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Nightmare Fuel: Red vs. Blue aka: Red Vs Blue The Project Freelancer Saga
Right from the start, Reconstruction demonstrates it's darker tone with an intensely creepy scene. A shellshocked soldier's recount of O'Malley's Mind Rape and slaughter of an entire outpost of simulation troopers. Needless to say, it's chilling to hear a previously comedic villain described in such a brutal and serious manner.
Which actually brings up a good source of Fridge Horror. While it was Played for Laughs during Blood Gulch Chronicles, O'Malley's infections would be terrifying if they happened in Real Life. Imagine it, you're hanging out with your friend Frank, chatting aimlessly, messing around. All of a sudden, Frank starts laughing like a maniac and screaming about how he's going to split open everyone's skulls and drink the blood that flows out. At first you're thinking "What kind of drugs are you on mate?" But then Frank grabs you by the throat and starts smashing your head into the ground. Bob sees what's happening and rushes over to help you. The two of you somehow manage to subdue Frank and tie him up. At this point Frank relaxes and you breath a sigh of relief, thinking the crisis is over. Then Bob begins to laugh...
That's not even getting into what it must be like for the person being possessed. While it was Played for Laughs, it's been well established in Canon that O'malley's hosts are sometimes fully aware when he's possessing them. Which means you could be forced to watch while your own hands are used to brutally murder everyone you care about.
Which means it must've downright horrible for Doc. Again, Played for Laughs, but Doc is a very gentle and caring person who abhores fighting. And he was forced to go after and attempt to kill the very people whom he was sent to help.
Another bit of Fridge Horror, the last thing you see of the survivor is him being taken away by some of the Director's men. Then you remember the Director reporting that there were no survivors at Valhalla and... Oh my God.
Adding to that, in Seasons 9 and 10 we see how Tex acts when Omega is with her for an extended period, borderline homicidal at times. Take into account that he was in Body Surf mode, and she can do so as well...
The Meta is an incredibly menacing villain. A merciless psychopath with the intelligence and efficiency of an elite assassin, and the ruthlessness and brutality of a wild animal. If it wants you dead it will hunt you to the ends of the earth. It will slaughter thousands to get to you and their nothing you can do stop it, not even shoving an energy sword through its chest will kill it. And The Meta is smart. It's not some raving monster charging towards you, it is a ruthless and intelligent predator that will hunt you until the day you die.
Not to mention the way it talks, those soft growls and that blank mask like helmet really drives home The Meta's inhumanity.
The story of how the A.Is were created. The Alpha (AKA Church) was tortured until it went insane and started developing split personalities.
We find out that Tex's damaged visor in Revelation's initial poster isn't from a headshot wound... it's because the Meta jammed the proboscis on the Recovery Unit straight through her face. The way she twitches as he's digging it into her skull doesn't help either.
Just imagine watching that scene if you didn't know Tex was an AI in a robot body—and there's nothing in the couple of episodes leading up to that explaining this if you haven't been following the story. Horrifying!
As of season 10 episode 5 we have Theta, who appears to represent Alpha's childish portion of his personality. Wasn't there an awfully chilling Creepy Child communicating through the Meta in Reconstruction?
It's one thing for the Blood Gulch guys to take potshots at each other — it's pretty much a sign of affection. But when Carolina does it ... brrrrr. (And at Caboose, no less!)
Her temper is really starting to get pushed, as well; she fired a warning shot right past Caboose when his stupidity kept annoying her. Honestly, she seems to be even worse than her rival at that point.
Sigma pressing the issue of metastability in class is bad enough (those eyes, geez), but then he stays behind and starts playing tangrams with the Greek letters on the video screen while the Meta's Letimotif kicks in. It is simultaneously terrifying and completely awesome. Looking back, that scene shows that Sigma was planning his search for A.I. fragments that early in the series. All those fragments he was in class with just then? He was already plotting to murder and absorb them.
And in episode nine, he's at it again, whispering in Delta's ear and giving York and Washington an acute case of the heebie jeebies.
Eh, his goal was never to hurt the AI, in fact he wanted to help them reform, which is what they should do (keep in mind, that as split personalities, none of them should exist, and only exist as a result of torture). He was, however, planning on killing all the humans in class and planning to use Maine as a puppet, potentially forever. Which makes his thank you speech to Carolina all the creepier, since it's implied that Carolina could've kept him in check since he was meant for her.
Those two Insurrectionist soldiers (let's call them Mr. Frowny and Mr. Smiley) in episode nine. There's just something about eery about their happy/sad visors, emblems on their turret guns, the way they talk with giggles and weeps, and the creepy carnival music that kicks in when they appear. These guys definePsycho for Hire.
They die when Mysterious Blue Guy shoots a crane, causing them to fall over a railing and be killed by a giant crate. What's weird is when it lands, the blood splatters are yellow. Although it could easily be the paint cans they were using, the idea of it being Alien Blood is still a creepy thought.
Even creepier? The people voicing them are Michael Jones of Rage Quit and his wife (then girlfriend) Lindsay. They're both known for being nice people, the former's temper aside. Yet in this they're outright creepy.
Carolina's personal competition with Tex turns into this. Her going after the briefcase was one thing, but running through the fire of two mini-gunners because Tex got past her is suicidal. It gets bad enough that she actually fired a bullet through Epsilon when he compared her to Tex. It was just an offhand comment, but she was so quick that you get the impression she would've shot him even if he had a real body. She keeps going through a training simulation over and over again well into the night when she fails a mission, to boot.
Tex killing CT in episode 10 by throwing an axe at her chest. It's the first, clear-cut time that we've seen just how fucking brutal she is. It's hard to view her in the same light after that.
Georgia's hinted fate. Played for laughs though, mostly, with Washington's constant queries about what happened, and never getting an answer.
One for the audience: Every single time the freelancers speculate about their A.I.s and where they came from. Goes double for North and York because of their status as canon fodder.
And then York and North are discussing how their respective AI's have difficulties sleeping and are a bit paranoid. The evidence of the trauma the Alpha endured to create them is suddenly very visible.
In episode 12 of season 10, when Grif say he can't sleep. That speaks volumes for how nervous/afraid/unsettled the Reds and Blues are by their situation. It rubs off on the audience.
Gamma and Sigma double-teaming Carolina as the scariest shoulder angels ever. Gamma's mechanical voice is extremely unsettling in this scene. In fact, looking at this scene, it seems that the two AI double teamed her to figure out the best candidate to house them so they could merge with the other AI. At this point, it seems that the Director might not have been aware of this.
An absolutely horrific one revealed in the same episode but that literally spans the entire story line: It's all Carolina's fault. She gave up Sigma so that Maine could communicate thereby dooming him to become Sigma's puppet, and now she essentially robbed South of an AI and Wash of a sane AI. If she hadn't done this North (all the Freelancers, actually) would be alive, and Wash would never have suffered the Epsilon Incident. Of course, it's pretty much Sigma's fault for the most part, but her hubris led to, in the least, the fall of everyone except Maine.
That's debatable though. This might be a case of; if she didn't do it, somebody else would. Sigma and Epsilon would still have been dispensed. There's no way of knowing if Carolina wouldn't have done the same thing Maine did if she had kept Sigma. Also, given the nature of Epsilon, it would've undoubtedly done the same thing to whoever it got installed into as it did for Washington.
In the background Maine barely moves until the two AI are through double teaming her, at which point he lurches forward slightly, and puts a hand to his temple. You do the math.
Imagine, if you will, what it's like to be Maine. First you lose all ability to communicate, then you are given an AI and are told it will help you communicate. But as time goes on the AI starts to take over, you start blacking out on periods of time (ie the locker room issue mentioned above) and eventually you loose control completely. The AI forces you to kill everyone on your team and take their AIs. And that's not even getting started on the voices you keep hearing.
We don't know how much control he had over his actions as the Meta but it's implied he didn't have very much at all.
Although, it should be noted, that once Sigma and the other AIs were killed by the emp, Maine didn't have a My God, What Have I Done? moment; instead he was still focused on tracking down the AIs, and was willing to kill Wash once the opportunity presented itself. Granted, it could just be that Sigma had so profoundly messed up Maine's head that impulse was ingrained, but note that throughout Revelation, he was pretty much a Silent Snarker foil to Wash.
Arguably, Maine was driven irrevocably insane by Sigma's influence. It's true, Maine continued to act as the Meta after Sigma was destroyed by the EMP blast, but contrast Maine's actions prior to receiving Sigma (which included Taking the Bullet for Carolina and an implied friendship with Washington), with his actions after Sigma.
Season 10, episode 15: Who would have guessed the screaming would start with everyone but Wash?
I might've been hearing things but I think Maine roared in pain. Not his usual growls or snarls.
When Tex kneels down, you can hear Omega urging her to kill Carolina ("end it ... you know you want to"). And Tex actually starts to reach out before pulling back. Where's funny ineffective Omega when you need him?
When the Counselor offers to tranquilize Carolina, the Director coldly refuses and leaves her to scream her brains out. Holy moly, that gave me shivers.
We see the sarcophagus from season nine again. It reacts to whatever the Director caused when he called Tex's name with snarling and growls. The hell is in that box?
Forget the mind-rape. That is par the course for AIs in RvB. What got me were Carolina's screams — without a doubt the most agonizing and terrified screams in RvB. Seeing a badass like Carolina whimpering on the ground afterwards just made it worse.
Have we forgot about what Wash must have been feeling? Just think: you are about to watch 2 of the biggest badasses you know duke it out, until your terrifying boss walks in. He shouts the name 'Allison' and all of a sudden, every single one of your closest friends starts writhing in pain while screaming (or roaring, in Maine's case) to make it stop. And there's nothing you can do about it.
This also builds the anticipated fear for when Wash finally goes insane from Epsilon. If this is how much agony Carolina is in after only a few minutes, how much worse is Wash gonna scream when Epislon tries to commit suicide in his head?
Even before all of that, the way that Sigma was watching Carolina and Tex, almost like he was gloating.
In episode 16 of season 10, we finally see a scene of the Director, Counselor, Gamma, Sigma, and Omega torturing a new fragment, Epsilon, out of Alpha. It's exactly as horrible as it sounds. Not to mention it puts the Time Travel aspect in a much harsher light.
The contents of the sarcophagus. Just judging from the Shadow, it looks to be a Covenant Engineer. An Engineer itselfis hardly terrifying. The fact that they're manipulating a benevolent alien creature that just wants to help others into assisting them into breaking down Alpha? And succeeding? Yeah, pretty unsettling.
In addition, we learn how it is they increase the chance of the fragment bonding with their agent. They create a scenario where that specific agent happened to die because of Alpha's failure. It's emotional torture, not physical. Over time, this severed various aspects, such as Theta, his trust and inner child.
We finally got to see Wash begin to go insane... FROM HIS POINT OF VIEW. Yeah, it's as bad as it sounds.
Kind of crosses between this and Awesome, but when Epsilon finally learns where the Director is hidden, the way he changes from his AI to his ghost is... chilling.
Epsilon: Carolina. I know where to find the Director. Carolina: What? How? Epsilon: I just remembered... everything.
And then in the next episode, when he's ranting, he grows into a giant deep-voiced avatar of glowing, bright red-orange pure rage. Even Caboose backs away nervously and is all, Screw This, I'm Outta Here!.
Becomes a Tear Jerker when he realizes what he's doing and shrinks all the way back down to his mobile avatar (and finally disappears).
Episode 18 opens with the Chairman discussing requests the Director made for training bases (presumably for the Red vs Blue war), while we see Maine, with the Meta symbol tattooed on the back of his head, sharpening the blade on his brute shot. When he puts his helmet on, his armor glows red and holographic fire (like Sigma wears) appears in the foreground.
Wash and the twins talk about how Tex went rogue, escaped and tried to steal Gamma. South also mentions that Tex supposedly tried to take his equipment too. Maine's gone; in his place is The Meta.
Episode 19 has several:
Remember Sigma's "We are the Meta" scene from the trailer? It's here again, only much, much worse.
That little "ooh, feels good" shudder Maine does when he puts his helmet back on and Carolina's AIs take hold.
Carolina, who's still utterly loyal to the Director, finds herself forced to fight York, the person she cares most about. Who, in her eyes, betrayed her and all that she stands for. She then loses miserably to her life's greatest rival. Just as she's recovering from that, the nightmare known as the Meta rips out the AI chips from her head and throws her off a cliff.Damn. No wonder she hates the world and everything in it.
Listen to the music playing in that scene with the Meta. It's a reprise of the music that played when he stabbed Tex.
Consider the above scene with Meta and Carolina- he ripped the AI's RIGHT OUT OF HER HEAD! May also provide some Fridge Horror when you remember who the Meta got Delta from...
On the flip side, that provides some Fridge Brilliance as to why Meta didn't kill Caboose when taking Delta from him. He didn't have to rip Delta out because Caboose had never gotten the chips in his head.
Carolina and Church finally track down the Director's hiding place ... and find about a hundred robots that look like Tex and sound like O'Malley. Cue one of the biggest "Oh, crap"s of the entire series.
A subtle but intense moment in episode 21 Church contacts the new Tex AI and the scene mirrors the one in episode 19. It's an incredible Tear Jerker, but then you realize that the Director has been subjecting Allison, the woman he loved more than anyone else in the world, to the same tortures he subjected Alpha to.What is WRONG with that man?!
The Freelancer Program apparently obliterated a goddamn state to maintain the cover of one of their agents instead of faking his death. What the hell is wrong with these people?
This is debatable. Florida could actually still exist, the entire story a cover-up to explain the missing agent...which is arguably worse, because everyone thinks these people are dead.
How about the fact that kind, affable Captain Butch Flowers was not only a Freelancer, but he was so trusted by the Counselor that they chose to have him watch over the Alpha? That he knew that Church was an AI the whole time? Granted, when given the assignment, he still seemed to be characteristically overnice, but at the same time... he knew what was going on in Blood Gulch from the start.
Well, he was kinda dead for most of it, so it's not like he had any hand in maintaining the cover-up.
Not to mention that when he died (both times, incidentally) he was about to tell Church (Tucker the second time) something vital about their fight with the reds. It's possible he was going to reveal the truth about Church.
It's been mentioned a few times, but imagine this (largely involves Cerebus Retcon on Gamma). You find yourself isolated from all your friends after you're all almost killed by a psychopathic AI and his Freelancer for hire... only to be deceived and lied to, and find yourself living your own life all over again, trying to correct your failings but causing them indirectly again. Why is this not in Tear Jerker? You're being emotionally and mentally tortured, despite the fact that your torturer has no need to do so. All that so called time travel? Just your mind undergoing further Mind Rape because Gamma finds it funny.note For the record, Flowers did have an aspirin overdose (if not just a coverup by Project Freelancer), and Yellow Church was due to the time dilation unit, and not Gamma's methods.
Freckles' entrance. Cast and audience alike.
Season 11, Episode 10: Locus finding the Reds and Blues.
In order to hype up Season 12, Rooster Teeth is releasing character journals. Tucker's was a bit sad, but humorous and Simmons's and Caboose's were hilarious. The fourth one had no name on it and was entirety written. It's creepy as shit, and was revealed at the end to be Locus's.
Notably, Locus has something of an obsession over Wash. Intrigued by the man who was once David and the desire to kill Locus can see in his eyes. It's a wonder how deep this fixation will run.
Episode 2 probably had a in-universe one for Tucker when Locus arrived. This guy who decimated half Tucker's friends, including a former special agent and leader responsible for the destruction of Project Freelancer HQ, and is now stalking in Tucker's direction as bright red letters across Tucker's HUD spell out "EQUIPMENT MALFUNCTION", meaning the only thing keeping Tucker from his notice is going to stop working ANY second.
In Episode 9 Wash is having dreams of previous seasons, which gets disconcerting when he's watching himself talk to the Counselor and shooting Lopez and Donut, especially since he runs to try and stop the latter. Then when he's freaking out at Simmons's accusations, he turns around and shoots at Locus only to see himself fall to the ground dead. Freaky.
We also learn some more about the Federation army: not only has the war started with the New Republic attacking them, but there's been so much death that even civilians have been drafted, with the current general having been promoted from the Brigadier's secretary.
Was it just me, or did the room get brighter when Locus left the room?
It's not you, the brightness does change. It darkens when Sarge is talking to Lopez, so Locus might've been in the room that whole time.
Locus's attack on the Fed base in episode 10. Simmons is the only one to notice that the alarms they'd set off have stopped. Then they emerge to an apparently deserted area, and the first Fed they see is disintigrated by a Forerunner weapon. Suddenly there's Fed soldiers being hit by Forerunner ammunition all over the place, and its done in such a manner that you can't help but wonder if the Prometheans have been introduced...nope, turns out it's just Locus's forces using active camo. Still damn freaky.
There's just something unsettling in Felix's voice when he reveals his scheme to the guys. Maybe it's the lack of tone change, or the way he seems to want each word to hurt them a little more than the last, or maybe it's just that even though he doesn't sound very different, there's an edge of madness and loathing in his voice when he tells the Reds and Blues he's been playing them this whole time that makes your skin crawl.
Felix and Locus are perfectly fine murdering an entire planet's worth of people. It's bad enough that whoever hired them wants the people dead, but these two are fine with committing genocide just for a paycheck.
Word choice, tone and Felix's first choice adds something chilling to this. Felix wanted to nuke this planet from space to kill off the people. The tone used to say this is almost as casual as Felix when talking to the Red and Blue teams before. When he brings up that conspicuous nuking would draw more attention than the settlers killing each other, he says it would be 'just a tragedy'. Just that casual tone and the 'just' to the tragedy of two sides on a planet killing each other brings to light how frightening Felix is when his sociopathy isn't played for laughs.
Locus finally allows emotion to enter his voice when he gets fed up with Felix's gloating in episode 10. Specifically, a dark, malevolent venom:
Epsilon has managed to access all the shards (save, so far, Beta/Tex). The good news is that Delta and Theta are back, but the bad news is that Omega and Sigma are there, waiting in the wings. Omega even gets up close to Epsilon's virtual face, letting him know that he's waiting.
It was also revealed that Carolina has been having nightmares involving Sigma. No indication if the AI fragment himself is involved, or it's just her own memories and worries.
Carolina flat out punching a female member of the opposing mercs hard enough to knock her helmet off. Even after watching Carolina throw a steel door across the room, just the idea of being hit hard enough to remove a combat armor helmet is scary.
When Locus and Felix are contacting Control, the scene begins with Felix throwing a combat knife into the visor-plate of a dead guy's helmet, and it goes in to the hilt. And at the end of the call, Felix grabs it and yanks it back out! The corpse's head jerks forward as he does it, which only makes it worse.
Not to mention the contents of the call itself. The Reds and Blues are being reported as dead so that their respective sides can make that one final push to kill each other off, just as planned.
We find out how psychotic Dr. Gray is. She is worse than Carolina! And yet, the whole time, her cheerful attitude remains. How do we learn this? She tortures a Space Pirate with a bone saw. While cheerfully singingHabanera.
And she took him apart. Literally. That woman is the very definition of Mad Doctor.
The Sadistic Choice given by Felix and Locus to the BGC. It leaves them with 3 options, and all of them have extremely low probabilities of success as well as highly negative consequences. And those consequences could very well happen regardless of success or failure.
Option A ("Fucking Terrible"): Use the teleportation grenade to find a safe haven on Chorus, go off the grid, and lay low until the war ends.
Pros: The chance of gaining intel and equipment to expose Control is high, as they can deal with any straggling mercenaries.
Cons: The Resistance and the Republic will all die.
Option B: Accept Felix and Locus' deal. Teleport back to the canyon, board the ship that was prepared for them, and return home.
Pros: There's a 50% chance that the BGC will live.
Cons: There's a 50% chance that Control is lying and has rigged the ship to explode. Also comes with the cons of Option A.
Option C ("Goddamn Nightmare"): Teleport to the radio jammer, where Felix and Locus currently are, and attempt to fight their way inside to expose the truth to both the Republic and Resistance.
Pros: The best possible option for setting everything right.
Cons: There's a high chance that most of the BGC will die, and the odds are immensely stacked against them. Not only is the enemy better equipped than they are, but they also have to shut down the radio jammer, convince the two sides that they're alive and not impostors, AND hope that they aren't too late. Overall, it's the option with the lowest probability of success and everyone staying alive.
Washington then presents an Option D: The BGC accepts the deal, while himself, Carolina, and Epsilon go through with Option A.