Notes on Fallout TV (Return to the Nolanverse complete, Review notes complete)

Discussion in 'Fallout TV Series Discussion' started by Bradylama, Apr 24, 2024.

  1. Bradylama

    Bradylama So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 22, 2003
    Yeah. I'm thinking I'm back!

    Episodes 1-3

    This is just the Johnathan Nolan episodes. I'm not even half way done with reviewing the series. Here's a taste from episode 4 just to prove I don't hate everything about this:

    Notes on Episode 4:
    NOTES ON EPISODE 5:

    Notes on Episode 6
    Notes on Episode 7
    Notes on Episode 8
    Notes on Creative Troika; Pre-Prep for Nolanverse Redux
    Return to the Nolanverse Episode 1:
    (I was disatisfied with my notes for the Jon Nolan episodes since I was noting things down a lot more casually. Most of the problems with the show stem from here, which is why I had to go back and re-review).

    Notes for Return to the Nolanverse Episode 2
    Return to the Nolanverse Episode 3: Revenge of Georgetown
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2024
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  2. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016
    Fantastic review notes!

    I am so glad to have to read them.

    It's the middle of a Brotherhood base. It's not exactly unguarded.

    Because the Brotherhood sucks. He wants to be an avenging angel and Titus says they go out and steal toasters.

    According to the Bounty Hunter at the end of the episode 1, the enclave hired everyone to go after Wilzig, so the Brotherhood would have heard of him.

    As a sign that he is a good person?

    I mean, Vault-Tec is part of the Enclave. Why wouldn't they have access to Moldaver's research? They even are able to advance science in the past 200 years.

    Later scenes indicate the sexes are segregated in training, at least in this chapter.

    Titus is a paladin so they have leeway to things and Maximus is already on his last chance. They probably only let him be the squire because they think he was ruthless enough to get the job done via Tonya Harding.

    I mean the guy is dying of radiation poisoning so he's not in his right mind. However, he's just meant to represent the kind of idiotic Wastelanders we run into all the time. This isn't just a Bethesda thing as there's those Hicks you're forced to marry and the Hubologists in 2.

    One of the writers said Maximus represents those players who don't actually actually engage with the Brotherhood of Steel but join them for the toys.

    Lucy eventually figures it out. We never find out if she hired the Raiders to take down the Vault or
    if they were Raiders descended from Shady Sand's children/survivors.

    She literally says this in a few episodes.

    I agree on the Cooper=Reagan and Wayne. He's also named for Gary Cooper, I think.

    And Vault-Tec being behind the Great War was a proposal for the Fallout movie way back when before Bethesda.

    And anti-corporatism has been a thing in Fallout forever.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2024
  3. Hawkwing74

    Hawkwing74 It Wandered In From the Wastes

    136
    Feb 20, 2024
    Interesting post with good points made. I admire your dedication to your analysis.
     
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  4. Bradylama

    Bradylama So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 22, 2003
    I think that the failures of Fallout TV are actually eminently teachable with the way history is going right now. It's almost serendipitous in a sense. I've got a long term critical project I'm baking on and taking extensive review notes on the series is my first step.


    I'm writing the notes trying to keep in mind what the show does and doesn't explain. I didn't mean to imply that Wilzig liking Dogmeat is pointless, I'm saying that the show gives no reason for it. We know practically nothing about Wilzig only for him to die to set up the head McGuffin. It bugs me a lot because Wilzig was an interesting character who could have provided a lot of drama and character interaction, which is obviously more interesting than the head McGuffin. The Show sets up characters and plotlines only to kill them off before it even does anything interesting with them. That's also why I keep coming back to Moldaver.

    That's all true and worth keeping in mind, but the show doesn't explain that. A lot of info can only be assumed with prior knowledge from the games, but I'm also trying to focus on how the showrunners, directors, and writers interpret the material for a TV audience. What does somebody who's never even heard of Fallout think when they watch the show knowing nothing going into it?

    The show is simply poorly conceived and badly written. Way too many people know intimate details about Wilzig that only the Enclave should know. If the Enclave knows that much detail about Wilzig's plan to reach Moldaver then why would they issue the bounties at all? They could have easily hunted him down themselves. The whole story breaks itself in the first episode. I had actually forgotten how awful all three early episodes were, and those episodes were the most directly controlled by Nolan, Wagner, and Robertson-Dworet. I'll have to note going forward if it gets better when the showrunners don't have as much of a hand in it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2024
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  5. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016
    Thanks for your response!

    Ironically, I just really expanded my thoughts via edit!

    Eh, this is the same guy behind WESTWORLD and you get a lot of similar themes as well as character archetypes (Cooper is the Man in Black). What you're describing as plot holes and things that don't get explained like Moldaver's immortality aren't necessarily so much as meant for the fans to speculate on and fill in themselves. By leaving the main characters ignorant of events, it provides a sense of a larger world and events going on beyond their knowledge.
     
  6. PlanHex

    PlanHex Legislative Senator oTO Admin Orderite Board Cop oTO

    Nov 4, 2007
    Hi Bradylama.
    I haven't watched the show, but I liked this post, mostly read in RLM Prometheus voice.
    I had no idea you used to be a regular here with so many posts, I mostly remember you from the Codex :p
     
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  7. Bradylama

    Bradylama So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 22, 2003
    Mike Stoklasa doing a reading on the fly farm would be pretty good.

    Main characters can be ignorant of events just fine, but they should understand the world they've lived in for their whole life. Like, why does the water filter guy not understand that you put water into a water filter? It's a dumb "Fallout joke" but it's so stupid that it breaks suspension of disbelief. Characters and factions also act inconsistently with themselves. Even DOGMEAT acts inconsistently with being a dog. Why doesn't the Brotherhood care more about the fact that nobody takes their religion seriously, even though they've clearly become more mystical and ritualistic since Maxson's Brotherhood in Fallout 4. Everybody we see in the Brotherhood is a purely cynical actor who's only a part of the organization because of the power it gives them. But we also see that the Brotherhood is recruiting orphans and other stray or sold off children, so why aren't they fully indoctrinated religious fanatics? Has Maximus ever had a single religious thought in his empty head?

    Also, just because characters should be ignorant of events not in their purview, does not mean the audience has to be. I know a lot of these open questions are going to be season 2 reveals, but season 1 explains practically nothing. Things happen for reasons that are totally inscrutable to someone coming to the franchise for the first time. The reason I keep harping on Moldaver is because by the end of the season she and the NCR remnants are all dead. So it doesn't matter what we learn about Moldaver's secret plans in the future, since she and her followers have already been exterminated from the timeline. They could also pull a fakeout and Moldaver actually isn't dying, but that's still bad writing. It's a copout. They wrote themselves into a corner with the biggest and most critical plotlines within the first episode.
     
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  8. Iprovidelittlepianos

    Iprovidelittlepianos Vault Senior Citizen

    May 12, 2020
    The cynic in me says they’re doing the Bethesda thing of allowing fans to write for them so they can use fan theories to explain shit that they clearly put no thought into.
     
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  9. Yossarrion

    Yossarrion It Wandered In From the Wastes

    160
    Mar 25, 2022
    I was talking to Pax about that. Nothing she has done now will matter since her story is over and done with.

    As far as Max goes I found him to be more of someone who was more of a Lyons brotherhood kind of guy then a Maxson one. He's got an idealized sense of ethics, whether it was portrayed in the show properly or not. Titus's behavior bothered him and the eventual threat pushed him to just let the guy die. Probably would've been better to have a knock out fight scene with the bear and Titus dying then having Maximus freak out because he doesn't know what will happen by failing his knight and causing him to impersonate him. I did find him acting how a lot of us would've if we found a suit of power armor by testing it out to be endearing. They inadvertently proved the brotherhood hoarding tech to be important when he kicked the rock and took out the building, I assumed he would see the farmer dying under the rubble and it would make him act more mature. Instead we had the chicken fucking
     
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  10. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016
    I mean, unless you've seen Westworld where characters who died in Season One keep showing up in the constant neverending flashbacks.
     
  11. Yossarrion

    Yossarrion It Wandered In From the Wastes

    160
    Mar 25, 2022
    Never seen it but I've heard it had a good first season then fell off a cliff after
     
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  12. Bradylama

    Bradylama So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 22, 2003
    "Instead we had [something stupid]" is the truly insulting thing about the series. It could have been a great show and they didn't care enough to make one.

    Notes on Episode 4:

    You might be right, and the problem with that idea is the changes they made are so broken it's impossible to fix them. All the problems with the show cascade off of them fractally. Rational explanations only beget more questions. Like, why are the craters so deep and uniform? Were the explosions we see at the beginning underground detonations from warheads planted by Vault-Tec ahead of time? It's just questions after questions. None of it adds up. And it wouldn't have mattered if they weren't so arrogant to think that they could make this all canon.
     
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  13. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016
    You would be correct.

    I wanted to watch a show about an evil Disneyworld and they had no interest in the theme park after season one.
     
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  14. BikeGremlin

    BikeGremlin First time out of the vault

    3
    Apr 25, 2024
    That is a good question. One first-hand experience:

    My better half is not into gaming, and I never bothered her with the world, story etc.
    All she knew about Fallout was that "it is my favourite game of all times."

    So, when the series came out, all she knew was that I'm eagerly looking forward to it.
    That was the main reason why she tried watching it in the first place.

    For a comparison:
    When we watched the Witcher series, she had many questions and didn't really understand what's what. She enjoyed it, but not too much and found it to be quite confusing.

    The Fallout TV series, on the other hand - no questions whatsoever. And she loved it.

    Relja
     
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  15. Bradylama

    Bradylama So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 22, 2003
    For a new person coming into the series for the first time there's a much higher tolerance for things when you have no expectations. But I've also heard from people unfamiliar with Fallout that they didn't like the series. So I'm wondering what it is about the show that some people pick up on whereas others don't. I certainly didn't notice half the inconsistencies I have now while taking time to review each episode.

    When I started watching the series I'd heard about what happened to Shady Sands and hated it, but everyone was saying the show was good so I at least expected the show itself to be good. Turns out it's worse than the Bethsoft games. Worse than Brotherhood of Steel. I was disenchanted with the intro scene where they portray the Great War like it's a fucking cartoon. The most terrifying event in world history is T-Rated in a show that later portrays a man getting his leg processed through a meatgrinder that's also a prosthetic foot. And then I find out that Shady Sands was just the tip of the iceberg, and that nobody seems to understand why the Vault-Tec conspiracy doesn't make sense.

    I've been arguing about this stuff with people online and it's obvious that they don't understand how the world works. Not just Fallout's world but actual real life. One guy told me that the Cold War didn't involve any shooting wars! IMO the core problem with Fallout TV is ideological. It's part of how Americans receive political ideas; by osmosis through popular culture. Fallout TV is both self-referential but also retcons the most important historical event in the game because its authors do not understand it. They cannot conceive of the United States as an imperial power, and they don't think the audience can do it either. If it was just an issue of this being a fandom gripe then I'd get mad for a few days and move on, but there are people out there who are ignorant of the world in a profoundly dangerous way, and the show only reinforces that.

    None of the political takes I've seen about the show have gotten it right yet, because people only know how to argue within the culture war confines of the Liberal framework. They don't understand how eclectic the show's politics are because they themselves do not understand Liberalism, which they believe in as a cultural affectation. The authors of the show, I believe, have this worldview. They too were raised within the incestuous environment of American market culture.
     
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  16. Iprovidelittlepianos

    Iprovidelittlepianos Vault Senior Citizen

    May 12, 2020
    I think that some people prefer the “prestige TV” that has dominated this “golden age of television”, think stuff like The Sopranos and all the shows it inspired. Then there are people who enjoy pulpier style television that, in the past, rarely had the budgets that TV can get now. I think people in the former category don’t like this show, and people on the later category do like it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same divide between people who like the MCU and people who don’t.
     
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  17. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016
    More or less my non gamer wife had the same reaction.
     
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  18. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016
    I mean, you flat out give a devastating critique of older fans that they're complete fools who can't appreciate something on its own merits here. This includes me. I mean, this paragraph says that they're unable to appreciate a piece of art save through their narrow cultural lens of gatekeeping. My Masters in Literature education basically convinced me these are the worst people in the world and yet somehow I wasn't able to avoid becoming one of them.

    It's a black comedy.

    I feel like this sentence needs to be underlined as Fallout is a black comedy. It has always been a black comedy. This is very much, "I cannot stomach THE PRODUCERS because it makes fun of Nazis and Nazis are not in any way funny." If you're unwilling to engage with the art on any level because it's not what you think it SHOULD be then is your critique really of any value?

    And this is something I've failed on myself.

    Like, seriously, is there any way to read the above other than, "Fallout should be serious, goddamit! 0/10!"



    A lot of people are morons but it is absolutely an alternate history for about a hundred years.

    It's a huge critique of neo liberalistic thought.
     
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  19. Bradylama

    Bradylama So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 22, 2003
    Fallout TV is trying to have it both ways too though. It wants to be a pulpy adventure story with the trappings of prestige TV and neither work. The pulpy adventure isn't nearly campy or funny enough, and the pretensions to seriousness makes the joke fall flat. And if it is being serious it's either nonsensical or directly contradicts the core of Fallout as a series.


    I think you're bringing in irrelevant personal stuff to the discussion. Nobody is actually capable of "gatekeeping" except for the guys trying to create a hostile fan environment by calling people "tourists." Yeah, sure, it's annoying to have newbies running around but if you don't even understand enough about the series to explain things to people who don't know anything then you have no right to speak. Nobody is truly capable of appreciating art "on its own merits" because we evaluate everything in the context of our lived experiences. Nonetheless, I'm trying to evaluate Fallout TV on its own merits as a product in isolation from the rest of Fallout and it still doesn't work. It's just plain bad.

    "It's a black comedy" is not an excuse if the jokes are bad and make no sense. The fly farm joke is just gross for the sake of being gross and makes the world sound like it was conceived by a child. The cult ritual in vault 4 is weird for the sake of being weird without real explanation or any revealing of what Moldaver's followers actually believe. The water filter guy is so stupid it's impossible to believe, and then it triples down on it by establishing that he's never gone to the market town within eyesight because it's dangerous? What has he been doing all his life, tilling sand? If you're going to adapt original material you have the opportunity to make it better by leaving out all the parts of the original that don't work, but they emulate the originals for the sake of fanservice instead. In the worst way, even, which is insulting to the fans.

    "Alternate history" is not an excuse to just do whatever in a way that doesn't make sense and undermines the themes and thesis of the original games. It's also not an excuse to ignore the causative material dialectic which history operates on. Everything happens as a consequence of prior historical events, and the biggest payoff of the Fallout games is that you get to be the decisive factor in a critical historical juncture that decides the future of society. The Fallout TV show literally blows up all of that history to do something completely different that's actually just a retread of the history it just destroyed. And it does it badly. People in real life think history is a series of isolated events between voids of empty space where anything could have happened, rather than a constantly unfolding dialectic. And the show supports that view.

    It's not an actual critique of neoliberalism if the story doesn't understand what liberalism is. This is a reactionary conspiracy theory about big business coming together in a shadowy board room to end the world, and force the survivors to live in underground communes, so they can do woke DEI in the post apocalypse? Are you fucking kidding me? Did PragerU write this? No, turns out it's a guy who wrote 50 episodes for Portlandia!
     
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  20. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016
    Where the fuck do you get woke DEI from reactionary corporate conspiracies?