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Fridge Brilliance

  • The ending. The story ends with John's death. "Remember My Family" is not a Story mission, but a Stranger mission. You are not forced to go after Edgar Ross. The mission is entirely optional. The player, not Jack, ultimately chooses whether or not John's sacrifice was in vain. And considering how little joy there is in gunning Edgar down, it's a pretty strong indictment of the desire for vengeance.
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  • I think I just realized why Jack is so abusive to his horse with his comments. Remember the last mission with John? In the last, brief segment of it, you control Jack as he rides a horse as fast as he can back to the ranch for John. He's too late, as John's dead. Also, a couple of missions earlier, when you save Jack from the bear, if you explore the area, you'll find Jack's horse lying dead and disemboweled by the bear. Think about it: Two times, we've seen horses fail Jack. One fails him by not enabling him to flee for his life, forcing him to cower behind a rock; and another fails him by not enabling him in getting back to the ranch in time. That's why he's so pushy on his horses as an adult, because he feels that if he doesn't get the horse to hurry the hell up, then something really awful is going to happen. After all, it happened twice in the span of a week since John came home. Sure, it's annoying, but I think there was a point hidden behind it.
  • Killing Edgar's wife and brother nets -50 Honor each. However, killing Edgar nets +100 Honor. The game is telling even a player with maximum honor it's okay to deal some Laser-Guided Karma to Ross, in revenge for Abigail and Uncle.
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    • The other reason, of course, is that while Edgar Ross did John some genuine wrongs that a reasonable interpretation of karma might see some balancing for, his wife and brother are completely innocent in that feud, and killing them is indicative of nothing but spiteful bloodlust.
  • The song "Dead Man's Gun" refers to John Marston's last moments of life. Even though his last act may seem futile, he is taking a stance of defiance against the tyranny that Ross has put the Marstons through.
    • Also, the Mysterious Stranger who knows of John's past sins remarks that "many have" damned him: God Damn You!
      • Pay special attention to the location you meet him at for the final part of his side-quest. It's the hill where John is buried.
  • The three acts of the game echo three significant eras or styles of Western. Act 1 is a John Ford adventure, with John helping the basically decent ranchers against basically villainous banditry. There's even a colourful Irish-American character like in many Ford films. Act 2 is a Spaghetti Western inspired by the likes of Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci, with a lone gunman caught between two evil sides in a dirtier, grimmer desert setting in the Mexican-American borderlands. And Act 3 is a mixture of Sam Peckinpah tropes and other Twilight of the Old West elements, a story about gunslingers growing old, the violent ends of revenge featuring the modern "civilization" encroaching on the west.
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  • Why does Snake Oil refill your Dead-Eye meter? Because "dead-eye" isn't a "real" thing, but more a concentration mechanic. So of course it's possible to affect it with a placebo. Maybe John believes in it just enough to feel like he can pull off his uncanny accuracy again.
  • It's heavily implied that the reason why Jack is as good a gunslinger as his father in the three years between "The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed" and his mother's death is because he was trained by Landon Ricketts. The final newspaper in the game has an article about how famous gunslinger Landon Ricketts moved back to the States three years ago (when John Marston died), and sometimes after killing someone Jack will proclaim "Landon Ricketts, eat your heart out!"
  • The Epilogue is FULL of this, particularly in the conversation with Ms. Ross and the fact that Edgar's Not So Different speech may not have just been empty posturing.
  • "Jack" is a nickname for "John." Jack is a Son of a Whore like his father. When Jack inherits player character status, he gets John's Fame and Honor stats because he is "John Marston".
  • Muller being in Mexico becomes much funnier when you remember the Zimmerman Telegram.
    • There were a significant number of German immigrants to Mexico in the 19th and early 20th centuries (much as there also were to the United States). Ever wonder how accordions found their way into Mexican music, or where Mexican beer came from?
  • Mexicans speaking English. Actually, John's just picking up more Spanish as he spends time in Mexico. For example, when John first wanders into Chuparosa and tangles with the locals, he can barely understand a word they say (Eh, Gringo, hablas Espanol?) Whereas by the time the rebels take over Chuparosa, John understands a lot more, so Translation Convention means that Reyes' speech to the rebels comes out in English. Put simply, where you hear Spanish spoken, John doesn't understand it. When you hear English, it's actually still Spanish, but he understands what's being said.
    • Debatable. While Reyes' speech probably is a case of Translation Convention, there are several other instances where the locals are speaking genuine English. For example, in 'Aztec Gold', the tradesman initially speaks Spanish, but when Marston says he can't understand the dude, he (the tradesman) asks if Marston would prefer English, to which the latter says yes; so the tradesman really was speaking English. Also, in the mission 'My Sister's Keeper', Luisa's family is speaking Spanish to each other, but then Luisa's father begins talking to John in English and then says "Forgive my English". Two other possible examples are in some of the de-Santa missions: In 'The Demon Drink', John walks to that Governor building to see Allende and De-Santa speaking to other in Spanish, but then use English when De-Santa introduces our protagonist to the Admiral, and in 'Empty Promises', De-Santa and Espionza briefly talk to each other in Spanish before Espionza tells John to get the Sniper Rifle using English. You could say that Marston just can't understand what they're saying when we are hearing Spanish in these two cases, but the fact that in both cases, Spanish is used first before switching to English when Allende/De-Santa/Espionza start talking to John seems a bit too coincidental. So maybe sometimes it IS a case of Translation Convention, while other times English really is being used...
      • Remember when Abraham Reyes said that Javier couldn't teach John Spanish other than than the word cabrón (meaning "coward") during the time they were together? That's because Dutch brought Javier into the gang in 1895 and taught him English, which kinda explains Javier's American accent in RDR2, that starts slipping a little bit in RDR1.
  • Remember that scene of Col. Allende puking out his drink? There was a reason for this. Waaaaay back in the beginning, when John learnt to break horses with the McFarlanes, John says this during the ride, "Power is like a drink. The more they take it, the more they want it and there's only a few that can hold it in." That's why Allende's puking, because he can't hold in his liquor, just like he can't hold in his power. Like a drunk who wants more and more liquor, Allende wants more and more power. This was symbolic.
    • I've always just thought that he was throwing up seeing De Santa and the waiter hanging all over each other.
    • Given that he looks to be puking yellow bile, he's probably just been drinking hard on an empty stomach.
  • Dutch: "I can't fight against my own nature..." He has a point about that. No one in the game, not even Ross can fight their own nature, even if they tried.
  • Treasure #4 is hidden in the basement of the mansion in Tumbleweed. Seth's map may have been off by two floors.
  • In the opening of the game, John looks absolutely pissed while the two ladies in the seats behind him are talking about how the injustices committed against the Native Americans are justified because it allowed them to be converted to Christianity. Given the game's Deliberate Values Dissonance, John's implied disagreement with this idea seems like an out-of-place attempt to make the game's protagonist more likable, until Dutch, the man who raised John, is introduced way later and is shown to have Native American companions.
  • Edgar Ross sending the Army against John and killing him could be justified in that John REALLY is too dangerous to be left alive. John is not at all a bad person; he only fights and kills people for a good cause, and in the story he does everything to save his family. When he rode in the gang with Dutch, he thought they did all the things they did for a greater good. So give John a good enough reason to kill people and he will kill, and can kill a lot of people all by himself and more with backup. Keep in mind that John rather casually speaks about the government that is making him do their dirty work to almost everyone he met along the way, making it is no secret that John is trying to save his family. As an example for why this is bad, a common thief gets the idea that he can get John to do some work for him by kidnapping his family, hiding them somewhere and implying that if John kills him they will die. John would be forced to do the work of some common thief, and being John Marston he is a nearly unstoppable killing machine. The only reason he let himself die at the hands of the Army was to save his family by giving them enough time to escape, and he could easily have toppled them if not having to worry about the safety of his family. So John would do anything for his family's safety, and Ross knows that.
  • This one's a maybe. In the side-quest called Flowers for a Lady, in which Marston has to search for flowers for an old man named Billy so he can give them to his wife Annabel for their fiftieth anniversary. However, when you give Billy the flowers and he invites you inside to meet his Annabel, she is a rotted dead corpse sitting in a rocking chair. You leave and if you come back inside and bump into the rocking chair or the shelves by it, Annabel's head will fall off. The next day, you'll see Billy and the rocking chair outside, but Annabel's body is gone. This troper thinks that he wanted to put flowers on her grave, but was too old to do it himself, so he waited until someone passed by to help him.
    • Why was Billy acting like Annabel was still alive? Maybe it's because he was in denial (or had just gone crazy) or maybe he wasn't trying to scare the person who helped him. Not that John would get scared or anything, but Billy didn't really know John so he really couldn't say, 'Hey, I'm keeping my wife's rotted corpse in my house because I don't wanna bury her until I get her favorite flowers to put on her grave. Can ya help me out?' He perhaps had gone crazy enough to invite John inside to 'meet' his wife, but deep down he knew she was dead, but just wanted to show John how far his love for his wife went. He already had the flowers, so it really didn't matter if he scared John or not.
  • The final duel between Jack Marston and Edgar Ross is definitely anti-climactic and not much different from any other gunfight. But that's exactly the point. It goes to show that Jack's quest for vengeance is empty and in the end, there is no catharsis, for Jack or the player. Afterward, he feels no different and there is pretty much nothing he can do to feel better about it, which doubles as Fridge Horror.
    • There's also the positioning of Ross at the river. Chances are, the majority of players who kill him will send his corpse flying backwards and washed away by the current. Even from a gameplay perspective, killing Ross won't give you any rewards like money you can loot from his body.
  • This one also counts as subtle foreshadowing. If you choose to listen to John and Luisa's conversation during their ride in "Father Abraham", Luisa will at one point mention that she knows John also helped the army kill rebels which she can't forgive him for. Luisa knowing this would surely mean Abraham Reyes did too, yet, he's never heard being upset with John for killing so many of his men, but instead nearly treats him like his best friend. It may be one of the many hints that Reyes really doesn't care much about his people, if even at all, he's just out for power.
  • Jack will likely get away with his crime, and in four years will be able to enlist in the army in WWI, Considering his fighting skill, he could possibly rise quite high in the army. After the war, he might settle down, or take up a life of adventure in Africa.
  • While it’s just a revenge mission for Jack to kill Edgar Ross and get a bittersweet ending, his possible inspiration for doing this is because of his father killing Micah Bell in a revenge mission. As seven years beforehand, Jack would witness John absolutely eager to kill Micah and Abigail BEGGING him not to. To add on, John justifies this by saying if he doesn’t kill Micah the Ranch would be as real as “One Of Jack’s Dragons” in front of him, leaving a possible sour taste in his mouth. In 1914, after his whole family is dead, Jack goes to kill Edgar Ross because if he doesn’t, John’s sacrifice would be just be as real as “One of his Dragons”. Without anyone to stop him, he plays this out fully.
  • Why does Jack hate the Blackwater police the most? It’s because they are the ones who essentially ended the days of the Wild West with civilization. While Jack personally blamed Ross for his father’s death, he also might blame civilization in general. It makes a lot more sense when Jack yells things like “YOU KILLED MY PA!” when in a gunfight with them, or “I hope that one made you proud pa!” when Jack kills a Blackwater police officer. Him dressing up like a western gunslinger in 1914 adds on to this.

Fridge Horror

  • Jack may have been able to get away with killing Ross had he simply learned Ross's location through a more discreet different mean. Unlike Ross's wife and brother, who can be killed in the middle of nowhere at a time when forensic is still a fledgling field, it is not possible to kill the agent in the beginning without alerting the public from a story standpoint. In short, by learning about Ross's location from a person in a public place that can't be discreetly silenced, Jack is doomed to be traced down and convicted of murder by the agent he talked to.
  • Killing that corrupt asshole Edgar Ross was quite cathartic, wasn't it? Well it is until you realize Jack has become what John feared the most, a vengeance-seeking gunslinger. Once that is made apparent it just goes to show how deeply bleak and depressing the entire game truly is.
  • In the Bitter Sweet Ending, corrupt Bureau agent Edgar Ross murders protagonist John Marston, but in the epilogue, he gets his just desserts from John's son, Jack. Not a 100% happy ending, but it's not entirely a downer... until you realize that Jack, being forced to become a jaded bounty hunter that is most likely on the law's shit list, was exactly what John had been trying to prevent the whole game.
    • Although this got a Hope Spot 4 years later with the release of Grand Theft Auto V:Some bookshelves have a copy of a book titled "Red Dead", written by a certain J. Marston. Which would mean that at some point after the playable epilogue, Jack did settle down and write at least one book.]] Hey, you take hope where you can find it...
    • Also, if you (playing as Jack) grab the last few outfits on the way to 100% Completion (by doing things such as clearing out all the bandit hideouts in New Austin), one of them is a U.S. Marshal outfit that grants Jack immunity from law enforcement, and the last (after killing Ross) is a Bureau outfit that has the same effect. That plus the fact that it's another agent that gives away Ross' location suggest that maybe the authorities won't be too concerned about something happening (on the other side of the border and outside of U.S. jurisdiction, for that matter) to a crooked former agent they used to eliminate outlaws and pacify the West. Given that Ross had done the exact same thing to John Marston three years earlier, that would make for epic Laser-Guided Karma.
      • In addition to that, it might give the player motivation to do these side jobs as Jack, as it would also build up his fame and honour, which you can continue to do so after the ending. It continues Jack's legacy, which means the fans he gets from the exploits would be from being one of the last heroic outlaws of the west. On top of that, if you listen around the game, Ross' death is blamed on bandits.
  • When you take into consideration the game's overarching theme of the progress of civilization, John and Jack's conversation before the last mission about airplanes being machines that can "turn men into angels" takes a much darker tone when you realize that airplanes aren't the only machines mentioned in the game that make men into angels. Guns do too.
    • Likewise, John and Jack joking about "the day John Marston stops shooting". John really did end up firing his last bullets that day...
  • When John tries to shoot the Stranger from the "I Know You" questline, he's not even fazed. When John tries to do so in gameplay, the Stranger takes 4+ shots just to fall to the ground, even if John aims at the head/chest... he's clearly not human.
    • It gets worse; the amount of shots John takes at the Stranger is equivalent to the amount of people from his family who die by the end of the game: one for Uncle, one for Abigail and one for John. The fourth bullet jams in the barrel; Jack is the only member of the Marston family not to die.
  • How/when did Annabel die? Her corpse looks like it hasn't moved in a couple years. Is her husband a necrophiliac?

Fridge Logic

  • If Marston's ranch is in Beecher's Hope, a spot of land further inland than Blackwater, then why does the game open with Marston arriving in Blackwater by boat? They make a case of John being made to come out to this land in order to pursue the goals given to him by the agents looking over him, but he actually lives in the area. It's even explicitly mentioned early in the game that the ranch was left in 'Uncle's' care while he was away, and sure enough this same character is seen at the ranch later on. Is there any explanation at all for this?
    • Though nothing hints at it, it's quite possible Williamson was not the first of the old gang John was sent to take care of. Someone could've fled northward or overseas after Dutch disbanded them. Doesn't explain how he landed in New Austin with only his revolver for a weapon, but little else makes sense, you're right.
      • Odds are, if John was busy hunting the lesser members of Dutch's old gang before getting to the Big Three(Escuella, Bill, and Dutch himself), he really didn't need much more than his revolver.
    • Perhaps John had been taken to Washington or something similar?
    • I had a similar thought. John and his family were taken out of the state and to the Capital, John was handed his mission and then brought back with Ross.
      • Probably just John — when Abigail and John are travelling from Beecher's Hope to Mac Farlane's Ranch, John asks her where she and Jack were held captive, and her response is "I ain't sure. (...) Can't have been too far from here, though."
  • Broken Bridge: In the opening, Marston takes a train from Blackwater to Armadillo. However, during the first and second chapters, the player will find that all the rail (and road) bridges between New Austin and West Elizabeth are under construction. So how was it possible to get there? A better approach would have been to show Marston arriving in Thieves Landing by boat, then getting to Armadillo by stagecoach.
  • RDR is actually alternate history, with New Austin/West Elizabeth being whole new states. However, the geographic location is very strange. West Elizabeth seems to be a province located near between New Mexico and Lousiana...yet has snow capped mountains and forest area. And if so then Texas must be a lot smaller forNew Austin to fit in.
    • It's speculated that New Austin and West Elizabeth lie somewhere in Colorado. It's not uncommon to find arid deserts, temperate grasslands, and snowy mountains that close together there.
    • To some degree, both this and the above are also likely Gameplay and Story Segregation in order to give the player as broad a range of 'Old West' environments to explore within the realm of the open world as possible without making the game world too big as to spoil the fun or push the game engine beyond its breaking points.
    • New Austin is based on Texas, with an arid center and west (including oil drilling in Plainview) but a moist and boggy east (as you get closer to Thieves’ Landing / Louisiana) and a border with Mexico along a river (Bilingual Bonus: the Rio Grande is actually known as "Río Bravo del Norte" in Mexico), though it also has land types and vegetation thrown in from Arizona (saguaro cacti and prickly pears), Southern California and Nevada (Joshua trees), and New Mexico. Fridge Brilliance when you consider how much California Doubling there is in Western movies. West Elizabeth is a (very compressed) mashup of Kansas (Great Plains with a developed city on a riverfront to the east at the confluence of two rivers, like Kansas City, though Blackwater appears to have copied the layout of real-life Blackwater, Missouri 90 miles east of KC) and Colorado (plains giving way to forests and mountains).
  • In the mission "On Shaky's Ground", what were two nuns doing in Thieves' Landing?
    • Fridge Brilliance: It is one place that would definitely have no lack of sinners to evangelize.
    • Or Irish was right for once, and they actually were doxies.
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