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Headscratchers / Alan Wake

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  • We have three sets of reality warpers: the Poet, the Musicians, and the Writer. All three mention the others in their works, and creative works around Cauldron Lake come true. How much did they affect each other's stories? We know Zane wrote the clicker into Alan's childhood. However, did the authorship of Poet and the Muse actually cause the tragedy that started this in the first place? There are significant Chicken-And-Egg questions here. Their combined actions do form a Stable Time Loop that defeats the Darkness, but who wrote whom into existence first?
  • Why are there no female Taken? It's been established that Darkness can possess women, but none of them are seen as enemies in-game.
    • Men Are the Expendable Gender.
    • Also, the Dark Presence is only seen in female form in the game. Night and Darkness have often been characterized as female in mythology. This is most likely just an extension of that. And since the Dark Presence is feminine, it seems that makes it easier to manipulate men. This generally works, except with Alan who is just very Devoted to You. Well...that's what this romantic troper wants to believe anyway.
  • How did Barry power those Christmas lights? He wasn't carrying a portable generator or anything with him, and Christmas lights aren't generally battery powered.
    • There are battery-powered adapters that you can plug anything with a power cable into. They're more common in places like Bright Falls where portable power supplies are more commonly used.
    • Besides, Alan apparently wrote that Barry would have powered lights, which meant reality would have to shift so that Barry would have access to some kind of portable power source for his lights.
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    • It works because despite the potential plot hole, it fits with Barry's role as the Comic Relief due to Rule of Funny.
    • You can actually buy short strands like that that run off D batteries at Home Depot. They are made for things like mailboxes that are far from plugs.
  • Why didn't Alan just say "Look, the guy who's got my wife is calling me. Here's the phone."
    • To whom? The Sheriff? The kidnapper threatened him not to go to the cops, as kidnappers are wont to do.
    • The kidnapper outright says that "We're watching you!" to Alan. If he tells Breaker that his wife's been kidnapped, then that's a surefire way to ensure he never sees her again.
  • What's up with that fat cop who apparently had a personal vendetta against authors? I mean, he kept calling Alan stuff like "Dan Brown" or "Steven King" all while trying to kill him. Was he molested by an author as a child or something?? Did he attend a Steven King book signing event once and the man gave him the cold shoulder/didn't appreciate how much of a fan the guy was ala Buddy/Syndrome from The Incredibles? Did Dan Brown tell him to GTFO when he pestered him with his own personal theories about The Davinci Code? Just...why was he so anti-author to the point of murder?
    • Because Alan wrote him that way. It is implied that Agent Nightingale didn't even exist before Alan wrote him into the story.
      • Wait, wait, wait. Recap. You mean the game is a story within a story? Alan's trapped in his own book?
      • ....yeah? They state this explicitly in the game. It's kind of hard to miss, considering Alan says, over and over again, that Cauldron Lake brings the works of art created around it to life. I'm not sure how you didn't get this, considering it's kinda-sorta a critical plot point, as that's how come Zane no longer exists except in the Dark Place, how the Dark Presence was trapped in Jagger's form, and how the clicker is the weapon that defeats the Presence.
      • Erm, yes. Didn't you finish the game?
      • You don't even need to finish the game! When Alan and Barry are driving away from the lodge in Episode Four, Alan quite clearly says what Cauldron Lake does.
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    • He's a jerk and he's insulting Alan by never using his real name.
      • I never played the game. I just watched a scene of it on Youtube where the cop was insulting Alan Wake.
      • If you haven't played the game, then why are you complaining on a JBM page about the game?
      • Even if you never played the game, you should see Nightingale's abrasive personality. It's in practically every scene he's in. Introduction at the trailer park: fires on Alan, who's unarmed. Radio station: fires again, in spite of Alan being pretty much captured. Both times, there was a civilian in the line of fire. Capturing Alan at the Anderson farm: holding a gun on him while he's sleeping. Jail: Alan doubles over, possibly in pain, and when Sarah asks him what's wrong, Nightingale pulls a gun on both of them. It's pretty obvious he's a bit crazy.
      • Exactly. In the few scenes I saw of him in Youtube, he's abrasive, threatening to shoot Alan all while insulting him and calling him Stephen King or Dan Brown. Hence why I put this in here.
      • He's a bit crazy and he's mocking Alan.
      • With those names he's basically calling Alan a famous and successful hack. It's insult towards a person who he considers to have made a lot of money without deserving it. There's no deeper dimension to it.
    • Even ALAN calls himself a talentless hack. Since Alan is writing his own story, it would make sense that the antagonist would know exactly how to insult the hero in the most condescending way.
      • And that the antagonist would get their deserved comeuppance, for that matter.
    • The reason for Nightingale's hostility towards Alan is revealed in The Alan Wake Files. After the mysterious death of his partner, Nightingale had visions of Alan and believed that he was somehow responsible or at least involved with his partner's death.
    • Also, consider once again that Alan wrote Nightingale to be a diversion—a Red Herring, if you will—to provide Alan a means of escape from the situations where Nightingale confronts Alan. Again, Alan has to write this to be believable to elude the Dark Presence, so he has to throw some risk into it. But Alan knows Nightingale can't stop him because Alan writes crime drama, and Nightingale's hothead tactics do provide Alan his diversion to escape.
      • "When you've written yourself into a corner, have a man with a gun kick down the door and start shooting."
  • On the subject of Agent Nightingale, where did he come from and what is his motivation? In some of the manuscript pages, it states that he knows something evil is in the town. How does he know this? Is it because the FBI has files on everything supernatural or something like that? Also, is he part of a sanctioned task force or has he gone rogue? There's really no explanation for why an FBI agent would randomly start hunting an author, except that Alan wrote it that way. But why would he write that?
    • Alan wrote it that way because it gives him an external threat besides the Dark Presence. Outside of the manuscript, the FBI probably sent him because a certain famous author and his wife suddenly went missing for a week. Either that or two men went into a woman's trailer and didn't come out for hours - one page states that Randolph called the cops.
    • All There in the Manual says that Nightingale was fired before the start of the game. His story is quite interesting, actually.
  • Why is there revolver ammo in emergency boxes? I can understand batteries, or flare rounds, but revolver ammo?
    • In case of bears or wolves. Also, the Bright Falls Sheriff's office is aware that weirdness happens around the town, and have taken precautions.
      • Plus, Alan could've written it that way.
      • And to explain how it got that way; it's pretty obvious that the Lady of the Light has been playing stockpiler at various important locations around the town.
  • One of the big Just Bugs Me for this game is more of a meta thing. Why, whenever someone is trying to ask questions about this game, are the defenses that people throw up generally "because Alan wrote it that way"? It's established very early on that the story has to make sense and be consistent with itself. Thus Alan explicitly "can't" just write it that way. He has to give plausible, solid reasons for the game to progress as it does at every turn. Nightingale isn't a jerk just because the game needs a human jerk to move it along - he's got a very well developed backstory if you read the supplemental materials. Those ammo stashes out in the wilderness? Likely to help out hunters who find themselves in a bind with wild animals or the Sheriff has that there as part of the Night Springs thing. Hell the "Lady of the Light" could have been doing it if he needs a real reason. Notice that you don't find guns in them, they're not just arming random people which would be fairly odd. Those are found in out of the way places most of the time or near supply caches. If there isn't a reasonable explanation for it then the whole thing falls apart, the Dark Presence fills it in with its ideas and we all get screwed.
    • Those could be the reasons given in Departure, the story-within-a-story. Now, take a look at Nightingale's backstory, as you mentioned: he and his partner were the epitome of lawful, by-the-book cops before his partner started talking about darkness, went crazy, and was "taken" by something. Sounds pretty familiar, right? Why would his partner be touched by the Dark Presence if the DP can't leave Cauldron Lake, except if an artist lets it? Alan let it. What caused the events that made the Sheriff prepare for the Night Springs plan in advance? Alan wrote that weird things happened in Bright Falls even before he arrived. As for the supply caches, it's very, very strongly implied that the Lady of the Light is doing it - but what would make Alan go off the path in the first place? He wrote that he got lost. Alan even says right at the beginning of the game, "In a horror story, the victim keeps asking, 'Why?' But no explanation is given, and there shouldn't be one." According to him, unanswered mysteries such as this are an integral part of horror. Plus, take a look at the other Headscratchers and tell me how many of them have "Alan wrote it that way" as the first or only explanation.
    • Plus, Alan could have written it that way.
  • Why is Sarah so freaked out when those two Fast Taken attack? Barry hasn't seen one before, so that's understandable, but you fought one earlier outside the church with Sarah and she didn't say a word about it other than her combat one-liners.
    • Probably because there were two of them. One you can keep track of; two is a whole 'nother ballgame.
  • What happens if a writer doesn't write a self-insert story? Does he become the main character of his story, or does the main character simply operate in the background?
    • The story happens in the world around them. The main character likely appears out of the firmament from nowhere, the same way other things in the story appear.
    • The writer would sit in the cabin on the bottom of the lake until he starved to death, like Alan was doing until he went back and rewrote himself into the book.
    • ALL fiction is writer self-insertion in one form or another when you deconstruct it enough.
  • At one point Sheriff Breaker says the townsfolk are not surprised by weird stuff happening in Bright Falls to the point that Night Springs is based on the town. So, does that mean the weird stuff is caused by the Dark Presence, or is the Dark Presence is just one of the many unusual things going on around Bright Falls?
    • Occam's Razor would say that that the Dark Presence is causing it.
    • Perhaps the other, lesser weird stuff is just the result of other, less talented artists being exploited by the Dark Presence. Without Wake or Zane's ability, they can't create an entire world, but they can create a weird monster or short story.
    • In American Nightmare Alan explains that in places such as Cauldron Lake reality is worn thin between our world and the world the Dark Place is part of, whatever that might be. Additionally, he says that the Dark Presence is merely one of the many Eldritch Abominations that inhabit it.
  • After Alan escapes from the police and is chased by them, he runs for quite a while through the forest, unarmed and helpless, and, sure enough, not a single Taken takes interest in him, even if in the background the Dark Presence is gorging itself on the deputies. Once he finds weapons however, the bastards are right on the spot. Any in-game reasons for that (and if you say "because Alan wrote it that way", I'm going to hit you)?
    • You can bitch about the "Alan wrote it that way" explanation all you want, but that doesn't make it any less valid, especially considering he did write it that way.
      • Real charming response, but you've got it backwards. "Alan wrote it that way" isn't valid except in cases that are *horribly* wrong (like Thomas's resurrection of Barbara, which we *know* bit him in the rear), which is something Alan hasn't made the mistake of yet. Something isn't valid because "Alan wrote it that way", "Alan wrote it that way" because its' valid to the story and he provided reasons to make it valid.
    • If you absolutely need an in-game reason, the Taken are toying with him. Simply knowing they're out there would make Alan nervous and possibly cause him to make mistakes, making him easier to kill. They're basically having fun tormenting him. Then Alan goes, "Flashbangs? Hell, yes!" and instantly becomes a threat. The Taken attempt to Get Dangerous and fail.
      • This and the stuff below. Also, thanks to the wonders of how Cauldron Lake worked it is likely that Alan would be able to hand the Dark Presence an Idiot Ball by giving the reason that "they were toying with him." Even if it is a reason that is really, really not that beneficial from the Dark Presence's Po V.
      • Note also that the Taken's priority is to get Alan back to the bottom of Cauldron Lake so that he can finish Departure and release the Dark Presence. They can't do that if Alan is in jail or actually dead. They have an interest in keeping the cops off Alan until they can get him alone and capture him.
      • Plus the cops all have guns and flashlights, and the Dark Presence presumably doesn't have unlimited Taken to throw at Alan. It needs to take out the deputies first or it could run out of men. Heck, there may not even be enough Taken in the area to stop Alan without first possessing all of the cops.
    • Because Alan wrote it that way.
    • Doylian: Alan needs a challenge he can meet. No weapons, the Taken aren't a challenge he can face so the story doesn't throw them at him. Watsonian: The Dark Presence is trying to push Alan back toward the lake so she can re-enslave him. It doesn't understand humans, but it does understand that the Taken are a blunt instrument and a defenseless Alan will become a dead Alan. A weaponized Alan can be pushed/pulled using Taken.
    • As I recall, the Taken are weak to light. You can see sirens, foglights, and at least one flare is launched over the area. Given that the Agent, at this point, is a rogue element its likely the Taken were taken by surprise by the series of events and needed time to recompose.
  • Hordes of Taken appear throughout the game, there have to be hundreds of them. I get that most of them are disappearances that occurred over decades, the Dark Presence taking a few campers or a couple of hikers now and then, very slowly bolstering its forces. But quite a few of them are also taken during the events of the game, like Rusty and Carl Stucky. When all of the events of the game are over, the town should be pretty much wrecked by the various tornadoes and Taken battles, and a lot of people would suddenly be missing, but no one seems to notice this in the cutscene ending. What happened? Did Wake's victory over the Dark Presence warp reality so that the events technically didn't happen, or something?
    • Wake explicitly rewrote the events surrounding the end of the game to repair the damage he inflicted. He explicitly states this in the first DLC's intro, where he says he wrote a happy ending to Departure.
  • So where'd all the manpower for chasing Wake come from? Bright Falls probably wouldn't have a chopper and a few dozen men, much less several over the course of the game. The Agent couldn't call them in without blowing his cover. Or is it because Alan wrote it that way?
    • According to the Alan Wake Files in the Limited Edition, Nightingale is actually a rogue agent, and was fired from the FBI. Additionally, he had nightmares where he saw someone who closely resembled Alan and became obsessed with finding him. Don't quote me on this, but I think I read somewhere that Nightingale was following a string of mysterious disappearances; for all we know, he thinks he's hunting a serial killer.
    • If you hang around the overturned squad cars, you hear Nightingale tell Sheriff Breaker that all her deputies have been killed by Alan. And only after that do cop taken show up. So yes, they were all the law enforcement of the town. The helicopter was probably the sheriff's, too. After all, the sheriff escorts you to the fire department helicopter and not the police helicopter. (or was it a forestry department helicopter?)
    • The helicopter has FBI clearly written on its side. So how did Nightingale or the Sheriff's Department have access to it?
  • What exactly was Alan's plan that got him out of Night Springs?
    • Not even the narrator is completely sure, but the bit with the theater killed Mr. Scratch, allowing Alan to escape the time loop. From there, he can write pretty much at his leisure.
  • How was American Nightmare inspired by pulp and sci-fi stories besides the giant Taken?
    • For starters, the more action-y gameplay. Giant spiders like the ones Alan fights are pretty much a staple of cheesy sci-fi B-movies, among other things. Mr. Scratch is written as a very pulpy, I'm-so-glad-I'm-evil villain. There are probably other things, too.
    • Because it's style is based on 3 Twilight zone-esque episodes of a pulp Sci-fi television series, instead of a Stephen King-esque Horror Novel.
  • What did crashing the satellite do?
    • It knocked down the oil derrick, sealing the gateway to the Dark Place, preventing any more Taken from coming out. He had to use something like a satellite because derricks are big, so he can't exactly just poke one of the support beams and have it all come crashing down.
  • How did that signal get up into space?
    • Alan put it there for himself.
  • So is there any proof that anything that Thomas Zane did actually happened before Alan showed up? Isn't it possible that everything Zane did (bringing back Barbara, writing himself out of existence, leaving a shoebox with the clicker) was written into existence by Alan? Same with the Anderson brothers. Alan could have written them both as former victims of the Dark Presence based on the shoebox full of Zane's books (maybe Zane was a real poet and the houses' previous owner was a fan) and meeting the brothers at the diner. Anything that could disprove this?
    • Because of the way Cauldron Lake works, if Alan wrote that it happened, then it did happen, and probably retroactively rewrites history. But if you mean before he went into the lake, then technically no. However, Zane's existence in Alan's dream at the beginning strongly implies that yes, he was involved in fighting against the Dark Presence back in the '70s, since that was before Alan started writing. But thanks to the lake, that could simply be Alan's writing affecting the real world before he actually starts writing which would mean that there never was a "real" Thomas Zane and oh no I've gone cross-eyed.
    • It's equally possible that Alan Wake created Thomas Zane, that Thomas Zane created Alan Wake, or that they both existed independently of each other. It's even possible, if unmentioned in the game, that both of them were created by a third party.note 
      • It depends on whether the story written can retroactively change things that have already happened i.e. everything prior to Alan being captured and forced to write by the Dark Presence happened because Alan wrote it that way, or if events that have already happened are fixed, which isn't made definitive. Hell, Bright Falls might only have a power to make art come true, the Dark Presence itself might not have existed before Alan or someone else wrote that it existed.
  • How the hell is Nightingale able to keep his badge beyond Episode 3? I mean, first he (presumably) barges into the Sheriff's office, screaming at the top of his lungs that Alan is the one responsible for both Alice's disappearance and the other strange occurrences in Bright Falls, without any shred of proof to back it up. That alone should have raised some red flags with the police, but then he nearly guns down two innocent civilians while trying to murder an unarmed suspect he had no evidence against, as well as lead nearly all of the Bright Falls police to their deaths and subsequent becoming Taken. And yet Breaker doesn't even try to contact the FBI and tell them to fire his ass.
    • She doesn't exactly have any free time to do this. She has more important things to worry about than whining to a probably uncaring individual in Washington who will likely side with "their" agent over a sheriff of a middle-of-nowhere small town. Remember that at the time, she's overseeing a massive manhunt, multiple missing persons, and her entire police department literally vanishing overnight. And it goes downhill from there!
    • And for the record, he's not actually an agent. He was fired, according to the supplements.
  • How did Alan survive the transition from being trapped in Bird Leg's Cabin to going back to our reality after Zane freed him? He says that his time in the Dark Place has drained him to the point that he's barely conscious driving back to Bright Falls, but shouldn't he be dead? He's had no sleep, food, or drink for a week. I don't think the 'Alan wrote it that way' explanation works because he himself says the story needs to be consistent and I don't see consistency in a protagonist who happens to survive just because the story says so.
    • The longest continuous time that a person has gone without sleep is roughly eleven days, so it's not impossible that he could have survived a week. As for food and drink, we don't know for a fact that he wasn't provided with either. Remember, The Dark Presence had a vested interest in keeping him alive, so presumably it took care of any physical needs that came up.

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