Machinima: Red Vs Blue The Project Freelancer Saga
The collection of seasons 9 and 10 of Red vs. Blue, in which the series alternates between flashbacks to Project Freelancer's heyday and the present day continuing adventures of the Blood Gulch gang and Agent Washington.
This series provides examples of:
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The Ace: Agent Carolina, especially before Episode 10.
A Date with Rosie Palms: Tucker again mistakenly believes Donut is a girl instead of a guy in pink armor. He then comments on how awkward that makes what he did twenty minutes ago during "alone time".
A Day in the Limelight: The Dakotas get a focus plot early in the season, and C.T. gets a character establishing scene about midway through, but the Prequel half of the season is definitively more about Carolina, York, Washington, Tex, and, to a lesser extent, Maine.
Armed With Canon: Epsilon-Church needs events in the simulation to go the same as before to draw Tex out.
Art Shift: Burnie has said that, due to the difficulty in matching the game art style with the mocap CGI, they've embraced the difference to tell two simultaneous storylines side-by-side, with the Freelancer stuff in CGI entirely and the "future stuff" in Halo: Reach machinima. Then the shift goes back to Halo 3 for the last scene of the season, outside of the memory unit and in the present day.
Ascended Extra: York had about seven minutes of screentime prior to this season, Carolina was just talked about a couple of times, and North was an already-dead body barely seen on screen.
Audible Gleam: During Grif's initial cleanliness tick, both times he points out how clean he's waxed the floors, we cut to a wider shot of the floor, which gives this off. It's quite amusing.
Bloodier and Gorier: Episode two alone probably has more blood and gore in it than the rest of the series combined. Still not incredibly gory, but relatively speaking...
Justified as Freelancers are already using the Mk 6 armor which is, at least until Halo 4 comes out, the deadliest Power Armor in the military's arsenal. The people they're fighting don't, indicated for example by their lack of the usual voice distortion effects, making them Made of Plasticine by comparison.
Break the Cutie: Carolina. She appears to be just as crazy as Alpha remembered her. She used to be utterly devoted to the Director to the point of it being creepy (significantly even more than Wash), and now she's resolved to end him on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
In the Freelancer segments, falls between York and Wash, though Maine has some moments late in the season, especially in Episode 17.
In the present storyline, it's Epsilon-Simmons.
Call Forward: In the trailer, some of Agent Maine's injuries were brought about due to a surprise attack by simulation troops. This happens to him again in Revelation, except without the surviving part.
The Director: How are two soldiers of your caliber possibly hurt by simulation troopers? Washington: They... got the jump on us.
"Firing main cannon."
Washington's catch phrase. Hell, half the things that come out of Wash's mouth, really.
Maine can be seen picking up his signature weapon, the "Knifle" as one of the Mooks he tests it on dubs it, during episode 15.
Kinda all over the map with Epsilon-Church. Building on his ending speech in Revelation, he now sees himself as Alpha in the memory unit, having been reincarnated from Epsilon. But now that he's dealing with the less capable season one versions of his teammates, he regains some of his temper from the BGC era. He also becomes more reflective and introspective.
Retroactively for Washington. We see how Wash started off as an idealisticnice, if stiff and awkward, guy. We now see how the Epsilon incident affected his personality so drastically. However, in a more straight sense, we have how, due to spending time on Blue Team, his nicer attitude is coming back, albeit without the Adorkable status.
Charles Atlas Superpower: In the action scenes, the Freelancers pull off insane Matrix-esque moves that would be impressive even by SPARTAN II standards, which is notable since, other than Tex and later the Meta, Word Of God is that none of them are supposed to be superhuman-level fighters. Easily explained by Rule of Cool.
Chekhov's Armory: The Sarcophagus room in Episode 15, filled to the brim with weapons from throughout the Halo series, most of which are used by the end of the episode.
Chekhov's Gunman: The unnamed "Blue Freelancer" seen in the background during "Planning the Heist", and standing with the main cast in the Season 9 Project Freelancer group poster. Word Of God is that more will be revealed about him in Season 10.
His identity is revealed in the episode "Don't Say It." He turns out to be Captain Butch Flowers, the original commander of the blue team. His freelancer code-name was Agent Florida, but all records of him were deleted and he was assigned to watch over the Alpha at Blood Gultch.
South uses a voice filter like Tex and C.T. did. Might also be a Running Gag since only female Freelancers use them.
Not so with C.T., as of Season 10 Episode 10, where it reveals she died, and the Pillman Insurrectionist started wearing her helmet and armor.
In Episode 4, Tucker asks Caboose if they should help, and Caboose replies that he doesn't think they can, since he can't get a clear shot at Church.
In Episode 15, Maine is walking around a room filled with Covenant weapons, stops, and picks up his signature Brute Shot.
"That's a good look."
Lopez is mistaken to be Simmons and decides to go along with it for the sake of getting people to listen to him. One of the things he claims that supposedly proves he's human is getting math problems wrong for no reason, a reference to when Simmons pretended he was good at math by giving a very wrong answer to a multiplication problem.
Contractual Genre Blindness: Sarge is very aware that setting off a bomb in the core will not stabilize the planet, but believes it necessary to have several dramatic setbacks and calamities before finding the solution the the planet's instability.
The Day The Music Lied: In Episode 17, Carolina is chasing down the Sleeveless Insurrectionist for the briefcase. It plays her leitmotif, meaning imminent awesomeness... and then she crashes, and Tex picks it up instead.
Demoted to Extra: Wyoming. Despite being the second freelancer introduced and one of the main villains of the original five seasons, he barely does anything in this season. He has only one or two lines and spends most of his screen time being injured by Tex and enemy soldiers. Burnie Burns states that this due to Wyoming's quirkiervoice and personality running a risk of detracting from the more seriously toned Freelancer plot-line.
Dodge The Paint: Tex does a pretty good job at this, and it's implied that Carolina does too.
Andy: I swear this has never happened to me before...
Doomed by Canon: Every freelancer we've been introduced to has a horrid fate. The sole exception is Wash, who is still going to briefly go nuts and later go to prison for a while.
Subverted in the case of Carolina, who turns out to be very much alive, although with debatable sanity.
Downer Ending: The season ends with Epsilon-Church horrified that he killed Epsilon-Tex for nothing, along with his shock at Carolina's return. Meanwhile, the prequel sections end with York and North wondering if Project Freelancer really are the good guys, C.T.'s relationship with the other Freelancers worsening, and Carolina declaring her Undying Loyalty to the Director, shortly before it goes back to the present and shows that Carolina now wants the Director dead.
Dream Apocalypse: Epsilon is trying to find Texas before this happens. However, it's ultimately subverted, as the reason the simulation is shaking is because of an attempted rescue mission by the real Reds and Blues.
The Faceless: Finally averted in the cases of York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Carolina, Connecticut, and the Counselor thanks to Monty Oum, but still holds true for Maine, Wash, Tex, and the Blood Gulch Crew.
Played with in the case of the Director. While many parts of his face are seen and he gets a lot of views from the back, he has had every part of his body shown (including the fact that he has glasses)... except for his forehead and eyes.
Foil: The Freelancers to the Blood Gulch Red and Blue Teams. While the former was a group of skilled, badass elite soldiers they inevitably fall apart as a unit due to in-fighting, jealousy, and betrayal, failing to do much in the War. The latter however started out as enemies but over-time fostered a bizarre if powerful alliance with each other, actually managing to do great things via cooperation instead of competition despite the incompetence of their members, even managing to kill several of the Freelancers and having a far greater impact in fostering a peace between the Humans and Aliens. To further accentuate this, both groups have at their focal point a Leonard Church.
Foreshadowing: Overlaps with Red Herring, when the Twins get spotted in the beginning of the season, the "Beta Protocol" is enacted. We find out in season 10 that Beta is Tex.
Foregone Conclusion: We already know what will happen to all of the "past" characters, as well as the fact that Project Freelancer eventually ends up as a colossal failure.
Genre Blindness: In episode 15: When someone hands you a rapidly beeping, glowing object and then dashes away, you probably shouldn't stand there staring at it.
York: Hey, man. Do you mind holding this for me for a sec? Red Demo Man: Huh? York: Thank you. FILSS: Firing main cannon. Red Demo Man: Oh, son of a...
Good Scars, Evil Scars: York has his messed-up eye after Episode 10, and Maine is shot in the throat in Episode 17.
Goomba Stomp: South does this to a guard. The Mk6 armor does weigh several hundred pounds after all.
Gun Fu: The Freelancers come right out of the gate with this as North and South Dakota get into a big gunfight in the enemy base. When Carolina shows up to bail them out of trouble, she shows that she's just as good at it.
In Episode 10, there's the awesome, close range gunfight between Tex and York.
Gun Twirling: Tex does a little twirl in Episode 10, after she tips over a paint-covered Wyoming.
Epsilon-Sarge: Well, that's just great. Caboose is God. I guess that makes me the first person in the history of the Universe that doesn't wanna go to Heaven. Great job, Blue Team. You find a way to make everything suck.
High Speed Battle: Episode 17 consists of a chase between the Insurrection Airborne Mook group with some air support and the combined efforts of Maine, Carolina, and York in an attempt to secure the white briefcase needed for the Sarcophagus, across trucks on a freeway. Texas is also there, technically helping the Freelancers, but Carolina has... issues with that.
Informed Ability: Simmons can play the banjo. Not that anyone on Red Team noticed.
Irony: Virtually everything we learn about Project Freelancer puts a weird spin on what we have seen of them in previous seasons (E.g. Alpha "didn't remember being a calculator" here he has pride in his calculating abilities, the surprising camaraderie between the Freelancers).
Despite her brother telling her repeatedly to turn on her motion tracker so he can provide better aid, South refuses on grounds that "it'll take too long" and charges in anyway. The same episode also has a possible Shout Out to the trope as well, with two guards complaining about another guard named Jenkins. This behavior gets her ranking lowered, due to the mission having been supposed to have been for stealth, not a shootout.
Maine and Wyoming in Episode 10. Repeatedly, despite York trying to get them to fight as a team. As a result, they get their asses kicked by Tex.
Leitmotif: Carolina and Tex have a rather special one whenever the two cross paths. It mixes the Agent Tex theme with the vocals from Extraction.
Lotus-Eater Machine: The "present" half of the story takes place from Church's perspective after the events of Revelation, trapped in the Epsilon unit.
Mad God: This is Epsilon-Simmons' explanation for seeing the real Caboose above the Epsilon unit in Episode 19, in a torn-open sky. Epsilon-Sarge is not happy about this.
Made of Iron: Many people, but Maine is one of the biggest. A sniper round to the chest and about 10 pistol shots to the neck doesn't seem stop him from standing, and getting hit by a speeding truck and falling off a freeway on top of that still doesn't seem to kill him.
Mexican Standoff: Between Agent South and a trooper, holding two cups of coffee, and looking at the alarm.
Episode 2 shows the Dakota twins as incredibly skilled and coordinated fighters. Now remember how we were introduced to them and their ultimate fate, making you wonder what the hell happened to them.
Wash and Maine being best friends.
York being in a possible relationship with Carolina. (Keep in mind that York and Tex are good friends in Out Of Mind (after season 9 chronologically) even though Carolina hates Tex. For that matter, Tex went a little overboard on him in Episode 10).
In Season 5, when Church heard that Tex ran into York, he specifically asked about Carolina (and Tex told him Carolina was dead) so clearly the strong relationship between them was well known.
Episode 18 starts with Grif being made of awesome and hilarity, continues with the return of Andy, and the Blood Gulch crew finishes up with the deadpan line "We're all going to die now." and then we cut to the birthof Delta.
Mook Chivalry: The only guards that seem to make an effort to shoot at the Twins are the Snipers. Everyone else runs towards the duo, one at a time, hoping to get killed in the coolest way possible.
My God, What Have I Done?: As soon as Church realises that the memory unit isn't failing, but rather Caboose has managed to find a way to free him from it, he instantly regrets his prior action. Namely, trying to move on from the past by forgetting Tex out of existence.
No Escape But Down: The Freelancers find themselves with two options in Episode 15: Jump off a 110-story building, or die horribly. They take option A.
Carolina: I guess this is karma for kicking Maine out the window.
Not the Fall That Kills You: In Episode 15, after Carolina and York jump off a skyscraper, they are stopped mere inches from the pavement of a highway by Maine in a Warthog driving by. The save acts as though they sustained no injuries whatsoever as a result.
Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used To Be: Church's body, Caboose, and Tucker are back to their season one versions; in other words, pretty lame. Also, the camaraderie between the Reds and Blues didn't exist in season 1, as Church realized upon walking up to the simulation versions.
Not So Different: This season builds up the similarities between Church and the Director. For that matter, Church and his pre-fragmented self. Episode 13 reveals that even as the original Alpha, Church was always a Jerkass.
Caboose: We found you in the place where they were keeping you, and we traveled a really really long way to come to this place and fought a bunch of people, and then fought a bunch of more people, and then we got you and took you and saved you! The end.
Oh Crap: Episode 3 has Church realize that the Reds weren't his buddies in Season 1, what his simulation is based on, when he walks up to them.
York gets these moments many times in Episode 10 when he's cornered by Tex.
Church has a minor one when he realizes that Tex remembers everything.
And Church has a much bigger one twice in the finale first, when he realizes, right after he forgets Tex, that the quakes aren't because of the memory unit dying, but because Caboose was opening it back up, and second when he sees the very much alive Carolina. If the music for the latter is any indication, her being alive might not be entirely good.
Series Continuity Error: An in-universe example occurs when Church realizes that the memories of events inside the Epsilon unit don't exactly match up with the events in previous seasons, such as the Red Team adding a rocket launcher to their jeep and Donut giving orders to Simmons.
Took a Level in Jerkass: The Freelancer flashbacks show that almost all of the Freelancers (most notably South, C.T., Wash, and even to a certain extent Maine) used to be idealistic and actually fairly heroic. By the time of the series proper, almost all of them has become disillusioned, cynical, self-serving, and/or utterly ruthless. In fact Wyoming seems to be the only Freelancer who was a Jerkass to start with, and didn't change at all between the flashbacks and Blood Gulch. York seems to be the only one who didn't lose his sense of moral decency after the team broke up, though all we know about North's eventual fate so far is that South abandoned him to the Meta.
The Director is the absolute last person you'd expect to feel sympathy for ... until he calls out in panic for Allison. Unfortunately, he's back to his Jerkass self within seconds. Taken Up to Eleven when he acknowledges Carolina as his greatest creation, reconciles with her after becoming a nervous wreck and then is implied to commit suicide.
Accidental Truth: Wash's attempt at lying to invoke Reverse Psychology on the Red Team in Episode 6 turns out to actually be true in Episode 20, much to his surprise and annoyance.
Wash, definitely. The guy has pink and white towels, a rubber ducky, and pictures of cute animals in his locker.
Adult Fear: Considering Theta's personality and North's nurturing making him something like a parent, knowing that North dies while his 'child' is getting pretty much kidnapped is bound to strike a chord with adults, especially in the sense that you failed to save your child.
Always Second Best: Emphasized between Carolina and Tex in Season 10. In Episode 19, Carolina finally gets a chance to have her long awaited one-on-one fight with Tex, and while she does markedly better than anyone else who's tried before, ultimately it's painfully clear she's not even her equal.
Carolina finally admits this about herself in episode 21, but it takes facing a literal army of her rival to make her say it.
And the Adventure Continues: The Reds and Blues return to Blood Gulch to settle down now that Project Freelancer has been dismantled for good. However, Church and Carolina decide to go and "do some good" in order to atone for their past crimes, starting with recovering some stolen Freelancer equipment.
Theta. For all his shyness and childish behavior, just watch how he works with North's energy shield.
And as of episode 21, Caboose.
Behind the Black: Apparently, the Director's Scary Shiny Glasses are super reflective because Carolina looked shocked when the audience finally saw his eyes in the season finale - even though she had already seen him plenty of other times in person.
Between My Legs: A really hilarious and weird example of this in Episode 5, with North doing the A-Frame and Wash's head peering in between (at Theta).
According to Episode 19, Tex's defection, and the resulting division of loyalties between the Freelancers, appears to have been the event that ultimately broke up Project Freelancer.
Breather Episode: It may not be particularly lighthearted (at least in the flashback sections), but after the emotional ups and downs of the previous installments, Episodes 11 and 12 are very relaxed, even in regards to clothing (in the case of Episode 11), and focus on conversation and character development.
Brown Note: In Episode 15, the Director shouting "ALLISON!" in a panicked voice causes all of the AI fragments (in addition to likely the Alpha itself) to go temporarily rampant at the same time, causing their operators to have massive headaches. No need to guess why Tex was the exception, even despite holding Omega.
Episode 12 has Carolina reflecting about the death of York and visiting the place he died. The name of the episode? "Out of Mind", also the name of the miniseries in which York was killed fighting Wyoming with Tex.
Stealing that Hornet in the finale of Revelation finally catches up with the Reds and Blues.
From the same episode: The bargaining scene is a direct callback to the early days of the series (the dialogue) and to the beginning of the current season (Wash and the Blues curbstomping the Reds).
From that scene is two more- Simmoms spouts off Grif's "I'd just like to let everyone know that I suck," speech, and there's a brief cut to what the Blues have taken, which includes Donut's motorcycle, the Warthog, the food Donut and Doc made for them previously that season, and multiple rocket launchers and shotguns.
Episode 22, The Director appointing Captain Flowers/Agent Florida as a bodyguard for the Alpha stationed in Blood Gulch has to find a way to explain the mysterious disappearance of Agent Florida, a explaining why in season 1 Tucker laments the then-unknown fate of Florida.
At the end of the same sequence, 479er muses on how she'd hate to be Command.
A much more subtle one; during the fight in Episode 8, while running to avoid getting hit by a Warthog, Wash yells "CAR!" in the exact same way he did in Revelation when Grif drove his own Warthog through the wall over Wash while Sarge distracted the latter.
Followed immediately with York going, "DAMMIT!", getting attacked, and saying, "Shotgu-un!"
On a related note, in Episode 2, Wash casually asks "Why do cars hate me?" after narrowly dodging a Warthog.
Two mooks in Episode 8:
Mook 1: Hey. Mook 2: Yeah? Mook 1: You ever wonder why we're - (Cue the pelican)
Tex being pinned by the tank in episode 19 resembles the time Sarge was pinned by the warthog in early season 2.
It's subtle, but the last scene of Episode 19 mirrors the end of the Meta vs. Tex battle of Season 8. Both Tex and Carolina are initially facedown, then turn over and try to get away as Maine comes up, then he grabs them by the neck and does something painful to their head, then tosses them aside. Just another reminder of how similar those two really are...
Came Back Wrong: The Director kept trying to "get her right", resulting in a bunch of dangerous Tex/Allison robots, at least some of which have the voice of Omega.
Hanging out with the Reds and Blues has revived Wash's old Nice Guy self.
And being shown a memory of how York felt about her and realizing Epsilon knows more about her drive to reconcile old wounds than she thought is the catalyst that makes Carolina open up a little more, even going so far as to give Epsilon some good-natured teasing about his awkwardness in carrying her.
Chekhov's Gag: The Reds are unsure of Carolina, and are considering going home. Wash plays along, then plants the idea that they're wanted criminals and that they'll be ambushed upon arrival. This immediately changes their tune. It's brought up again MUCH later, when it's revealed that they really ARE wanted criminals.
Carolina's Grappling-Hook Pistol. First seen in Episode 3 of Season 9, it made a return in Episode 4, where she used it to... grip Washington to bring him on to a Pelican. In Episode 19, if one were to look closely towards the end when Carolina is falling, the tip of the pistol is visible, explaining her survival. It also comes in handy while fighting the Tex robots.
The army of robot bodies Epsilon and Caboose saw stashed away in the Freelancer facility in Revelation. A similar batch is finally put to use by the Director toward the end of Season 10.
Chekhov's Gunman: The Mysterious Blue Guy? He's Agent Florida, better known as Captain Butch Flowers.
Clone Degeneration: The army of Tex that are seen near the end of the season are visibly clunker and slower than the "real" Tex, and could be fought to a standstill by the Reds, Blues, Wash and Carolina. See also Conservation of Ninjutsu.
Coming In Hot: The Mother of Invention and its crash landing into Sidewinder in Episode 19 following being hit by its own missiles and losing Artificial Gravity courtesy of York.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Seen with the Tex clones the crew face in Episode 21. This is explained by them being run by a single A.I. distributed over hundreds of bodies.
Continuity Cavalcade: Episode 21 packs as many references to past episodes, actions, jokes, and everything else into the fight between the Reds and Blues versus the army of Texes.
Carolina's opening line before the fight, "Alright, me first," is a reference to Tex's first line in Revelation, Episode 10: "Alright, who's first?"
The quotes Carolina hears as she tries to destroy the Tex army are from various moments over her time in the prequel segments, both heard by her and not. This culminates in "Better luck next time, Carolina", said by the Tex drones in reference to Episode 17 of Season 9.
Donut sticks the heads of three Tex robots with plasma grenades, calling out "nine points, you dirty whores!" as he did in Episode 19 of Red Vs Blue The Blood Gulch Chronicles (three points in that case, for one person).
Blood Gulch Blues being played over the lock and load sequence after the Big Damn Heroes moment.
Carolina's Leitmotif is given a sad version during her fight with York and a dark version during her fight with Tex
While "Plagram Extrinam Infigere" from the season finale of Revelation was already rather dark (given it translates to "Extremely Bloody Murder"), when the Meta takes Carolina's AI and tosses her off a cliff, you can hear a slower, more foreboding version of the drumbeat play in the background.
Dead Man Writing: Tex's dog tag is actually a data unit Connie left for her, complete with an "If you're seeing this" message and copies of all the dirt she'd gathered on the Director and Project Freelancer. Turns out Tex is the only one she trusted to do the right thing.
Tex (in the flashbacks) also seems a little friendlier towards North in Episode 16, claiming that it took her some time to get used to having Omega in her head, and that she has had him shut down for some time following the incident in Episode 15 where he wanted to have her kill Carolina.
Driven to Suicide: The Director, who shoots himself in the head with Carolina's pistol after shutting off life support in the Offshore Freelancer Facility. F.I.L.S.S. also technically counts as he ordered her to delete every single file and program in Project Freelancer except for the video of Allison, which she acknowledges includes herself.
Dumbass Has a Point/The Cuckoolander Was Right: Caboose seems to be getting relatively more intelligent this season, having made multiple statements that show a remarkably accurate grasp of the situation the Blood Gulch crew is in. Hell, he seems to have a better handle on the situation than Sarge (not that that's saying much). The crew have even remarked at how surprising this is.
Elite Mook: The ODST Insurrectionists from Season 9 return this season, presenting a similar spike in difficulty to the Freelancers.
South and Wyoming serve as elite mooks in Episode 19, with Carolina being something of a Boss Battle.
Enemy Chatter: The Running Gag from last season is still going strong, with two mooks in Episode 2 talking to each other about being under attack.
The Faceless: As of Episode 6, the only faces of important characters (Insurrection Elite Mooks notwithstanding) in the prequel segments not shown have been Washington, Maine, Texas, and, to a degree, the Director. Texas' reason is self evident by this point in the plot (having been revealed as far back as Season 6), and the Director has all of him shown at one point or another except for his eyes. With the exception of Washington and Texas, this serves to make those examples more unnerving than frustrating, lending an air of mystery.
Played for epic laughs with Washington in Episode 7.
York: Are you eating inside your helmet?
Then played for drama in Episode 17. To avoid showing Wash's face during his implantation surgery, they show the surgery from his point of view while the implantation causes him to have a mental episode. Complete with memory flashes, Dutch Angles, and warped visuals.
Failed a Spot Check: After discovering that Doc has returned, Sarge orders Simmons to get him [Sarge] his gun. Simmons replies that Sarge is already holding said gun.
Failed Attempt at Drama: Church tries to make a dramatic exit... but is stymied by the fact that he's attached to Tucker, so he has to stop and ask Tucker to go along with him.
Fandom Nod: A popular fanon of Wash (especially on Tumblr) is "Cat Lady Wash" with fans giving him a cat (usually named Hartford, but this can vary). In episode 14 we see inside his locker, inside are some towels, a skateboard featuring the Rooster Teeth emblem, a rubber ducky, and pictures of cats! Shannon McCormick had known about the fanon, having discovered it on Tumblr, and specifically campaigned to get the cats included.
Fanservice: Episode 11 has North and York having an extended conversation while helmet-less and wearing t-shirts. It wasn't exactly a steamy shower scene, but it's a lot more skin than we've ever seen these two handsome guys show, let alone any of the protagonist soldiers in the entire series.
Episode 17 has a number of these while Tex is looking through the files, notable ones being that Sigma's emotional core is Ambition (and Theta's is Trust); that AIs with Happiness, Love, Greed, and Fear exist; and that Allison is Beta.
Look sharp, or you'll miss a shot of York careening through space while Carolina and South are discussing their next move in Episode 3.
Theta trying and failing to balance on a holographic skateboard in Episode 6, even completely falling over at one point. Though he seems to get it right by the end of the scene, as he rides it out of the room.
Not entirely background, but it's easy to miss the magically changing fruit that Wash is eating with his helmet on in Episode 7.
During the big fight scene in Episode 21, you can see Caboose charging from one side of the room to the other, tossing Texes thither and yon as he goes.
In the credits following Episode 22, the Net-Surfing Guy from Episode 1 floats by in his chair.
Gratuitous Japanese: In the song "Now That We've Come So Far" which serves as the credits music on the DVD.
Carolina seems to have made a twin set of Plasma Rifles her weapons of choice in this season.
Connecticut seems fond of using two pistols.
In Episode 19, North does it with a pair of sniper rifles, with enough precision to shoot rockets out of the air.
Heel Realization: Sort of in the case of Carolina in Episode 21. She finally realizes that no matter how hard she tries, she can't beat Texas on her own, so she finally teams up effectively with the Reds and Blues.
After Connecticut's files jog his memory in Episode 17, Epsilon-Church integrates the hidden copies of the fragments he was carrying and transforms back into the complete Alpha-Church. And he remembers everything. However, as Episode 18 shows, this is something of a deconstruction. Yes, parts of Alpha-Church are back. Specifically his memories and his temper, the latter of which is much worse.
Episode 20 features an equally dramatic and much, much scarier example.
Grif: Hey, Simmons, when you say DonutnailedLopez to a board? Simmons: I mean with nails. Grif: Okay, had to ask. Simmons: No, no, I understand. I should've been clearer. That's my fault.
Hope Spot: The female insurrectionist is hanging from a ledge... her boss's distinct cybernetic arm reaches down to give her a hand. She takes it... and it's being held by Maine, who had cut it off earlier. And then he lets go.
Hulking Out: When the full-sized Epsilon gets angry and starts ranting about how everyone owes him for what they've done to him, he grows and grows and his voice deepens until he's a scary giant avatar of glowing orange/red rage. However, when he calms down, he shrinks to the small, blue Epsilon-Church form. Even Caboose wordlessly backs away from him afterwards.
Interesting Situation Duel: In Episode 19, we have York versus Carolina in an elevator shaft on the Mother of Invention with no Artificial Gravity. This is topped a short time later in the same episode by Tex versus Carolina in a computer room and a hallway, on different surfaces, in a ship that is Coming In Hot to a nearby planet.
Highlighting just how similar to the Omega-infused Tex it is that Carolinahas become.
Carolina (Episode 10): I don't know what's gotten into you, Texas, but you better figure out the difference between your enemies and your friends. Washington (Episode 18): I don't know what's gotten into you, Carolina, but you better figure out the difference between your enemies and your friends.
Another one where, again, Carolina's role is reversed, not to mention that, as of Episode 22, counts as a case of Like Father, Like Daughter.
The Director (Episode 8): Leave personnel decisions to me Agent Carolina. Carolina (Episode 18): Leave personnel decisions to me Agent Washington.
A different one comes up in Episode 22, this time contrasting the two in the one directly above, and within the space of two scenes in succession.
Epsilon:Oh, there's still one place we haven't visited. Somewhere we can make a home. Carolina: Show me.
The Director:The Alpha needs anonymity. A place where no-one will think to look for him. The Counselor:I believe I know exactly the place. The Director: Show me.
Irony: The lesson that Church and Carolina were supposed to learn in Episode 12 was to let go of the past. However, they're still utterly consumed with their single minded mission to kill the Director, as is best shown in Episode 18. If anybody has taken the moral to heart, it's Wash, who is no longer interested in taking revenge on the Director and is only concerned with looking out for his friends. Church, who was the one teaching Carolina in Episode 12, is the one who calls Wash out about walking out on them.
It Has Been an Honor: In Episode 22, the Director says this he orders F.I.L.S.S. to delete all Project Freelancer files, including herself. F.I.L.S.S. responds in kind.
Though Caboose is totally oblivious in Episode 6, and it isn't the first time he's been shot at for laughs, Carolina's threat is played coldly straight when she shoots at an explosive a distance behind him.]]
South petitioning for one of Carolina's AI's as the latter lies in the hospital in Episode 16. Tex takes particular exception to it, calling her a vulture, and even North admits that it was uncalled for.
Epsilon-Church's "The Reason You Suck" Speech in Episode 18. After they told their piece and said, rightfully, that killing the Director has nothing to do with them, he, rightfully, screams at all of the assembled Reds and Blues (directing mostly at those from Blood Gulch), blaming them for most his problems and saying that, when it came down to it, all they amounted to problems for him. This Kick the Dog was so blatant every single one of them, even Caboose, walked out on him temporarily.
Not to mention Church telling Wash he shouldn't have been surprised Washington was abandoning their cause. Wash fought the battle against the project longer and harder than either Epsilon or Carolina did. He earned his chance to just let go of the past.
Killed Off for Real: Aside from those Doomed by Canon in the flashbacks and not shown in-season, we have, in chronological order, Utah (in a deleted scene), the Insurrection Elite Mook squad aside from the leader, Connecticut, possibly the latest Texas, F.I.L.S.S., and Doctor Leonard Church, a.k.a. the Director.
Knife Fight: Though Carolina uses a Humblerstundevice, her battles with the female Insurrectionist member in Episode 9 and with Conncecticut in Episode 10 give off this impression.
Know When to Fold 'Em: Wash spent years nursing a secret grudge against the Director, bidding his time for when he would be able to bring down the Director and Freelancer. In Season 10, he's finally given a chance to get his revenge against the Director, and yet chooses to let go of his vendetta in Episode 18 rather than put his new friends in danger over something that is not their problem. Unlike Carolina and even Church, it seems he's finally learned to let go of the past.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The first line of Season 10, arguably the most exciting and anticipated season yet? "And now, the moment you've all been waiting for..."
Let's Get Dangerous/Misfit Mobilization Moment: In Episode 20, Doc's speech about how the adventures after Blood Gulch ended up giving almost all of the Blood Gulch Crew (and Washington) what they wanted in some way results in the majority of those present agreeing to leave and help Epsilon and Carolina, since Epsilon is still Church, and therefore still their friend. Washington takes some more convincing, but Sarge's subsequent speech is enough to have him join the others in "the worst idea... ever".
Let's See YOU Do Better: When Carolina demands to be implanted with an AI, the Director lets her choose which one she'll obtain (and therefore take from one of her teammates) under this basis.
The Director: If she thinks our decisions are so easy, then let her make one.
Episode 15, hands down. At first, it seems like there's going to be an epic Monty Oum battle. It starts with Carolina, pumped up by two AI units, assembling her equipment for her match with Tex. On FILSS's signal, the two rush towards one another... and then the Director, outraged at the unauthorized match, accidentally calls Tex "Allison". Then, the episode suddenly becomes extremely dark, as all the AI act up in their owners' heads, Carolina goes nuts due to her two AI, and the Sarcophagus starts snarling and screaming. Back in the present, the Reds go looking for Lopez to reboot him... and then Donut reappears, revealed to be alive with the help of Doc, drastically lightening the mood.
Musicalis Interruptus: In Episode 3, when adventure "about to set out and kick ass" music gears up as the Freelancers go to find the Insurgent leader of this group in "Bone Valley"... York crashed into the scene at last on his Jet Pack, face first. Cue beat as everyone turns and stares at him for ruining the moment.
New Meat: Washington's status as the new guy is further cemented this season, and is often used as way to get someone to put up exposition about certain aspects of Project Freelancer. It's also Played for Laughs, since he has no clue about the Noodle Incidents his squadmates keep talking about.
Wash destroying the artificial gravity while trying to hack the system, in Episode 2. Not that it's a bad thing for the audience, because we get treated to an epically awesome zero-G battle. It's not even a bad thing for the crew, since they're considerably more prepared for zero-g combat (they have magnetic boots and jetpacks) than the mooks they're dealing with.
In Episode 10, Texas killing Connie. Sure, she was an enemy, but, as she learns in Episode 17, Connie could have actually helped shut down Project Freelancer much sooner, and with far less pain to the members.
How Carolina and York met, in Episode 12. The story cut off before York could finish, going straight into the next diary log.
Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Wash (the Blood Gulch guys are the pond). Emphasized even more strongly in the flashbacks when York notes in the Episode 8 that he's easily the worst fighter in the squad. That said, the other people in the squad areYork, North, Carolina, and Maine.
Episode 10 pretty much confirms that CT and the Resistance Leader had a relationship. From the looks of it, they planned to steal Freelancer equipment and then run away together. It didn't work out so well.
The Insurrectionist sniper in Episode 8, when one of his squadmates decides toshoot at the inside of the Beehive Barrier with a submachine gun.
You can practically see the despair on the sleeveless ODST's face in Episode 9 when he realizes that Maine's going to kill him.
A pair of comical examples in Episode 15: Simmons and Sarge aren't too excited to have Donut and Doc around again.
In Episode 18, we have a tragic example. Immediately after Epsilon-Church's "The Reason You Suck" Speech, his reaction as Tucker leaves, followed slowly by everyone else but Carolina, is a quiet version of this. It quickly evolves into Please Don't Leave Me.
In Episode 20.
Epsilon: Oh no. Carolina: Church? What is this? Epsilon: He kept trying. He kept trying to get her right. Carolina: You thinks these things are anything like the real deal? Camera Pans to reveal an army made up of Tex copies, cracking their knuckles and necks. One of the Tex copies, in the voice of Omega:You have no idea what kind of trouble you are in.
After Church rages at the crew in Episode 18, Caboose leaves Epsilon-Church, despite his prior Undying Loyalty, driving home just how crushed the Blood Gulch Crew is at that point. That said, he does get over it quickly enough, so it's probably more that he was upset that Epsilon-Church was alienating his friends than anything else.
Phlebotinum Overdose: Carolina takes on Iota and Eta because she believes that two AIs, being fragments themselves for an AI that is generally implanted to armor complete, will be better than one, and allow her to surpass Tex. The agony that comes from hearing them both calling out to "Allison" when the Director accidentally pushed the AI fragment Brown Note left her extremely debilitated, and, after being knocked out by Texas, she did not regain consciousness for several days at the least.
The fight between Carolina and York, plus the one between Carolina and Tex would both have gone a lot more smoothly if either York or Tex had just said: "The Director is torturing someone to make these AIs and this is a rescue mission." However, instead they just make vague comments. Still, at that point it's doubtful Carolina would have listened, given how emotionally unstable she was from Eta and Iota, her feelings of betrayal by York, her personal grudge against Tex and her loyalty to the Director.
Church also basically cites this as the reason why nobody trusts Carolina. She basically orders the Reds, Blues and Wash around in an abrasive manner without giving them any explanation for why they're doing anything, what her motivations are, or even trying to connect with them. Church and Wash know the reasons and justifications for her behaviour, but a lot of problems the group has throughout this season might have been avoided if she had taken a breather to just talk with them.
Epsilon-Church: So that's it? You're just going to turn your back on us? Washington: Epsilon, I know that it- Epsilon-Church: No, you're right. I guess I should have seen that one coming. It's not exactly like you're new to the concept, is it? Sarge: That's a little harsh. Epsilon-Church: But you guys, after all the shit you've put me through, I really thought at least you would have my back. Grif: Us? What the hell did we do? Epsilon-Church: You shot me through the head, you put a bombin my gut, you killed me with my own damn tank! And that's just how we met! Tucker:Church, calm down! What's your problem?! Epsilon-Church:You're my problem! You've always been my problem! Each and every one of you is just a problem that I have to deal with on a Daily. Basis!
My God, What Have I Done?: Once Church calms down after saying that, he tries to apologize to them. Grif, whom he considers to be very intelligent and actually gets along with, leaves with the other Reds first. He is followed by Tucker, who is Church's closest friend and has been for many years. By the end, he's begging Caboose, for whom he presumably has become a Broken Pedestal, not to leave. It doesn't work.
Replacement Goldfish: Wash apparently became this for Church, after the latter went into the capture unit. To the point where Caboose even calls Wash by Church's name, though only to make it easier for Caboose (the armor color confuses him), as Church discovers much to his fury after being rescued from the capture unit. This is cemented in the last scenes of the season, with Wash yelling at Tucker and Caboose to get back to work, just like Church used to do.
The Reveal: In episode 22: The mysterious blue guy is Captain Flowers/Agent Florida, and Carolina is the Director and Alison's daughter.
Reverse Psychology: Wash pulls this off perfectly on the Red Team in the present day bits of Episode 6, when they threaten to leave and go back home. He notes that they're right about there maybe being some kind of bad things back home... like a UNSC ambush, since they're wanted criminals.
In episode 20, this hilariously turns out to actually be true, even though Wash had been—as far as he knew—BSing them.
Wash:*deadpan* You gotta be fucking kidding me.
Rivals Team Up: Tex and Carolina take on Connecticut and the Insurrectionist Leader together in Episode 10.
The Scapegoat: Wash ends up taking the blame for the breakdown of Freelancer, even though it turns out that Tex's defection and the Meta's rampage had as much if not more to do with the Director's decision to mothball the A.I.s. Likewise, Tex is initially blamed for Meta's first attack (as no one yet knows that Maine has finally lost it).
Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Wash, Tucker, Caboose, and the Reds eventually have all they can take of Carolina and Church, and walk out on them. They eventually change their minds, though.
Shown Their Work/Shout Out: The Freelancer discussion of A.I. theory in episode 6 is a startlingly accurate summary of how A.I. works in the Bungie-verse, first articulated in the Marathon series (the Halo series uses the same rules for A.I. behavior). It also reveals the origin of the Meta's name (for Metastability, the theoretical 4th stage of rampancy where an A.I. achieves full human sentience, which Sigma wanted to achieve).
Shrinking Violet: Theta is very shy when North is trying to show him to the others. If you look closely, you can even see Theta is constantly wringing his hands nervously during the interaction.
Sic 'Em: Said word-for-word by Sigma to Maine when he shows up at the battle during the eighth episode.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Most of the notably mentioned Project Freelancer events (Maine becoming the Meta, the Epsilon Incident, and even South and North's falling out) are pushed to the side in favor of showing the story of Carolina. Maine, in particular, is largely Out of Focus, showing up in a single fight scene and a handful of largely background appearances before suiting up to become the Meta.
North carries South away after their fight. He apologizes and tells her he always has her back. She responds, "And I'm watching yours."
Carolina is shown walking into Club Errera.
Doc is revealed to have been left behind in Valhalla.
The Director's video of Allison is shown in its entirety.
Strange Minds Think Alike: Tucker in the present and York in the past both commenting on Carolina's greenish-blue-seafoam-green/aquamarine-turquoise armor in almost the exact same wording.
Summon Bigger Fish: Washington signals for a pod containing Sigma-enhanced Maine to fight the sleeveless Insurrectionist.
Super Strength: All Freelancers seem to possess at least some degree of this, given the insane moves even the lower-tier ones are shown to pull off. Most visibly, York is able to lift a gym locker over his head and use it as a projectile weapon. Also, an extreme version of this is potentially Maine's original Freelancer ability; if you listen carefully, you'll hear faint mechanical noises when he winds back for a punch. He paid back the sleeveless Insurrectionist for the whole "shot in the throat" bit. He's certainly augmented, but whether this is his armor's special ability or just standard Freelancer enhancement remains to be seen. Also Caboose, though his might be purely natural.
Sympathy for the Devil: Carolina feels sorry for Maine, since Sigma was her AI, and so Maine wasn't suited to handle him, leading to his corruption and by extension the entire Recollection Trilogy. This is made more significant by the revelation in Episode 19 that she was the Meta's first victim.
Carolina: Poor Maine.
Epsilon-Church agrees. During his confrontation with the Director, he lists the Meta as one of his victims:
Church: No! You've had your fucking time. You have to answer for what you did. To the Meta, to Washington, to Carolina... to me, and to her. To Texas!
When Carolina and Epsilon-Church finally confront the Director in Episode 22, he's such a broken shell of a man that Carolina can feel nothing but pity for him.
Take a Third Option: When presented with the option of taking either Washington's or South's AIs, Carolina decides to take both of them.
Tattooed Villain: Maine has the Meta's symbol tattooed on the back of his shaved head.
The Bus Came Back: Episode 15 re-introduces Donut and Doc, who haven't been seen since the ends of Seasons 7 and 8, respectively.
Sadly, Doc got back on it. He was too busy preparing for the trip, complete with his own rocket launcher, and didn't get to the others in time to get on the planes with them. The people they stole the planes from don't have a problem with him though, so he'll be okay.
In Episode 1, Epsilon-Church is not happy that Wash became his replacement on Blue Team. But instead of raving and ranting like the Alpha, he just gets more and more teeth-clenched and sarcastic at every new revelation.
Tex in Episode 10, when CT calls her a "shadow." Considering what Tex does to CT after this exchange, this seems to have been a Berserk Button for her.
CT: I know what you are, Tex. And I won't take orders from a shadow.
Tex:What did you just call me?
True Companions: The Freelancers come off as once being this the more we see them. Kind of summed up by North a bit snarkily in Episode 5 when he comments that York and Wash are "my friends, for reasons beyond my comprehension". Episode 12 shows this is a deconstruction. Despite being such a close-knit unit, they still fell apart eventually. This led to Carolina being pretty much completely unable to trust anyone later on.
This particularly becomes a deconstruction when you realise that the Blood Gulch crew, who were recruited and trained to hate and fight each other, have become far more friendly towards one another in recent seasons, while the Freelancers, who are supposed to be a team and work together, are the ones who fell apart due to in-fighting and conflicting loyalties. In other words, the Freelancers were supposed to be True Companions, while the Blood Gulch crew were the ones who actually achieved it.
C.T. pointed out early on that the failure of Project Freelancer to achieve True Companion status was due at least partially to the Leaderboard. Instead of encouraging the members of the squad to work together, it turned almost half the team into Competition Freaks, with Carolina, South being two notable examples. Instead of working as a team, we got situations where Maine and Wyoming were more concerned with being the ones to take out Tex, and Carolina was less concerned with achiving the mission objectives than doing better than Tex during said mission. This constant competition bred resentment, distrust, and ultimately was a factor in the team eating itself.
Vitriolic Best Buds: We see York and Delta's friendship progress over time from initial distrust/serious criticism of each other, to the friendly needling and snark they had in "Out of Mind" and now in York's "present day" journal entries.
Was It Really Worth It?: In Episode 22, F.I.L.S.S. asks the Director if Project Freelancer was ultimately a success. He says no, but he thinks he was close (to reviving Allison).
Episode 10. From the chronologically first on-screen death of a Freelancer (unless the deleted scene about Utah counts), a massive revision about CT's identity in Season 7, and the implication to Tex and Carolina that there's a lot more to Freelancer than meets the eye.
Episode 17: Wash is implanted with Epsilon, Connie was invoking a Batman-Gambit for Tex to get her information on the Director, Beta is Texas, we finally see Allison's face, and Epsilon gains many of the capabilities and memories of the Alpha.
Episode 20: We see what the Director was doing all this time.
Episode 22: Carolina and Epsilon-Church finally reach the Director. They spare him, but he decides to commit suicide along with F.I.L.S.S. anyway. Carolina then heavily implies, if not outright states that she is the daughter of the original Allison and Director Leonard Church.
Out of all of the original Project Freelancer characters, the only ones we don't know the ultimate fates of so far are the Counselor and Four Seven Niner (and Freelancer Command if she's not the same person as Four Seven Niner).
In Episode 11, after discussion with the Reds and Blues about the Monitor unit that Epsilon used as a body from part way into Season 7 to part way into Season 8, Carolina gets angry and stops talking about it entirely when she realizes that they left it on the floor of a warehouse. Despite it being the reason Tucker was defending the temple at Sandtrap in Season 7 and apparently a very important artifact to the Insurrectionist Leader, nobody bothers to look for it further after that even when the gang go back to the same warehouse where they left it in the first place. Considering Carolina's Heel Realization, this is especially jarring, since it could have helped to go through with her atonement following the death of the Director if she had tried to grab it on the way out, and Tucker didn't even seem to mention why he thought it was a "big pain in the ass". However, with the release of Halo 4 and its focus on the Forerunners, this might be a Sequel Hook to lead into the new trilogy while Carolina and Epsilon hunt down the remaining technology of Project Freelancer.
What Could Have Been: An unused fight scene for Season 9, but was later updated for use in Season 10, would've had Carolina's armor completely break off after chasing the Sleeveless Insurrectionist, having a fight in a subway that would've ended with Carolina using her Grappling-Hook Gun to decapitate the guy.
Where It All Began: Episode 19 reveals that Maine assimilated his first additional AIs (Eta and Iota) at Sidewinder/Avalanche near a cliff, with Sigma proclaiming the group in Maine "the Meta" for the first time. Retroactively, this makes Maine's Disney Villain Death in the finale of "Revelation" an example, as it is both the place where the Meta was "born" and killed.
Worth It: Tucker thinks as much when Epsilon manages to stop the Tex army in Episode 21... but after Grif was hit with a simultaneous Groin Attack by 20 Texes at once.
In Episode 21, Carolina is facing her Darkest Hour, as she begins to realize that she can never defeat Tex... when the gang pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment, causing her to realize that she really needs them.