This Exists, Part 2
Character Assassination: Adam Malkovich
So, Adam's sitting in his booth, watching Samus talk to Madeline. He sees Samus heading to Sector Zero, but for whatever reason is unable to contact her. So he runs off to Sector Zero to stop her and enact his "plan," thus saving her from unfreezable Metroids.
Note that the above is not speculation: at the very end of the game, the game gives us a flashback of this.
He gets to Sector Zero first, and he has decided to hide and shoot Samus to stop her. OK. However, when Samus comes in, she encounters a Metroid. Adam himself
believes that Sector Zero Metroids cannot be frozen. So, what does he do?
He shoots Samus. First!
He ignores the Metroid that he's not sure he can deal with in order to make sure that Samus is stopped. Even though this directly exposes her to attack from the Metroid
, so you can't say that this is "saving" her or doing this solely for her protection. And Adam really took his fucking time about shooting that Metroid; it's a good 15 seconds after Samus is down that he finally decides to shoot the damn thing.
What a dick!
But wait; it gets even better. Let's say Adam screwed up; he didn't see the Metroid, because maybe he was standing such that Samus was in the way. Somehow. Or maybe there was some other visual obstruction. Who knows. The point is, Adam didn't know it was there.
The Deleter is still around. Adam knows
about him unquestionably at this point. I can say that because of Adam's part in the Ridley scene: we see someone walk in and take a shot at him. That person could only have been one of two people: the Deleter or a particular someone else. And if it was that someone else, then there's no way Adam would escape; it therefore must have been the Deleter. So he managed to fight off the Deleter, despite that guy getting a surprise attack. From behind.
Adam knows that an assassin is walking the halls. But he still shoots Samus with his Mary Sue Cannon of Disabling +12. This knocks out her armor... when he knows there's an assassin around.
He has just given the Deleter his best chance of taking out Samus (though if standard issue freeze pistols can one-shot Samus, it obviously wasn't that much of a problem).
Now, you might say that Adam secured the room; he knew the Deleter wasn't present. Bullshit!
He didn't even know there was a Metroid
in the room (or else he's the biggest asshole in the galaxy). There's no way he secured that room. All he did was paint a giant target on Samus's back. Which is redundant because there's already a target on the back of the Zero Suit. And Adam shot her there first.
Therefore, either Adam Malkovich, the "Perfect Military Mind
," is an unutterable moron for unthinkingly disabling an ally in a potentially dangerous situation, or is a colossal
jackass for deliberately endangering Samusís life. Which is it Other M? Asshole or retard? Take your pick.
And then there's the decision to shoot her at all. Adam makes absolutely no effort to discuss this with Samus like two rational adults. Of course not; you only discuss things with your peers
. He thinks of her as a child. Granted, she thinks of herself
as a child (which might explain why she turned into one
, but that's neither here nor there). So as far as Adam is concerned, there can be no discussion about this.
No discussion, but what about orders? Nope, he didn't even bother to just give her orders; he went straight to the gunshot. Even though Samus has shown herself to be completely loyal to him at all times in this game. Even though Samus has done everything he said. Even though Samus responded appropriately to just
his death glare on their first meeting. Even though Samus ran through an active volcano
without her Varia simply because he hadn't told her to turn it on.
Oh yeah, she seems totally like the kind of person who'd rebel.
Now, you might point out that she did
in fact try to stop him, though the scene is still rather ambiguous as to what she's doing. OK, well, he has his Mary Sue Cannon of Disabling +12; if she tries to keep going, shoot her then.
Indeed, this is generally how the scene plays out in works that have actual writers behind them. The two characters talk about the difficulty up ahead, one of them goes to make the sacrifice, and the other physically stops them.
But not here. Adam is in control, at all times. He never gives Samus even the slightest opportunity to disobey him.
And another data point on their relationship. Samus gets shot by someone; she doesn't know who. When she wakes up next to Adam, she immediately assumes he did it. She doesn't even consider the possibility that the Deleter got to her and Adam simply made the save in the nick of time. I mean, that might have made Adam not a controlling jackass and made the Deleter plot worthwhile. And nothing is allowed to be worthwhile in this pile of crap.
The best part: Samus is 100% right about who shot her. That says something about their relationship that she knows him well enough that he'll attack her at the first excuse. Nothing particularly good
, mind you, but something...
And another thing about the decision to shoot her. Let's get some choice Adam quotes about the unfreezable Metroids (with emphasis added):
Sector Zero Metroids most likely can't be frozen.
There's a strong likelihood that the Metroid's mortal weakness, the vulnerability to cold, has been overcome...
If that's true, then there's no way you can destroy them.
My guess is that it was because it was still in a larval stage, but who can say?
"Who can say?" Your "guess"? You fucking shot Samus Aran in the back!
Adam Malkovich shot her based on nothing more than his speculation
. And here's the thing: we never find out if he's right.
There is never any definitive proof of unfreezable Metroids; nobody who actually knows the truth ever says it*
. It's all just conjecture from Adam and Samus assuming he's right. The closest thing to evidence we have was that corpse in the Cyrosphere, but that body could have been moved there. Or maybe the cooling system was off when it was attacked. Who knows? There's nothing definitive.
Personally, I like the idea of Adam going into Sector Zero, shooting stuff, accidentally freezing a Metroid in the process just as the sector detaches, and realizing that he's about to die due to his own deep, personal stupidity.
But that doesn't matter. What matters is that Adam clearly doesn't know
this for certain. You don't shoot people you care about over "strong likelihoods." Which again suggests that Adam sees her as something to be controlled rather than as a person. Shooting her is just another means of control.
Given the myriad of ways that Adam could have avoided shooting her, the number of reasons he had to not do it, we must
assume that Adam wanted
to shoot her. That's the only way for it to make sense considering all of the alternatives. Especially considering that half-assed apology he gave her. He's going to go die to save her, but he wants to give her a parting shot, something to remind her who's in control. And while this interpretation might, when taken on its own, be somewhat over-the-top, when taken in aggregate with all of his prior behavior, it makes perfect sense
And then there's that Metroid report. He wrote it, which means he came to the BOTTLE SHIP knowing
that they were conducting illegal bioweapon experiments. Hell, how exactly do you get commissioned to investigate doing something illegal anyway? So why didn't he tell anybody about that? I know he has that whole "outsider" think with Samus, but his men seemed rather unaware of the whole thing. And if you think you're going after Metroids, why would you take only a 6 man team?
Anyway, he knows that a faction in the GF is behind this stuff, right? Or was that another of his "guesses"? If he knew that there was this rogue group within the GF, Adam should have suspected that they wouldn't just let him walk off with the secrets and expose them. He should have at least checked the backgrounds of his men for an assassin.
Which means Adam got his whole team killed due to his own stupidity. Ladies and Gentlemen: The Perfect Military Mind. Also, if he knew about the illegal bioweapon research on the ship, why not, you know, contact the authorities?
They can't all be corrupt.
No, this entire Metroid report and the plot holes it creates are nothing more than a ham-fisted attempt to make you distrust Adam. Even though we already think he's dead at that point. But did you really expect coherency in this piece of shit?
Adam's last warning is barely
covered: "Madeline Bergman is no ally." The comment itself makes sense in context. She did just send Samus to go fight unfreezable Metroids (theoretically) without warning her. So either she's not really Madeline or she deliberately tried to get Samus killed. However, the line does strongly suggest that Adam has knowledge of things he's not sharing with Samus.
Especially since he knows about a survivor in "Room MW." See, I'll let you in on a secret: the blond woman isn't actually Madeline; the real Director Bergman is in Room MW. His dialog about these two things suggests that he knows all this but was keeping it from Samus. But you could interpret it as him having simply stumbled across info about a survivor, probably the same way he did with the blond. So yes, the statement holds up.
The confusing bit is this: as the author of the Metroid report, he ought to have at least a passing familiarity with the station and its director. Granted, it was just one report, but he could probably remember that Madeline was a redhead. And the scene where he sees Samus talking to the blond about Sector Zero suggests that he's reacting as much to her as to Sector Zero and the potentially unfreezable Metroids. So its possible to think that Adam actually knows more than he says. But there's a plausible alternate explanation for this, so the writers get to get away with one.
Character Assassination: Samus Aran
You were wrong when you were a girl, and you're wrong now.
But that's child's play. Here, we see the actual death of Samus Aran's character. Oh, she's still got a good 40+ minutes left in theater mode, but believe me; she's dead.
First, Samus all but freaks out at the sight of an infant Metroid. It's not as bad as the Ridley freakout, but it still flies in the face of the courage Samus has always effectively had. It's really unnecessary; all they had to do was show that Samus was reluctant to shoot it. She instantly reacts by raising her gun, but then hesitates and lowers it. Coupled with the flashback, it says everything we need to. Of course, what "we" need to is not what the makers of the game want to say, so they give her a mini-freakout complete with heavy breathing and so forth. To again make her a weaker character.
And then she gets shot. The most badass being
in all of the Metroid continuity, someone who's personally killed a 30 foot dragon 6 times, who's annihilated species and entire worlds, gets taken out in one shot. Like with the PTSD thing, it doesn't matter what kind of rationalizations you give to this; it's still complete bullshit from a character perspective. It completely destroys
her credibility as a badass. It's one thing to have a powerful hero who has vulnerabilities; it's quite another when a powerful hero is shown to simply not be powerful
. It would be like Superman getting taken out with a regular bullet, no Kryptonite around or anything.
What's more, by doing this Adam robs Samus of all agency whatsoever. From the moment she gets shot, she becomes a non-entity in this cutscene. She's passive, weak, helpless, barely able to stand, can't even make her power armor work, and so forth. She does nothing but sit there in that skin-tight suit and pant breathlessly for 10 minutes while Adam walks off to be the hero.
Consider what you're seeing. You are watching the protagonist of a videogame, stripped of her armor, made weak, frail, and helpless, while an NPC tells her that she can't go into the final level. An NPC literally walks off with (what ought to be) the final level of the game. I can't imagine what that would feel like as a player, but from a story perspective? It completely de-balls Samus. She is no longer an active participant in her own game!
But it gets worse.
After Adam dies, Samus gets down on her knees and gives him the most intense, vigorous, and prolonged character fellatio that I have ever seen in any work of fiction. This surpasses even James T. Kirk being promoted from Cadet to Captain in Star Trek 2009*
in the sheer audacity of daring the audience to buy it. She goes ball-deep on Adam's figurative cock and verbally blows him for a solid minute
This bit of dialog is Godawful, so here are some choice lines:
- "My best friend": Bullshit! Forget the heaping helpings of abuse he inflicted on you. Forget the whole shooting-you-to-save-you thing. Just look at the story: what do they ever, ever do together to suggest friendship? At all?
- "the person who understood me best...": Bullshit! Again, besides the game simply declaring it to be true, where in this game is any evidence of this?
- "the closest thing to a father I had.": Bullshit! The Chozo raised you! Plus, the heapings of abuse and all that. If that's the best father you could get, you were better off raised by birds.
- "Thoughts swirled through my head-": Bullshit! If you ever had a thought, it died of loneliness. You don't think; Adam tells you what to think.
- "I think Adam granted me that eye-of-the-storm clarity-": Bullshit! There is no evidence of Samus being any different after this scene than before.
- "There was no time for me to grieve his death.": Bullshit! What the hell do you call this verbal cock-sucking?
And we end with the verbal equivalent of bukkake with, "But there was time for me to say: Adam, thank you... leave the rest to me." It's horrible because Samus Aran will do nothing at all from here on out.
And because she thanked Adam for stripping her of her ability to make decisions without even asking her what she would do.
And... that's not even the worst. I know that's not actually possible,
and yet here we are. The Ian flashback.
That doesn't sound like it could be worse than this. But it is. And the quote I choose for this section explains why. But since I don't go for brevity, allow me to spell it out in meticulous detail.
It all comes down to proper narrative structure. Works of fiction in innumerable forms do this all the time. We even have a trope for it: My Greatest Failure
. You introduce a moment into a character's backstory where they do something wrong. Where things don't go well. Where the outcome is decidedly non-optimal. And then you introduce a moment in the story that calls back to it. Obviously you don't need the explicit flashback. But either way, you have a similar situation come up. Why? It serves to either create character growth on the spot or highlight growth that has happened over the course of the work. You showed how the character failed before, and now you show how they've changed so they won't fail again.
Now, given the Ian scene, there are exactly two narrativistically appropriate outcomes in the present-day variation. These represent the two ways of interpreting how Samus failed in the original version.
: Samus Aran willingly concedes the point. She starts to argue, she starts to beg Adam to let her go in his place, or to simply walk around him and go in his place. But she stops herself, realizing the truth of what he's saying. This signifies that her failure from before was in her childish naivety, her unwillingness to see the plainly evident fact that someone has to die, and he's the most expendable. Samus Aran grows up and accepts reality for what it is
: Samus Aran defies cynicism. She slams Adam into a wall
, suits up, goes into Sector Zero, blows it straight to hell, and still manages to escape in the nick of time. Because Samus Aran is That. Damn. Good. She's no longer the slave of reality; she makes her own reality.
Her failure from before was in listening to Adam, in not going with her instincts, in not trusting herself to be able to get the job done. She has now grown beyond the no-win scenario; Samus can turn defeat into victory by her presence, her will, and her boundless courage to see the job done.
These are the only two narrativistically appropriate things that can happen. Why? Because the protagonist gets to be right
the second time around. That's how this narrative device actually works. That's why you have the flashback in there; it highlights the contrast and character growth (in either direction).
Take a look at Pitch Black
, which has our protagonist go through something similar, just negated. The first time, she wants to dump the passengers to save herself in a moment of fear. This hurt her; the decision weighs upon her throughout the film. She realizes the wrongness (defensible though it may be) of what she wanted to do. And the next time she has the chance to cut people loose to save herself... she chooses not to.
She wants to; she really
wants to. The offer is so tempting, and you can really see the anguish in the character (thanks to acting). But she cannot, she will not
do it again. No matter how frightened she is, she has the courage
to do the right thing this time. And she's willing to die, to even fight Riddick, to see it done.
In Other M, that doesn't happen here; there's no contrast, no character growth. So why the flashback; why have the Ian scene at all? Well, consider what the flashback does here: it emphasizes the lack
of character growth. It says, in as strong and certain a way as possible, "You were wrong when you were a girl, and you're wrong now." And that's absolutely devastating
to do to the protagonist of the work. You do not
have a flashback to remind us of previous failures just to highlight that the protagonist has failed yet again and has therefore learned nothing from their prior experience.
It completely undermines any credibility that they have as an active agent of the narrative. When you have a character fail in their youth, then go through experiences in a story's plot, and then fail again in exactly
the same way, you have a character nobody wants to see. You have a character that cannot be trusted to do things, that's clearly too weak, too childish, too foolish to credibly be relied upon to make decisions. You don't write stories about people who repeatedly make the same mistakes. Not as the protagonist. The protagonist gets to be right because they have
to be right or they lose any right to call themselves the protagonist.
And that's the thing that makes this the worst part of the entire game, somehow managing to be worse than the Ridley scene
: the protagonist is
right. Because Samus is not the protagonist; she's just the viewpoint character. The true protagonist of Metroid: Other M
is Adam Malkovich.
FUCK THIS GAME!
General Adam MarySuovich
From the Deleter's point of view, Adam would represent the largest threat.
Really, isn't that all the proof you need that Adam Malkovich is a Goddamn Mary Sue
? When a writer shoves a line like that
down the "protagonist's" throat, it's pretty obvious what we're dealing with. He is a classic Original Character
Mary Sue. Yes, Fusion talked about him, and he guest starred as the computer to an extent. But the details could have been anything; he was never particularly fleshed out there. That's prime fodder for crappy fanfic authors; I'm sure that there were many fics pre-Other M written with Adam self-insert Mary Sues.
But first, some definitions. Allow me to quote myself
A Mary Sue, to my mind, is an audience reaction to a series of occurrences that do not otherwise make sense. It is an out-of-universe explanation for a specific and consistent pattern of contrived circumstances
, personal idiocy
, out-of-character behavior
, and other things in a story that don't make logical sense
. The particular pattern that indicates a Mary Sue is that the unexplained phenomenon all happen to aid some facet of a particular character.
No single incident, no matter how incredible or outrageous, can damn a character as a Mary Sue. It must be a consistent pattern, and to have a pattern, you need more than one incident.
And that is what we have here: a consistent pattern, found throughout the work.
First, there's the constant
praises from Samus. She just goes on and on about how much Adam means to her and how close they are and so forth. Sure, Samus talked Adam up in Fusion, but he barely appeared in that game; she had to do that in order to describe him to us. Indeed, his appearance was a plot twist. Plus, nothing she ever said rose to the level of considering Adam a bigger threat to the Deleter than herself.
Even more indicative of the problem is that her praises are not backed up by what actually happens in-story. She says that they're friends, but they do nothing even remotely friend-like with one another. Indeed, his abusive behavior towards her, both mentally and physically, suggests something quite different. She says that he knows her best, but again there is precious little evidence to back that up.
Then, there are the action elements. The Deleter gets the drop on him and at least one shot is fired. Yet Adam is still alive. Adam managed to survive a fight with a man who caught him unawares and likely got the first shot off from a range of about 7-10 feet. And do we even need to mention his Mary Sue Cannon of Disabling +12?
But it is his behavior towards Samus that is most indicative of the problem. Samus is completely de-protagonized in this story, all so that Adam can be the game's real hero. The abusive, controlling relationship that Adam has with Samus is the most powerful evidence of a Mary Sue infestation. Every independent thought that Samus has is systematically ground down.
This happens from the first moment Adam exists to his very last action. In their first meeting, Samus uses her missiles, and all it takes is one look from the "hero" to stop her. In the last, she wants to go into Sector Zero, so out comes the Mary Sue gun. Oh, but all to save her life; because the only thing better than shooting the main character is shooting her and getting thanked for the trouble.
Adam does nothing less than steal Samus's agency, and all she can do is thank him for it. Samus is reduced to a bit player in her own story. Even after Adam is dead, the story cannot help but shove more words of praise into Samus's mouth about him. Words that are, again, not backed up in story.
The man who shot her without even trying
to talk to her is someone that the viewpoint character thinks of as her best friend. In the end, none of Adam's dickishness is ever acknowledged.
That's text-book Mary Sueism.
Of course, this is the worst kind of Mary Sue: the intentional
one. A-Sue-la was written into that episode by a well-meaning mistake: the writers wanted her to be a tough opponent and simply took things too far. Adam? Adam was very deliberate, and it's hard to argue that point. It's something we'll talk about more at the end, but it's clear that the writers meant to write him this way.
So, let's get a final tally on the ways in which this scene has shat upon the Metroid franchise. Shitting on Metroid
- #8: For having every Metroid enemy and villain outdone by a guy with a regulation GF pistol. They all tried their best to take out Samus, but what it really took was a Mary Sue wielding an ice gun.
- #9: For de-protagonizing the main character of the series, turning her from a badass bounty hunter into a fan-service girl in a skin-tight outfit who sits on the sidelines (when she isn't being forcibly benched) and doesn't actually accomplish anything during the story.
- #10: For completely annihilating the very idea of Adam Malkovich as presented in Fusion, reducing him from a stolid, heroic figure into an abusive, scene-stealing Mary Sue who literally walks off with the final level of the game.
- #11: For making it hard to play Fusion again without thinking of Samus and Adam's reunion at the end as the horrific reuniting of an abuse victim with her abuser.
On the plus side, the game doesn't get worse. On the minus side, the rest is still pants-on-head retarded.