WTFAW: Portal

It has been a while since we covered a fan theory about a video game, back when we talked about Majoras Mask. Now, that theory was painfully pretentious and idiotic, bordering on being actively insulting ever so slightly flawed, but hopefully, Dave has learned from his mistake and brought me something more promising this time.

Dave: The theory today is about Portal. Specifically, that GLaDOS is Chells mother.

Then again, I could be completely wrong, and he instead doubled down… Very well, Dave. Explain this theory.

Dave: So, we know that Chell was the child of an Aperture employee, since her name can be found on one of the potato battery experiments made during “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day”.

Ok, but how does that prove she’s Carolines daughter?

Dave: Well, notice that the potato is incredibly overgrown, compared to the others? It’s because she used rapid growth hormone given to her by her father, Cave Johnson!

Aha…

Dave: And there is an oil painting of Cave and Caroline, which suggests they’re something more than just co-workers. In fact, that would explain why Cave requested Caroline to be uploaded to GLaDOS. Instead of a more rational choice for a successor, he chose the woman he loved the most to continue his work

Right…

Dave: Also, in the oil painting, there’s a little girl in the background. That’s Chell, back when she wasn’t a test subject. 

Wow, there’s a lot to unpack with this one…

You claim that Chells potato grew out of control, thanks to chemicals given by Cave Johnson. Let’s ignore a crucial detail for now, and instead answer me this: why would he give her growth chemicals, to make a potato battery?

Dave: Because he doesn’t mind cheating. It’s exactly the kind of thing he’d do.

No, it isn’t! Cave Johnson would splice the potato with a nuclear isotope or something, not just make it bigger. A bigger potato makes no difference in a potato battery! You’d get surface area, but no additional power to use.

On that subject, getting something extravagant as an oil painting for himself and his personal assistant IS the kind of thing Cave Johnson would do. This is the guy who spent 70 MILLION DOLLARS on moon rocks!

He cared for Caroline a great deal, I agree. But love? I doubt it.

Dave: But he requested the personality core that created GLaDOS be based on her, instead of the head scientist or someone who’d know more about running the installation!

Firstly, he requested she’d be stuck into the machine if he died before he could be put in there.

Second, ”someone who’d know more”? Caroline was more than just some ditzy secretary. He described Caroline as ”the backbone of this facility”, and as his personal assistant, she’d be instrumental in the day-to-day details of administration. He DID pick the most fitting person for the job.

And thirdly, and most importantly, you think that’s a sign of LOVE?! What did he say, regarding her being uploaded into the core?

If I should die before you people can pour me into a computer, I want Caroline to run this place. Now, she’ll argue. She’ll say that she can’t. She’s modest like that. But you make her. Hell, put her in my computer. I don’t care

Call me a traditional romantic, but I’m pretty sure uploading someones consciousness into a computer without their consent isn’t something you do to THE PERSON YOU LOVE!

And finally, you claimed that Chell could be seen in the back of the picture of Cave and Caroline?

You mean this picture?

Portal

Dave: Yeah! Look, there to the left of Cave!

That’s a statue, Dave… Please don’t tell me I have to explain the difference between a living child and a piece of stone to you…

Of course, there is another gaping issue with this theory. Let’s suppose, for the time being, that it IS a child (which it isn’t, because it’s a fucking statue), that the child is Chell, and Cave Johnson and Caroline are her parents.

Why the flying hell is GLaDOS trying to kill her?!

Dave: For revenge. Chell destroyed her, after all.

No, GLaDOS tried to kill her first! Or did you forget that whole ”Lowering of a platform into a lit incinerator leading to Chell trying to escape” thing from the first game?

What followed was SEVERAL murder attempts, mingled with abuse and insults, then a big fight that ended in GLaDOS being severely damaged.

Dave: But why did she say Chell broke her heart, then? Isn’t that something a mother would say?

What the hell are you talking about? You know what Chell did to break her heart? She refused to die!

Dave: But… that makes no sense.

Congratulations, Dave! You’ve just understood the fucking joke!

Dave: Well.. maybe GLaDOS didn’t remember who she was or who Chell is. After she discovers the truth, she becomes much more caring and supportive of Chell, and even defends her when Wheatley tries to insult her.

Ah, yes. That’s her being super protective and motherly. Remind me, Dave. What did she say to Chell right after asking Wheatley what’s so bad about being adopted?

For the record, you ARE adopted, and that’s terrible, but work with me here.

Weird. It’s almost like she’s just saying whatever she can to antagonize him and make him look stupid. You know, like she did to you for the entire first half of the game?

Dave: Ah, but she DOES save Chells life, preventing her from being lost in space, and shows concern about her when she wakes up. And if you translate the turret opera, it contains phrases like ”My dear” and ”My child”. She is singing to her daughter to leave the laboratories behind.

Ok, I agree that she did save Chells life. But is that because she’s her mother, or because her human side is getting more and more pronounced, and it was a case of simple, human compassion?

Also, isn’t it odd that GLaDOS, supposedly remembering being Chells mother, refers to her as a ”Dangerous, mute lunatic”? Not especially motherly, is it?

Dave: Well, yeah. she deleted Caroline shortly before that.

But… if she deleted that part of her that recognices those motherly bonds, then explain how she can be singing to Chell as her child mere moments later!?

On a side note, the lyrics in question are ”Mia Bambina”. That doesn’t mean ”My daughter”. It means ”My (female) child” or ”my little girl”. You can refer to someone as ”mia bambina” without being their parent.

Dave: Uhm… maybe there are some lingering traces of Caroline in there… 

Ok, even if I accepted that explanation, Chell couldn’t possibly be Carolines and Caves daughter.

Dave: Why not?

It actually covers that earlier, crucial problem I mentioned. Remember that potato experiment? How old would you say Chell was, at that point?

Dave: Uhm… about 8?

I’d say so too. Somewhere between 8-10. It’s a science experiment for third graders.

Now let’s look at that oil painting again. How old would you say Caroline is in that painting? In her mid-to-late thirties, I’d say.

Dave: So what?

So, do you know when that painting was made?

Dave: Well…

It was made during the 1960’s.

The ”Bring Your Daughter to Work Day” where Chell made that exhibit was on the very same day GLaDOS went online and promptly killed almost everyone with neurotoxin. That happened in 1998.

The first voice recording where we hear Caroline, when she was described as the backbone of the facility, was in 1952.

Let’s do some simple maths here. Let’s be generous and assume that Caroline was in her early 20’s, let’s say 23, in that recording. If Chell was eight in 1998, she was born in 1990. That means that by the time Chell was born, Caroline would be in her early 60’s. It’s somewhat unlikely Caroline would have a child at that age. If Caroline was going to have kids, she would have had them sometime BEFORE she was 60 years old!

And even if we ignore that (which we shouldn’t), Caroline was described by Cave as being ”married to science”, right?

Dave: Right…?

Well, it’s fair to assume then, that if there ever was a man in her life, that’d be Cave Johnson.

Dave: Exactly.

Well, that last recording, when Cave talks about uploading Caroline, was in 1982. He was DYING by then.

So how the actual tenpenny hell could Caroline get pregnant with Caves child 8 YEARS AFTER HE DIED!?

Suffice to say that he would be equally unable to give Chell some growth chemical for her third grade science exhibit another 8 years later!

Dave: Ah, but if she isn’t Chells mother, and all her compassion was purged when she deleted Caroline, why does she give Chell her freedom, then?

Oh, good question, Dave. If only she had given some reason for why she’d do that… Oh wait, SHE FUCKING DID!

You know, deleting Caroline just now taught me a valuable lesson. The best solution to a problem is usually the easiest one. And I’ll be honest. Killing you is hard. […] So you know what? You win. Just go!

That’s not compassion, it’s PRAGMATISM! Every single, solitary attempt to kill Chell has failed. Not one thing has worked, and has only ever made things worse for those that tried. So, now GLaDOS has control of the facility back, she has two robots to test with, and her options are to either try make another attempt to kill Chell, and risk losing everything all over again…

Or activate the elevator and let her leave, guaranteeing she won’t be back.

That’s an incredibly easy choice to make.

 And finally, even if this theory was true… It doesn’t really change anything.

Think about it. Either, GLaDOS isn’t aware of being Chells mother, in which case, it doesn’t affect the dynamic between Chell and GLaDOS, their fundamental relationship or the story in general in any meaningful way, or she DOES know, in which case she is trying to kill her own daughter for no adequately explained reason.

In conclusion, none of the arguments add up and the theory wouldn’t have a reason to exist, even if they did.

While this theory isn’t as pretentious and frustrating as the previous video game theory, it’s still among the most aggresively stupid ones I’ve ever seen.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was the result of some the most dedicated fans, getting together and trying their hardest to create the dumbest theory ever imagined…

 

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