Back to the Pyrosphere with Samus. After some gameplay, she sees Anthony being attacked by an Anomalocaris
. But Samus Aran is totally willing to let Anthony die, until Adam calls her and authorizes the Grapple Beam. Because that's such a dangerous weapon that Samus might accidentally kill a survivor by... grappling them*
. So she grapples up there and saves Anthony from a prehistoric monstrosity.
After the fight, Samus and Anthony talk. Anthony says that Adam decided that splitting the party maybe wasn't a good idea, so he's dithered again and call them all to a nearby nav booth. Wait... Adam called his entire unit together to the Pyrosphere? The place where he knows Furizard is, the monster so dangerous that he sent Samus after it? Also, this again confirms that Adam has no idea the Deleter (*groan*) exists; bringing the party together would only make it easier to get them killed by a traitor. Or maybe Adam just doesn't give a rat's ass about his men.
Either way, I again present to you that Perfect Military Mind
Well, Anthony says they were supposed to gather at the nav booth. But when nobody showed up, he decided to break orders and go wandering around to be attacked by a prehistoric creature. OK, has anyone involved in making this game even seen
a solider before? They don't just wander off because they're bored
. Doubly so when they're in a room where they can contact their CO to request instructions.
Then again, we see how their CO's decision making is going, so...
Anthony says that their mission was to activate the Geothermal power plant. The... Geo
thermal power plant. OK seriously, what the hell were the writers smoking? Did they just see "lava" and think "hey, we can use it to generate geothermal power, right?" Then Anthony says that they needed to do that in order to turn the lights back on. Except... the lights are already on. Anyway, Anthony thinks that sending the entire team was excessive, but figures Adam had his reasons.
Like crippling idiocy.
So then Anthony asks Samus how she feels about Adam, which prompts a flashback.
Cut to a ship that's towing another ship that has a big engine piece on the back of it. This sedate scene is shattered by an abusively
loud orchestral score. The orchestra is clearly saying that this is a serious situation, but the opening scene doesn't look that way at all.
Indeed, the orchestra keeps it up when we cut to inside some kind of control room somewhere. We learn that "Ian" has reached a "drive unit," and that this is a "routine fix." So why are we getting blaring brass from the orchestra like we're in the middle of a Star Wars battle? Indeed, the sound mixing in this section is so bad that you have a little trouble hearing the voices over the score.
We're then told that 300 people are... somewhere, and they're Ian's responsibility. On a monitor, we see Ian in GF armor salute and start working on whatever routine thing he's doing.
It takes all of 4 seconds before it turns to shit. Alarms start blaring and a technician says the drive unit is going to explode. Good job, Ian. Adam, who is in charge of the operation and wearing a Drum Major's uniform,
stands there for a few seconds. This is the closest that Adam comes to showing emotion in this entire sequence. Then, Adam says to get ready to cut the drive unit loose. One of the techs points out that Ian's still in there.
We then get a "dramatic" sweep around Samus. She turns to Adam and asks permission to go rescue Ian. Adam ignores her, continuing to give commands to the technicians to lock the doors. Samus runs out into the middle of the room, begging Adam to let her go save him. And she exposites for the benefit of the audience that Ian is Adam's brother. DUN DUN DUNNNNN! Samus asks Adam to trust her... for some reason. It's not a matter of trust Samus, it's a matter of foot-speed.
Also, Samus's voice actor actually sounds... what's the word... alive
. She sounds like she does in fact possess a central nervous system and a brain capable of sentient thought. There's actual emotion in what she says, which is far better than the flat monotone that she's been using before now. You can feel how much she wants to go out there to some extent.
But Adam continues to ignore her, telling the techs to dispose of the drive unit. Samus looks up at him, as the present-day Samus monologues that "Adam was right." She points out that they'd have lost the 300 people they came to save, not to mention themselves. We get shots of the drive disconnecting from the ship being towed and then exploding.
Back in the present, Samus says that she was childish, that her antics only made a hard decision harder for Adam. Anthony tries to brush it off by saying that Adam knew that she was young and inexperienced at the time. He then apologises for "hitting a nerve."
Um... what are you talking about Anthony; what "nerve" did you hit? In fact, why did we have that cutscene here
at all? Anthony asks about how she felt about Adam, and we get a flashback of some mission where Ian died. After the cutscene, they don't even talk about how she feels about Adam. So... what was the point of that? How does she feel about Adam? The flashback doesn't fit into the context of the discussion so much that Anthony and Samus are having an entirely new discussion afterwards.
Some might argue that the construction of this scene is a subtle hint that this is what drove Samus to leave the military. I agree that if that is the case, then the scene does sorta make sense here. If you want to make that argument, be my guest, but you first have to remember Other M's idea of subtlety:
So very, very subtle.
In any case, Anthony then starts wondering aloud what would happen if something like that happened on the BOTTLE SHIP
. Oh yeah; Other M is the master of subtlety. Anthony decides not to talk about it further and wanders off. Hey, wouldn't it be a good idea to stick close to Samus, since there's that traitor out there? No? How about because you lost track of the unit and she's the only one with a working communicator? No? Well, do you at least want to send Adam a message, while Samus is here? No? OK.
Samus monologues that if it happened again, she'd "hold fast to that glimmer of hope and try for redemption." I get what she's getting at here, but this is a horrible way of saying it. And what does she need "redemption" for anyway? It was Adam who told her not to go.
After this is a boss fight against the lava monster that jumped Samus the first time she got to the Pyrosphere. I'm guessing that this is in Theater Mode, despite TM already skipping several boss fights, because it provides some space between the previous scene and the next scene.
And quite frankly, anything
that keeps the next scene farther away can only be a good thing.
Saving Private Malkovich
...I was childish.
Well, I could move on, but that would be moving us into... that
. So to hold that off even further and retain some semblance of sanity, let's revisit the Ian cutscene.
I will say this in the scene's defense (in addition to what I said about Samus's acting). It delivers exposition quite efficiently for the most part. It lets us know that Ian is in the "drive unit" doing something, and it tells us that there are lives at stake. And it all takes about 20 seconds. We get the logistics of the scene out of the way quickly so that the meat (such that it is) can be had. So good writing on that score.
One problem I have is how contrived the situation is made, all so that Samus can look as bad as possible. Look at the physics of the scenario. We see the assemblage of ships, like a train: the towing ship, the ship being towed with energy beams, and the drive unit at the rear. In all likelihood, this command center is on the ship doing the towing; it wouldn't make sense for this command center to be on the ship being towed.
Ian has at least a full ship between himself and Samus. Yet Samus believes that she can exit their ship, float across the space between, enter the drive unit, pull Ian out, and float to at least minimum safe distance in the ~1 minute it takes to explode.
That's not going to happen; not even for Samus. So why does she say that she can do it? Because it makes her look, as she says of her younger self, "childish." Which is exactly what the writers of this scene want us to think; that's why this scene exists: to show that Samus is a child, and Adam is the mature, responsible parental figure.
Normally, when a scene like this happens in fiction, there's some idea that the person might
have been saved, that there was a chance. But it was too great a risk, so they didn't. In the typical case, the audience is free to judge the commander's decision for themselves. It's something to talk about: was he right, was he wrong? Both the characters and the audience can judge for themselves. Most important of all, we can sympathize with the character wanting to do the saving. Maybe they could have gotten them out in time.
That's not the case here; there was no way to save him, period. The audience can't relate to her position; it was a clearly hopeless situation. This scene is focused on how incapable Samus is, how "childish" she is. That she couldn't even recognize a hopeless situation when she saw it. The circumstances of this situation are designed so that there is no other possible interpretation. "Adam was right," just as Samus said.
Because God forbid that Adam could be wrong about anything.
And note how she fixates on Adam's feelings, that all she did was "question his authority and make things more difficult." She denies her own feelings, her own relationship with Ian; she only looks back from Adam's
perspective. We get a shot of a picture with her hanging out with Ian (while Adam lurks in the background, completely uncaring), so obviously there was some kind of relationship there. Samus doesn't care about the person she lost. She doesn't care about her own feelings of powerlessness as she watched a friend die. All she cares about are Adam's
Samus Aran has no life outside of Adam Malkovich.
Her entire world centers around the man; everything she does or thinks about is for him. That's what this story is saying. I'm not saying that she shouldn't think about how her behavior affected him. But the way she berates herself solely
because of the way it affected him is disgusting.
Then, we come to Adam. His behavior is... well, to be expected at this point, quite frankly. Some of it is at any rate. The way he ignores Samus fits in just fine with what we've seen considering his dickishness thus far. He thinks of her behavior here as a child acting up and treats her accordingly. He does what adults often do when talking with other adults while their children beg for attention: ignore them.
This isn't unfortunate implications brought on by bad writing anymore; that ship has sailed. This is the real character, as evidenced by the consistent pattern. This is who Adam Malkovich is in Other M. He treats Samus like an abusive father would. Disapproving looks to cow her into obedience, ignoring her when she dares to voice her opinion, sending her through a lava pit to remind her who's the top in this relationship. Whether the writers consciously wrote him this way, or if this was simply their unconscious impulses peeking through; that's all irrelevant. What matters is that the character is consistently
written this way within the work.
And no, being in the military doesn't cover it. Outside of some of the personal nature of the request, Samus is doing everything militarily correct, more or less. She's requesting permission from her commanding officer to enter a hazardous area to rescue someone. The proper military response to do would be for Adam to deny the request; if she kept up with it, then
she'd be out of line. But he doesn't; he doesn't even acknowledge
her request. He simply ignores her like she's a child.
Because again, that's what this scene is about: showing Samus to be childish, while Adam's the big, strong father figure. That's what the writers want you to believe, so the circumstances are designed to make it so that this is the only viable interpretation of this scene.
Also, let's not forget the lack of emotion from Adam. The closest thing to a feeling that Adam showed about his brother's impending death was Adam taking a moment to decide what to do. That's it. It could have been for anyone
; indeed, until Samus says that Ian is Adam's brother, the audience
doesn't know it's for a brother. Shouldn't there have been some clue or indication from Adam's reaction?
I'm not asking for Adam to break down crying or anything. But some sign, other than standing around for a bit, that he has a difficult decision to make would make for a more functional character. A shot of a clenched fist might be cliché, but at least it's something and not nothing. At this point, Adam sounds a bit sociopathic: unconcerned with his brother's demise and unconcerned with Samus's pleas to save him.
There's one final thing that should be considered: what Samus said at the end. I'll quote this in full, so you can't say I'm taking it out of context, "If something like that happened again, I would hold fast to that glimmer of hope and try for redemption. That's who I am." In short, given it to do over again, she'd do the same thing. That's great, right? She's choosing her own principles rather than just doing what Adam says. Right? Shows independence and everything.
Scroll up and read the title quote for this section again. "I was childish."Samus herself
believes that this is a childish view; she says it not two minutes
before giving the above statement. So she thinks that it's childish... but she'd do it again.
"That's who I am": "Childish" - Samus Aran