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Author Topic: [MAJOR SPOILERS] My fridge horror moment for Blackwell Epiphany…  (Read 5205 times)

Offline tariqk

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Reference for title: TV Tropes. In order to prevent people from getting snared into that time-sink, here's the summary:

Quote
Fridge Horror is, simply put, when something becomes terrifying after the fact. Maybe you thought about this or that plot point a little too hard, and suddenly you realize that everyone was trapped in stasis forever, or that the lovable child will grow up in a world where everyone around her is dead. This can be either intentional or unintentional by the author.

Fridge Horror comes in two flavors:

Frozen-By-Time: As a young one, you are too young to comprehend the Nightmare Fuel right before your eyes, but as an older person, you immediately wonder how you got through it unscarred.

Quickthaw: The Nightmare Fuel isn't there until you take a good, long, deep thought and think about it.

FWIW, this was the second variety of Fridge Horror. After the ending, I just sat down and thought about it, and… all of this.

Okay, a couple of caveats before I start: what with real-life commitments and how I've got my machines set up right now, I didn't have the time nor the opportunity to actually play the games: case in point, I was literally stuck in the first phase of Gemini Rue for over three years not because I found the puzzles to hard to solve, but, well, the last time I opened the game was, uh, three years ago.

So I've been relying on a lot of Let's Play videos on YouTube. And, um, I'm here to speak about the ending of Blackwell Epiphany, which bothered me so much that I ended up making a forum account because I had no one else to talk to about it elsewhere. Because, uh, oh my god? I actually understand the narrative reasons for ending the series that way, because, yeah, it makes sense, but 1) how dare you, Gilbert, you play with our hearts like they are toys and 2) uh, has anyone noticed this, uh, world-building issue?

Okay, um. I guess it goes without saying that the spoilers here don't just apply to Blackwell Epiphany, but significant parts of Blackwell Deception as well. Anyway.

Here's what we know about the metaphysics of the Blackwell Universe:

1. Rosangela comes from a long line of mediums, known also as Bestowers, who are able to perceive spirits, communicate with them, and assist them in moving on.

2. Bestowers are exceedingly rare — a quirk in the universe, as Madeline describes, one that passes down through one person until death, down their bloodline.

3. For the most part, Bestowers are solitary — they don't see spirits until several days after the death of their predecessors, so even if the predecessors were able to be trained and mentored by their predecessors (as it might have been possible for Lauren to have mentored and supported Rosa, were she not have been driven insane by Madeline), the kind of experience they would be limited and not really hands-on.

4. Which is fine, because as part of the whole package deal, Bestowers have a spirit guide, who serve as intermediaries in the literal and “cultural” sense (ghosts don't like talking to the living). Furthermore, the spirit guide serves as a conduit between the restless spirit and the Bestower themselves.

5. While spirit guides have more experience in dealing with spirits — they often have entire lifetimes to hone their experience — they are also mostly solitary, due to the rarity of Bestowers. There aren't any Bestower Guilds (as far as we know). There isn't BestowerNet. Hell, one spirit guide spent almost their entire existence as a spirit guide not even knowing that Bestowers are called Bestowers.

6. Bestowers, as well, appear to be chosen at random, at least in the case of Joey Mallone. He wasn't special — he was simply chosen because he was the last spirit rescued by Jocelyn Contis and Madeline, before Jocelyn banished Madeline and became the Countess. He was, by all intents and purposes, a schlub who was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

7. That being said, he learned a trick that not even experienced and puissant spirit guides like Madeline learned — he learned to externalize the conduit part of his spirit into his tie, which turned what was normally an internal link within a spirit into a fairly powerful tool that allowed him to punch several leagues above his weight.

8. Case in point: he managed to his banishment into the void within minutes, a task that not even Madeline could manage for over several decades. He managed to break Madeline's possession of Rosa. He reproduced the trick that Madeline had shown him — creating a totem and sealing circle — simply by using his tie. Hell, he appears to have more control of the physical world than the other spirit guide, Madeline.

9. Another aspect of the spirit guide job is that, well, apparently it's a forever kind of deal. Spirit guides aren't only aware of their dead status, but aren't able to move on. Madeline couldn't. Joey couldn't. Rosa couldn't even force Joey to go. The only loophole appears to be to grant the spirit a second life, and then hope that when they die, their are sufficiently at peace with themselves that they'll manage to pass on. This was both Madeline's plan and Rosa's ultimate gift to Joey.

10. As demonstrated in Madeline's case, this inability to move on caused her to lose her humanity and her moral sense, eroding her empathy enough to make it okay for her to consider and take the steps to cause genocide as a way to end her suffering.

In any case, let's consider what Rosa did with the power of the vortex near the end of Blackwell Epiphany:

1. She transforms the vortex from becoming a spirit bomb that would vaporize millions of souls into a sort of attractor that forces spirits to ascend to the next plane of existence. All spirits active during that time. That means ghosts around the world. Maybe even Benjiro Hattori, who probably would not be pleased about it, knowing the nature of energy vampires.

2. Now, this presumably means spirit guides as well, because they are a kind of spirit. Now, several things are possible:

a. She doesn't know, or doesn't care, that without the spirit guides, Bestowers go mad. If that's the case, in Bellvue and in many places around the world, there will be a rash of people who have gone mad, and while this is great for people like Dr. Donald Quentin, who'll suddenly gain prominence as being the leading expert in the field of studying this new form of dementia, and how to mitigate its worst symptoms, it feels fairly cruel and not in keeping with Rosa's (temporary) omniscience and personal history. I mean, she'd end up basically making copies of the Countess and her Auntie Lauren, and she's already experienced the consequences of both first hand. Not to mention the fact that when the Countess died, she became basically a powerful Death Note-esque ghost able to kill anyone undetectably and on command. Seriously, that's Bad News™. She had three guides: one who was too mad to do anything about the newfound power, another who was terrified of using it, and one who used it to get his way. A 33% chance of having a spiritual WMD is not a good thing.

b. She found a way to seal the minds of other Bestowers from the Universe. This is pretty nice, since Bestowers do a fairly thankless job and are often plagued by the Duty.

c. Other spirit guides aren't affected by this. Which is more problematic than the previous option, and I'll explain why in a bit.

d. This is what I think is most likely: at the time of the event, there were no more Bestowers. Madeline had killed them all. Now, she only confirms that she drove the Blackwells insane, but she hinted that she did reach out to other Bestowers and break them. So at the time, they were either mad or dead.

Having done that, and realizing the potential suffering and no way out that Joey would face — seriously, a million years as a guide? No, Joey, no. No human mind is meant to live that long — she resurrected Joey, and more importantly, pushed him away from the spirit world. He's now an ordinary dude with no special powers.

Please note what remains the same after that event and Rosa's death:

1. People will still deny death, and therefore there'll be more ghosts coming in, as time goes on. Now, either existing spirit guides will come up and take the bat, or new spirit guides will arise. The latter is probably the worse alternative, since now you have potentially dozens of confused spirit guides who don't know anything about being conduits and how to do ther jobs, and how to communicate effectively with their Bestowers.

2. Which is fine, in the long run, but also, in the long run? You're going to get another Madeline. Another spirit sick and tired of being passed on for promotion that they'll take things into their own hands and try and destroy themselves, damn the consequences. Either we'll get a Bestower who'll banish their spirit guide to the void and thus causing this whole cycle to start again, or something else. It's a thankless job, and Bestowers and their guides only have each other, and spirit guides are essentially, alone, because their hosts eventually die and go their final reward.

So, this whole rambling post is basically to point out one thing: that all that Rosangela Blackwell's done is that she's punted the problem down a few more centuries, at most. And what's worse, the person who's likely to be able to do anything about this — Joey Mallone — can't. He's no  longer a spirit guide, remember? He doesn't have all of his memories, remember?

Or have I missed something? I suspect I may need to dig into the game commentary to find out, but still. Have I missed anything?
« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 11:35:34 PM by tariqk »

Offline alexis

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Re: [MAJOR SPOILERS] My fridge horror moment for Blackwell Epiphany…
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2016, 10:12:32 AM »
Why hasn't anyone responded to this?! I want answers (please)!

Offline Satchel

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Re: [MAJOR SPOILERS] My fridge horror moment for Blackwell Epiphany…
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2016, 04:26:49 PM »
(I just realised this thread is 6 months old).

I know this answer won't satisfy you, since it'll be really concise, but bestowers and spirit guides have presumably been on the earth since it's been created (or soon after, anyway).
We can suppose that Madeline has been the only deviant spirit guide, so it isn't that easy to 'seclude' a spirit guide in the universe. We can resoneably hope it won't happen again.

And I assume that new spirit guides have been chosen soon after the vortex (since people die every minute). We really don't know how it works with guides; the only thing we know is that Joey was an exception. So maybe they receive a special training somewhere. Maybe they are chosen with care by the universe itself.
Luckily, nothing is said about this in the games, so we are left with a void we can fill how we like (unless Gilbert decides to reveal us the secret of the universe).

In conclusion, I don't see the future as black as you. Anyway you maybe right, I don't deny it, but probabily Rosangela didn't see as far as you. And this could lead to a distopic future in a new Wadjet Eye game XD

Sorry, I wasn't that brief.
And please, forgive ally mistakes, I can never remember english grammar and I'm too lazy to check!
« Last Edit: February 27, 2016, 04:29:43 PM by Satchel »
"Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind".

Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

Offline DaveGilbert

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Re: [MAJOR SPOILERS] My fridge horror moment for Blackwell Epiphany…
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2016, 07:56:25 AM »
Sorry I didn't reply either! I will say that some of these questions will be resolved in Unavowed, which takes place in the same universe as Blackwell. We're only just starting production, so sadly it will be awhile! :)

Offline Rocka3030

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Re: [MAJOR SPOILERS] My fridge horror moment for Blackwell Epiphany…
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2016, 10:55:12 AM »
Next exciting project  8)

Offline Satchel

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Re: [MAJOR SPOILERS] My fridge horror moment for Blackwell Epiphany…
« Reply #5 on: February 29, 2016, 12:19:32 PM »
YEEEESSSSSS  :D
"Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind".

Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

Offline Popious

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Re: [MAJOR SPOILERS] My fridge horror moment for Blackwell Epiphany…
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2016, 12:56:09 AM »
I guess you could say I had a fridge horror moment right after finishing the series.  As previously mentioned *SPOILER ALERT*.

What happens after the last game?  Ok, so the blackwell line seems to have died off.  If there's a long lost relative, behold the new bestower; if not, c'est la vie, it passes to the next random pleb.  But what about the spirit guide?  We know how that's picked.  The last person who was saved and ushered into the light becomes the new spirit guide.  Well who was the last person we saved?  The last game was full of spirits being ripped apart, but who did we save?  We trapped Madeline on the platform and Lauren was there with her.  If you can count her as saved, Lauren was her usher.  I think the last person you can honestly say was saved was Kendra Haskins.  So, does this mean that after all of that, Lia's daughter gets ripped out of the afterlife to be sent back to earth as a small, lost child, destined to be the next guide?
« Last Edit: April 11, 2016, 12:58:07 AM by Popious »

Offline DaveGilbert

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Re: [MAJOR SPOILERS] My fridge horror moment for Blackwell Epiphany…
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2016, 10:37:20 AM »
Not saying anything except that you are going to *love* one of the side characters in the upcoming Unavowed.

Offline Popious

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Re: [MAJOR SPOILERS] My fridge horror moment for Blackwell Epiphany…
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2016, 08:01:42 PM »
Not saying anything except that you are going to *love* one of the side characters in the upcoming Unavowed.

Already buying up what's in the WadjetEye backlog and looking at your upcoming projects.  You can count the wife and I as new followers.  We're glad to see the point & click genre coming back.  Telltale did a little with it but quickly grew more attached to your style and narratives.

Offline Lass

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Re: [MAJOR SPOILERS] My fridge horror moment for Blackwell Epiphany…
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2016, 09:40:57 AM »
That's awsome Dave! Looking forward to Unavowed!

Offline lmd1986

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Re: [MAJOR SPOILERS] My fridge horror moment for Blackwell Epiphany…
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2016, 07:29:20 AM »
Not saying anything except that you are going to *love* one of the side characters in the upcoming Unavowed.

 ;D ;D ;D

You've just made my day, and it was going pretty bad  :)

Offline Nowhere Girl

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Re: [MAJOR SPOILERS] My fridge horror moment for Blackwell Epiphany…
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2016, 12:24:36 PM »
Let's put it in perspective: we don't live in a perfect world anyway. Metaphysical horrors happen to a lot of people - and I mean "the real world" too, I mean a vast range of terrifying spiritual and existential experiences. (Too bad when people are taught that organized religion is the only way to experience the spiritual. And most don't experience it anyway because we are all tainted by rationalism and dualism and so people have to go extreme lenghts to "break on through to the other side".) Rosa did what she could in that moment. I don't think she regrets it when she realises there will be new lost souls, new guides, new angry guides just waiting to abuse someone in order to be gone from this world... At that point it was about saving thousands of living and dead souls - she never had an option of saving everyone, including in the future, anyway.
The only thing that could improve the future situation would be getting rid of rationalism and welcoming non-violent "insanity" within the range of normal human experience. Bestowers have to learn everything as they do it because they constantly fear that if they tell anyone about their psychic abilities, they will be perceived as crazy. In basic characteristics the same is true about "the real world": we are never taught how to navigate the spiritual world. This is "forbidden knowledge", almost entirely abandoned to churches. (Note: while organized religion just isn't my form of seeking the spiritual, I'm in no way against religion. However, I believe it takes MUCH more than religion - we won't get far with rationalism burdening us.)
I think the last person you can honestly say was saved was Kendra Haskins.  So, does this mean that after all of that, Lia's daughter gets ripped out of the afterlife to be sent back to earth as a small, lost child, destined to be the next guide?
Just by the way (and not taking into account her own feelings), I think Kendra would be a good spirit guide. If she is destined to remain in a visible form of the age at which she died, she would be a completely different guide than, let's say, Joey. Joey could be annoying, a little girl would be much less pressing for her host. And she could avoid being banished without ever having to consciously use the guilt card - it would be played by itself, the host would think "Oh no, I just can't do this to such a little child"...