Follow TV Tropes


WMG / Silent Hill: Homecoming

Go To

    open/close all folders 

     Alex is The Soldier 
From Team Fortress 2. After completely breaking his mind, the power behind Silent Hill gave him superhuman powers and sent him back in time. No real evidence, but it would explain why he's so messed up.

     Alex has latent precognitive abilities. 
Spoilers, of course.

  • In Alex's dream at the beginning, he sees (in silhouette) the children of the four families being sacrificed long before he is even aware that sacrifices had been taking place. The methods of sacrifice are even assigned to the proper family. Also, he encounters monsters in his dream that would later appear in the real world. This seems like a plot hole at first glance, but Alex possessing latent psychic abilities would help make sense of it. It's a lot like how Alessa affected Harry's dream at the beginning of the first game or Heather's precognitive nightmare at the beginning of Silent Hill 3.

    Because Homecoming's American dev team is actually at least a little more competent than suspected at the Silent Hill-style of symbolism and storytelling, we can believe that Alex really WAS in the military. 
Massive spoilers after this line, obviously.

To recap: Alex's father tells him that they had to send Alex to a mental hospital after he accidentally killed Joshua because he went off his rocker and they ultimately didn't go through with the sacrifice. Adam Shepherd's dialog on the boat during the flashback seems to indicate that Joshua dying first and unintentionally somehow damaged the ritual, as if killing Alex wouldn't matter anymore, Josh's death being somehow inadequate, apparently because it wasn't the promised one. Alex's mother while she's on the cross and Judge Halloway in the torture room seem to imply that Adam simply couldn't bring himself to go through with it after losing one son.

In short, I believe that Alex was not, at all, in a mental institution, and that he left home and enlisted as a way of coping with Josh's death shortly after it happened, before it could come to that. His actual thought process will be looked at in a little more detail further down.

The only spoken information about the intervening years comes from Adam Sheperd while he's tied up in the church, but it should go without saying that he's an unreliable source of information. I don't think this is the real Adam Sheperd at all, but rather, an apparition like the one in the confessional. The fact that Pyramid Head is the one to kill him instead of some random monster is, aside from an important piece of symbolism himself, another sign that what's going on is only as quasi-real as most of what happens in Silent Hill is to begin with.

What cinches this is the note in the Shepherd house attic he left about going to Silent Hill to fight the Order. This obviously happened before Alex even arrived back in Shepherd's Glen, and it seems silly that the Order would've waited so long to kill him, especially after they waste very little time with his mother. Alex's father is already dead.

Also note that the world is starting to get screwy at this point. Before entering the church, Alex is in the Otherworld, but after going through the doors, it's clearly the Foggedworld. This is at odds with the transition presented in the rest of the game, where the change happens in real-time like the movie instead of sudden like in previous games. This troper ascribes to the theory that there are actually three Silent Hill towns: in other words, the fog-covered abandoned town with only a few monsters is actually just as "unreal" as the Otherworld, and a real town, fully functioning and populated, exists, it's just that the protagonists never actually make it there. Thus, the failure of the ritual and the consequences of that failure are manifesting as the worlds bleeding into reality. Supporting characters who fill places like Elle and Wheeler are usually good for seeing the monsters, but they and the Order members reacting to and being in the Otherworld is a little more telling of this. Also note that until now, the old shifting pattern has been followed closely. Alex finds himself in Otherworld, defeats a boss, loses consciousness somehow, and then wakes up in a completely different place in Foggedworld. When he defeats Asphyxia, however, nothing happens. Furthermore, the beginning of the game is just plain weird. Judge Halloway and Elle seem to have no clue there are monsters in the streets. It's even possible to talk to Judge Halloway in the town hall after seeing Lurkers in Shepherd's Glen, and the subject never comes up. To be fair, Halloway wouldn't be surprised since she's in on it, but Elle seems to have no impression that she isn't in the real world. One would think that the bottomless pits in the streets would at least draw her notice.

Alex has already started seeing the dead (his brother), so his father in the church not being his actual father isn't much of a stretch at all. Adam Shepherd reveals that Alex has never been in the military. During the time Alex thinks he enlisted, went through boot camp, served overseas, and spent time in a VA hospital after being wounded, he has actually been in a mental institution. The dogtags around his neck are actually his father's, cleverly disguised since they both have the same first initial. Note that real US Army dogtags don't do this, they have the full first name, meaning the tags are unreliable evidence. On a similar note, the patch on the arm of Alex's jacket doesn't match the unit his father is listed under in his discharge form, so he couldn't have appropriated the jacket from his father's old stuff (a surplus store, sure, but work with me here).

Adam Shepherd is then killed not by the torture device he's strapped into, but by Pyramid Head with his great knife. Pyramid Head has always held symbolic value for a given game's protagonist. We can clearly see this still holds true, because the first time we see him early on, the camera work makes sure we won't miss the fact that his Great Knife isn't just less plain, it looks like a combat knife like the ones carried by soldiers and, indeed, like the first weapon in the game. If we assume Alex chose to forgive his father for his abusive parenting in the scene before the actual death, Pyramid Head's pretense for representing Alex's guilt and anger towards his father is non-existent. The first time he appears, Alex's father is nowhere in sight, reinforcing this. Pyramid Head's murder of Alex's father with such an obviously symbolic weapon can thus mean two things: Alex doesn't believe what his father says, or Alex would be correct to disbelieve what his father says. To put it another way, Pyramid Head is saying, "I, a representation of your mind and your memories, am telling you not to believe this man, because he's wrong and you are a soldier." The fact that Alex has a rather flat response to the revelation to begin with when he has shown clear, sensible emotions while being confronted with impossible monsters and his mother's death cinches this; he's not going through a denial phase because he doesn't need to. This gels well with the flashback before fighting Amnion later on; confronted with a revelation, Alex immediately remembers living through the events in question. His father's words, however, do not trigger such a response. Note that Alex's skills in combat are not, at all, changed either. If thinking he was a soldier made him fight like one, being told he's not should ruin that. It's not just preserving the game mechanic for the player's sake, he doesn't lose his combat skills because he has them, for real. (To be fair, he could still be willing it if he wasn't a soldier but just doesn't believe his father.)

The obvious question: why is his father, or the apparition of his father, lying, then? The answer is that he's not. Being an apparition in Silent Hill, he's just being symbolic. By "you've been in a mental hospital," Adam simply means the military. Alex clearly admired his father on some level, as he says outright that he thought his father wanted him to be a soldier, but Alex's reason for enlisting was to either get away from or atone for his brother's death. Pleasing his father is still a big part of it; if we want to get technical, we can keep reality in mind and understand that enlisting takes longer than going to a recruiter and leaving home the next day, it can be months or more before one actually ships out. He likely kept in contact with a recruiter approaching eighteen before the accident, Josh's death just gave him an even bigger reason to go than fighting for his father's approval and love.

The discipline and structure of the military gave Alex the grounding to reality he needed to stay sane, but as such, he could also hide behind it without ever confronting his own guilt, to the point where the memory became repressed. Because Alex's treatment from his parents and his brother's death are closely related, part of coming to terms with his guilt is coming to terms with his parents. In this scene, Adam exists as a personification of how Alex thinks his father saw him, and the dialog is a big fat hint that even as a grown man, Alex knows, deep down, that he can never get his father to love him, no matter what he does. Just look at the dialog, "You're still wearing my old dog tags" is just another way of saying "you still care what I think about you" and when Alex confronts Adam with his life as a soldier, a thing that should guarantee pride from family in what one has accomplished, he's responded to with "No, you're mentally unstable," a condition that isn't the fault of a person but is also still highly stigmatized in today's society. The juxtaposition here is the same as what Alex went through growing up, a child should be loved unconditionally by their parents, but Alex was unloved through no fault of his own.

As a grown man, however, Alex can forgive his father for not giving him love (or not, if you prefer to make that choice; what matters is that either way, Alex is consciously making a choice to move on) and, much more importantly, accept that he'll never have it. Pyramid Head is Alex's own self-worth, his Great Combat Knife signifying this relationship by representing an accomplishment Alex can take pride in. The fact that Alex's self-worth is Pyramid Head, of all things, goes back to Alex's reasons for joining the Army in the first place, the lingering doubts that he's a "bad" soldier on account of enlisting for the wrong reasons and a bad person who deserves the childhood he received, so Pyramid Head is a thing to take pride in twisted by the reasons behind it. His father presumably went into the military to serve selflessly, or at least Alex views it as such. Not to serve as a form of self-imposed penance to feel better about himself, like Alex did. If we assume that Alex really was a soldier, then we must also assume that he really did botch something to the point where men under his command were killed in action, and that could certainly be a part of his guilt.

This is why Alex reacts blandly when his father drops the revelation. To be tongue-in-cheek for a moment, he's played Silent Hill games before and he realizes that his father's revelation isn't literal truth, but symbolic. Pyramid Head murdering Adam Shepherd is Alex's self-worth finally discarding the idea that his father's approval is required for him to live his life. The death is painful, violent, and bloody, mirroring the internal struggle a man would go through in this process. Indeed, notice that for the death itself, Alex reacts as we expect him to, with horror and anguish.

To sum up, the entire point of this blathering is that Adam Shepherd in his death scene is a completely unreliable source of information and should not be taken literally when various bits of symbolism during the scene itself and elsewhere in the game are taken into consideration. As a final note, what mental hospital discharges a patient who's having delusions of Army service covering several years of their life, anyway? Unless they didn't and the canon ending is the Hospital ending, but that's a whole other folder.

  • Regarding Alex being out of an institution: institutionalization is in sharp decline in this country. I shadow a physician at a clinic for the poor; there is a HORDE of people who have delusions and severe psych issues out there. If they are not considered a danger to others, they walk out, even if they can't take care of themselves. Schizophrenia (which is not multiple personalities; that's disassociative identity disorder) is frighteningly common amongst the homeless and others who - in a DIFFERENT era - would be in institutions. As an adult, Alex likely could have checked himself out whenever he felt like it - and he did when his brother went missing. Besides, it is easy to buy Alex escaped or was released by his mother or father when things went wonky, or let himself out.
  • In one of Alex's diaries, he mentions physical therapy and needing a wheelchair and then crutches to get around. He goes into enough detail and is consistent enough that it sounds like a real injury to me — and while you can get injured in a hospital, it does fit with the story in the diary — that Alex was injured and brought back from overseas. Also, I don't know much about hospitals, but wouldn't a hospital that's for people with mental problems have different equipment than a VA hospital? Would a mental hospital have the right equipment for physical therapy? He also mentions MPs and and needing the right papers to get out — papers which he doesn't have because the doctors are concerned about the nightmares that he has every single night. So he comes up with an escape plan and sneaks out and gets a ride with Travis. So where does the uniform come from? (People have commented that his uniform isn't authentic, but other people have also commented that you can't make a truly authentic uniform, so let's just pretend it is authentic for that world). Alex can't have walked into some surplus store in hospital clothing and said "Please give me a uniform for free becauase I'm a poor escaped mental patient with no money". So he must have had the outfit to begin with. His parents wouldn't have given it to him. If I was a nurse or a doctor in a mental hospital, I wouldn't give him something that would feed his delusions. It makes more sense that it's his and has been his. Besides, I know that if I made myself a fake history as a soldier, I'd give myself a higher rank than Private First Class!
  • The only thing I don't agree with is that I don't think we're given hints that men were killed under his command. But anyways, to add to this theory, in EVERY other SH game, the big reveal at the end is basically like a puzzle. Eventually the pc solves everything on their own. There were no real hints to the player that Alex was in the mental hospital; it was all just handed to the audience and Alex on a silver platter. Compare this to James' story. As for the below theory, there's some explanations as to some of the points brought up:
    • The hospital scene doesn't fit with a typical military hospital because it's set in Alchemilla, a civilian hospital. Furthermore, Silent Hill is a Hell specifically tailored for the one trapped there. It's made clear that Alex wanted to be in the military and wanted desperately to prove himself. Lack of military paraphernalia would probably unnerve him even further. And those Nurse uniforms can be chalked up to either the dirty pillows being there to punish him (if he really is gay) or his lack of sexual activity.
    • His hair is too long for the army, but he was supposed to have been in the hospital for a while, so naturally it would've grown back out.
    • A possible explanation for why Alex was hitching a ride with Travis is because he didn't actually go home, he ended up in the Fog World.
    • While it's true that most soldiers try to avoid things that remind them of battle, Alex wearing the jacket was probably like a trophy to him. Remember he wanted to prove his worth to his family and everyone else.
    • His ranged combat skills not being good enough can be chalked up to it being a video game, thus the player is the one who actually has to aim.
    • Again, having to put together the medal puzzle is possibly because it's a video game, so it's left up to the player to figure things out. The fact that Alex got past that puzzle suggests that he really did recognize the medals.
    • For the flashlight, I agree with what was brought up at the end of the paragraph, that it possibly had to do more with his childhood and desire to prove himself.
    • Lastly, although we aren't really given much focus on the military aspect of him in the game, not all soldiers come back with PTSD. Also, the aspects of the Otherworld in this game are not just a product of Alex's mind. The Otherworld bleeding into Shepherd's Glen is because of the founders and the history of the town.

     Because Homecoming's American dev team is actually American, they were able to create a really convincing fake that someone familiar with the real Army and real soldiers would immediately spot as a faker. They wanted it that way because Alex himself is a schizo of some kind with just enough knowledge of the military to BS himself, and they were trying to draw the character as realistically as his 'true' history allows 

Spoilers below.

In simplest terms, Alex is brilliantly characterized as a schizo who believes his own story and behaves as he thinks is appropriate, but giving Alex a DX isn't the point here. Think about it; if you were to suffer from a delusion and think you were a park ranger, you might try to dress and talk like a park ranger. If you didn't know enough about park rangers, a real one would catch on right away. Others who were not park rangers might be fooled. And because the dev team were Americans, they would not encounter a culture-clash issue. Imagine trying to be a 'fake' park ranger again, only this time, you're impersonating a park ranger in Kenya who is Kenyan.

This Troper caught on, oh, sometime shortly after seeing the character model, except that he initially suspected Alex was a soldier and his 'fakeness' stemmed from bad research. There just was no truthiness to the character's story. Now, it's pure Fridge Brilliance how well they made up Alex as a poser trying to fool everyone, including himself.

Alex Screams Fake: First, his clothing. Alex wears his dog tags outside his shirt and a Special Forces Patch on a civilian jacket. The outfit itself simply isn't something which a soldier on his way home from leave would be likely to wear, and I can't even imagine the grief his fellow SFer's would give him for wearing that jacket. (Or, if he weren't Special Forces but wore the patch anyway, the much worse grief his fellows would give him.) His clothing looks like it was purchased at a surplus store by someone who wanted to look like a troop, but wasn't really in the know. Most troops on leave try to avoid wearing anything that reminds them they've got duty waiting for them at the end.

His speech patterns do not fit a military man; he never accidentally or purposefully uses military terms or slang that would present in a real soldier's speech. Not one person says to him, "Alex! You're on leave!" or "Alex! You've been discharged!" or even, "You're out now?" Alex might be wearing a Special Forces patch, and this would excuse his much-too-long hair (for regular Army), but no one comments about the patch or the hair. (Excuse Curtis on the grounds that he derisively comments, "Soldier boy, now", as if he knows Alex is a fake or mistaken.) Alex is also young for a Special Forces operator, not to mention lacking a beard.

Alex's skill with firearms is passable, but not what you'd expect out of an SF operator.

Often, a charlatan can convince an outsider he belongs to a group, but not an insider. Imagine a conman talking stocks well enough to fool someone who knows nothing, but setting off huge red flags when he misuses key words or doesn't understand certain concepts when he talks to a broker. Alex is that on crack. His mother knows he's hospitalized but is catatonic anyway. Travis buys the kid's story as he picks up Alex; nothing in his background says he would know better. Judge Holloway knows him and is unlikely to question why he might have such a jacket; she probably saw him pick up Elle in it a few years ago! Curtis may be either sarcastic in calling Alex a soldier or else fooled, as was Travis. Wheeler does give a slight ex-mil vibe, and he might have asked questions later if he had such experience, but surviving the incoming horde of Schisms and Siam took priority. Alternatively, Wheeler knew and never brought it up; there is a photo of him with Adam on a boat which suggests they were friends and Wheeler is surprised to talk to Alex. ("The sheriff's kid? But I thought you were...", during the 1st Smog attacks)

The Nightmare Hospital Hints at Alex's Broken Mind: Of course, a lot of the Nightmare appears to be a means for the town of Silent Hill to communicate some of what happened to Alex. Let's even concede that the Nightmare could have been entirely controlled by Silent Hill; it's possible.

Despite the early weapons fire and explosion, no one later asks Alex about the war or says, "Thank God you came home safe!" This is surprising in and of itself, but when Alex is immediately asking about his squad, he looks up to see a doctor in bloody scrubs and a hospital that is very much a nightmare. A civilian nightmare. No medics or patients in uniforms amongst the corpses. No combat boots under the gowns. No scattered rank insignia, cheerful government posters, lists of inane or reasonable regulations, portraits of the chain of command, or paperwork which refers to ranks. And if that's the new uniform for female nurses in the Army, I left too early.

The weapons-fire suggests that Alex came off the battlefield, as does his initial ranting at the beginning. However, it sounds ersatz and uses a foley which would be strange to hear in reality. It sounds more convincing to an untrained ear. Despite screaming about his squad, Alex isn't brought to a hospital made out of tents. If Alex were ever wounded in combat, his experience would have been of such a place. If he were military and had experienced military hospitals, it doesn't show at all in the nightmare. However, the appearance and structure of the hospital is perfectly consistent with Alex having been brought to Alchemilla and incorporating elements of it into his dream. We know Silent Hill is capable of sending a person into some very strange places, including places outside of Silent Hill, when it takes over the mind. We also know the town LOVES to draw in elements from its latest chew toy's mind into its visions and otherworldly MindScrews (isn't that right, James?) There is nothing that hints in the slightest Alex has seen (or has ever seen) a military hospital, at least not since his youth. Likewise, we know Silent Hill has NO trouble with messing with memories (isn't that right, James?) Even if Alex were committed without having had false memories, Silent Hill could provide him with them easily.

The flashlight. Oh, no, not those pieces of crap. In the Nightmare, Alex is carrying a flashlight which he possibly played with as a child, and What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?? Not to read too much into a flashlight, but, as soon as Basic Training is over those things are thrown into the trash, given to kid brothers and sisters and sons (ahem) and daughters, or otherwise left behind. You couldn't even give them to a surplus shop. It seems odd Silent Hill would give him an item which is so obviously military in origin — and which is used by no one in the military except when they're forced to in training — unless it was tied to his far-more-important (to Silent Hill) civilian childhood.

Now, his father was a Colonel stationed at Fort Bragg according to the Silent Hill Wiki and in game notes. Even if he attended West Point and come out a quickly-promoted officer, that means that he had to spend quite a few years in the service. His age when he dies is 54. If he left the force at a young age for a Colonel to go back to Shepard's Glen, say, 42 (twenty year man), then Alex would have been 12 when they moved from Ft Bragg to Shepard's Glen. This is consistent with Adam Shepard having been trained in Fort Benning, starting at 22 (allowing him time to earn his degree and thus be an officer) and having served 20 years for retirement. Guess what's on his papers in the attic? Entered service at Benning, left out of Fort Bragg, separated honorably for retirement. This would have exposed Alex to the military life enough to pick up some things, but he would have still been a child when he stopped hanging around in a place full of troops and moved to Shepard's Glen. Alex would have a child's memory of how these men behaved, and he is clearly imitating it as best he can. It would also have given the town enough time for Adam Shepard to be a town fixture. Alex is 22 at the time of Homecoming, and Adam 54. This means that if Adam left the service at 42, after 20 years, Alex would have been only 10.

Unless we state that Shepard's Glen is within driving distance to Fort Bragg (North Carolina) or that Adam Shepard was barely home for the youth of his children, it seems quite likely that Alex and maybe Joshua had to spend some little time seeing soldiers, which would be enough time to pick up a few cool symbols and so on. Either that, or there's a huge plot hole here. And yes, there's jump troops and special ops on Bragg.

This raises another issue. Alex is a young adult; his age is stated at 22 on the Silent Hill Wiki. That means if he enlisted at age 18, he managed to complete: Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training, Special Forces Ability and Selection, etc. Possible, but unlikely, and it would be very unlikely he'd have left that quickly if he adapted so well to military life. Alex shows no sign of injury or health issues that would slow him down. So far, Double Helix has paid extraordinary attention to getting the background military details right, even putting Adam's separation orders (in the attic) in ALL CAPS. Why would they then bungle something like that?

The puzzle in the nightmare version of the house is no big deal to anyone familiar with the order of precedence of military medals. It takes less than a second to recognize each of the 'evil' medals for which medal it corrupts and know where to put them. Alex presumably doesn't know, which means the player has to solve the puzzle.

Alright, there's more to add here, but let's cut to the strongest argument against Alex ever having been in the military.

Adam Shepard tells Alex this just before he's killed. He believes he will die soon. He knows he's done terrible things. He is telling horrible truths that make him out to be a monster to his own son. Why would lie now?

Anyway. The folder isn't that Alex wasn't in the military. The folder is that the dev team went above and beyond to create a fake soldier who would just set off all kinds of bells in the minds of those who knew. Alex was never in the military and the dev team wanted at least some to figure it out well ahead of The Reveal. Or maybe they wanted the character to be ultra-real in his 'fakiness.'

Regarding Alex being a 'schizo,' it's not worth a long digression into the various forms of schizophrenia and other delusional disorders here, but note that Alex definitely suffers from two of the most important signs of schizophrenia. (He likely has a much milder disorder, but I doubt Word of God has ever given him a medical diagnosis.) First, he has strong delusions which he acts upon and genuinely believes to be true, and second, he has a 'flat aspect.' A flat aspect is a low tendency to show emotion. While Alex is less guilty of the Dull Surprise strangeness of Silent Hill protagonists than the others, he still is remarkably...composed...all things considered. And if Alex believes he's a soldier, he'd try to act like one. And if he grew up around Bragg and believes he is a Special Forces soldier, he'd do his best to act like one. And if he'd only seen his father and his father's buddies 'off duty' many years get a genuine fake.

  • The tags and jacket both belonged to Adam.
    • Bzzt, sorry! Adam is stated to be in the 82nd Airborne, NOT Special Forces. His final orders and career do not mention any attachment to SF, which does get mentioned. That would be the wrong unit patch and would look silly, and if he were a troop and wore that, he'd still be hounded relentlessly by his buddies and even his chain of command and NCO support.
  • Additionally, discharged troops are provided transportation home, while escaping mental patients hitchhiker with Too Dumb to Live truckers.
  • To the age issue: Jessica Lynch is not yet 20 when she went to somewhere a few hour's drive to a combat zone. Though it is debatable whether supply units would come across what Alex wrote in his diary.
    • Being in combat at 18 is not unusual in the US Army. Put simply, I spent an entire year in contact with the enemy with some members of my unit only being aged 18-19. What's very unusual is the idea of being 22 and having passed the schools that Alex is representing with his stupid Special Forces jacket but still separating at 22 without obvious signs of injury. Lynch's military occupational specialty was basically a glorified warehouse position and pretty much anyone can pass that school if they have a pulse, two hands, and two feet. This is not a slam on Ms. Lynch herself, but this is the description of her MOS here. Not exactly the hard-charging grunt life. The army isn't exactly shy about who's supposed to do much more of the fighting. Compare an infantryman's MOS description, which is very clear about it being a combat-oriented role. Infantrymen, 11B's, are the basic grunt in the service. Alex, on the other hand, is wearing Special Forces insignia. He would be laughed off the base and possibly assaulted if he really hadn't passed all the training for it - that stolen valor thing. If he had earned it, why would he separate so early from the service if he had adapted so well to the life?
      • And of course, the nightmare hospital looks nothing like a hospital a wounded troop would be taken to. Those look like this. Surprisingly capable interiors including even sterile surgical theaters, but still made of tents.

     Alex Shepherd is gay. 
The missing pictures of Alex on the walls of the Shepherd house, as well as/especially the cassette tape are easily interpreted into this. It's particularly telling that while Adam Shepherd confesses that he deliberately raised Alex as little more than a routine, he specifically tells Josh that he doesn't want to "be like" Alex when he's older. Clearly, Alex's father walked in on him fooling around with another guy when he was in high school, and the missing photos etc. weren't symptomatic of their ruined plans for the ritual but because they're small-town, sheltered people, being unable to properly parse the idea that their son was 'different.' The fact that their membership in the Order marks them as different themselves doesn't necessarily mean they would be open-minded about this particular issue, as homophobia in its many orders of magnitude doesn't always have religion as a factor.

It's certainly a workable explanation for the pointless but very overt sexual overtones present everywhere, as well as a large (though certainly not the only) source of the deep-seated, inappropriate guilt required of most characters in the series. The romantic undertones with Elle are so insignificant because she's not his love interest, she's just his BFF. Insert this into the above theory for another "wrong" reason Alex joined the military; to prove to his father that he's still a man. The Schism suddenly makes sense with this, considering its head is basically a giant phallus split down the middle, and the Lurker's face might be telling, as well. Even the nurse fits, a chick with big knockers that Alex certainly does not want on any level. If one considers Alex's diary (found on the official website, where it's presented as more of a blog) to be canon, his rather sudden, surprisingly shallow, and very short comment about the hot nurses doesn't have to be stretched very far at all to be viewed as something a closeted soldier would say to keep up the hetero act.

This could also be why Alex's parents chose him for the ritual, because he wouldn't continue the family line. Puts an interesting spin to the scene where Alex's mother is on the rack and telling him she's sorry, as she specifically describes the situation as "having to choose one" of them for the ritual. Perhaps latching onto this as a reason for the choice only compounded the guilt later, more so than simply flipping a coin would have, because it's not Alex's fault. Perhaps a contributing factor for Adam Shepherd being driven over the edge and sparing Alex/betraying the Order.

Alternatively, Alex is a trans woman and fully intends to have bottom surgery someday, which would certainly explain the damned Siam. Seriously, just look at that thing and say with a straight face this doesn't make sense. This makes the Schism even worse.

  • In addition, Silent Hill characters usually have names that are referencing real or fictional people or characters that have some relation to who they are. So, Matthew Shepard, anyone?
  • Well, it makes more sense than the official explanation, anyway.
  • This troper was under the impression that Alex was chosen as the sacrifice before he was even born and certainly before Josh was born.
  • Alex being gay becomes Fridge Brilliance when combined with the "he really was in the military" folder above. Considering America's considerably questionable stances on homosexuals in the military, that creates for Alex yet another layer of doubt and frustration for Silent Hill to feed off of.
  • Actually, the Siam can be interpreted in another way so as to support that Alex is simply gay. Since it can arguably be said to symbolize the enslavement of femininity to masculinity, than it can be argued that it represents Alex's suppression of his homosexuality – since homosexuality has been stereotyped by effeminate mannerisms and behavior, thus being the 'feminine' half of the Siam – in favor of trying very hard to come across as being heterosexual – which is in contrast comes across as trying to be much more macho and is thereby symbolized by the male half. Alex is, essentially, enslaved to society's conventions on sexuality and what constitutes 'manliness' while viewing his homosexuality as being feminine. Considering the fact that he's from a small town and that his parents probably had displayed homophobic tendencies in the past and that his parents always favored Josh over him meant that he came to view his homosexuality as being something inherently wrong with him and started a landslide of denial and trying to prove to them that he didn't feel that way about his own gender.
  • Furthermore, despite what some people assume, there wasn't actually romantic undertones to Alex and Elle's relationship. The fact that she was his best friend screams Fag Hag to me. Let's also look at what PH looks like to him: Freakishly tall, shirtless, and with a bodybuilder's physique.

     Alternatively, Alex Shepard is straight, but one of the reasons he was abused by his father simply because his father hates how Alex sympathizes with gay people. 
  • There have been cases in real life where parents mistreated their kids simply for supporting gay rights, the kids not even being gay themselves.
  • And considering how cruel Alex Shepard's father is canonically confirmed to be, it's very likely that he (the aforementioned abusive father)'s not above committing hate crimes against people who dare to support equality.

     The whole series was Alex making up stories to entertain Josh. 
Think about it, the tape you find of Adam telling Josh not to play pretend games with Alex, the fact Alex hates his parents and just wanted an excuse to hate them more. The reason Holloway is the villain and not Adam is because he suspects her of killing Norah.
  • Of course, the versions he tells Josh is slightly different than the ones we see (although Josh having nightmares because of hearing about cults and demons and human sacrifices would make sense) — this is because Alex tells his brother a more child-friendly version of the stories we know. Eventually Alex began to add more details and eventually published them under the name "Alan Wake".
    • Or, the silly UFO endings are Alex trying to calm Josh down.

     Alex didn't really kill Josh. 
Spoilers below.

Okay I know this one is way out there, but bear with me.

In every other SH game, the plot is like a puzzle. We got hints that Josh was dead, but not necessarily hints that Alex killed him. The information was abruptly handed to us on a silver platter.

Alex had a flashback, but as someone else pointed out, SH has no trouble showing people false memories. If we take into account that Silent Hill is an individually tailored Hell, then it's possible that Silent Hill was simply showing Alex the thing that would hurt him the most.

From every single other interaction we had between Josh and Alex, it was shown that Alex was a caring and devoted brother. He even spends the entire game looking for his brother, going to greater lengths to try and save him than he even did his best friend or his mother. Alex acting like a complete asshole to Josh seems inconsistent with prior characterization.

Let's also look at Pyramid Head. PH torments those who are weighted down with some heavy crime. He tormented James even though James forgot his crime. But PH does nothing to Alex, and even whenever he kills Adam, he doesn't hurt Alex. If Alex really had killed Josh, wouldn't PH be after him as well?

Lastly, let's talk about how James discovered the truth whenever he came to Silent Hill. An easy explanation for that is that James' revelation was something that hurt him. Silent Hill is supposed to be like Hell, so Alex being shown the thing that would hurt him the most (even if it's a lie) is consistent with James' story. Also, James himself actually admitted to killing Mary. Alex, on the other hand, was always in disbelief of him supposedly killing Josh.

As for how Josh died, my thoughts are that he and Alex really were out on the lake doing something fun, and Josh really did drown, but Alex didn't actually kill him. That could indeed cause delusions, even if it wasn't Alex's fault.

     The Siam is not Alex's Monster, but Elle's 
The monster design in this installment confused me a bit, at first. The Siam, according to Word of God, is meant to symbolize... unrequited love. Okay? I guess? Though a feminine figure trapped on the back of a brutish, rampaging male one didn't strike me as overly romantic.

Until I considered - the bosses in Silent Hill Homecoming don't seem to be related to Alex, but rather, to the Founding Families, and the children they sacrificed. So if the bosses don't symbolize Alex, why should the other monsters?

Much like in Silent Hill 2, the Big Daddy is Angela's monster, not James', (the protagonist's), the Siam might be created from Elle's mind, not Alex's.

Think about it. When we first see her, Elle is searching for the missing children, hanging up posters and doing her best to find them. But she's at the end of her rope, and feeling more than a little ineffective and helpless.

...Then along comes Alex, old childhood friend, pinnacle of masculinity and power, and he's also looking for the kids. Except he's made a bit of progress in looking for his missing brother, and he's got a couple leads. She becomes dependent on Alex to help move things along, and from that point on, it's Alex doing the grunt work and Elle is just tagging along.

This is the pattern whenever the Siams show up. Elle is helpless when the kids disappear, when Shepherd's Glen is overrun, when they're in the sewers, when her mother reveals she's killed Elle's little sister Nora, everything is always completely out of Elle's control. In addition, Elle is captured or in danger whenever a Siam shows up, forcing Alex to fight them and rescue her - kind of like a white knight.

So perhaps Elle develops a sort of Stockholm-esque crush on Alex, who's taking charge and running forward, while she lags behind, slowing him down as his 'weak spot'. Looking at the monster this way, the Siam's design makes sense, and also why it would be something that a twisted Silent Hill might latch on to.

The Siam represents not love, but a dangerous codependence, representing Elle's own feelings of helplessness in an overwhelming situation.

     Alex both was and wasn't a solider.  
He was in the military for a while, or at least in training, but suffered a mental breakdown at some point and was put in an institution or the hospital because of it. Part of him believed it was just a temporary thing and that he would be able to go back, but another part believed that he would never get over his breakdown and that he would be crazy forever. This is why there's a conflict: he really does have some military training, but since he sees it as something he was doing for therapy and now is afraid that he'll never be "normal" again his mind tells him he was always crazy.

  • Expanding on this theory: Alex was going through basic training when he had a breakdown during a live fire exercise and was injured (maybe injuring other recruits too?). He really did get discharged then for being too mentally unstable.

    • This would explain why he has some fighting skills, but less than a professional soldier would.
    • It also explains the flashlight that is only used by newbies in basic training.
    • And why Alex's diary about going through physical therapy feels authentic. He really WAS in a wheelchair and on crutches for a while.
    • As for why his uniform is all wrong, it isn't his actually uniform, which was taken away by either his parents or hospital staff because they felt it was badly effecting his mental health. The jacket he wears was given to him by another patient who heard he was the 'military guy' and gave it to him as a present.

     Mayor Bartlett and Dr. Fitch have older children off at college somewhere. 
Each of the four Founding Families would have to have at least two children, one to sacrifice and one to carry on the line. Therefore, Joey and Scarlet couldn't have been only children.

     The disjointed narrative seems to point to the Intensive Care ending being the most likely scenario. 
Notice how many events occur that seem to defy even Silent Hill logic, such as Alex Shepherd passing out in the Rose Heights Cemetary and magically appearing in the town of Silent Hill to effect events that really happen there, Alex's outlandish trips to the Otherworld such as Hell Descent not being based upon any physical structure, and so forth. It also explains how at one point, Alex is able to take a power drill to the leg from Judge Holloway without dying of a severed artery and doesn't even have trouble walking after that.

It's notable that the Otherworld sequence that takes place in Alex's home is one the few place where the Otherworld emulates the layout of the real home (as with past games), which makes sense as Alex would know the layout of the place very well; this is just like how Walter Sullivan has a very acute memory of his apartment room 302. Every other place in the Otherworld takes on a more labyrinthine, dreamlike appearance as Alex doesn't have any prior memories to go on so they become dreamlike in appearance. Same concept with Silent Hill and Overlook Penitentiary, Alex gets maps of their Fog World layouts most likely because he's visited these locations on a tour of sorts, while The Order's Lair is a confusing maze-like secret base even in "reality".

When Alex finally "wakes up" in the ending, it's interesting how what appears to be Wheeler and Adam are insisting that Alex accept responsibility even though Alex was shown accepting Joshua's Accidental Murder earlier, leaving the question of what Alex isn't taking responsibility for. Perhaps like one the WMG entries above suggests, Alex really was on tour in the Military service and something went horribly wrong that he messed him up mentally, and Joshua being killed accidentally is one of his delusions to mask something else like Alex getting someone else killed.


     Alex is a teenager, tops, and the adult badass soldier is only how he sees himself. 
The buildings look normal enough, but the cars and some of the items he holds seem a bit bigger than they should be compared to an adult of Alex's size. Everyone also talks down to Alex patronizingly, even Elle. The various nightmare creatures Alex sees also fits very well as a young teenager freaked out about puberty and the gradual awakening of his sexual instinct. And of course there's Alex's complete unfamiliarity with how serving in the army actually works and comes across more like a civilian playing dress-up.

Putting all of this together, Alex has probably been indulging in the fantasy of "I'm actually a badass lone wolf who is a one man army and doesn't afraid of anything" since childhood, and completely gave himself into the delusion after Joshua's death (which may or may not have been his fault) to such a degree that his parents institutionalized him, but he managed to escape because everyone underestimated this skinny teen.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: