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Traipsing Through Silent Hill
Artwork Graciously Provided by the Incredibe Steven Luna

Part Twenty-One, or The Trial of Dr. Skeeves

  And we return once more to Traipsing Through Silent Hill! Before getting into our update all proper-like, the Riverside Motel map sparked a conversation that lead to a few revelations:

  1) A bucket of ice is $2, which in today’s money is roughly $8.50.

  2) A wacky sitcom of the Riverside Motel is something the internet desperately needs.

  3) The number of ice buckets is the new metric by which the costliness of an item is to be calculated.

  But onto relevant stuff! When last we met, it was implied that Travis walked in on his dad engaging in grown-up wrestling with a lady that he wasn’t married to and the traumatic sight lead to the creation of the writhing mass of limbs I have dubbed the fuck-monster (for I may be thirty, but I can still be puerile). We also stumbled upon a gun named Redeemer underneath a Confederate flag, which was all kinds of questionable (the nice way of saying “really fucking stupid”). Of minor note was the merciless slaughter of a boss monster that didn’t do a whole lot. In fact, the discovery of a token to the laundry machine is going to do more to advance the plot than the big monster with a comically oversized cleaver.

  And with that, we’re off to the laundry room! There’s an abandoned health drink in here as well as a note that explains the hieroglyphics that the laundry machine uses to differentiate between cycles. If you remember, the machine demands to have different cycles be activated in a silly order in order to reset, specifically: low spin, 60 wash, drain, then pre-rinse. The main challenge of this “puzzle” is to see if you have a short term memory or, barring that, adequate doodling skills. I pop in the token and do the ritual of appeasement, thereby opening the door to the washing machine.

  Wait… so that’s what the problem was? The door was jammed? I mean, I could see the staff not wanting to open it if it was stuck on a cycle full of water, but Travis could have easily pried it open with one of his bajillion tire-irons or whatever. Goddamn it, what is it with these games making simple tasks so outlandishly stupid in their solutions?

  Whatever. The door pops open and there is a pile of (surprise, surprise) bloody sheets. Of course, Travis, wanting to see the best in people, refuses to acknowledge blood stains in favor of those just being “dirty”. Oh, you sweet, stupid man. Anyway, on top of the laundry is the Cleopatra key, which Travis snags in anticipation of sexy times on the second floor. He also takes the opportunity to unlock the door back, which gives us more direct access to the northern part of the motel.

  We head out back to the western block and launch ourselves up the stairs. There’s a taffyman around here, so I decide to test the pool cue as a weapon. Travis uses it much like the IV stand, and much like the stand, it is a terrible weapon, breaking apart after three hits and leaving the monster alive. So it’s absolutely great that I still have four of these useless goddamn things in my inventory.

  Outside of the Cleopatra room tempting us with its key, there is very little of note up here. There is an employee-only area that’s been roped off at waist height, so naturally Travis refuses to hop it and pillage the storage room that lay beyond. Room 111 is open but empty, because nothing says “fun” quite like a complete waste of time. The only really cool side detail about this area is that room 213 has flickering lights, like someone is watching the television. Travis makes no mention of this in any capacity, but it’s still a nifty effect, suggesting that there are people that may call this foggy hellhole home.

  In the Cleopatra Room/Suite/Whatever, I steal a portable television and rifle rounds from off the counter. There is also a picture of a dead, presumably naked woman with the words “Cause of death SNAKEBITE” written on them. Get it? GET IT!?

  Also, because the sheets in the laundry were all bloody and the note from earlier suggested the occupant was all bent out of shape, naturally it looks like someone was murdered here. Should I be bored of all the horrible death around me at this point? Like, should I be numb to the fact that someone was brutally killed? Because I totally am, and that’s worrisome. At least I can take solace in the fact that a graphic anomaly makes it look like there’s a floating piece of paper on the bedroom counter.

  Wandering into the bathroom reveals a massive hole in the floor. There is what sounds like heavy grunting and laughter coming from the darkness. So what do we do in this situation? We jump, my friend. We jump!

  Travis passes through a magical barrier that teleports him into a cutscene in the Rose Suite. When he lands, the camera angle reveals that Travis actually just fell through the solid ceiling. Oh, there is a hole, mind you, but it’s in the wrong spot to have spat Travis out. Maybe instead of jumping through the hole, he just turned on noclip and fell through the world geometry.

  That one’s for my Doom-era fans.

  And not gonna lie, a huge chunk of the rest of this update is gonna be heavy. You thought yesterday’s historical tangent was food for thought? Well, consider this your warning: things take a turn for the dark real quick.

  Travis saunters out of the bathroom and walks in on Dr. Skeeves and Lisa getting off the bed all post-coital and stuff. Oh, no. I did not see that coming at all. Dr. Kaufmann seemed like such an upstanding gentleman. (You should have read that in monotone… probably should have mentioned it sooner.)

  Anyway, Travis tries to talk to Lisa (well, he says her name all concernedly), but she walks by him and gives a half-dismissive, half-angry “Travis,” in response. Dr. Skeeves strolls up to Travis and is all, “You show up where you’re not wanted, bro.” He follows that vague not-a-threat up with, “Isn’t it time you skipped town?”

  Travis responds with, “I can’t.”

  As Dr. Skeeves is an utter dickblouse, he snarls, “Try harder.” And then he leaves out of the broken door that Travis will be unable to exit out of once the cutscene ends.

  I don’t really think that anyone is shocked at this development, especially because Climax did a good job of relaying Kaufmann’s inherent skeeviness. Even though we’ve only really met him once, the note in the hospital shows that he either runs a corrupt operation or he is part of one. Neither are particularly great options.

  Taken at face value, Lisa sleeping with Dr. K is a clear matter of coercion—Dr. K is in a position of power and Lisa, as his subordinate, feels that she must acquiesce to his advances to keep her job. We are given some additional clues that make the situation even worse: when we looked in the room, there was a syringe plainly visible. Upon investigation, Travis sees “white powder” on the counter, suggesting that either Lisa or both nurse and doctor were getting high before the sexing. Coupled with Lisa’s erratic behavior, it is clear that she has a substance abuse problem—something that Dr. Kaufmann is taking advantage of.

  Complete asshats will look at this situation as Lisa’s fault and give Dr. Kaufmann a pass. They’ll say that she should have removed herself from the situation or had the “common sense” to not do drugs. First, an employee should not have to quit a job due to abuse from a supervisor; second, recreation drug use (illegal or no) is absolutely no excuse for victimizing the user. Both of these “rationales” absolve or mitigate the fact that Dr. Kaufmann is clearly using not one but two situations to maximize his power over Lisa, manipulating her into granting consent. He manufactured a situation where Lisa’s response of “Yes” to his advances is clearly illegitimate—any attempt to make this seem like she would have given an enthusiastic “Yes!” as a response in a purely neutral situation is making excuses for a monster.

  Further, some might say the sounds of laughter suggest that Lisa is okay with what’s going on. I would strongly suggest that the behavior of the hospitals administrators and Dr. K strongly imply that Lisa is expected, nay, demanded, to “enjoy herself”. Even in the best case scenario, Lisa’s decision to say “Yes” is with the caveat of risking her job should she say “No”. So, no, I don’t buy “laughter” as some kind of mitigating evidence—if anything, it implies that’s she’s drugged out of her mind and unable to grant consent anyway.

  Yes, that means that Dr. Kaufmann is a rapist. Yes, the game telegraphs this, just not in so direct of terms.

  One thing that I actually kind of like about this scene is that there doesn’t appear to be an attempt to shame Lisa whatsoever. Travis’s attempt to get her to talk to him (just a simple “Lisa…”) doesn’t seem like scolding or anything other than someone concerned over the welfare of another. And sure, Lisa does snap at him, but I think it’s entirely human to be put out by someone catching onto the fact that you were having sex, especially if, say, the dickhole doctor has convinced you that no one would believe your word over his (which isn’t stated, but does seem like something he’d have mentioned).

  I think it’s actually important to point out that any attempt at victim blaming (and make no mistake, Lisa is a victim here) or anything of the kind would be the audience’s reaction. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that Climax’s portrayal here suggests that anyone other than Dr. Kaufmann should shoulder any blame.

  It doesn’t sound like much, and I would have liked Travis to have told the bastard off/straight up murdered him (because I was raised on a diet of action movies), but all things considered, the lack of shaming is a small, shaky step in the right direction. However, Silent Hill still has a huge problem with human sexuality writ large, because it is seen as the creator of monsters or something to be used to assert dominance over others. Gross.

  SIDENOTE: I could be wrong, but I haven’t come across too much to suggest that this is even a major point of discussion in the Silent Hill universe. The idea of rape or sexual deviancy is not unexplored territory, as Silent Hill 2 will prove, but it is absolutely remarkable that direct confirmation of rape between two human characters seems to barely warrant a batted eyelash. I could be wrong—in fact, I’d like to be wrong, with this one scene working as something to spark a conversation.

  I just haven’t seen it.

  UPDATE 9/27/2014—Oh, hey, look at that. Someone kind of did.

END SIDENOTE.

  With the heavy, emotional stuff out of the way, I would like to point out, once again, to all those assholes who complain about Travis having no reason to stick around Silent Hill, when asked why he doesn’t leave, he responds with an “I can’t.” Not “I won’t,” or “You know I have to stay here,” literally “I can’t,” as in, “Even if the roads weren’t torn to hell, I am unable to leave this place due to commitments beyond my control.” Did any of you even play this fucking game?

  So let’s take a gander at what the room has for us, shall we? As mentioned earlier, there is a mound of what I’m assuming is cocaine on a countertop. Travis mentions that he tries to “stay away from this type of thing.” Aw, Travis, that’s why you’re my favorite. No heavy-handed judgments about drug abuse, just “Meh. Not for me.” Bro fist, buddy. Right here.

  I also stumble on some shotgun ammo, as well as a telegram from the US National Telegram Service. A woman named Dahlia has told Dr. Skeeves that she has hidden a core in “this darkness” and that Travis is chasing ghosts. “The Flauros is shattered… and her will is still buried deep in a sleeping mind. This time, the ritual WILL succeed!”

  This is the first (and only, if I recall correctly) time that we have a first name for Creepy Woman—who I guess is now officially Dahlia Gillespie. Sure, that information is in the instruction booklet, but I would like to point out that a major antagonist’s name doesn’t appear until the game is almost over. Sure, Silent Hill: Origins is a prequel, but there’s no excuse for this kind of sloppiness, Climax. And I’m the kind of clod that reads instruction books, yes, but I think the vast majority of gamers do not. You can’t rely on it to cover narrative holes.

  Also, I guess these paperweights are pieces of this “Flauros” thing? Maybe? I mean, it’s a good thing I’ve been collecting them up to this point—Alessa sure does know what the hell she’s doing! It’s just a shame that

  SHE

  HASN’T

  SAID

  A

  FUCKING

  WORD.

We’ll get to that at a later date. As of right now, you may be wondering what the hell a “Flauros” is. Well, according to Wikipedia, holder of all knowledge, Flauros is a leopard-like demon that, when captured in a triangle, will tell a person any truth about the past, present, or future. We are constructing a pyramid out of pieces labeled past, future, falsehood, and presumably truth. At the very least, Climax/Konami/whoever gets credit for this piece of Christian Apocrypha symbolism.

  Also, we’ve seen Dahlia wandering around Silent Hill—specifically in the asylum, presumably there with Dr. Skeeves. Why did she have to send him a telegram? Wouldn’t you be worried that they would keep records of your dastardly plan to burn your little girl alive for the sake of some shitty god? Couldn’t you call him? Or, I don’t know, talk to him? Or did you know he’d elect to pressure Lisa into sex instead of assisting you in your hostile takeover of reality and you didn’t want to bother him?

  Well, it’s nice to know that Silent Hill villains are stupid and incompetent.

  Anyway, the only door out of here is locked or broken or whatever, and even though there’s a large window Travis could potentially smash and escape through, he’s not that kind of guy. Instead, he’ll hop through the mirror to the nightmare reality, which is somehow more effort than my solution. But no matter. Join me next time for Breakin’ Hearts and Takin’ Names.

Purchase Project Northwoods at Amazon.com.   Purchase Washed Hands at Amazon.com   Purchase Improbables at Amazon.com.

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