing them. It feels like PR at first, but after a few conversations with him it’s clear he’s bought into his own hype and really does see his butchery as heroism.

His move here at the dam is obviously stupid. Why post a bounty and then kill the people who bring in the target? Hyperion has trillions. The Bloodshots were asking for just a few million. Roland is the biggest threat to the company plans. There’s no reason to refuse to pay such a small fee for such an incredible benefit except for foolish pride and bloodlust on Jack’s part. Heck, the robots and other war material that he spends stealing Roland are probably worth many times the “ransom” the Bloodshots were asking.

No sane person is going to try to collect on any Hyperion bountiesThere’s a sidequest later in the game where the player can collect on a Hyperion bounty for bandits, but I would NOT list the player character as a “sane person”. in the future. Which means he’s just made things harder on himself in the long term for no benefit in the short term.

The difference between Jack’s stupid machinations and your typical bad guy machinations is that this story doesn’t expect you to be impressed with Jack’s moves. Acting on pride and emotion are faults that are integrated into his character, and not an oversight on the part of a writer out of their depth.

This is one of the things that makes him so fun to hate. He thinks he’s genius with a plan to save the world, but we can see he’s an incompetent jackass with a plan to exploit the world for his own glory. He thinks he’s witty, but he’s actually just an obnoxious dick. (His lines are funny to the player, but the humor comes from laughing AT him. As in: Can you believe this idiot thinks he’s being clever? It’s like, “What if an internet troll had control of an army?”) He does monumentally evil shit, carefully rationalizes it to himself, and then folds that rationalization to the fiction he’s building about who he is. He’s a blazing narcissist who lacks all notion of self-awareness.

I don’t know that we’ve ever had a villain like him before in games. He’s this ridiculous cartoon character and yet sometimes he feels more real and more human than the likes of The illusive Man, Comstock, Hiram Burrows, and Hugh DarrowIllusive Man is from Mass effect series. Comstock is the Villain of BioShock Infinite. Burrows is the villain of Dishonored. Darrow is from Deus Ex: Human Revolution.. His villainy is shaped by all of these personality flaws, and they make him very fun to hate.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] If you pitch-shift the original recording from the Firehawk you can hear it really was Lilith’s voice.

[2] Not that they would FIT. Currently their forces fill both the dam and Frostburn Canyon. And Lilith has presumably been killing them for months. I doubt that modest little Sanctuary put a dent in their housing problem when they were at full strength. I dunno. Maybe this is where the leader lived?

[3] There’s a sidequest later in the game where the player can collect on a Hyperion bounty for bandits, but I would NOT list the player character as a “sane person”.

[4] Illusive Man is from Mass effect series. Comstock is the Villain of BioShock Infinite. Burrows is the villain of Dishonored. Darrow is from Deus Ex: Human Revolution.


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From the Archives:

  1. PoignardAzur says:

    Oh come on, Hiram Burrows is a pretty good villain. I mean, you can tell that the writer wasn’t going for “subtle” when he was designed, but otherwise, he has a pretty good thing going on.

    His evil plan made sense: he spread the plague because fuck poor people, he disagreed with how the Empress was handling it (and, fair enough, she was fucking it up), so he killed her both to apply his reforms and to cover his tracks; Corvo made a convenient scapegoat.

    He’s a villain driven by clear flaws (he’s narcissistic and paranoid), and a clear motive: after he spread the pest, he’s desperately trying to cover his ass while he’s losing all control of the situation he put himself into.

    Not the best video game villain (not even the best Dishonored villain), but still way cooler than The Illusive Man or Comstock.

  2. topazwolf says:

    I always had the feeling at this point in the game Jack isn’t taking any of it seriously. He doesn’t really care about you or Roland. While you are annoying in some ways he’s content to merely watch in between his actual important activities. This is pretty much all a game and he treats it as such.

    Worth noting: From the Pre-Sequel it becomes clear that he has reasons to want to do away with Roland and Lilith (especially Lilith) that aren’t really tied into what’s going on in the game.

  3. Darren says:

    I really like your analysis of Handsome Jack. One further detail I’d add: you spend a lot of time listening to him. Most video game villains are set at kind of a remove from the player–often, but not always, to bestow mystique–whereas Jack is nattering away at you within the first hour or so of play and never really backs off.

    Looking at your list of comparisons, in Bioshock Infinite you learn a lot about Comstock, but you have almost no interaction with him. The Illusive Man is supposed to be a shadowy figure, and we never really learn much about him beyond his motivations. Hiram Burrows suffers from Dishonored’s general desire to rush through setup and get to the game; he gets about 60 seconds of screentime in the beginning to establish why you would want to go after him, and that’s the last you see of him on a personal level until the mission to kill him. Hugh Darrow is barely present in Deus Ex, and while you learn a little about him from reading things, he’s not foregrounded and parts of his scheme–notably that weird human-computer hybrid–just isn’t given much screentime.

    So I think that many games have weak villains because they don’t want to put in the time in to make them interesting. As a counterpoint, I’ve been playing a lot of JRPGs lately, and I’ve noticed that they seem to be better about this. Partly it’s just through the sheer length that they tend to be, but they also like to have their villains assume crazy forms at the end of the game, and for that to land as anything more than the art team going nuts they have to spend some time explaining to the player why they should give a rat’s ass.

    • PoignardAzur says:

      Dishonored 2 handles this pretty well.

      While you still have the rushed intro (which has its pros and its cons), the game still familiarizes you with both Delilah and the Duke through various means: your Void dreams, the Delilah statue in the museum mission, the Duke’s radio announcement, the flashback of Delilah’s return, etc. (same thing for Pablo and the Howlers, and arguably Doctor Hypatia and the Crown Killer)

      By the time you meet the Duke in particular, you have a pretty good idea of what kind of person he is, what motivates him, and hopefully a lot of cause to want this son of a bitch to pay for his arrogance and his crimes against Serkonos’ people.

    • BlueHorus says:

      Speaking of JRPGs, I remember Final Fantasy VI as having good villains. They weren’t complex by any stretch, but that worked in their favor. Motivations should be clear first, complex second.
      And here it was ‘conquer the world for power’ until it turned into ‘destroy the world because I hate everything/for the shits and giggles’. It was clearly presented and even a bit fun.

      I remember, just before the final boss battle, the cast are all standing in a line to declare they’re going to fight the bad guy and win because of love, and the power of friendship, and for the children, and all the other saccharine nonsense you get in a JRPG.
      And Kefka just screams “SHUT UP! YOU ALL SOUND LIKE A SELF-HELP BOOK! This self-righteous bullcrap is why I wanted to destroy the world in the first place!!!!!”
      Then he starts firing laser beams at random.

      I grok you, Kefka. This stuff annoys me too. I feel bad that the game wants me to kill you; I think I like you more than anyone else in the cast.

      • That…that was a transcendent moment for me when I first played the original SNES FFIII version. My insufferably cynical teenage ass was eye rolling through that spiel the protags were giving Kefka and the entire time I’m thinking in my head, “You guys sound like a Stuart Smalley skit!”

        And then he says the line.

        For a full five minutes I was on the floor gasping for air between bouts of laughter I hadn’t reached since sneaking an HBO late night viewing of Robin Williams: Live at the Roxy.

      • Grudgeal says:

        Kefka was actually an anomaly up to that point in Final Fantasy games. He was the first final villain that interacted with the party regularly and had repeated on-screen appearances for most of the game before becoming the final villain. Most final villains in Final Fantasy games up to that point only showed up in act 2 at the earliest, or were this looming overhanging thread that you had to defeat as a final boss but never saw before you had to punch them.

        And people responded very well to Kefka being present all the time. So the precedent for why Cloud’s backstory is so tied in with Sephiroth in FFVII, and why Kuja gets introduced as Zidane’s “evil mirror” fairly early on in FFIX, and why Seymour Hiney shows up so much to be smug at you in FFX, was set by Kefka.

        His cool leitmotif also helped of course.

        • BlueHorus says:

          Wish they’d copied Kefka’s simple, comprehensible motivations for all those other characters.
          The number of times I wanted to reach into those games, grab the bad guy (loads of characters, actually) and start slapping them repeatedly while shouting at them to finish their damn sentences and explain what the hell is going on…
          In fact, I wish they’d copied the simple, comprehensible story from the earlier games full stop.
          Cliche Done Well > Pretentious Nonsense.

          Side Note: I also wish Seymour Hiney was that character’s actual name. Campy puns would have greatly increased my enjoyment of FFX.

        • FelBlood says:

          I must disagree. Garland, Exodus/Exdeath, and The Dark Emperor of Palamecia were all established very early in their games.

          Garland doesn’t do much between the first quest and the final bossfight, and the game is kind of counting on the player having forgotten about him entirely to make that reveal work. However by making him the man behind the Four Fiends, it retroactively makes the whole game about him, except for that time wasting chapter about sailing to from Corneria to Elf Land, and then doing jack-all of importance there.

          • Syal says:

            I must disagree with your disagreement. Those three are better established than Dark Cloud or Zemus but are still very light or late. Garland shows up early but is not clearly established as a major villain and dies every time he appears. The Emperor is established early but doesn’t make an appearance until the halfway point and dies in his second appearance. Exdeath doesn’t get established or show up until Act 2 begins (and the Void, which I think gets co-credit, doesn’t get established until Act 3).

  4. BlueHorus says:

    So, Firehawk is working with Roland but doesn’t want to show it. But then Roland gets kidnapped.
    Meanwhile there’s a player character who’s popped up, who is obvioulsy competent and probably an ally against Hansome Jack – but she’s not sure. So she goes to Roland’s house after he’s kidnapped, breaks into his safe, takes whatever information he left in there out and replacea it with something that will lead the player to her – all without revealing that she’s Roland’s ally.
    When the player finally meets her, she’s decided to trust them, so gives up the illusion of not working with Roland and so talks to them.

    Makes sense to me – but then again I haven’t played the game, so whadda I know.

    Handsome Jack sounds like he was done really well. So many games try to get you to take their dumb, nonsensical villains seriously, and it’s really damaging to the story – The Illusive Man and Father Comstock are prime examples.
    To (roughly) quote Yahtzee Crowshaw: “I lost interest in Comstock around the time he was ranting over the tannoy about how his carpet of black and irish people should be greatful he hadn’t stepped in dogshit recently…Andrew Ryan wouldn’t have let this clown run a toilet.”

    More games willing to mock the cliches that your usual bad guys are forced into would be great.
    “I see the hero is here. Quick, send our least competent mooks at them in waves! Not enough to kill them, just enough to toughen them up. When he’s used to that, we’ll send in the slightly harder mooks! Mwahahahahaha!”
    “Sir, why don’t we send the toughest mooks we’ve got first? That’ll ensure-”
    “Silence, fool!”

    • Phil says:

      It has been a while, but is the message from Firehawk actually targetted at the player? I always had the impression that it was a message for/to Roland, and that he knew it meant something important, which is why he left the PC the message and put that one in the safe.
      Is there exposition later that says Lilith made it for us?

      • Ultrapotassium says:

        That’s the impression I got as well when playing the game. Lilith wants to see Roland again, but isn’t very good at just saying it (as she later demonstrates). Her solution is to send a message saying that “people will die” if Roland doesn’t come. To keep up appearances, Roland goes along with it.

    • Limeaide says:

      Sidenote, but I don’t actually think “gradual mook escalation” is necessarily that illogical a move. It makes sense that the bad guy wouldn’t send out his toughest mooks first; the hero has yet to establish themselves as a major threat and sending your best men to deal with some plucky youngster with a thirst for adventure is just an irresponsible use of resources. It’s only as the hero fails to be stopped by the weak dudes that you send in the elites, and when they inevitably die too you continue to escalate things until you’re mobilising your entire artillery division to eliminate one target because shit, if this doesn’t stop the bastard nothing will.

      • Awetugiw says:

        Also, the main reason why the mook escalation is a bad idea is that the player gains XP from it, and therefore becomes more powerful very quickly. Unless the villain is very genre savvy, there is not much reason for them to think that you will gain power in this way.

        • Matt Downie says:

          Reminds me of Yahtzee’s “Level down RPG” concept. You start off as a young and healthy adventurer, but gradually build up injuries, getting weaker the more battles you fight. By the time you face the final boss, you can barely walk. The challenge of the game escalates without needing to face increasingly powerful foes.

          Is that more realistic than the traditional D&D approach?

          • Awetugiw says:

            Whether that is more realistic depends on the timescale, I suppose. In the short run, you are likely to be weakened by the mooks; you might get injured or at least tired. If the mooks have better weapons than you do then you might power up by taking their weapons, but that only gets you so far.

            In the long run, it could go either way. If you take serious injuries you will get weaker. But experience is a real thing, so if you don’t get injured you should get a bit more powerful over time. The unrealistic thing about RPGs is the speed at which you gain power, and the total amount of power that you gain.

            In the very long run, of course, old age will get you and you will become weaker.

          • WarlockOfOz says:

            Sword & Sworcery.
            Fantastic game, not a RPG but your character is far more fragile at the end of the game than the start.

          • Galad says:

            Has there been a game with that sort of RPG system made before?

            • Agammamon says:

              Early DnD had some of this – your character aged and that reduced attributes making you weaker.

              That was compensated through leveling and henchmen – back in the days when henchmen were important. Especially for Fighters who don’t gain physical power as fast as mages. At the end you were supposed to be a middle-aged dude with a castle, sword on the mantlepiece, and a couple hundred dudes to go out and do the fighting for you.

            • Michael says:

              The Warcraft 3 expansion comes to mind. The Arthas missions see him losing levels as the game progresses.

              D&D (at least up until 3.5 edition) had some of this, with increasing stat penalties once your character aged past adult.

              Arguably, this is an element with some survival horror games, where resources start to run out late game. Particularly true if you’re backtracking through the same areas repeatedly and the game doesn’t restock those areas for you. (STALKER has some elements of this.) Actually, the original Stalker had a heavy entropic sub-theme. Where if you were fighting, you’d actually come out of combat weaker (with less resources, and gear that had deteriorated from use). Though, if you were fighting human opponents you could usually recover most of those losses, if you took the time to loot.

              • Friend of Dragons says:

                I was recently just playing Stalker, and I was noticing a pretty strong sort of double-eged snowball effect. If you’re doing well, have a gun with good mods, ammo, and decent armor, you can make any encounter, especially with human foes, very profitable by dispatching enemies with headshots and using a minimum of ammo and healing items. You’ll easily be able to haul enough loot to shops to upgrade, and become more dangerous and more capable of tuning foes into money with minimum fuss.

                On the flip side, if you’re stuggling a little– you gun is jamming, your armor is broken, you’re out of your main ammo, etc. the game starts to show its fangs. each fight costs more of your remaining ammo, your gun degrades further, your stock of healing items dwindles down to nothing, until all you want is to get out of the mess you’re in, and there’s always another pack of horrible dog-monsters between you and safety. And even when you make it out, you’re easily out more cash on repairs and restocking than what you brought back.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            I always thought that idea would work great for a superman video game,where you start of as a superhero badass that can juggle buildings,but due to kryptonite poisoning you slowly start losing your powers one by one.

          • Alex says:

            It’s less fun than the traditional D&D approach. The player should not feel like they’re being punished for playing the game.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Not every game is about fun*,and not everyone plays games just for fun.Papers please being the prime example of this.So a game doing the reverse leveling can work,and be just as good,or even better,than one with regular leveling.

              *At least not in the common,traditional meaning of fun.

            • BlueHorus says:

              If it was well done, I’d play the hell out of a story-driven game about constant, wearing, self-sacrifice, where the further you get, the less power you have – but that’s the only way to keep going/help people. Partly just for the difference value, but it would really depend on the quality of the writing.

              A lot of games with the traditional increasing power levels lose my interest after a bit.
              I could work out this enemies’ weakness and tailor my attacks to them…but it’s easier to just spam my most powerful attack while chugging mana potions.
              Hey, when did this game get so boring?

            • Decius says:

              Done right, it is a gradual change of the game from being the guy who does all the dirty work to the guy who tells people what dirty work to be done.

              I think a Shadowrun game based around the PC being a retired runner who became a fixer would be interesting. Pick which jobs and runners you want to succeed, which ones you want to fail, and figure out how to offer jobs, information, and rewards to runners in the way that brings about the macro-level changes you want.

          • It’s not an RPG with levels’n’XP’n’stuff, but Sid Meier’s Pirates! has your character gradually age and become less nimble (and possibly weaker?) with time as he ages – although once you hit “40-ish” you stop aging and become perpetually middle-aged. Means that beating the bad guy is very annoying because he’s stupid quick in duels. (I gave up after a bit because duels designed for a numberpad are super annoying when played on a small laptop k/b that doesn’t have a numpad.)

        • BlueHorus says:

          Well, I’d happily take a Genre Savvy villain over a cliche’d moron who’s backed up by bad writing.

          Bad guys in games are very often forced into actions that are pretty stupid or nonsensical, because of the demands of it being a game; from Gradual Mook Escalation to Boring Monologues to Idiotic Taunting.
          (I’ve killed/overcome everything you’ve sent at me, blown up your base and you’re STILL telling me I’m useless and you’ll win? What the hell is wrong with you?)
          Usually they’re saved by Cutscene Stupidity or other forms of lazy writing.

          Handsome Jack sounds like he doesn’t fall into that trap, which is good. I really wish he wasn’t so rare.

          • Francis-Olivier says:

            Thing about handsome Jack is that he does exactly that sort of thing throught the whole game but that’s the point of the joke and his whole character. Although there’s that one bit I heard that came out of nowhere but I haven’t seen it myself so I can’t quite tell you how bad it is.

          • Scerro says:

            Jack does do exactly what you said though – he taunts you and underestimates you the whole time. However, he’s entertaining and human enough while he does it. He does have really good reason to be overconfident, but when the tides finally turn, he does get serious and not just at the very very end.

            The most human part is to me is after the nature reserve part. Jack tries to play an instrument or something to taunt the player, and screws it up. It’s a joke that you try to pull off without the proper preparation, and goes awry. And it’s so human. It’s not just scripted normality which was a good break from what we had seen of him before.

            Jack would have been an incredibly boring character if the series was straightforward and took itself seriously.

  5. Chad Mercer says:

    Typos:

    I left info about my whereabouts in my safe.

    And why doesn’t Scooter know? He’s friends with both Lilith and Roland!

  6. Drew says:

    This is also the quest with my favorite Marcus echo recordings:

    Echo 1:
    “Dear [Roland,] I can’t help but notice the [Bloodshots] you are fighting pack some seeeeerious firepower. If you are going to have a chance against them, you’ll need to up your arsenal – you could always arm your men with some high-quality munitions from my store. If you buy from me, those [Bloodshots] will be dead in no time!”

    Echo 2:
    “Dear [Bloodshots,] I can’t help but notice the [Crimson Raiders] you are fighting pack some seeeeerious firepower. If you are going to have a chance against them, you’ll need to up your arsenal – you could always arm your men with some high-quality munitions from my store. If you buy from me, those [Crimson Raiders] will be dead in no time!”

    It always cracks me up.

  7. Jabrwock says:

    Jack reminds me Cave Johnson. Super driven, but not entirely sure of what he’s doing, and thinks anything he does is the best because otherwise he’d have to admit he’s a failure. And just powerful enough that he can pull crap like petty vendettas.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      What do you mean by admit failure?What you think of as failure is just an exploration of alternative progression paths.Only a brilliant man such as cave johnson would be brilliant enough to attempt such a bold and brilliant action.

  8. Paul Spooner says:

    No “more” tag, whole article is on the front page.

    Neat to find out about this dogged internal consistency, beneath the goofy comic slapstick manslaughter.

  9. Aevylmar says:

    I didn’t mind the whole “introduction to the Firehawk” bit, for a variety of reasons.

    Basically – how much privacy is there in Sanctuary? Tannis is just downstairs in Roland’s HQ, and there’s a balcony, and people wandering around in the street behind it. My assumption is that Roland would have trouble being sure he wasn’t overheard. “Three people can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” Considering just how criminal the average person in Sanctuary is, Roland doesn’t want the information getting out.

    Lilith, for obvious reasons (she has ludicrous superpowers and you want to conceal your resources from the enemy) is faking her death. So when she gets in touch with Roland, she does so by sending him cryptic coded messages, such that anyone who overhears them will fail to realize that she’s Lilith and will think she’s some other person.

    How I interpreted it, he got her message, went, “I should go see her!,” made a recording, and on the way there got kidnapped by the Bloodshots.

    I still had a problem with Roland immediately admitting you to his inner circle because you’re a PC, but that’s kind of inevitable in this sort of game, and frankly, who else is he going to put in charge? But that aside, I thought it worked.

  10. Syal says:

    It’s like the opposite of fridge logic.

    TVTropes calls it Fridge Brilliance.

    • Kasper says:

      Well, I guess i’ll be back in an hour. Thanks!

    • Joshua says:

      Eh, not the same thing? Fridge Brilliance is when something didn’t make sense when you viewed it, but then made sense afterwards when you thought about it a bit.

      I think what Shamus is talking about is when something feels off, like there’s bad writing, because you’re *supposed* to feel that something is off, and you’re later proved correct while still watching/reading the medium . The way that you feel from seeing Sixth Sense, Fight Club, Jacob’s Ladder or similar movies (YMMV).

      Fridge Brilliance would be something more like Taxi Driver, where the ending doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and then you realize (or find out) it was all just a delusion in his head, even though the movie doesn’t explicitly tell you so.

  11. Binary Toast says:

    You know, I’d always thought the bandits were the ones that named her Firehawk. There’s that one audio log in the canyon, went something like:
    “Our scout came back from his morning patrol exactly as he usually did, except he was on FIRE. As we circled around, preparing to divvy up his loot, he screamed with his dying breath; FIREHAWK!”

    …Why do I remember these things?

  12. Aevylmar says:

    … And, on a different note, one of my favorite things about Jack is that he is, in fact, smart. (“Tales from the Borderlands” establishes this really well, but I think Borderlands 2 makes it clear that he got to the top by politicking and murdering better than everyone else at Hyperion.) He’s also really stupid. This is not unusual; most of the smart people I know are also stupid, sometimes. But thanks to his absolute power, Jack has reached the point where there is absolutely nobody who can tell him, “This is a stupid idea,” so none of his plans ever go under a second pair of eyes before they’re executed. As a result, he has a mix of actually good ideas, good ideas poorly implemented, and terrible ideas – and, honestly, I don’t think he can tell the difference. His ego totally dominates his actions; like real-world tyrants, he actually has gone mad (delusional) with power.

  13. DavidJCobb says:

    40 comments. (Forty is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order.)

    And here I thought the articles were the most educational thing on the site. :P

  14. Reed says:

    Please don’t give us lines like:

    “What if an internet troll had control of an army?”

    …in a forum where politics is verboten.

    There’s only so hard a person can bite his tongue…

  15. Zak McKracken says:

    I’ve been reading this blog for quite a few years now, and this is the first instance ever where I see Shamus analyse a plot and find that it is even more thought out than even Shamus would casually think it though. This is amazing.

    It also proves that it is indeed possible to make a game with a thought-out story. A lot of commentary and analysis on this site had led me to believe that this kind of thing was incredibly hard to accomplish and thus all games would simply fail, and there’s not much you can do about it except either focus on story exclusively or not have one.

    This post makes me quite hopeful.

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