In This Episode
On this episode of X-Ray Vision, Jason Concepcion and Rosie Knight finish playing The Last of Us Part One! In the Previously On (1:13) Jason and Rosie discuss the recent news of Marvel Studios Executive Producer Victoria Alonso’s exit from the company and what that means for the MCU. In the Airlock (11:01), they dive deep (deeep) into the video game The Last of Us Part One – finishing their three part series on the game with a recap and an exploration of Marlene in game versus the show, Joel’s character and choices, and the ethics of the final moments of the game. Then in Nerd Out (56:53) a listener pitches the Netflix series Sense8.
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Jason Concepcion In order to support our show, we need the help of some great advertisers. And we want to make sure those advertisers are the ones that you actually care about. But we need to learn a little bit more about you to make that possible. So we are asking, humbly, for you to go to podsurvey.com/Xray and take a quick anonymous survey that will help us get to know you better. That way we can bring on advertisers you won’t want to skip. Once you’ve completed the quick survey, you can enter for a chance to win $100 Amazon gift card. Terms and conditions apply. Again, that’s podsurvey.com/Xray podsurvey.com/Xray. Thank you for your help. Warning This podcast contains spoilers for The Last of Us Part one video game as well as a discussion of the finale of The Last of Us show. Hello, my name is Jason Concepcion.
Rosie Knight And I’m Rosie Knight.
Jason Concepcion And welcome to X-ray Vision, the Crooked Media podcast, where we dive deep to your favorite shows, movies and pop culture.
Rosie Knight On this episode in the Previously On, we’re talking about the actually very shocking exit of Marvel Studios EP Victoria Alonso In the Airlock, we are finishing our Last of US part one video game finale explainer, which is going to be very interesting in the wake of the finale of the show.
Jason Concepcion Yes, we’re very excited to have this conversation.
Rosie Knight And in Nerd Out, Paige pitches us on the Netflix series Sense8. Oh, there’s a big fandom for that one.
Jason Concepcion Of course, if you want to jump around, check the shownotes for timestamps coming up, Previously On. News dropped just as we were going to record that executive producer Victoria Alonso is exiting Marvel Studios. This from a The Hollywood Reporter story quote Victoria Alonso the long time, high profile Marvel Studios executive who signed with the company dates back to the first Iron Man has left the studio. Multiple sources told the Hollywood Reporter the reasons for the exit are unclear, but she parted ways with Marvel on Friday. Sources say the article continues. Alonso join the studio in 26 as chief of Visual Effects and post-production and helped launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a co-producer in 28 Iron Man. In 2021, she was promoted to president, physical and post-production, visual effects and animation production. The article continues further quote Her departure comes in the shadow of Ant-Man and the WASP Quantumania as poor showing at the box office and among critics and fans. Your thoughts, Rosie Knight.
Rosie Knight I was surprised.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight This is not like. It’s not like Feige leaving, but it’s basically the second most shocking exit that there could be. Victoria has been around. If you watch the YouTube while premiers of the Marvel movies, which I always do, you, she will always be there. She’s been a big champion of directors like Ryan Coogler, Chloe Zhao. She’s been really pushing for diversity. She is a gay woman. She spoke out about the Don’t Say Gay bill. But yeah, I find this very interesting because she has done a huge amount. She is definitely one of the hands that has shaped the MCU as we know it. Like as I mentioned, she’s been at Marvel Studios since pre you know, the Iron Man, but. After the initial shock. It also was something that made sense to me when I thought about the recent issues that Marvelous had with the facts, with the critiques of the way the VFX looks. But more importantly, in my opinion, the issues they’ve had with the treatment of VFX workers across the globe, and especially like the stuff that we talked about before the the burgeoning visual effects union that Vulture reported on earlier this year. So to me, my gut says it’s probably in the realm of all of that, though we don’t know, as they mentioned, that it kind of hasn’t been confirmed why she left. But yeah, it was surprising and then less surprising when I really started to think about it.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, this is all obviously conjecture, but you know, in our text chain I thought the same thing that the critique about the quality of the images in Marvel Cinematic Universe movies dates back years. Like literally you can find article, you.
Rosie Knight You can see an article from 2016.
Jason Concepcion 2016, 2017, 2018. Why do Marvel movies look like shit? Why? While Marvel movies look ugly, why is the color palette bad? Why does it look muddy? And then, as only continued in recent years with, you know, critiques about the CGI, the CGI does make sense. It’s messy, blah, blah, blah. It’s bland. Many, many criticisms of Ant-Man and the WASP fall along this similar vein. And then you look at Victoria Alonso’s, the title, and it’s very clear those things fall directly on her purview. And and when you couple that with the strongly negative stories about the way that the kind of working conditions that the VFX workers have to deal with and I think, you know, any media company of any kind of scale and certainly one of Disney size is very concerned about negative stories. And at some point it’s probably is enough. And furthermore, you know. There’s also the the angle that like, hey, if you continue to like, treat the VFX workers like this, you’re going to make them form a union. And if they form a union, we’re going to end up spending a lot more money on these fucking movies. And I think that that is potentially an angle as well. You know, I just think, you know, when people are saying you’re at your movie studio, you make you make movies, it’s a visual medium.
Rosie Knight Visual medium.
Jason Concepcion Visual medium. And people for seven years have been saying, why do these movies look like shit? And that’s your job. I would imagine at some point, like those stories accrue and people start asking questions. Add on to that. You know, the much talked about kind of bottom falling out of various streaming companies, you know, financial statements, Disney stock tanking, lots of people getting laid off left and right. Politically speaking here, you know, there’s tons of below the line regular workers who are going to be, you know, losing their paychecks. Here is a high profile executive. It probably plays pretty well to like, if you want to be cynical about it. But I agree with you. I think this probably if I had to guess and we don’t know, but if I had to guess, it’s it has to do with the constant criticism and perhaps and perhaps acknowledged criticism of of the VFX and the fact that, you know, the treatment of the VFX trades people has essentially backing them into a corner to the point that they’re going to form a union, which again is going to is going to cost Disney and other studios a lot of money if that indeed doesn’t.
Rosie Knight Create for the workers less great for the corporations, as is always the way with the union.
Jason Concepcion No, Mickey, No, don’t. Mickey, are you okay? Mickey’s going to be at the Disneyland with his pockets. Turn down like.
Rosie Knight Pennies and dust. Pennies and dust.
Jason Concepcion Hey kids. Can anybody spare some change? Mickey needs a money sandwich
Rosie Knight But, yeah, I think. I think you sum the all up. I also think like something that you keyed into that I don’t necessarily know. As we say, most of these reports are very un speculative because that’s not the nature of journalism, but we are here to talk about it in the context of the wider world as we know it. I also think like we are in a dicey financial time and I think that all of these studios are trying to save money. And I think that.
Jason Concepcion Oh, for sure.
Rosie Knight These movies cost an unbelievable amount of money, and yet they’re still not paying people well enough to make them. And this is just the yeah, it’s a confluence of drama. Maybe we’ll be wrong. Maybe it will turn out that Victoria chose to leave of her own her own volition, but will surely find out more soon.
Jason Concepcion Pay, pay is one issue and an important one. But to me, you know the weight of all those stories. Made clear to me that it’s it’s kind of less about paying more about time and the amount of things they’re asked to do in a certain period of time. And I think when you really look at that, that. Calls into question if indeed this firing is because of this issue. That would cause you to think about planning. Can we not plan this better? Can we not organize this better so that people aren’t working around the clock and in working around the clock, getting really pissed off and then getting pissed off, either refusing to work with us anymore, or unionizing to the point that our bottom line gets fucking hammered. Yeah, it seems to me that that would be a reasonable. It’s a reasonable assumption to make.
Rosie Knight Yeah. I’m going to be very interested to see if this kind of begins like a domino effect of changing the way that these movies are made, even slightly, because I think a lot about the fact that they were doing reshoots from Man in the WASP. Three weeks before it came out in in L.A. And we know that one of the biggest critiques, like you say, is about these 18 hour days. It’s about three months with no days off, but it’s also about, you know, the time that they use pixel forking when Marvel will come back to you a week before the movie is meant to come out and say, Hey, we need you to change this one tiny thing, or actually we need you to re redo the whole ending. And basically this is what it needs to look like. So can you do that? So I think there is a need for a more sustainable vision of how they make these big blockbuster movies, not just superhero movies, like any kind of big spectacle CGI movies. I also think they need to reconsider the way that they see and the amount that they use, like CG in these movies. I think that’s beginning to stop people from connecting in the way that they are presenting these stories. So yeah, I’ll be interested to see, but I was not expecting this on my bingo card of things that would happen in 2023.
Jason Concepcion Certainly not. Up next, The Airlock.
Jason Concepcion We’re stepping out of The Airlock and into the final chapters of The Last of Us. Video game to continue and, and end our Last of Us video game coverage. And this conversation is really going to be about the differences between the emotional impacts of the ending of the game, versus the show. I think one of the things it really. We took away from from the conversation in our discord and kind of reading the kind of conversation on the Internet and also watching the show and just taking stock of our own hearts. Was that the show? It’s very hard to come away with anything else than being strongly pro Joel at the end of The Last of Us. And that is a really starkly contrast with, I think, the game which even even the most like. You know, like procedural reading of the events at the end of the game paints him in a much greater light than he is in the show where he ends. And I think one of the things that. That really interests us is like, why is that the case? Why is that the case? So that’s what this conversation is going to be about. So let’s start with the last kind of big two movements at the college where Joel and Ellie go initially to look for the Fireflies before running into some of David’s raiders and getting into the whole cannibalistic hullabaloo over at Silver Lake. And then finally, the final movement at Salt Lake. I think the first thing I would say is that. This. The video game. We gave Marlene a lot of shit. We give the Fireflies a lot of shit.
Rosie Knight Oh, we did.
Jason Concepcion We. And. And I came away from my replay of the game in my rewatch of the cinematics over the last week, really feeling how long the Fireflies had been at this, trying to find a cure. We go to the college, you know, and you know, when we go to the college in the show, silent monkeys around you see some kind of, like, scattered, you know, boxes and some stuff pinned up on what? But you really don’t know what it is in the game. You’re interacting with all this stuff. And one of the things you see is like an X-ray of of a person’s brain showing the progression of the fungal growth. And then you get all those MP three recorders with with scientist, with a scientist, one scientist in particular talking about the kind of arduous process putting their heads up against this concrete wall of trying to find this cure. And I thought that really was important. Context for the emotional reveals that happened at the end of the game.
Rosie Knight Yeah, I totally agree. I think that one of the most interesting things on replaying it and on thinking about the different narrative form of the game and the TV show one the TV show you’re in there for, you know, 9 hours, let’s say, as an estimation, right in the game. You are there for 40, 50 hours with these characters, with these people, and you learn things in a completely different way. I think the Salt Lake City University section is a great example because in the show we really just go there so they can understand that the Fireflies have moved on. You see the map. Oh, it looks like it’s going to Salt Lake City, you know. But in the game you’re exploring, you’re seeing that this was a place that people lived, that they work, that they dedicated time to, that they had to leave. And you even get like a moment. You pulled a great clip from one of the mysteries where it’s like one of the doctors is considering what to do with the monkeys they’ve been testing on. And he chooses to let them go. He doesn’t want to kill them because they’ve made the sacrifice. Even that gives more humanity to the Fireflies and the doctors and this kind of empathy that we never get to see from them in the show. Also, they’re missing for a lot of the show, whereas in the game, the Fireflies are constant and whether it’s you, other people talking about them. And I just think that there’s something really interesting about thinking about ways that we get information in stories. Because I do think that finding, you know, the Firefly pendants and learning the different Firefly names and also then finding out there’s different stories of these characters through empathy recordings, whether it’s Malin or whether it’s, you know, this doctor, it gives you a much more interactive and holistic sense of who they are. I think that we didn’t have time and also is impossible to do in a game, in a TV show. No one wants to see Joel going around listening to multiple MP3s. It doesn’t make sense.
Jason Concepcion It’s just it’s just a hokey way to like do.
Rosie Knight He’s like on his doom doing exposition. Like nobody wants that, right? But like in the game, it actually works so well and it feels it adds more texture and grit. And I think that is something that I really took away in terms of how we end up in the game, feeling a lot more compromised about what Joel does. Whereas in the show, even people who were like, Wow, that’s kind of fucked up, you’re still like, Well, what were the Fireflies doing? And how do we know they’re here? We get so much more of an idea that this is an ongoing project that they might actually have an idea about what they’re doing.
Jason Concepcion Well, I think the it comes down to I think the difference in emotional impact of game verse show, comes down to for me one main thing and that is in the game I was I never ever doubted that this would result in the cure that that that Ellie undergoing this deadly surgery to remove pieces of her brain would absolutely result in the cure. And part of that is one the kind of as we’ve said video game logic of, you know, there’s the logic of.
Rosie Knight The acceptance super science.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. The logic of the genre, right? Like you play a video game and it absolutely makes sense to you that you are the hero that is that is going to save the world like that. That is just kind of what the genre is. Right? And also, as you said, this kind of the humanity of of the Fireflies and a word that keeps coming up and a notion that keeps coming up in these last few chapters with everything with the Fireflies is sacrifice. Like that voice memo you mentioned, the doctor says of the monkeys, You know, everybody wants to kill you guys. I say, Screw that. Who made a bigger sacrifice than you? Right? And then shortly after that, he gets bitten by a fucking tainted monkey and.
Rosie Knight It happens. It happens. He made the right choice. You know, karma came for him either way.
Jason Concepcion But it just give.
Rosie Knight On the animals.
Jason Concepcion It just gives you like, think about. The emotional toll that this person must have taken to get to a place where here’s all these monkeys potentially infected with this deadly virus that has absolutely devastated the globe and caused untold heartbreak and pain and trauma. And you’re sitting here injecting them with cordyceps fucking 24 hours a day. It’s horrific to the point where a scientist is just like, I can’t after. I can’t do anymore.
Rosie Knight Like I’m done with you, I can’t kill you.
Jason Concepcion And and that really brought it home. Like. Mm. Like when we talked about the show and we talked about the kind of, like, slapdash project stuff that the Fireflies put together.
Rosie Knight Mad scientist in his lab when they saw.
Jason Concepcion This felt most definitely not that, you know. And then there’s a second M.P. three recorder in which the doctor is apparently been left behind, probably because he got bitten by the monkey and he’s had as the fuck it. Stay there now. And he’s talking about, you know, he’s just kind of like talking as a kind of last will, you know, into another voice recorder. And he is the frustration of it all has finally gotten to him as he is nearing the end of not just this project, but his probably his life. And he says a giant waste of time talking about this project to find a cure. If you’re looking for the others, they all return to St Mary’s Hospital in St and in Salt Lake City. You’ll find them. They’re still trying to save the world, he says, like very, very bitterly. And then you get to Salt Lake City with that hanging over you.
Rosie Knight I was going to say that.
Jason Concepcion The Fireflies have really, really, really been trying to crack to do this. And what’s the missing ingredient? It’s Ellie.
Rosie Knight Mm hmm. Well, also, I think the other thing that’s really great in that moment with those two amputees is you have the man who understands the sacrifice, who thinks it’s worth it. Then you have the person who’s more along the lines of Joel. This in in Joel’s mind, that be three in the game. It can justify everything that he’s worried about. Luke is like is a giant waste of time. These moments add so much to that kind of internal battle.
Jason Concepcion You’re absolutely so right. It’s not just the leap that he makes.
Rosie Knight No.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight It and it’s like that kind of those little narrative bits. And I just want to say like this, if you’ve listened to us talk about the show, you don’t either. Since we love the show, like I think they have such a brilliant job of adapting it. And I actually love the choices that they make, even though I was shocked by how kind of. Less morally gray and bleak. The ending felt. I still really think they did a great job. And I think at that I think one game is incredibly hard. But in terms of this specific decision, it’s these little moments that teach you so much about Joel and the journey he’s on and kind of you can pick up and foreshadow the things even in that moment. Wait, the doctor talks about the monkey and says, like, who’s made a career sacrifice than you? That’s Ellie. Ellie’s going to make the greatest sacrifice of all. There’s so much great foreshadowing and it really puts you. In the position where at the end you’re kind of going back through everything and you’re like, Wait a minute, like what happened? Why would why would he do this? Whereas like you said in the show, you know, especially people who had played the game, they were just like, yeah, Joel was right.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight Like, why? Why wouldn’t he do that? Whereas when in the game, it’s like it’s a shadow of the colossus level turn like you do not see it coming and you do not get a choice. And also I’m be real. Joel is a brutal person in this game. We’ve talked about it a lot. He kills so many people, even though him and Ellie build this relationship. I think this is another thing on the show versus the game. In the game there is I feel like the world is a lot. More full of distractions and other people. The show is so brilliantly focused on Joel and Ellie’s relationship that you don’t question it. But again, in the game, I’ve killed 500 people by the time I get to the end. Like, what’s one more little girl if it means you can save the world, you know? And that’s, I think, why those choices feel so much heavier.
Jason Concepcion And so a lot of our you know, obviously, our finale episode was heavy on the criticism of Marlene. I want to just I stand by everything that I said about Marlene. And I think a lot of my disappointment of Marlene and the frustration in what she did is because what she’s setting out to do with the Fireflies are trying to do is such a lofty and noble goal and it’s so worth doing. But, you know, finding a cure for this vicious disease that is totally devastated to humanity.
Rosie Knight Yep.
Jason Concepcion Bringing democracy back to a to a country that has been shattered and is being ruled by, you know, people, desperate people with guns like that is that is a worthy and lofty goal. And she was going about it in such a fashion. And then you get to the game version of Bali in an end when the first thing I notice is when Joel has his, he wakes up in the room with Marlene after being captured by the Fireflies, and they get captured in a slightly different way as they almost drown after kind of trying to move through a, you know, like a tunnel. And immediately. And this just is a part of the performance in Troy Baker’s performance and Merle Dandridge, this performance. But there’s immediately a a kind of warmth between Joel and Marlene like she is. So relieved that he’s there, she says. I pretty much. She talks about how first, how hard it was to come across the country, how many people they lost. And she’s really sad about it. She says, I pretty much lost everything. Then you show up and somehow we find you just in time to save her. Maybe it was meant to be end. And then she goes on to say, as Joel realizes, like, what’s going to happen? He says, But but cordyceps is in the brain. She’s again. And he’s like, you know, why are you letting this happen? And then she says something that I think really told me why she’s doing this right. And there will be further things that will back up. I think her choice of why it’s me, it’s not the right choice, but I understand why she made it. And she and she said, you know, Joel says, why are you letting this happen, letting this happen, which I think is important. Even Joel Right. By saying that he’s not saying, why are you doing this?
Rosie Knight No.
Jason Concepcion Even Joel in this moment is recognizing that there are other forces at work, that there’s this entire Firefly organization that is agency in and of itself. Right. She’s a leader, but not the leader. And there’s, you know, political considerations going on here. And then she pretty much confirms that. She says, because this isn’t about me or even her. There is no other choice here. And. When you think about the desperation in that scientist’s voice memos, how long they’ve been at this, how they were, she says. Like, we thought we were done. We thought we’re never going to find it like. And then and then Ellie shows up and you’ve got all these scientists that have been working for years to try and crack this code. And you’ve got all these soldiers that have been supporting them, some of them dying, getting infected, dying to raiders, etc., in the hopes that one day they be able to find the missing ingredient and and and be able to manufacture a cure and then it falls into their laps. I don’t think Marlene had the clout to say, hold on, wait, don’t do this surgery. Let’s do some other stuff first. I think the doctors and there’s going to be other evidence that is going to bear out what I’m saying. But I think the doctors had been like, we have chased down every fucking dead end street. We’ve pulled on every thread. We’ve done everything. This is the only way. And I think Marlene had there is nothing she could do. I don’t think she could have stood in the way of any of these people that wanted desperately to do this surgery and that it to me is the difference between game Marlene and show Marlene.
Rosie Knight Yeah, I think that’s such a great point. And the other big thing, I think, which is again, is just one of those ultimate. Conundrums of adapting a game to a show is especially if you have someone I know. Druckmann is such a brilliant storyteller who wants to expand and analogies parts of the law in the canon. I think one of the things that I found. Interesting about that adaptation was the confirmation of a very popular fan theory and kind of this expansion on why Ellie was immune, which was that her mother got Ben and kind of like a blade origin story, right? And now she’s a day walk. I mean, now she’s new and she’s both. And and what I think is so interesting about that is because we know that Molly knows and because in the room in the hospital where she tells Joel about the surgery, she is the one who expands on how Ellie is immune in the game. It’s a voice memo from a doctor who kind of says, like Molly was right. The girl’s infection is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Important to note, the cause of her immunity is uncertain, as we’ve seen in all past cases. And he sort of goes on to talk about why it probably would have worked by making Marlene complicit in not only the knowledge that Ellie was likely always immune or had a potential to be immune, but then having her be the reason. Yeah. The person who shares the reason to Joel. Oh, she’s immune. It’s because of, you know, she’s probably been immune since birth. It gives Molly a much more sinister edge in the game. There is kind of this reveal that Marlene has been protecting Ellie because she knew Ellie’s mother, and it’s all through love. And when she tells Joel, I do understand what’s going on in the game, she says, I was Ellie’s mom’s best friend. I’m paraphrasing. And, you know, I’ve looked after her since she was little. I always promise to look after that. Feels like a plea of somebody going through grief, going through something the same in the show. It feels like she’s trying to sell Joel something because she wants to use Ellie for this purpose. And I think even though I love that acknowledgment of how Ellie’s immune, and I think it’s actually a really important addition because I think for a lot of people that could have been almost like a plot hole if it wasn’t wasn’t explained in the show. I do think it gives Marlene a more sinister edge that makes it harder to empathize with her or feel like she’s doing things in an altruistic way also.
Jason Concepcion Oh absolutely.Yeah.
Rosie Knight Or, it gives her more. It feels like she has more power, more agency. It feels like she was the one who told the doctor, Oh, this is what happened with Ellie. It feels like she is the one who wanted Joel is going to lose is, like you said, that feeling you get in the game of this kind of momentum that’s overtaken Marlene and any plan she had, she doesn’t want Ellie to die in the game, but there’s no choice. And also, who would you know? It’s the greater good here. Marlene, just in the show is kind of just like, well, sorry, we’re going to put her in surgery and nothing you can do about it. And it’s just it doesn’t it hits in a more villainous way, I think.
Jason Concepcion To your point, when when you that what you’re saying on and I think you’re exactly right when you stack that on top of the kind of way the conversation that Marlene had with Ellie early in the show this season, that, that seemed to suggest that Marlene had been like pulling some strings in terms of like getting Ellie placed at FEDRA. She’s been keeping her eye on her, all these kind of things. It it makes it seem like much more plot and then you get to the end and the kind of alacrity with which she is, you know, like hustling Joel out the door her do this thing feels it feels a lot more like she is driving these events and less that that they are happening to her now you know oftentimes in and that’s not worse or better. It’s just different. Yeah. And it makes Marlene a different character. But I think that’s exactly the thing. You’re you’re you’re talking about like even the way she says, you know, in the in the game, she says almost pleading with Joel. She says like she’s not going to feel anything like don’t like it she and and the way it lands is like she’s almost soothing herself about it because as she said, there’s no there’s no choice. I don’t have a choice in it. But then when she says the way she says to Joel, like. In the show like, don’t worry.
Rosie Knight I didn’t tell her.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, she’s out. She won’t know what’s happening. The fact that she then shortly thereafter says, well, what would. What choice would she make, Joel? It it makes her a hypocrite. And again, that’s not worse or better or any it’s just like a different way to tell the story. And I would argue if you have Phaedra Pascal as your lead role, you definitely want the audience to be like, Joel, go get them. Like, Yeah, doing the right thing like you want. You just want to root for that guy. But that’s why. The game version is a lot more is a lot grayer because. You, you can sense. You know, texturally how hard everybody has been working to make this happen, to find a cure and how this all these people who are experts in this, unlike the way we felt about the doctor who again, is like, where did this fucking guy come from? You know, like, we’ve seen all the infrastructure now through the voice memos, the different hardware you’re creeping around, the, you know, the college campus, and then you’re, you know, you’re moving through the Salt Lake City laboratory in the hospital and you’re seeing other stuff and you get the feeling that these people kind of know what they’re doing now. After Marlene lets Joel go. Still a bad decision, obviously, but I think one that plays a little bit differently in the game. She says, don’t waste this gift, Joel. And you could as many people in the Discord talked about, like, you know, part of the reason that she lets him go in the show is because she’s grateful to him. And I think that’s right. And I think that’s a direct translation to the game. And I think it’s you understand it more in the game. And it’s also that.
Rosie Knight Mm hmm.
Jason Concepcion You know, there’s big things afoot, like, let’s get this guy out of here. And then so as Joel has made his break, he’s killed a couple of Fireflies, and he’s creeping around, like being pursued by them. He then finds another voice memo. And I think this voice memos really important. For what? Because it. It absolutely locks in. The kind of like supporting evidence of the competence of the Firefly doctors. And it lets you know, like, how thoughtful they are actually about this thing, even though they are rushing to do it. And the and the doctor voice memo goes, quote, Marlene was right. The girl’s infection is nothing like I’ve seen. The cause of her immunity is uncertain. And I’m going to read all this jargon because I actually think it’s important that they put this in here. As we’ve seen in all past cases, the antigenic titers of the patients cordyceps remain high in both serum and cerebrospinal fluid. Blood cultures taken from the patient rapidly grow cordyceps and fungal media in the lab. I’ll stop here. This is one of our critiques right of the show is why don’t you start with blood tests? Why don’t you do all this? They’ve done it. They tried it.
Rosie Knight Yeah.
Jason Concepcion They’ve been trying it. However, it continues, white blood cells, including percentages and absolute counts, are completely normal. There is no elevation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and in many of the brain shows no evidence of fungal growth in the limbic regions which would normally accompany the program of aggression in infected patients. We must find a way to replicate this state under laboratory conditions. We’re about to hit a milestone in human history equal to the discovery of penicillin. After years of wandering in circles, we’re about to come home, make a difference, and bring the human race back into control of its destiny. All of our sacrifices in the hundreds of men and women who’ve bled for this cause or worse will not be in vain. Now, imagine that kind of emotion amongst the Fireflies. Who’s going to be able to tell them no? Like, I just don’t think Marlene could have done it. I don’t think she could have done it.
Rosie Knight I also think this, like, is a really great way to set up the way of what Joel’s choice means. Devastating, because you hear this in you already. There’s hundreds of people who have sacrificed their lives for this, let alone all the millions of people who’ve already died from cordyceps. That for some reason just brings it home so much harder that when Joel takes Ellie out and kills the Fireflies and kills the doctor, you feel that way of, Oh, that could have saved millions of lives.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight And you and I have to say, look, I have always been a slight Joel apologist, just because I do think I think that there is something very interesting and analogous here about like real life testing on humans and that like an agency, that ally wasn’t given. So I always found this to be less of a villainous decision and more of this really interesting, complex question about who gets to live, who gets to die. But in the game, the wait is there in the show, as we said, you know, I feel that you really come out of this like it probably wasn’t going to work. And even if it was like they didn’t they didn’t sell you on how hard it was. You felt like you were in this kind of junk together surgery. There was no blood tests, There was no conversation. And I understand that they kind of they they distilled a little bit of that science into what Marlene says to Joel. But I don’t necessarily think it hits that same way. And when you hear the way that the doctor feels about what they could do, a milestone in human history equal to the discovery of penicillin.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, like.
Rosie Knight And then to have Joel ignore that and just kill everyone, that’s very hard core that is like a brutal and again, this is that different. It’s not necessarily a narrative storyline. You have to pick up the recorder, you have to hear these. These are things that build on top of the experience that you’re having. Plus, again, like we said, the nature of being in Joel’s person and being the person who has to kill all these things, that’s very different from just watching it on the screen. So that makes it feel a lot heavier, too. But I do think it’s a really interesting change because by this point you are so in. You know, you’re so in on Joel and Ellie’s journey on the sacrifices they’ve made together on the show that it felt so much easier to do. In the game, you’re like, Well, I get it. But there’s lots of boss in the show. I feel like it’s more just like Joe did what he had to do. No, but you know, but the game is always this huge. Well, he could of that. There’s a lot more questions. And I think it comes from these really brilliant little narrative devices like the memos.
Jason Concepcion And, you know, there’s another part of this conversation, too. And you hear the question a lot regarding both versions of the story game and show. Okay. Your perspective on how you feel about Joel’s choice is going to be different depending on whether you’re a parent or not. Right. You hear that a lot. Like if you’re a parent, it absolutely makes sense in both versions. And I agree with that. But I also think that there’s a really interesting thing that you’re kind of talking about. And I think it’s and I’m fascinated in how this part of the conversation never or rarely comes up. I want to say never, rarely comes up. And that is you are the parent of a child who is, in fact, and you’re watching them waste away and turn to this like, aggressive killer zombie, you know, or you’ve watched that happen to someone you love. And what would you feel if you learned that there was a cure? But then someone came along and. And for that cure to happen, Right, a surgery would need to be performed on someone, and that surgery would probably kill them. But. Everyone’s like, Your child would be cured, your friends, children would be cured. Future generations for all time to come. There would be a cure. Right. And when you hear that, not only. Is that person, that immune person like lost to the to the people who are trying to find the cure now. But all the the knowledge, the hard earned scientific and medical knowledge of how to do this has been wiped out by like one guy. People would hate that guy 100%. They would be like, That’s a kill that guy. That guy’s a criminal. He’s causing my child to get sick and die. Like, I hate that guy. And that’s a part of this, too, that I think.
Rosie Knight Definitely.
Jason Concepcion Is is much more kind of like textual in the game version.
Rosie Knight Yeah. I also think you bring up an interesting point even before you get to Joel killing everyone, right? If you’re asking this question, you’re saying if my child was Ellie, what would I do? I mean, I have nieces and nephews, and I probably would definitely have done what Joel did. Absolutely. Flip it on its head and talk about what if, like you said, you had an infected child, but to cure that child, all you had to do was kill one person in a surgery to create a cure. Even on that base level, if we take it outside of a million people, that is basically a really interesting reflection of Joel’s choice. And Joel chooses to kill many people to save Ellie. If Joe was infected and he had a choice to kill somebody or force somebody through a surgery to save Ellie, he would probably do it. So I think it’s a really interesting kind of razor’s edge that they balance on here. Morally.
Jason Concepcion X-ray vision will be back.
Speaker 4 <AD>
Jason Concepcion And we’re back. So as Joel is kind of creeping around, continuing to kill Fireflies left and right over here, some of this firefly, the Fireflies talking to each other. And one of them asked, Who is this guy? And another answer is, he brought the kid all the way from Pittsburgh. Marlene insisted on questioning him herself. This little snippet of dialog again opened another crack until, like, Marlene’s actions, and that is if you bite into. Marlene. Is is does not have the clout to stand in the way of this. The decision to perform the surgery on L.A.. Everybody’s gung ho for it. There’s even if she said, no, don’t do it, that people would just do it anyway. And even if she did that, like, her life would probably be in danger. But the way I read this line is that. I think she’s kind of protecting Joel here. Like, obviously she’s protecting Joel and letting him go, but by not letting anybody else talk to him. That seemed like. She’s kind of like hanging her neck out for Joel a little bit. Like she she kind of like she kind of, like, hung herself out there, too, to try and get Joel out of there safely, considering what he had done for her.
Rosie Knight It’s definitely very interesting because one of our biggest critiques was like, why would they like Billy club them? Surely they would know they were coming right in the show. But it’s really funny how in the game there’s kind of this it almost feels more like Marlene’s like paranoia to protect Ellie and Joel and to kind of keep their mission a secret is why she doesn’t kind of let everyone know. I also, like, think this is really good worldbuilding because as we know, they’re constantly having to recruit Fireflies because they always die. And I kind of like the idea that. Right. I just kind of like the idea that these are just some new guys. So, like, why the fuck would they know? Because they’re just hanging around, like, and they’re not going to be there for very long. But yeah, it’s definitely very interesting replaying how differently these little moments play. When you have this much more decompressed amount of time to kind of explore and feel the world. I mean, that whole that the finale of The Last of Us is it’s the shortest episode of the season. So it really like.
Jason Concepcion And in terms of dialog, I mean it feels ripped. I haven’t done a line by line. I’m sure somebody has. But it feels essentially ripped from the game, you know? The final 20 minutes is basically, you know, almost directly for the game. So Joel makes it into the surgical theater. First of all, there are Fireflies posted outside the door.
Rosie Knight Smart.
Jason Concepcion He manages to flank them and he kills them. And then when he gets in there, the surgeon says, I won’t let you take her. At which point in the show, Joel just shoots him, and then he continues, This is our future. Think of all the lives we’ll save. And then Joel shoots him now. Part of why this is shocking and we’ve said this before, but for me, you know, video games are the it’s about agency, it’s about interactivity, it’s about immersion. You are the character. I am Joel, when I’m playing this game and and after spending X amount of hours, depending, you know, your mileage may vary depending on how how hard the game was for you. But after spending hours and hours after work. But, you know, before going to work during a break, you know, stealing minutes and hours here and there and you’re in there working. You know, arduously towards this goal of delivering L.A. to this place where we can save the world from this virus, to suddenly have that choice taken from you and you have to kill this guy. That’s another part of the emotional impact of the game that that is slightly different. Again, not better or worse, but just it it’s because you were taking part in this story and you and at least from my perspective, I’m thinking like like any other video game would be it Halo or BioShock or whatever, like, Oh, I’m going to save the world now. We’re going to do it. Yeah. And instead I go on a murder spree, and that is a it’s a really shocking and powerful subversion that I think also. It’s strangely one of the most. Yeah, it’s one of the. It depicts violence in a way that really asks you to think about what it costs. Even though obviously this is a video game, these are not real people dying. But I’ve. It’s rare that I’ve played a game in which you kill people where I felt the deaths as much as you feel them in this game and you really feel it in that moment when Joel you as Joel shoots this doctor and you have no choice but to do it, to spare him or do. It’s like kill the guy.
Rosie Knight Yeah, I think that’s such a great point, especially because it’s the lesson that they took from the game and put into the show that I love the most. If the game made you feel the weight of the deaths, which especially does by the time you get here if you did it before because you issue. Yeah. I have to say, when I first played it, I definitely was more just like, I’m getting through it. I’m playing the game. When I started replaying it for the show, I’m for the part. It kind of blew my mind from the very beginning. How many people you kill and not FEDRA agents not infected, but at the beginning, for you, the first people you kill are just hunches, like random guys that you have to shoot in the head. And even in that moment and that brutality, I felt that way. And what I love, if there’s one thing I mean I love so much about the show, but the one thing I think is so brilliant and so responsible and so interesting is how they took that and translated it. Even in these changes that we’re talking about and the way that we feel like maybe the way of Joy’s choice feels a little less or a little less complex. In the finale especially, but throughout, you feel when he kills someone and in the finale they show you the faces of the people that he killed.
Jason Concepcion I thought that was a really smart decision to do that, to really pay homage to the game and the way the game depicts violence and makes you complicit in the violence like that. That. That last scene where you shoot the doctor, that last moment in the surgical theater in the game, again, like all of that is scripted, that could be a cut scene, but it’s not. It makes you pull the trigger without. Any ability to choose not to pull the trigger. You have to you have to kill that. You have to aim in at him and shoot him. And you can’t do anything.
Rosie Knight Else and you can not do it is by not playing the game. Not finishing the game.
Jason Concepcion It is. It’s You mentioned Shadows of the Colossus. It is like that. Yeah, that Shadows of the Colossus. I think one of the brilliant. Things about that game is you’re killing these big, huge, peaceful creatures. And because of the way the mechanics of that game where you have to just press the button again and again and again and again and again and again and again. It’s making you. I really have to kill this like you are doing it. It’s you you’re doing. You could just, like, stop doing it, but you won’t. Because if you have to kill this thing. Why? I don’t know. They’re peaceful and they just are sitting there eating happily, playing in a field, and you decide to climb up their head and kill them. It’s. It was like that kind of emotional impact.
Rosie Knight Yeah. And and every twist where it’s like you think you’re the hero and then you discover that you’re the villain, you know? And then I feel like, as I’ve said, Joel is not necessarily a villain, but in the game, you do realize that in that moment where you shoot the doctor, you look at what you’ve done and you think, Whoa, yeah, I have been complicit. I am Joel and I have just like gone through and gunned down a hospital, which is why I think the way that they shot the finale and had that kind of Joel disassociating was very again, I’ll say the web responsible because I think in the way that we live now in the reality of gun violence is like. If you’re going to have a character come out of that feeling vaguely heroic, you can’t actually make the violence heroic or righteous because it’s just too analogous to real life. So there’s like a real interesting balance that you have to strike there. But yeah, I mean, those to me shadow closest lost of us. Those are like those two biggest unexpected twists where you think you’re going to save the world, you think you’re doing the right thing. But the reality is that was never the plan.
Jason Concepcion When Marlene confronts Joel in the parking garage, she could shoot him like that in the show. You’re wondering why she doesn’t hear. She takes her guns off him. She puts him up in the air, almost as if to, you know, to make that clear to him. Think about all the people that have died who will die. You can. And she says you can still do the right thing here. She won’t feel anything. And so when it cuts to the car and you don’t know what happened, and then you see that he just guns down it, it really it really hits. And then, of course, that end conversation is basically the same as the show. And I think when you get to that point. And Joel lies right to, you know, right to Ellie’s face. I think, first of all, you know, this is a somewhat of a function of the fact that, like CG faces less expressive than human faces. Right. Whereas when. When Pedro does it. You feel the anguish? How much he wants to protect her from any from any and all threats and how important that is to him, how much he loves her, how much he means to her in terms of a lifeline that has like helped drag him out of decades of trauma and pain. You know, it’s a lot to put on a person. And it’s almost like his lie to her is a way of him kind of realizing that that’s a lot to put on a person. So I’m going to take that responsibility off.
Rosie Knight Yeah, yeah, yeah. He didn’t want her to feel the guilt.
Jason Concepcion I want the.
Rosie Knight That’s a huge part.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, that’s a huge part of it. I don’t want, you know, like, don’t worry about, like, where is in the game. It plays more as, first of all, you know, again, CG faces, it feels more like he lies stone faced directly to her.
Rosie Knight Mm hmm.
Jason Concepcion And I and it plays, at least to me, more like. I did a thing that I’m I’m ashamed of that I did, that we were going to save the world. But because I love you so much. I’ve decided that the rest of the world can go fuck itself. And every child born from now until the end of time can go fuck itself if they get bitten by a corpse. Just as long as I can have you in my life. Like I’m really that selfish. And now. And. And I’m going to lie to you about it because I’m kind of ashamed that I did that. But it’s worth it. And that’s a very human response. But it’s also a much greater. Yeah. And different response.
Rosie Knight Yeah. I think there’s this great quote that Saul pulled from a New Yorker article about, like adapting The Last of Us where they’re talking about how Jackman’s own door was born during the original game’s development and the intensity of his emotions as a new father helped shape The Last of Us, which became, he said, an exploration of that charged question How far will the unconditional love of a parent feels for that child go? I just think that’s all summed up in that final moment. It’s like that’s the bleakest, most far reaching question. It’s not even but in the game especially, it’s not even the killings that’s been done. Then it’s the continued lie. It’s the taking away the agency you already weren’t given and not. And being so obsessed with protecting your child that you actually end up putting them in greater danger. Because, like you said, we all know, like, that’s not the that’s not the end of the Fireflies.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, they’re still there. They’re still around. They’re going to make themselves heard. Any final thoughts now on having finished the game yet again?
Rosie Knight I still just kind of blows my mind that they they went that way with, I think knowing that Druckman’s kid was born makes a lot of sense in kind of that drive. But to me, it just it still blows my mind. It’s kind of this extrapolation of the low morphing carb story, but it has much less of a hero’s journey. It kind of I find it really interesting how there’s this almost a vengeance plotline in the nature of like Joel losing Sarah, but it’s not specific. In usual vengeance storylines, you have a certain person you need to take down. But Joel’s grief and his revenge for losing Sarah kind of encompasses the whole world and ends with this horrific final betrayal where he makes that choice for Ellie and then takes away this kind of choice and hope for a cure.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, I came away feeling that. You know, the game again is a masterpiece, still a masterpiece of the genre and well worth picking up if you haven’t played the remastered version. And I think that. What makes it so great is Druckman and company managed to find. This, you know, our perceptions, our lives, and more about our own personal perspectives on things, right? Yeah. And they manage to put us so it put us so tightly in the one perspective in which Joel is kind of a hero, even though it’s gray, Right? He’s kind of a hero outside of that one thin, like slice this little crack through which like light shines through. Outside of that, Joel is the guy who consigned the world to, like, you know, endless years, if not forever, of the barbarity and sickness and possibly extinction. Like, he killed everyone. He killed the world. And it’s tragic and and it’s heartbreaking for all the people who have been trying so hard to to find a cure. And that is an incredible achievement to put you so tightly into the perspective of of these two people who love each other so dearly that they’re willing to just be like, fuck the world, like we want to stay together.
Rosie Knight Yeah. I also think it’s like incredibly brave. That’s one of the things that I think as a storyteller, right? Like we’re used to these stories where to shock someone for an ending to be bleak, like, especially, say, like, horror, everybody dies. That’s your bleak, like, Oh, it’s going to leave. But how often do you get put in a story where, especially in a game, you are the driving force of the game? You believe you have agency, you kill multiple people, you use a gaming format that is used every day. You shoot people, you aim, you do head shots, you stealth you. They took these things that we recognize and use for fun and other games. And by the end they’re like, Oh, no, no, don’t you understand? Like people who kill five, 600 people casually, they’re not heroic. They basically turn around to you and say you thought that that was what a hero did know that that’s not how a hero behaves. And here is the proof, because this is the choice he made, I think is very I think it’s extremely meta and I think it is kind of this still. I think it gets better and ages better every year to deal with the realities of of of gun violence in the way that people use guns, especially in America. I just think it’s a really brave choice. And I, I live to make a story that shocks people that much, but in a way that leaves like leaves you with a feeling. It doesn’t shock you with an exploitive action of violence. Even though Joel is very violent, it shocks and unsettles you because you’re complicit in the violence. Yeah, I think it’s very brave.
Jason Concepcion Same here. Up next, Nerd Out.
Rosie Knight In today’s Nerd Out way, you tell us what you love and why, or a theory you’re excited to share, which we’ve had a lot of. Paige pitches us on the Netflix show Sense8, which was canceled way too soon.
Paige Hello. My recommendation for this week is a bit more mainstream. You may have heard of it, but if you haven’t or haven’t gotten around to watching it yet, I highly recommend Netflix’s original series Sense8. After listening to your discussion on the necessity of diversity and storytelling this week, it was definitely a show that came to mind. It’s got a lot of great representation but is underappreciated. It’s a story of eight people in their late twenties with the exact same birthday when they are suddenly born. As some say, it’s fundamentally, the birth activates a cerebral connection among people across the globe and to a cluster. So we get a diverse cast of eight main characters. It’s got a lot of great sci fi storytelling and was created by the Makowsky Sisters from The Matrix fame. So, you know, it delivers on the sci fi. And yes, the show with eight main characters is a lot. But every story is very rich. They have their own arcs and voices. We have four nonwhite characters, four men, four women, one being a trans woman, played by a trans woman, written by trans women. So that’s great. And also other LGBT characters. And they’re from seven different countries, and the scenes are filmed on location. So it’s incredibly beautiful. The main themes of the show are identity and connection has a lot of great action scenes and some humor. But the best part is seeing how the difference and say its connect with each other and accept each other. Each one struggles with their identity, especially as they awkwardly navigate new abilities such as telepathic ish communication or visiting and being able to take on skills and languages of the other centers in their cluster. The first season is especially on us. They discover themselves and their other cells and they also discover more clusters of sense, each which they can still communicate with but don’t possess their abilities. When we ultimately get an evil corp, honey, the Sun states as well. The show doesn’t shy away from topics such as religion, sexuality, sexism, transphobia and homophobia. I think they tackle these with a lot of care and sincerity too. But warning, it does have a lot of graphic sex and violence. If you don’t want to see a used dildo and pain killers, this isn’t for you. Unfortunately, it was canceled after season two. Look. Netflix cancels another day of our show, so we won’t be getting any more. But the fans were so upset about the cancellation that they started a petition and were able to get in to our finale. Finale was a bit rushed, but at least we got one. Overall, Sense8 is ambitious, compelling and if nothing else, incredible journey. Thanks for listening.
Rosie Knight Thanks, Paige. If you have theories or passions you want to share, here’s up to x ray Crooked.com/subscribe Instructions, as always, are in the show notes.
Jason Concepcion Well, that is it for us. Rosie, any plugs? Plug, plug, plug, plug.
Rosie Knight You can find me here talking about all this cool stuff. Oh, I’m. I’m starting a newsletter. That’s just going to be like recommendations because I get a lot of requests for recommendations and I don’t have time as much as I wish I did to always respond. So that’s called Rosie Recommends. It’s at Substack. You can subscribe to it now and Letterbox’d and Instagram all my own social media. And I’m RosieMarx at both.
Jason Concepcion Catch the next episode of X-ray Vision Friday, March 24th, for episode four of The Mandalorian. And remember, we’re bringing you two episodes a week, two big episodes a week, wherever you get your podcasts. Wednesdays and Fridays. X-Ray Vision two times a week in your earholes.
Rosie Knight And if you like seeing us with your eye holes and watching the old YouTube, you can subscribe to us there. There are full episodes of the show now. Delon does a brilliant job putting them together, and you can follow us @XRVpod on Twitter. We’re always having fun celebrating the stuff we love. Plus, check out the Discord. Love, to shout out our Discord because it’s a ton of fun. Bunch of amazing fans. They’re talking about all kinds of cool stuff. And Jason and I pop in once in a while.
Jason Concepcion Five star ratings. Five star reviews. We need them. We gotta have them. You got to give them to us. Here is one from ShowerWithFriends. It’s the dopest podcast. Perfect chemistry. Love the convos best recaps of the game. Love, love, love the show. Thank you. Thank you you ShowerWithFriends. Thank you.
Rosie Knight Thank you. ShowerWithFriends.
Jason Concepcion Absolutely. X-ray Vision is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Chris Lord and Saul Rubin. The show is executive produced by myself and Sandy Girard. Our editing and sound design is by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Delon Villanueva and Matt DeGroot Provide video production support. Alex Reliford handles social media. Thank you Brian Vasquez for our Music. See you next time.
Joel At least it ain’t clickers.
Ellie Well, maybe in all that research, they turned on the fucking monkeys.
Joel Just keep searching. We’ll find something.
Histoff Hey, Mike. Yeah. This is Histoff from Maureen. I’m just over here, trying to find a cure for the cordycepts virus. And I got to tell you, Mike, I, I really don’t like what they’re doing with regards what we’re doing. I’m not going to try and sugarcoat it, Mike, I’m doing it too. But with regards to the to the animal testing that we’re doing, I mean, like, it’s really terrible. And I’m going to and I’m going to tell you something on this voice reacorder, Mike, that that nobody else knows. And that’s I’m going to let the monkeys go like I’m supposed to. I’m supposed to off the monkeys. Mike They are riddled with cordyceps and different strains of the to make their fucking dangerous little bees. But you know what I’m gonna do? I won’t let them out. I’m gonna let them out of the cage. You and come out of the cage, buddy. You can open up the window. You can get out of you. *Screams*