Author Topic: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?  (Read 36381 times)

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ryan-d

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2012, 10:30:30 AM »
But realistically, he's only human to feel the need to relive a different ending. The protagonists, mostly Eva's part, did successfully give him the cake whether real or not, and that we have no right to say if he deserves or not. In the end, John is happy whether he realises it's real or not, and that's all that matters.

Lastly, we all - if not, most - sympathised River and wished or hoped at least that a fragment of those real memories with her were kept or probably some cheesy 'win everything' ending; though is would be wrong of us to wish for due to the true factuality of life and the fact that if it did end like that, it would've felt like a retarded slap to the back and I would've disliked this to a great extent. And technically, River did die happy knowing that John kept his promise to give company to Anya with the house built there as well as taking care of River as she went off; possibly even knowing that John realised to go to the moon if he was to ever lose her.

I appreciate the responses and I can understand this sentiment. I understand that the point of the entire procedure is to make John happy, not River. My point is that while I was playing through the ending, I did not feel that John was at all happy. The way I saw it, physically going to the moon was never Johnny's dream. In the last accessible memory, he can't remember why he wants to go to the moon, but we as the players know - it's because he wants to regroup with River. He and River are both lost, disjointed, and some part of him remembers this. What he really wants is to be with River again, perfect and whole, the way they were meant to be.

In the ending we were given, the focus was not on River - it was on the shuttle launch. The shuttle launch is not Johnny's new relationship with River. It's a shuttle launch! River gets relegated to the sidelines with no exposition whatsoever. What I wanted to see was only hinted at in the ending - the flashing sepia sequences of his new life (on Earth, outside NASA) with River - one that he can live fully and completely without the childhood trauma of his brother's death holding him back.

That was Johnny's perfect life, not being an astronaut (at least, I didn't feel there was any evidence that he actually wanted to physically go to the moon, not before the desire was implanted. He never expresses any enthusiasm for actually being an astronaut. The only time he ever expresses this idea is in relation to meeting River again). I'm not arguing that he should keep his "old memories" or that he should be denied a happy ending. What I'm saying is that I don't see how going to the moon is a happy ending at all.

There's no cake in this ending. Only emptiness.

Edit: Crap, just realized there are two threads running on this topic. If a mod or someone could tell me which thread I should be posting on that would be great so the discussion'll be easier to follow.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 10:35:49 AM by ryan-d »

Crusism

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2012, 02:51:46 PM »
He did get his cake with his new memories. He relives his life with his twin brother. And by being an astronaut, he got to meet River, not the same but still meaningful, and had sufficient funds to build the house next to the lighthouse, Anya. Even enough to prevent River from possibly suffering her fate. Through this, spending the rest of his memories with her to the very end.

If Eva failed to fulfill the legal obligations, both Neil and Eva would lose their job or worst, and Johnny would've died empty regardless. At the same time if Eva just did it blindly and didn't do any proper planning, John would've just went to the moon with nothing to hold for in his memories. And considering that they could only transfer his latest desire as a drive which was unclear of its reason, Eva had to take a risk. The risk that would mean everything to John.

Therefore, John relived his life with a desire which he couldn't understand until he went through with it. As whether he was happy or not, I felt that he was. And if not, then at least in peace.

Though, I think the focus is on this topic. No need to swap. Oh yeah, forgot. Welcome to the forums.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 03:50:17 PM by Crusism »

"In life, we do things. Some, we wish we had never done and some we wish we could replay a million times. They make us who we are and, in the end, they shape and detail us. If we were to reserve them, we wouldn’t be the person we are today. So, just live. Make mistakes and have wonderful memories. But, never second guess who you are, where you’ve been and, most importantly, where you’re going."

Merlandese

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2012, 03:30:18 PM »
Edit: Crap, just realized there are two threads running on this topic. If a mod or someone could tell me which thread I should be posting on that would be great so the discussion'll be easier to follow.

I think this one's preferred.

felipepepe

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2012, 03:50:10 PM »
If Eva failed to fulfill the legal obligations, both Neil and Eva would lose their job or worst, and Johnny would've died empty regardless.
Question is, isn't metaphorically going to the Moon enough for the legal obligations?

That's the whole point of our frustration, why not recreate the first time they met, with both characters looking at the moon and Johnny remebering everything?It would even be great to show why the scientist failed to make "kid" johnny want to literally go to the Moon.

We start the game wanting to send him literally to the moon. Then we learn it was just a metaphor made by River, that makes a lot of sense. But still the scientist send him literally to the Moon!

Crusism

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2012, 04:08:00 PM »
It was already explained at the start to Lily, John's caretaker.

Manually writing entire memories will take too long or most likely impossible due to having too many dimensions. Because of that, the machine is left to do its work. Taking the latest desire and sending it as a drive to an early memory. Small changes can be done here and there.

Eva can't stop the beta blocker incident from ever happening so she covered it as if it never happened by preventing Joey's death but that doesn't mean the effects from the same beta blockers will be gone as it left a permanent scar to all early memories. There was no way John could remember why he thought of going to the moon.

Also, it was John was the one who promised River that if they lost each other, they would meet at the moon. River just held on to that. When they met together during school, she saw no reason to go to the moon anymore as John was already with her. And as it all followed up, they had finance problems to solve both River's illness and her wish.

Saying again, Eva took the risk to get both of them to meet up at NASA by letting the machine do the work after the changes she did. With the funds John and River probably had from retirement or whatsoever, they had enough to handle everything and lived together to the end of John's new memories. And from the looks of it, John is happy.

As for metaphorically going to the moon being enough, I doubt it. Contracts are very strict. You'd be surprised how many people get fired everyday by trying to do workarounds that may seem so. And if there's one thing I learnt in life is that workarounds aren't always the best idea. It would've been sort of half-!$#ed.

As going to the moon, well that's a bonus. Perfect place for the honeyMOON.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 04:13:48 PM by Crusism »

"In life, we do things. Some, we wish we had never done and some we wish we could replay a million times. They make us who we are and, in the end, they shape and detail us. If we were to reserve them, we wouldn’t be the person we are today. So, just live. Make mistakes and have wonderful memories. But, never second guess who you are, where you’ve been and, most importantly, where you’re going."

Merlandese

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2012, 04:19:54 PM »
I'm personally having trouble understanding this. I'm going to quote Ryan-d, but only to help me illustrate my question.

...he can't remember why he wants to go to the moon, but we as the players know - it's because he wants to regroup with River.

Here, it seems that you understand that a trip to the moon is a metaphor for fixing the broken relationship with River.

Quote
The shuttle launch is not Johnny's new relationship with River. It's a shuttle launch!

Here, you abandon that metaphor entirely, implying that the symbolism can not co-exist with a literal representation of that trip.

Why?

If going to the moon is a metaphor for a perfect relationship with River, what could be a metaphor for getting there? Using the same type of symbolism, I'd say a shuttle launch.

In the end sequence, that launch is shown almost in parallel with the building of a relationship with River, symbolizing that they are one and the same. (They even focus on them holding hands!) And they also show the metaphorical moon landing--Johnny and River in old age.

But they never show the literal moon landing, do they? Only the metaphorical.

In general, what about the ending sequence prompts the abandonment of the metaphor? Because I saw it carried all  the way to the end.

Wulfsten

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2012, 04:33:37 PM »
Yeah, it's really frustrating indeed. And I agree that Johnny was the one lost, and this whole thing was more of a tragedy for River as opposed to Johnny -- and perhaps it's her who deserved the comfort more.

But one important fact: River's already dead.

The real patient here is Johnny. It's a situation where they had to choose between perhaps a discomforting option and one that's even worse. They can't bring the real River back and give her that peace, but they could at least make Johnny die happy. And I think at this point, had they revealed to Johnny what he had missed with River, he would be far from happy. And even more than that -- he would've been helpless to do anything about it now.

So instead, it was like a mere a shot of morphine for Johnny; except on some level, at least, it fulfilled something between him and River from what he missed.

Seems like the discussion's moved here, so I guess I will too!

I pretty much agree with Felipe. The key tension and conflict in the game's narrative seems to me to be the dissonance between River and Johnny. She folds paper rabbits, asks him to throw hackey sacks at the moon, and makes him promise to build a house in a significant place because she is trying to tell him something desperately important in the only ways she knows how.

This tension is finally resolved in a scene that had me choking up when the fundamental misunderstanding leading to this dissonance is revealed. At this point, I fully expected the tragedy that befell Johnny early in his life to be cast as a price he pays for a true, honest connection with River. For the life they led together, which is now recast with perfect clarity. For their ACTUAL life, which is the one that both Johnny and we, the players have connected with so closely.

All the mysteries are revealed to us in retrospect (the rabbit, the hackeysack, etc.), but they are robbed from Johnny, and replaced with a fictional pastiche account that presents River to us as a total stranger, devoid of any sort of context. At the precise moment when he could have relived his troubled life with River and finally understood her completely, the woman he fell in love with and the life he led is replaced by a facsimile orchestrated by a woman (Dr. Rosalene) who seems as interested in correct paperwork as she is in the happiness of a dying man.

I think the fundamental disagreement between us is that you think that the revelation of these mysteries would have made Johnny unhappy; the realisation that he had never fully understood her because of a stupid accident in his youth and some cruel medication. I understand what you're saying, but I couldn't disagree more. The realisation of the true meaning of everything his wife (who loved him to the end) did, and the understanding of the full depth of her love for him (all her problematic behaviour was an attempt to reconnect with him, after all), would make for an incredibly satisfying and touching ending. What is ostensibly a tale about sheer reckless escapism ("Wanna go the the MOON!") would instead be subverted into a validation of life's value, warts, troubles and all.

Instead it goes through and does fulfil the promise of cheap escapism after all. You say that the final experience Johnny went through boiled down to a shot of morphine, and I agree. That's why it disappointed me. Because it could have been something tremendously more meaningful, both to Johnny and us.

Sorry if this was way too long and boring to read.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 04:41:25 PM by Wulfsten »

Merlandese

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2012, 04:46:52 PM »
I think that's really well said, Wulf! And I see how you can imagine that the knowledge would make Johnny happy, rather than unhappy. But I would imagine (or, that is, I do imagine) that the realization of all of River's actions, love and meaning would make him feel tremendously helpless.

He'd finally understand what his wife was trying to tell him two years after there is no longer any way for him to rectify the issue, or make it up to her. He may even go so far as to think that his ignorance was something he had control over, and that he was neglecting her for years. Understanding the value of what River was supposed to mean to him would also highlight the fact that, throughout their entire relationship, he never understood her. And now that he does understand her, she's dead.

I think it would be emasculating right at the instant in his life when he wanted pleasure.

Reives

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2012, 04:56:15 PM »
I think the fundamental disagreement between us is that you think that the revelation of these mysteries would have made Johnny unhappy; the realisation that he had never fully understood her because of a stupid accident in his youth and some cruel medication. I understand what you're saying, but I couldn't disagree more. The realisation of the true meaning of everything his wife (who loved him to the end) did, and the understanding of the full depth of her love for him (all her problematic behaviour was an attempt to reconnect with him, after all), would make for an incredibly satisfying and touching ending. What is ostensibly a tale about sheer reckless escapism ("Wanna go the the MOON!") would instead be subverted into a validation of life's value, warts, troubles and all.

It's true, but I think that's a rather one-sided take on the matter. Johnny would certainly be happy that all along, River did indeed care about him after all, and all those things were for him -- that would certainly bring a lot of self-fulfillment.

But what about River? As Felipe pointed out, throughout these whole events, River was the one who was the most displaced, and it was Johnny who was lost. And to give Johnny that previous self-fulfillment would also result in giving him an even greater regret and realization -- the exact same feeling that Felipe had about it; except even worse, because he would know that all the suffering she went through was, to many extents, because of himself.

The fact that his wish was centered around River is certainly a testimonial to how much importance he personally places on her, so I think it'd be a fair guesstimate that such a burden would destroy him.

Crusism

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2012, 05:03:24 PM »
I like the tension in this topic. Makes it feel like a lively debate. I would suggest we would do this in chat but that would avoid the long comprehensive posts.

But yes. As I said before regardless of how selfish it felt of John to wish to relive, he's human and it's rational to understand that he deserves and has right to at least some measure of happiness even though he could've probably acted ahead and avoided River's death or not feel any regret after her passing. Also, I felt more connected to River's all-too-sad realisation.

The real reason why we should be happy for John is that at least he unconsciously wanted to make amends in the end in some way to honour his memories with River. And that showed enough that John truly loved her.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 05:27:32 PM by Crusism »

"In life, we do things. Some, we wish we had never done and some we wish we could replay a million times. They make us who we are and, in the end, they shape and detail us. If we were to reserve them, we wouldn’t be the person we are today. So, just live. Make mistakes and have wonderful memories. But, never second guess who you are, where you’ve been and, most importantly, where you’re going."

Reives

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2012, 05:12:29 PM »
Huh, I thought it's just a normal discussion with different opinions and whatnot. :p But just in case: Please don't feel like there's any hostility or anything, guys! Discussions like these are awesome; it helps me and everyone else to see things from different perspectives, and bring important subjects to my attention for future episodes too. :)

Crusism

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2012, 05:25:24 PM »
Hostility? Hmm, I didn't really feel anything like that at all other than just replying back as how I usually do. Am I exhibiting any signs of enmity or any of that sort?

But... *cough* any tips of what the next episode might be about...?

Hah! Just joking. Though it's good to hear from you.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 05:29:49 PM by Crusism »

"In life, we do things. Some, we wish we had never done and some we wish we could replay a million times. They make us who we are and, in the end, they shape and detail us. If we were to reserve them, we wouldn’t be the person we are today. So, just live. Make mistakes and have wonderful memories. But, never second guess who you are, where you’ve been and, most importantly, where you’re going."

ryan-d

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2012, 05:30:49 PM »
He did get his cake with his new memories. He relives his life with his twin brother. And by being an astronaut, he got to meet River, not the same but still meaningful, and had sufficient funds to build the house next to the lighthouse, Anya. Even enough to prevent River from possibly suffering her fate. Through this, spending the rest of his memories with her to the very end.

Welp, different takes I guess. I understand all of this logically, through lots of thought and hindsight, but the way it was presented didn't resonate with me emotionally. It's great that in his new memories, Johnny got to grow up with his twin brother - but Joey wasn't the character that was built up in the first half of the story. River was. It's great he became an astronaut, but this was never what Johnny really wanted in the first place. River was. It's great that he had enough funds to build the house, but financial/housing problems aren't the core of this story. River is, and she didn't get enough airtime in the ending.

It's hard to quantify precisely why this was so frustrating for me. I've been thinking it through and trying to break it down and I think the best I can come up with right now is this: the first two acts made me care about Johnny and River (and once again I have to add that it did this beautifully) because they were so broken. River was hurt and incapable of expressing herself, Johnny was bewildered and helpless. I wanted to see their problems resolved. Not their physical problems (lack of funds, ill health, etc) but their emotional relationship. I wanted to see Johnny being able to relate to River, I wanted to see River at peace, I wanted to see them tangibly happy. Other than the final shot in the shuttle, there is no... intimacy in the ending.

Take the scene where Johnny is playing the piano at NASA. This is a clear parallel to the original scene where he plays the piece for River in their house. But compared to that scene, the NASA scene has so much more distance between the two characters. River is standing in the crowd, watching John. They don't interact. It's not even clear he wrote the piece for River (or was the title change meant as a nod towards their rediscovered shared childhood memory?).

I get that they're probably happy and perfect and enjoying each other's company off-screen, but as a player I was left with the feeling of things being unresolved.

Here, you abandon that metaphor entirely, implying that the symbolism can not co-exist with a literal representation of that trip.

Why?

If going to the moon is a metaphor for a perfect relationship with River, what could be a metaphor for getting there? Using the same type of symbolism, I'd say a shuttle launch.

I believe the abandonment of the metaphor is felipepe's issue, but I'll answer this as far as it's addressed to me. Yes, going to the moon is a metaphor for a perfect relationship with River. In a metaphor, the literal interpretation is less important than the figurative one - here, the relationship with River is what Johnny cares about, not actually going to the moon. What I wanted to see was that relationship being fulfilled, not the literal space-travel. Yes, the ending given presented both, but undue weightage was given to NASA and the shuttle launch in preference to the relationship with River. As felipepe has pointed out, River has maybe all of two lines in the new memory. It's just not satisfying.

Oh yeah, forgot. Welcome to the forums.

Thank you :)

Edit: Wow, six new replies while I was writing this. Apologies if this post missed anything.
Edit again: Everything Wulf said :D
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 05:41:16 PM by ryan-d »

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2012, 06:30:04 PM »
Quote
I think the fundamental disagreement between us is that you think that the revelation of these mysteries would have made Johnny unhappy; the realisation that he had never fully understood her because of a stupid accident in his youth and some cruel medication. I understand what you're saying, but I couldn't disagree more. The realisation of the true meaning of everything his wife (who loved him to the end) did, and the understanding of the full depth of her love for him (all her problematic behaviour was an attempt to reconnect with him, after all), would make for an incredibly satisfying and touching ending.

Imagine for a moment that you are in John's position. You've lived your entire life with a wife who seems to have issues with making emotional connections and has an obsessive hobby -- making countless origami rabbits, day in and day out. You love her dearly, but the relationship is stressing you, and what's worse is that you feel like you owe her something, but you don't have a clue as to what.

If you were shown how to right every wrong in that relationship, whether it be the problem with the rabbits or that of her apathy, but this information was revealed to you while you were dying, two years after she passed away... would you really be happy knowing that problem stemmed from you? That she was trying to make connections, but you couldn't see it?

I don't know about you lot, but I damn well wouldn't.

The point is, the magic of To the Moon's ending is the fact that it actually holds true to their wish, in a sense. If you're a kid and you're talking about going to the moon some day, you're not going to have matured enough to understand any figurative meaning behind that. If you say, "Then we'll regroup on the moon, silly!" you're going to take that as literally going to the moon.

There was a metaphorical meaning later on, yes, but you have to realize that John didn't see that side of his desire due to the overdose of beta blockers. His subconscious mind still had some reasonable understanding of it, and that's why the only thing he remembers is wanting to go to the moon, literally. River might see the metaphor behind it because she remembers, but John doesn't.

That's my take on it, anyway. I'm quite fond of the ending; it's much more realistic to me than John suddenly remembering everything.

Edit: Also, I feel the need to point out (though it's been said before, but hey) that River was happy when she died, because John actually went through with building their house over with Anya. That was her dying wish, and it was granted. In John's memories, River's situation can't be helped, and I don't see why it would need to be, as she presumably died happy.

« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 06:34:14 PM by Zombieva »

Crusism

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #29 on: January 04, 2012, 06:43:36 PM »
It's hard to quantify precisely why this was so frustrating for me. I've been thinking it through and trying to break it down and I think the best I can come up with right now is this: the first two acts made me care about Johnny and River (and once again I have to add that it did this beautifully) because they were so broken. River was hurt and incapable of expressing herself, Johnny was bewildered and helpless. I wanted to see their problems resolved. Not their physical problems (lack of funds, ill health, etc) but their emotional relationship. I wanted to see Johnny being able to relate to River, I wanted to see River at peace, I wanted to see them tangibly happy. Other than the final shot in the shuttle, there is no... intimacy in the ending.

I get what you mean and you know what's funny? A week ago, I actually wished that there were hardships between John and River shown, more than just the frank backstory. To show that John was strong by River's side. When I was playing, I felt like there should've been several subsections of the memory to make it more detailed before proceeding further into an earlier memory.

As I kept playing to the end, I felt utter most sympathy for River even though she died happy and felt like the story shown John at his worst at most times. I felt that John could've acted but didn't want to which led him to be oblivious to everything that was happening. I felt like he shouldn't have been selfish; in fear, doubt and care. Along with going on like nothing was wrong. And worst of all, I resented him at the end.

Of course I understood and wanted him to get the ending which I think he deserves and I was happy when he did get it. But until this day, it never felt right because none of it was real.

From the start to the end of 'To The Moon' to me as I describe it to be brilliant, valuable, realistic, mature, beautiful and superb. I'll even say that this story has one of the few best endings I've had with an interactive story since the 90s. I insulted myself for thinking that this game was going to be some kind of mediocre. Heck, I'll probably pay twice for the next episode if my budget is enough during that time after seeing what other pieces of art Reives and his gang have cooked up.

But I couldn't help it but to feel like the plot was using River just as a tool in order for John to be happy. Everything sentimental that meant a lot to this relationship was thrown on the floor and stepped on. Though I wished the ending to be a dream, to allow both John and River to go through everything we hoped for and to see a happy ending, it would never happen like that. Because if it did, the ending would carry no meaning and this story would've crash down hard.


'To The Moon' teaches a lot of valuable lessons and touches controversial topics that are meaningful. Because of this, the best ending is not the one that sucks up to most people, it's the one that mattered. And I'm thankful enough that it ended as that with both of them passed away and meeting up as children with the stars because no matter what, they got that happy ending to be together for real.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 06:46:51 PM by Crusism »

"In life, we do things. Some, we wish we had never done and some we wish we could replay a million times. They make us who we are and, in the end, they shape and detail us. If we were to reserve them, we wouldn’t be the person we are today. So, just live. Make mistakes and have wonderful memories. But, never second guess who you are, where you’ve been and, most importantly, where you’re going."