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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Fallout |1x05 "The Past"

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Maximus and Lucy MacLean learn to trust one another, while Betty Pearson (Cooper Howard's long-lost wife?) becomes Vault 33's overseer (obviously planned?). We explore Shady Sands' / New California Republic's lore, as well as Vault 4's, as it pertains to the games and how the TV series has expanded the Fallout Universe.
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David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:


Carinae Davey:

  • Speaking of The Past, Maximus' own flashback post the destruction of Shady Sands is a pivotal event in his origin story. Fallout may have started in 2077 but those who don't learn from history...

  • The New California Republic (NCR) and its capital, Shady Sands, were established by the residents of Vault 15 using a GECK (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) in 2198. It was the largest city created from scratch using no pre-apocalypse tech. It had a population of 3,000 in 2241 that grew, rapidly, to 35,000 by 2281. NCR reflects much of our American founding, both in ideal and early desires of expansionism (like all founding nations).

  • Lucy MacLean tells Maximus that The United States was established 320 years ago. If the year is presently 2296, that would pin America's founding in 1976; however, if Lucy is saying 320 years prior to the bombs dropping in 2077, that would place American independence in the year 1757. This is roughly during the time of the Seven Years/French Indian War and the siege of Fort William Henry. Maybe if George Washington had made better decisions, calling back to our coverage of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, American history could've been fundamentally altered (then again, we would've ended up in the Fallout Universe, so sometimes mistakes are a good thing).
  • We ponder why societies tend to repeat the same patterns (as we did in our coverage of The Last of Us) and question whether the vaults were (experiments) engineered by corporations to create a captive consumer audience.
  • We take a break to show off Sherrandy's (mom's) latest crochet creation: a Vault-Boy. If you want your own (or any other character that comes to mind), start a commission! You can check out a few of her creations on @therealcrochetwitch (Instagram).

  • Different people have different ideas on how to save the world, leading to disagreements and conflicts. Expanding on the purpose of the vaults, The Enclave's purpose might've been an attempt at disrupting humanity's tendency to tilt towards liberty and self-determination. Also, enclave implies more than one entity, so we may be dealing with a concerted effort of multiple corporations besides Vault-Tec. This same effort might've nudged the world into what became the Fallout universe, using their endless Cold War cum Nuclear War as a smokescreen.
  • Shady Sands' devastation is larger than a mini-nuke but not as powerful as a full-scale nuclear campaign. On the note of mini-nukes, the weapon that uses mini-nukes as ammunition in the games is called The Fat Man, which is the same name given to the hydrogen bomb that fell on Hiroshima (Little Boy was the name of bomb that fell on Nagasaki).

  • Selective Memory: We touched on Maximus' recurring memory, emerging from the milk-bottle refrigerator and being saved by a knight of The Brotherhood of Steel, but we wanted go a little further on Lucy's own memory of her mother, Rose MacLean, and how she could've sworn she was with her on the surface (even though she logically knows that it must've been the Telesonic 3-D Projector making her feel as though she was). Still, could she have been outside with her mother and is she actually dead? Did they disappear her just like guests on The Truman Show?

  • The lack of a strong grieving response from the dwellers of Vault 33 after they were decimated by Lee Moldaver's raiders raises questions: is their docile nature might be a result of selective breeding/genetic manipulation? With the reveal that all the overseers of Vault 33 were transplants from Vault 31, along with the evidence of Vault 32's devastation being perhaps a result of its residents being exterminated for trying to break into Vault 31, it seems as though Vault 31 contains the answers to many of the series key mysteries! This fundamentally changes the way we previously perceived of Stephanie Harper (aka Fork-Eye Pregnant-Belly).

  • The significance of the two-headed Humboldt Honey bear on the New California Republic flag: Dave had recently listened to an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience (tapping this link will take you straight to this particular conversation, featuring Former Congresswoman and 2020 Presidential Candidate Tulsi Gabbard) in which they discuss how, in celebration of marijuana being removed from a the Drug Enforcement Agency's Schedule I Controlled Substances list, a controversy emerged after an organization of veterans gifted an American Flag made out of hemp to Congress. How this relates to our discussion is having also read an article whereby someone somehow donated the NCR flag, which looks extremely close to the actual California State Flag, to the California State Legislature. It was only later that the legislature found out about it.
    SDCC13 - New California Republic Flag
    Editor's Note: after trying really, really hard to find this news article - regarding the New California Republic flag gifted to the California State Legislature - and failing, the closest I could come to actually finding it again was this article talking about a group that wanted to California to secede from United States to form its own country, and even wanting to call it The New California Republic.
  • The humor in Fallout (and perhaps our own podcast episode) reaches its apex with the extremely subtle reference Norm MacLean and Chet drop - a way of concealing their Vault 32 sleuthing - by checking on the tatos, which is a reference to a hybrid potato and tomato plant in the games.

  • This episode gave us an opportunity to revisit whether we, as hosts/viewers, felt claustrophobia after Maximus was trapped in his Power Armor.

  • The possibility of Vault 31 being a cryovault: if all the overseers from Vault 32 & 33 came from Vault 31, then it's possible that these were people that were in suspended animation from before or right at the point of fallout who wanted to make sure the experiments in this cluster of vaults went according to plan.
  • The planned nature of overseer elections and the role of Betty Pearson: Betty Pearson is played by Leslie Uggams. Photos from the early days of Ms. Uggams career resemble Barbara Howard (Cooper Howard's wife). Seeing as though she was previously an overseer (of either Vault 31 or 32) and originally came from Vault 31 - like Stephanie - we can't help but perceive her suspiciously (whereas, before, we really liked her). If she actually is Cooper's wife, she definitely has an even larger role in the Fallout Universe.

  • Rachael appreciates both Maximus' and Squire Thaddeus' respective reactions: Thaddeus' desire to flee Maximus after hearing he killed Knight Titus and Maximus' readiness to kill Thaddeus after opening up to him - even though their mutual bond was predicated on Maximus impersonating Titus (especially after branding him). Maximus may have panicked and failed (a bunch of persuasion checks, due to lack of rizz) to explain the situation to Thaddeus, leading to their confrontation.

  • Maximus' lack of childhood memories prior to being picked up by The Brotherhood of Steel (after the explosion of Shady Sands) may have clouded his perceptions to their actual purpose in the wasteland. It's also established that their power armor is pre-war technology which (we officially discover in this episode) the Brotherhood uses to obtain more pre-war technology.

  • The existence of cannibals - called Fiends on the show - in the Fallout games and the symbolism behind Rink's resemblance to Lucy. Carinae thought Rink resembled a chem-addicted Raider (what fiends really are, not cannibals) in the games named Cricket.

  • It's quite possible that Maximus' knowledge on the wasteland is incomplete and The Brotherhood really doesn't know the original reason of why it does what it does. This brings us back to speaking about why societies tend to revert to imperfect systems that largely worked because, as Thomas Sowell once said, unintended consequences can arise from overregulation (whether immediately or down the line), and sometimes it's best to leave things the way they are rather than creating more complexity.
  • Vault 4 in the games, at least, is portrayed as a legendary vault that is rumored among wastelanders as a paradise, but turns out to be a dangerous hell infested with giant tarantula hawks/hornets called Cazadors. This is where Lucy & Maximus end up by the end of this episode. Are Lucy & Maximus safe, since someone obviously made Vault 4 the paradise it was believed to be, but had to be lured into it via a trap?

  • The presence of a cryolator (like a blowtorch, but ice) in Vault 32 suggests that their residents may have been bred differently than those in Vault 33. We also see yet another toaster (the same toaster, only fixed). The damaged overseer terminal in Vault 32, which was undamaged in the last episode (how Norm was able to determine that his mother's pip boy was used to access the outer vault door) indicates that Vault 31 intentionally covered up the origin of this vault's devastation and have been monitoring both vaults 31 & 32.

  • In addition to this, Rachael revisits her thoughts on how the residents of Vault 32 were actually killed. Dave suggests that, like all lab rats, they had to be put down but, like all cover-ups, they had to do it in such a way that it appeared as though they did it to themselves (by perhaps introducing a psychotic). Carinae compares this to the Reavers from the Firefly movie, Serenity, where the population of the planet Miranda were introduced to a drug that was meant to make them docile in an attempt to subjugate them. Most became so docile that they laid down and died, but a small fraction of the population, instead, became so aggressive and violent that they became the number one adversary in the series.
  • As always, we appreciate the impressive music, especially the 3 different renditions of Battle Hymn of the Republic, and end credit animations that seem to tease the next episode. This one seems to tease a textbook in a Shady Sands Elementary locker called The New California Republic with various check-out dates that end in Nov 2276 (just before Shady Sands' destruction). There's also a comic book poster of a pistol-toting, red-leather-jacket wearing hero that may be another Cooper Howard role.

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