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Sunday, June 2, 2024

Fallout |1x04 "The Ghouls"

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SQUAWKing down a couple rabbit holes: we uncover more evidence that Vault-Tec's cluster of vaults - 31, 32, and 33 - are merely a science experiment. The Enclave? Merely Vault-tec rebranded. On top of an immediate Season 2 announcement, will we at least get an announcement that Bethesda will be releasing a new game based, in part, on the events of Amazon Prime's knockout season?
🎬A word of advice: tip us on Ko-fi or, for as little as $1 /month, join a membership tier on either Ko-fi or Patreon to receive the unedited episode recordings in advance of these premieres. We had the raw and unfiltered version of this episode available for your streaming pleasure a while ago, but unforeseen personal matters have taken precedence and we're behind on our episode releases. It will most likely continue that way for the next few recordings. As we also mentioned near the end of this episode, we could really use your support from here on in, so if you enjoy what we're doing and want to see what we're made of, be a part of something big and show your support!
David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

SPECIAL GUEST

Carinae Davey:

  • The Ghoul may not be a zaddy (nor Norman Reedus/Daryl Dixon), but Cooper Howard/Walton Goggins certainly is. Perhaps Father Gabriel Stokes?
  • Grab our new merch store designs: SQUAWK-Tec yellow accent on blue background or blue accent on yellow background and our SQUAWKING Fallout logo designs!

  • On The Walking Dead Universe front, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon - The Book of Carol will have an early screening of it's season two premiere at NYC's Tribeca Film Festival on June 8th. Wild speculation on when the general public will receive the first episode of it's second season (perhaps Daddy Daryl's Day/Father's Day?).

    Editor's note: as of this blog, both Dave and Bridget
    (along with a handful of supporters) will be in attendance!

  • We speculate on the reasons why ghouls might survive a little longer by eating their own kind and why/how normal folks become ghouls after the bombs fall. It's also possible that The Ghoul's serum is Horse Tranquilizers.
  • Cooper Howard is not a traditional protagonist and his actions are shaped by the harsh realities of the wasteland and what is shaping up to be a tragic past, pre-nuclear apocalypse. Had we not received the opening scene with he and his daughter escaping the the initial nuclear explosions, we might not have seen him as a protagonist at all. Survival and loss of humanity has shaped him into what he is, today. Watching his pre-apocalypse self at the end was a lot more like the pre-apocalypse version of him judging who he is today (feo, definitely, fuerte, maybe, but formal, definitely not).

  • The Ghoul is dragging Lucy MacLean down what appears to be a star-spangled path, indicating the type of hyper-nationalistic society pre-apocalypse America used to appear. Alogn with the touch of MacCarthyism we've seen in the previous episodes, we get a bigger picture of what lead to the fall.

  • Cooper's character development and choices are complex and thought-provoking, especially in relation to the way he put down Roger before he went feral, but then subsequently made ass-jerky out of him in order to survive. Ghouls are what Walkers might be like if you didn't have to die to turn (and it took, potentially, decades to go feral). Also, what if Cooper allowed himself to be studied (while in hibernation mode) so that scientists could discover the properties of what makes ghouls live longer without having to ghoul-out?
  • Were the Pip-Boys the cause of death of the residents of Vault 32, two years prior, since they died mid-riot? The inter-vault communication system containing information on interval trade, plus the video of  the population experiment on rodents playing on loop, helps Norm MacLean & Chet get answers.
  • If basically everything is nuclear-powered in this universe (Pip-Boys? Mr. Handy/Snip-Snip?), could a(n intentionally forced) collapse infrastructure lead to the explosions seen at the start of the first episode, rather than an actual nuclear warhead? What if the first-mover was Vault-Tec?
  • The presence of Lee Moldaver's Raiders in Vault 32 raises questions about their motives and possible involvement, if any at all. According to inter-vault communications, messages were sent as late as a year ago (excluding Lucy's inter-vault marriage proposal, just recently). If these residents died 2 years prior, was it the raiders who sent those messages or was it someone else?
  • Each vault in the Fallout universe has unique features and designs, which breeds potential for interconnected vaults (like we see in this series, via vaults 31, 32, and 33). Carinae informs us, however, that just as every vault in the Fallout universe has its own quirks, they were equally built to serve a(n often nefarious) purpose. And, small side-note, Cooper seems to recall Lucy's last name, MacLean: it's possible that we may see his pre-apocalypse self bump into one of her ancestors (who may have been involved, somehow, with Vault-Tec?).


  • Video games and TV shows can inspire each other, but the execution of such projects can be challenging: Fallout does an incredible job of not only accomplishing this but further expanding the lore in the games. The bottom line: what if the television series was not only a way of adapting the games to a new medium like television, but a built-in advertisement for not only Bethesda Games Studios' existing games but a brand new game that is presently in the works? This reminds Bridget of Defiance's adaptation to a video game whose mechanics changed based on the events of the show.


  • The "death" of Rose MacLean: Lucy's mother's voice echoing the words, What are you doing out here? during a memory she has while coming out of sedation is an intriguing mystery that we'll hopefully see uncovered in some form or fashion. She supposedly dies in the plague of 2277. Is Lucy starting to remember an important interaction with her mother that she might've suppressed? Dave also happens to think Rose resembles Alexa Nisenson who played Charlie on Fear The Walking Dead.

  • The conversation also touches on the nostalgia and familiarity of certain elements in Fallout, such as the sounds feral ghouls make and visual way in which the surgical instruments are displayed in the Super Duper Mart.



  • You might've missed the reason why ghouls were refrigerated in the first place and why there were different prices listed for them: replacement organs for ghouls (organs from feral ghouls are cheaper).


  • The portrayal of Mr. Handy, voiced by Matt Berry, further highlights the humorous foundation this television series (and the games) is built upon.
  • Mods, like Macho Man Randy Savage, in the Fallout and Elder Scrolls games allow for creative and humorous additions to the gameplay experience.

  • The attention to detail and fan service in the Fallout TV series is astounding and further highlights the dark humorous thread maintained in the games, like the unnaturally huge and wackily-worded Dairy Fresh Ice Cream billboard. There's also the matter of the health posters promoting chemicals and radiation as positives and the comically gaming-like presence of the green cross outside Westside Medical Clinic.

  • June is a busy month for TV shows we may or not plan on covering, including The Boys and House of the Dragon. We can certainly use your support to expand our repertoire!

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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Fallout |1x03 "The Head"

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Ah, The Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Our characters are a product of their environment - a system - and seem to be moving beyond their societal expectations, for better or worse. Feo, Fuerte, y Formal, indeed.
🎬A word of advice: tip us on Ko-fi or, for as little as $1 /month, join a membership tier on either Ko-fi or Patreon to receive the unedited episode recordings in advance of these premieres. We had the raw and unfiltered version of this episode available for your streaming pleasure a while ago, but unforeseen personal matters have taken precedence and we're behind on our episode releases. It will most likely continue that way for the next few recordings. As we also mentioned near the end of this episode, we could really use your support from here on in, so if you enjoy what we're doing and want to see what we're made of, be a part of something big and show your support!

David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

SPECIAL GUEST

Carinae Davey:

  • Check out Carinae's art!

  • The ratings for Amazon Prime's Fallout are pretty high! Whether this season comes to somewhat of a close seems uncertain.
  • As we mentioned in the first episode, recently-minted Squire Thaddeus is played by Superstore's Johnny Pemberton. His character in Superstore, Bo Derek Thompson, actually predicts Johnny's role in Fallout.
    @riversquatch #fallout #johnnypemberton #cloud9 ♬ original sound - RiverSquatch
  • The episode dives into pre-war events, providing a unique perspective on the Fallout universe in the present (in contrast to The Walking Dead, which intentionally denied the viewer flashbacks and origin stories).
  • The character development of Cooper Howard is intriguing: there are hints at his past and how both it (and existing for 219 years) has shaped him.
  • The use of 50s songs, adds to the overall atmosphere and nostalgia. Of note, Johnny Cash's So Doggone Lonesome is reprised in Maximus' fight with the scavengers: this song first played when we were introduced to him while being brutally beaten by his fellow aspirants (including Thaddeus). This demonstrates how Maximus' past not only shapes his present, but the tragedy of it becomes a gift that he uses to overcome adversity.
  • Speaking of great music from the 50s while enjoying both this series and the games, it reminds Dave how much he enjoyed playing Grand Theft Auto while listening to Lazlow Jones on the radio. Carinae's favorite station to listen to was the original Three Dog, who [Editor's note] was voiced by none other than Chocolate Rain himself, Tay Zonday.
  • Rachael regales us with childhood memories of her uncle conducting the music of Glenn Miller Band's In the Mood, while we muse over how automobile conveniences and safety equipment - especially infant/toddler/child car seats - has changed dramatically in the last 50 years!
    @daisyorpeach Car seat safety 101 *Strap it in* πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ #raisinghope #tvseries #pilot #baby #carseat #humour #funny #comedy #fyp #viral ♬ Hedwig's Theme - John Williams
  • In extreme conditions, ethical decisions may require different approaches than in normal circumstances. Norman MacLean's dilemma of how to deal with the imprisoned Raiders - in light of the broken water chip - raises questions about punishment, rehabilitation, and the value of life. Oh, and the actor who portrays him, MoisΓ©s Arias, not only played Rico in Hannah Montana, he also portrayed Sue's first boyfriend on The Middle.

  • The Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have done unto yourself, may need to be reevaluated in extreme situations. But you don't have to break The Golden Rule: explore being the change you want to see in the world. Either way, the version of it we see in this episode, again, is finding that your broken is a gift in the present. Oh and here is the story of Hillel the Elder explaining the essence of the Torah while his listener stood on one foot: a modified version of The Golden Rule, That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the entire Torah, and the rest is commentary. Now go and study..
  • Maximus behavior, and whether we like him or not, sparks a debate about whether he is a hero or a villain, further highlighting the complexity of morality in the Fallout universe. The different moral frameworks of The Vault Dwellers, The Brotherhood of Steel, and even The Enclave showcase the diverse perspectives within the game, which adds depth to the storytelling and each character's choices. We're even seeing, now, that Cooper Howard was trapped in a McCarthyist system until the nukes dropped, which has definitely informed his ghoulish present. Cue Maximus crushing the head of one of the scavengers:
  • For a comedic actor, Pemberton plays Thaddeus fairly straight, which allows Aaron Clifton Moten, who plays Maximus, to look and sound a lot more ridiculous. The comically huge (caddy?) bag squires drag around for their knights is a joke about the sheer amount of items players can typically carry in the games.
    I need a mod that makes all companions carry those big ass bags
    byu/ETkach infnv
  • As we talk about perks and drugs in the games, we relate it to the behavior The Ghoul starts to exhibit when his drugs are crushed: it's possible that he's merely reacting to the minuses of all the drugs he's taking.
  • We then speculate on Cooper Howard's overall motivation and the possibility of his daughter being alive in a vault that he simply hasn't found in 200+ years. Speaking of, he's a lot like those who play the game, Thou shalt get side tracked by bullshit every time. Knowing about his past and what we have yet to see that further shapes it, along with the song We'll Meet Again by The Ink Spots - which was about soldiers leaving for war (but largely regarded for those who never returned) - maybe he persists to see a better world than the one he left behind before the bombs dropped?
  • On the subject of how Cooper Howard might've become a Ghoul in relation to what happened to the citizen's of Vault 12, Vault-Tec has a dark side and the vaults in the game often don't function as advertised.
  • Dave draws a line between Norm and Doctor Siggi Wilzig as, at the very least, very similar characters, but also going as far to say that future Norm went back in time and assumed the rather interesting moniker to be of service to Lucy MacLean somehow.
  • There is a lot of unsaid subtext in Cooper Howards Vault-Tec photoshoot, with his wife possibly having a bigger role at Vault-Tec than both he and the audience is even aware. Also, lavender taffy sounds gross to the majority of hosts.
  • We discuss the gulper and its stomach contents, which include not only Wilzig's head and Lucy's boot, but yet another toaster (there's a toaster in every episode) and a pink flamingo. There's a small complaint over how the doe Lucy feeds should've had two heads (like most animals in the universe), but we fall on the side of it being a narrative choice to symbolize where Lucy is at, as a character in the universe.
  • A little color science (psychology/narrative/technology) was discussed while discussing the orange heads-up display (HUD) in the power armor and why we didn't feel as claustrophobic as the scenes where Dwight, Sherry, and even Morgan Jones were in gas masks in Fear The Walking Dead's Seventh Season. Speaking of FearTWD, CX-404 licking Wilzig's head reminded us of Season 6's premiere, The End is the Beginning, when Rufus, Emile LaRoux's dog, was licking Walter's decapitated head.

  • The conversation touches on the inbreeding in the vaults; however a cluster of 3 vaults (31, 32, and 33) really reduces the possibility. Most-likely, they also have a child limit in place to avoid overpopulation.

  • Everyone weighs in on a potential relationship between Norm and Stephanie Harper, with some finding it romantic and most seeing them as having more of a buddy-cop dynamic.

  • Feo, Fuerte, y Formal and John Wayne's legacy.

  • Sherrandy spots a caricature of Cooper Howard's character (in the movie he was working on). She also notes that famed singer/dancer Leslie Uggams plays interim Co-Overseer Betty Pearson, not to be confused for Nichel Nichols. Because of this chaotic conversation over mistaken identities, we joke about terrible song covers, particularly most of William Shatner's (just listen to his rendition of Mr. Tambourine Man); however, his album Has Been, produced by Ben Folds, is actually highly underrated and is a must-listen.


  • The appearance of Cooper Howard's character is progressively becoming more ghoulish, which probably has the opposite effect on (Walton Goggins) thirst-traps than intended. We're just glad to see him be more of a lead in a series. The design of The Ghoul in the show, though influenced by the games, is soft enough to show his humanity (and not scare us off). And, un/fortuantely, HotOrNot.com is no longer a thing, though RotOrNot.com happens to be a movie ranking website.

  • There are Easter eggs and visual references to the game, such as the appearance of Sunset Sarsaparilla and Maximus "respawning" after being brutally knocked down by the scavengers looking to grab his power armor.

  • The young woman repairing the power armor part may be a synth refugee of The Institute (in Cambridge, Massachusetts). Though Ghouls and Synths find little acceptance most places (ghouls more than synths), an example of the places where they are in the Fallout series of games is Nick Valentine, a synth who happens to be a detective in Fallout 4's Diamond City.

  • It's possible that real, extracted teeth (Maximus has an extraction of his own to pay for the part) is used as ammunition in a Junk Jet, but is a nod to the historical practice of using ivory or cadaver teeth as replacement/missing teeth (which might be what's happening here, with all the teeth lost as a result of radiation sickness).
  • The set design in Fallout is highly detailed and incorporates repurposed signs and mashed-together elements from a bygone era.
  • Players often get sidetracked by side quests in open-world games like Fallout, prioritizing exploration and immersion in the game world. We, too, become sidetracked as we spot, yet again, Mr. Handy wandering around California Crest Studios (pre-apocalypse) as well as promoted on a billboard in the end credits.

  • The chip in Wilzig's neck, which shocks Lucy when she touches it, most likely plays a significant role in the story to come. We muse over the Vault-Tec billboard promoting the vaults that The Ghoul shoots with his hand cannon. It actually references the Doomsday Clock which was created during the cold war after countries all over the world started building nuclear weapons. We're always 90 seconds to midnight.

  • Speaking of chips, Carinae mistakenly revealed the broken water chip referenced in this episode in our discussion of the first episode (also the basis of the original Fallout game). Could they have just replaced it with the one in Vault 32? Why can't they repair it? What will they do about The Raiders in light of their water problem?
  • Oh, and lest we forget, on the heels of our last episode, we see actors in Roman costumes wandering about California Crest studios. Might we see Caesar's Legion in future episodes?

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