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Monday, June 17, 2024

Fallout |1x06 "The Trap"

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Expectations are subverted at every turn: and they're just going to do it again next episode! Who's side are you on? Is Cooper Howard or Barb Howard the hero? Is Maximus or Lucy MacLean right about Vault 4? ...and when, since opinions swap! Or is forcing us into a binary choice an intentional distraction that benefits a more malevolent force?
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David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:


Carinae Davey:

  • You don't want to miss out on these new designs (t-shirts, mugs, pillows, smartphone cases, wall art, etc) reflecting our discussions on Amazon Prime's Fallout! Grab either the yellow accent (on default blue background) or blue accent (on default yellow background) SQUAWK-Tec designs or our SQUAWKING Fallout logo design (if you look real closely, you can see the DEAD in SQUAWKING's shadow).

  • In addition to these designs, and in case you missed them somehow, why not take a look at the  alternate Fear The Walking Dead Season 8B discussion logo design Sherrandy was wearing during this episode or even the FearTWD Season 8A Logo and ART designs?

  • Talking about the singularly unique and pleasant convention experience for fans and cast of The Walking Dead Universe at The Camp. Sincerely hoping we get to talk about our time there, before it leaves our brains, but we do need to eventually post our panel discussion with FearTWD's Mo Collins and (newcomer, to The Camp) Danay Garcia!
    Photo Credit: @JessicaTCos

  • After rattling off a bunch of facts about Vault 4's lore from the games, last episode, we're fairly convinced the show's depiction fits fairly well into the overall canon. The only thing that doesn't fit very well: in the games, this vault was meant to have no assigned roles nor overseers so that the vault dwellers would figure it out for themselves whereas, on the show, scientists (specifically, Lloyd Hawthorne and his wife, Cassandra Hawthorne) had specific roles and their purpose was to specifically study the effects of radiation on human DNA.

  • Rachael's reaction to this episode is hilarious: mostly sounds with excessive use of the word what. She's mostly referring to the culty Shady Sands memorial ceremony at the end, which safely(?) transitions us to Lucy MacLean & Maximus' cringy sex talk while waiting in Room 604 (intake).

  • In response to Sherrandy's amusement over Maximus' reaction to both hot showers and caviar, we go over the contents of Maximus' gift basket: Sugar Bombs Cereal, Vault-Tec Caviar, Oysters, Cram Classic, Yum Yum Brands Deviled Eggs, Salty Snacks Mixed Nuts, Blamco Mac & Cheese, Fancy Lads Snack Cakes,  Champagne, and Water.

  • It's also an opportunity to juxtapose what the simple life means to both Cooper Howard (pre-fallout) and Maximus, coming from opposite sides of the survivalist spectrum, by way of the song Give Me the Simple Life by June Christy.

  • We were really excited to see Matt Berry actually (re)appear on the show as the voice actor for Mr. Handy, Sebastian "Seabass" Leslie, by way of The Howards' Vault-Tec commercial wrap-party. The robot was originally a television character that Rob-Co made for the show that they ended up mass-producing for households across the country after they bought out the entertainment studio. Seabass tells Cooper all of this to explain how society is the product to those who are actually in control.

  • Dave stops the show to alert the audience that both Bridget and Sherrandy's takes are no longer to be trusted since they watched the rest of the series. Only Rachael and he have not watched ahead.
  • As a reminder, the fall of Shady Sands and The New California Republic is a new development outside the lore of the games. We lay out the timelines and where they differ. In the games, one of the possible endings involves nuking Shady Sands, but this occurs in 2281, whereas in the show, it alludes to 2277 (the bicentennial of The Great War).

  • We juxtapose the past with the present. Vault-Tec has a vested interest to accelerate The Great War (violating all principles) while the so-called Communists (Charlie Whiteknife et al) are trying to save it by exposing them. What's interesting is how, even though Overseer Benjamin is very prejudicial towards surfies, he still takes them in: adhering to the principles passed down to him by his forebears, despite his feelings towards them. What's even more fascinating Benjamin's nativist attitude: his family is obviously from the surface, since they've only occupied the vault for the last 100 years, yet he regards all surface-dwellers as his lesser. This is punctuated in the way he insists on instructing all newcomers on how a toilet works, which none of us disagree with, really.

  • Obviously, Lucy & Maximus are falling for each other, but the show makes it obvious by way of the Falling Objects sign in the intake room. Without any real instruction on human sexuality and even though Maximus has the desires of an adult human male towards the opposite sex, his framework is that of a pre-pubescent child. This leads to a rather uncomfortable topic for most: Dave relates this to the manner in which little boys, often prompted by the weirdo of the bunch, show each other their genitalia at sleepover parties. Left to their own devices, with limited education and no real parental figures, the aspirants in The Brotherhood of Steel are essentially little boys flashing their wieners to one another and absurd/terrifying notions of human sexuality.

  • Benjamin accidentally drinking from a moldy mug of coffee (among a handful on his desk) might be a nod to the gamers who would spend many sleepless nights playing the games doing the same thing. Dave takes this opportunity to give an example from his own life, watching his friend play World of Warcraft for hours on end with many leftover cups of 7-Eleven coffee littered about his desk. And speaking of mugs, why not grab one of two (or both?) SQUAWK-Tec mugs and/or even a SQUAWKING Fallout logo mug, my fellow products?

  • The Pip-Boy is pre-war technology: Barb and the scientists are using it, even at the party. This links us back to Seabass' speech about people being products and how, in our reality, attention is currency. Pre-war Cooper Howard is actually the biggest influencer of his time. Still, Barb is the product behind him. The irony is that Cooper has been walking around completely unaware of how influential he really is - now that he is coming online, he's also realizing his contribution to the end of the world and is maybe determined to know the truth and put a stop to it.

  • Still, we have sympathy for Barb: she regards (nuclear) Fallout as an inevitability and is scrambling to make sure she and her family are in the best possible position. Cooper, at the moment, is taking the hint and is determined - by way of attending Charlie Whiteknife's meeting, representing everything he is against - that maybe there's a way out of Barb's foregone conclusion.

  • Sherrandy finally reveals her theory: what if Ma June's partner, Barv, is actually Barb Howard? Laughter does follow this, but Sherrandy, in earnest, explains that it would be ironic that she would be hiding in plain sight and it is a little strange that they go through the bother of introducing her to the audience to never return.
  • Rachael supports Sherrandy's theory further by reminding everyone the words of Sorrel "The President of the Government" Booker, You're still looking for her. That could be Barb or Janey Howard, but not both. Sherrandy expertly compares his character to the actor, Sorrell Brooke, who played Jefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg in The Dukes of Hazard: Booker looks and even dresses a lot like Boss Hogg, and his deputies look and act much the same. Speaking of names, Cooper Howard's first initial and last name, said/spelled fast, sounds like Coward... what that could mean, we don't know yet.

  • Bridget has to leave because she's not feeling well. We soldier on.
  • Francisco, in the audience, points out that one of the wanted posters might be a super mutant, as well as obvious depictions of The Ghoul and Lee Moldaver. Speaking of Moldaver, it's interesting that her pre-war, flashback reveal to Cooper Howard occurs at the end of the episode as it cuts back and forth between the past and present: the banner of the flame mother (another one of Moldaver's names) is unfurled at the height of the freakiness that was the Shady Sands memorial ceremony.

  • What's great about this episode is that you automatically assume that by the very nature of Lucy and Maximus being sucked down into a trap that drops them into Vault 4, you already think this place is bad news. The show, then, lulls you - and Maximus, who was very mistrustful of this place from the start - into a sense of complacency. By the end, Lucy, who was intrinsically trustful of the vault dwellers, is now terrified of them (especially after their disturbing ceremony), while Maximus is lounging around, listening to records, slurping down oysters, and munching on popcorn while couch-potatoing to a looping video of a waterfall. But what if this subversion of expectations is also a subversion of expectations? What if the experiments happening on Level 12 are altruistic, rather than nefarious? Considering the knowledge we gleaned about Vault 4 from the last episode, what if these vault dwellers were saddled with having to save these pregnant women in cryopods, prior to their arrival, from the terrible fate of their young (gulpers? geckos?) devouring them? Birdie alludes to this when she says  I'm sure if we came to your home we would say the same thing. Speaking of cryopods, the first Fallout game emerged in the late 1990s, after many years discussing the viability of cryostasis on humanity, primarily to leave a patient suffering from fatal illnesses in suspended animation in order to someday invent a cure in order to save their lives.

  • Going back to Maximus' hesitation, he was very squirrely when they were about to inject him with anesthetic prior to removing a tooth from his arm. Using teeth as ammunition was something we proposed in the second episode when we saw the Barber / Dentist sign in Filly.
  • At the beginning of the episode, you get to see Cooper Howard's commercial advertisement for Vault-Tec's vaults. In the first episode, we said we would look out for moments in the series where the screen would shift from anamorphic widescreen to either 16:9 or otherwise. Well, the commercial was one of those times, as the screen was in 4:3 (NTSC). In addition, the commercial included a number on the screen, which Dave both texted and called. You can hear the startling audio in the podcast, but here's a screenshot of the text conversation:

  • We compare Cooper Howard's tragic story to FearTWD's John Dorie, primarily from 6x04 The Key, where he thinks he knows which way is up until the rug is inevitably pulled out from underneath him, considering we know the great war happens. This is further exacerbated when he talks about the freedoms he thought he fought for: but what if the wars he fought - with fellow soldiers who never came back - were built on a lie, as well? If world governments are in cahoots with one another, it would be easy to stoke the flames of constant conflict and global tensions to distract their constituents enough to profit from the chaos. Toss in what appears to be a ton of collaboration between corporations, along with all the industries they are buying up, why wouldn't they? This pairs very nicely with Dave's theory that Vault-Tec+ corporations or The Enclave were the first mover in the great war.

  • Heading into the classroom of Vault 4, we not only see The New California Republic flag, but the Fallout: New Vegas opening title theme music. We also snag a sneak peek of one of their military uniforms on one of their Uncle Sam-esque posters behind the flag, which resembles that of the New Vegas cover.

  • Until this episode, none of us under stood that the end credit sequence held clues about the following episodes. The next episode is called The Radio and the end credits scene features a radio studio, K.P.S.S., which is protected by various traps to prevent trespassers and requests. I wonder what the end credits sequence will be for the last episode of the season? We take a moment to reflect on the presence of Tay Zonday as the voice of Fallout radio host, Three Dog, which we mentioned in the 3rd episode's blog, which subsequently becomes an earworm we we can't rid ourselves of for the rest of the episode.

  • Mr. Robert House's role in the TV show provide exciting connections to the games, enhancing the viewing experience for fans. He is the CEO of Rob-Co, which produces the terminals in the vaults, I-Bots, Sentibots, Protectrons, Stealth-Boys, Pip-Boys, and turrets (which we saw in the second episode). They partner with General Atomics to create Mr. Handy(s) and other military contracts. He also owns both Nuka Cola and Lucky 38 casinos and hotels. Amidst the great war he uploads his consciousness to a super computer, while preserving/enhancing his physical body, to literally become similar to The (Casino's) House in order to protect New Vegas from the fallout by controlling all security and defense systems.
  • Just before Cooper Howard enters the wrap party, he's seen glancing at his ad in the news paper. On the same page is an article about the failure of Nuka Cola's New Nuka. The paper is flipped over to reveal the front page of The Capital Post where the lead article is titled, Reds Losing Territory! More Troops Deployed to Far East. The second article reads, Wilson Atomatoys Face Lawsuit Over Giddyup Buttercup, and as far as the games go, the parts of this particular heavy metal toy is used as valuable materials to make a variety of things in the games.

  • Sherrandy has to leave early, as well, to make a doctor's appointment early in the morning. We soldier onward.
  • One last note, as The Ghoul is rapping with Sorrel Booker, he's sewing on the finger he cut off from Lucy's hand in the 4th episode. It informs us a little further on the regenerative capabilities of ghouls, in general, and justifies the existence of having a market for (feral) ghoul organs.

  • As we congratulate Carinae for not spoiling these episodes, we poke fun at how little a poker face Rachael would've made had she watched ahead. We proceed to tangent on both the childhood and present-day competitiveness nature of ourselves, our friends, and our tormentors.

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