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Review: Amazon’s Fallout Is NOT Garbage, But IS Woke

Amazon’s attempt to bring the famous “Fallout” video game franchise to the small screen is enjoyable. But it is definitely woke.

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Confusion has erupted across the Internet over the last few days, with competing factions of nerds emerging: one arguing that Amazon’s “Fallout” is surprisingly good and another complaining that it’s annoyingly woke. Normally the two are mutually exclusive, but in this case both are right.

“Fallout” is a unicorn, in the sense that it is unironically good, but at the same time undeniably woke.

As surprising as it may sound, not everything woke turns to [feces]. The reason why it almost always does is because Marxists – who the “woke” are the ideological bastard children of – have an ideological aversion to the idea that propaganda should be objectively good.

In fact, for much of the early 20th Century, it was incontestable Soviet doctrine that art with any entertainment value whatsoever – no matter its Bolshevik bona fides – was inherently subversive to the communist system.

In the words of famed Hollywood screenwriter and avowed communist Albert Maltz, in an article in New Masses Magazine arguing against this trend:

I have come to believe that the accepted understanding of art as a weapon is not a useful guide but a straitjacket … in practice it has been understood to mean that unless art is a weapon like a leaflet, serving immediate political ends, necessities and programmes, it is worthless or escapist or vicious.

In a brutal response to this article – brilliantly retold by the nerdy conservative culture commentator Razorfist in his video “Hollywood Was Always Red: A Rant” – Maltz was vilified, humiliated and forced to slavishly apologize before multiple Stalinist struggle sessions. This nauseating display partly inspired Hollywood icon Elia Kazan to renounce communism, testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee against his fellow communists and direct the timeless classic “On The Waterfront” – the breakout hit for Marlon Brando where he played a dockworker who testifies against the murderous, thieving thugs who run his union.

However, just because Marxists don’t believe that agtiprop should be good, doesn’t mean Marxists are incapable of producing good art. Also, just because many Hollywood executives have got away with setting billions of dollars worth of brand value on fire over the past decade, doesn’t mean everyone in Tinseltown has a deathly allergy to financial success and popular acclaim.

On its surface, “Fallout” is easily superior to the vast majority of genre fiction televised in recent memory, especially those tentpoled by multi-billion-dollar IP’s like the Fallout, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek or Star Wars franchises. The casting is flawless, the soundtrack is perfectly nostalgic and the visual design is nothing short of inspired. The cinematography is of consistently superior quality, if not particularly memorable.

“Fallout” falters when one dives deeply into the dialogue, plot, themes and fidelity to the established lore of the videogames – which would explain why the complainers-in-chief are nit-picking nerds concentrated in videogame fan forums. The short story is that “Fallout” is the equivalent to “The Force Awakens” or the first season of “The Witcher”, flawed but cosmetically-brilliant works which will be inevitably praised as masterpieces by short-sighted fans even as they prelude an equally-inevitable descent into Bolshevik bullplop.

I’m calling it now: the first season was good, the second season will suck and the third will be hot garbage on toast. If executives and investors are foolish enough to bankroll a fourth season, you can expect – with sympathies in advance to Liam Hemsworth – ratings to be positively subterranean.

To elaborate: it is impossible to review a woke product without SPOILERS, because woke art – following nigh-unbreakable rules – is inherently predictable.

So let this be my first and final SPOILER WARNING before saying:

Because I’m telling you that “Fallout” is woke… it is completely 100% predictable from the first episode – where a vicious terrorist and LGBT+ Woman of Color at the head of a band of marauding cannibalistic rapists murders dozens of innocent people, then kidnaps the Cisgender Straight White Male father of the protagonist…

That the terrorist will eventually be revealed to be a misunderstood hero and the father will be revealed to be an unforgivably evil villain.

What follows is a breakdown of the show’s elements, from best to worst:

Casting and Performances

Criminally-underrated character actor Walton Goggins steals the show as Cooper Howard/”The Ghoul”. For fans of “Justified” and “The Shield” who have been following him for up to two decades, he has been long overdue for a leading role in big-budget production. He’s a perfect foil and dark mirror to Ella Purnell’s Lucy who – having once passionately held practically-identical core beliefs of American patriotism, Christian decency and constitutional justice – has been jaded by a 200-year quest to reunite with his presumably cryogenically-frozen family and take revenge on the masterminds behind the Apocalypse, to the point where committing unforgivable atrocities becomes part and parcel of his daily life.

Purnell – following on her fantastic turn as Jinx in Arcane – gives a stellar performance as leading lady Lucy, believably portraying a wide-eyed idealistic innocent forced to confront unspeakable depravities but who – through it all – retains her humanity and holds fast to her principles. Her sweetness never gets cloying and her facility with violence never gets to “girlboss” levels of unbelievability. Her lines are delivered with touching sincerity and her fight scenes are well-choreographed. Contrary to standard woke dogma, Lucy gets overpowered and critically wounded multiple times, punching above her weight against stronger men only by using skill and guile.

Freshly-Stimpak’ed Lucy emerges from her room, sporting a stab wound and blood-drenched knife.

Matt Berry – star of the nerdy mega-classic “The I.T. Crowd” – is perfectly cast as the voice actor of the mass-produced robotic butler Mr. Handy. There is nobody on Earth who could have played the role better.

Both Sarita Choudhury as LGBT+ Woman of Color Moldaver and the legendary Kyle MacLachlan – of “Dune” (1984) and “Twin Peaks” fame – as Cisgender Straight White Male Hank turn in passionate, torturously soulful performances as chief antivillains of the narrative, despite being handed some of the worst lines in the script.

Unfortunately, Aaron Moten’s Maximus got beaten to a bloody pulp with the same Bad Script Stick, though he still soldiered on well enough through lines like, “Well it’s just for some guys – not me – for some guys, y’know, when they make a move… it gets all big and hard like a big pimple and then it pops.” Despite being given the most annoying character in the show, Moten still manages to force endearing moments through the abominable – if leading – role he was given.

I might be going out on a limb here, but I think that Moten’s treatment goes to show that woke writers – predominantly upper-middle-class white females – have no earthly clue what to do with black men. In their twisted, post-rational minds: He can’t be strong or badass, or they’d be promoting “toxic masculinity”. He can’t be charismatic or sensual, or they’d be “fetishizing blackness”. He can’t be smart or rational or punctual, or they’d be promoting “whiteness”.

So, just like the disgusting treatment of John Boyega’s Finn in the Disney Star Wars sequels, the default for woke writers is to consign black men to comic relief. It’s really shameful and Moten deserved much better. I’m the furthest thing from politically-correct, but even I was made deeply uncomfortable by the sight of a black man portrayed as a lazy, bitter, unhinged, selfish, violent, delusional and functionally-retarded imbecile.

Soundtrack

It’s very good. If you’ve heard the soundtracks to Fallout 3, 4 and New Vegas, it’ll all be very familiar. If the original score was good or bad, I didn’t notice it. Be warned: if there were songs from Fallout 76 or easter egg references to it, I wouldn’t know because – unlike a lot of gamers – I was too smart to let Todd Howard molest my innocent wallet.

Set Design, Costumes and CGI

It is extremely clear that everyone in charge of visual design took immense care to painstakingly reproduce the look and feel of the Fallout series, especially Fallout 4. Everything from the sets to the costumes to the props – even the modular vault construction and hydraulic doors – are cosmetically-perfect replicas.

The CGI is serviceable – slightly better than one would expect from a low-budget SyFy or CW show – and the power armor – while visually fine – doesn’t always convey the weight of a 100lb micro-fusion-powered wearable tank. The physics in fight scenes – especially when jetpacking – sometimes trend towards the cartoonish.

The most annoying power armor nitpick: twice, in episodes 2 and 8, Brotherhood of Steel knights in T-60 power armor are killed after being cripplingly blinded by limited ambient darkness when their helmet-mounted headlamps are clearly visible… headlamps which, in multiple games, are shown to be 100% functional. Apparently the costume designers knew more about the games than the actual screenwriters.

MASSIVE Plot Holes

Note that – just because I said “Fallout” was “good” – doesn’t mean that the story stands up to the slightest scrutiny. Here are just some of the massive plot holes:

  1. Betty, the new Overseer of Vault 33, somehow manages to perfectly refurbish Vault 32 – a desolate corpse-filled ruin – overnight without any visible help from anyone.
  2. The residents of Vault 32 all died two years before the start of the series, but nobody in Vault 33 noticed. Also, there’s no explanation for why mild-mannered, Mayberry-style neighborly vault-dwellers all killed each other after finding out the “dark secret” of their vaults: that their leaders were all cryogenically-frozen Vault-Tec management trainees. They even scrawled messages in blood on the walls like “DEATH TO MANAGEMENT!” ThatEscalatedQuickly.gif.
  3. Raiders infiltrate Vault 33 by pretending to be from Vault 32 – again, a desolate corpse-filled ruin – which they just happen to open using the now-ferally-ghoulified Rose’s Pip-Boy, then they somehow manage to convince Vault 33 that everything’s fine despite two years without contact.
  4. Nobody originally from Vault 32 living in Vault 33 – who are all clean-cut 50’s stereotypes – realizes that they don’t recognize anyone from Vault 32 in the raiding party of scruffy ragamuffins.
  5. For some reason – despite being destroyed twice in the games – the Enclave (the pure-blooded, unvaccinated ubermensch authoritarian remnants of the U.S. Government) have survived and are implanting cold fusion cells into dogs for some reason. It’s also not clear what the point of the Enclave is now that Vault-Tec has been revealed as the “IT WAS AGATHA ALL ALONG”.
  6. LGBT+ Woman of Color Moldaver – who is revealed to be the sole surviving leader of the long-nuked democratic New California Republic AND the gay lover of Lucy’s mom, who was murdered by Lucy’s dad, AND the ringleader of a group of pre-war Hollywood communists somehow perfectly preserved for 200 years – chooses to conduct her raid with a team of bloodthirsty smack-junkies instead of… oh I don’t know… upstanding veterans of the New California Rangers, plenty of whom – on assignment elsewhere – should have survived the nuclear destruction of Shady Sands.
  7. The worst offender: According to the timeline of the show, Shady Sands – the capital of the New California Republic, which a lot of OG Fallout fans have very strong nostalgic feelings about – was nuked to smithereens four years before the events of “Fallout: New Vegas”, where the NCR plays a pivotal role. This implied to many fans that FNV – created by rival developer Obsidian and considered a superior installment in the series to anything Bethesda Softworks created – was not canonical to the show or other games.

However, puzzlingly, the final episode ends with a panoramic view of the ruined New Vegas, and Episode 8 also shows Mr. House – a major character from FNV – as well as plenty of other FNV easter eggs. Bethesda developer Emil Pagliarulo made a confusing post on X which suggests both the show and FNV are canonical… though he also made a much-mocked post where he suggested the optional male protagonist (husband of the optional female protagonist) of Fallout 4 was depicted in Fallout 1 laughing as an American soldier kills an innocent Canadian civilian. To be fair, this line-item isn’t as much of a “massive plot hole” as it is evidence that Bethesda is very, very bad at brand management.

Another nitpick: for some reason ghouls in the show require regular doses of a mysterious drug to retain their humanity and keep from going “feral”. How this drug was produced – and whether it predates the Great War – is completely unexplained, though presumably this plot device was implemented to give Cooper a.k.a. “The Ghoul” a reason to do lots of bad things to make money. Speaking very charitably, this might be a reference to Russian fan mod Fallout: Sonora.

Ghouls were heavily implied in the original Fallout to be humans who were only partially-protected from massive radiation by a limited infection of the Forced Evolutionary Virus, but ghoulification was retconned in Fallout 3 to be caused simply by radiation exposure as part of the new development team’s change of tone towards “Science!” – in other words, overtly-campy soft science fiction over the harder science fiction punctuated by humor of the original.

They MURDERED the Brotherhood of Steel

By far the most tragic victim of Jeff Bezos Prime’s “The Rings of Fallout” is the Brotherhood of Steel.

In the games, they are a neo-feudal order of warrior-monks and scribes dedicated to preserving humanity by controlling access to the kinds of world-ending technologies that ended advanced civilization in the two-hour-long Great War. Though – from our modern liberal democratic perspective – it seems obvious that the autocratic Brotherhood will inevitably become corrupt over time, their heroic dedication makes them compelling protagonists even as their ideology strains under the weight of its own contradictions.

It’s this tension between their idealistic humanism and dedication to restrained technological progress contrasted with their literally medieval organizing principles that makes them so endearing. We know they’re bound to fail, but that’s why so many of us Fallout fans root for them in their doomed struggle for justice and peace.

In the show, they’re portrayed as ignorant, bigoted, cowardly, genocidal, ultra-religious techno-fascist barbarians. Also they all have Roman names, for some reason, and refer to themselves as a “legion” rather than a “chapter”, despite those being features of Ceasar’s Legion in Fallout New Vegas – not the Brotherhood – leading to a disturbing fan theory that the Brotherhood and the Legion merged off-camera into one entity.

Maximus – admittedly shown to be significantly less intelligent and knowledgeable than his comrades – literally doesn’t know how sex works, much less basic maintenance of the armor and weaponry of the Brotherhood.

In Episode 8, Michael Cristofer’s Elder Cleric Quintus laments, “We once ruled the Wasteland”, which… no, they really didn’t. The Brotherhood never had an interest in territory or overlordship, nor a history of doing so. In “Fallout 1” and “Fallout 2”, their interest was in defeating existential threats to humanity. In “Fallout 3”, their DC Chapter’s mission was humanitarian, at odds with the West Coast Brotherhood’s renewed focus on securing dangerous technology. In “Fallout: New Vegas”, they were primarily concerned with survival. In “Fallout 4”, they found purpose once again in fighting a new existential threat: synthetic androids.

The idea that – less than a generation after the latest Fallout iteration (that wasn’t flaming garbage) – the Brotherhood declined headfirst into Caesarist techno-barbarism is a confusing and, frankly, insulting creative choice. This is especially true because so many of the examples of their brutishness and savagery – like Maximus’ ignorance of basic biology and Titus’ cowardice – is played for laughs.

Compounding the awkward treatment of the Brotherhood is the fact that it prominently features a disabled transgender non-binary character who uses they/them pronouns. A neo-feudal cult of technological-preservers turning into techno-fascist barbarians is believable… but post-apocalyptic ultra-conservative techno-fascist barbarians respecting the neopronouns of a girl with a moustache is just bewildering… staggering, even. I cannot imagine the thought process behind it.

Unambiguous Communist Propaganda

The worst episode, by far, is the season finale. Putting aside the big reveal that the LGBT+ Woman of Color Hollywood Blacklister Communist turned pro-democracy mass-murdering terrorist was a good guy all along (my stomach heaves just writing that), Jeff Amazon’s “Fallout: Discovery” committed an even worse crime against the franchise:

It was revealed that – contrary to all of the lore of the games – the U.S. Government had nothing to do with the development of mutant super soldiers (the show specifies they were created from “illegal immigrants” – words cannot describe the cringe) or even the nuclear Apocalypse.

Corporations purposely dropped the bombs themselves to destroy democracy and usher in a corporate future of subterranean human experimentation! And FNV fan favorite Mr. Robert House was in on it the whole time! It was all concocted intentionally by GREEDY corporations for CAPITALISM, PROFIT, MARKET SHARE, MANAGEMENT and FIDUCIARY DUTY!

Let us take a moment to reflect on the fact that this message is brought to you by Jeff Bezos and the giant corporation notorious for debuting the most notoriously-exploitative microtransactions in videogame history in one of the most disastrous, transparently-broken massively multiplayer games ever launched.

It is breathtaking how much stupidity can come from the pens of communists when they write about the end of the world, using economic terms they barely comprehend to describe a system that – if they understood it at all – would instantly cure them of their ignorant, backwards ideology.

This is a hot tip for anyone who wants to write post-apocalyptic literature or screenplays: capitalism as we conceive it cannot survive the end of the world. When money is worthless, all of the societal structures that depend on it will instantly collapse. In living memory, the American banking system was incapable of surviving a relatively modest drop in the real estate market without a $700 billion bailout, let alone nuclear hellfire blanketing the entire planet.

There is no way that corporate executives would be talking about “profit” or “market share” in the context of global thermonuclear war.

If I – or a much more competent writer – had to rewrite that scene to make it compelling and believable, here is just one way the leader of the shadowy corporate cabal could explain it:

America, capitalism, the stock market, democracy, the Constitution and communism are all outdated nonsense. Humanity’s entire way of life up to this point – guided by chaotic, unfocused simian urges – has become hopelessly unsustainable. The scientific evidence is clear: Western civilization can only survive a handful of years, perhaps a decade at most, at the current rate of consumption. The war between capitalism and communism will undoubtedly come to a head with one side reaching a point of desperation, at which point an unconstrained nuclear exchange is an absolute inevitability.

In very short order, the planet will no longer be able to sustain 99% of the world population. This cannot be prevented, but it can be mitigated. We cannot save the world as it is, but with our technology we can rebuild it from scratch. The best and brightest of humanity, represented by the people in this room, will inherit a new Eden after the Earth is swept clean.

Your politicians, your shareholders, your regulators, your customers, your religious crackpots… their opinions are all irrelevant now. Once the bombs drop, we will have complete freedom to do what is necessary for the survival of the species, without having to ask permission. We have a monopoly on the technology to secure humanity’s future and, to ensure our success, we will be implementing a series of experiments in our vaults over the next few centuries to conclusively establish the optimal frameworks for managing the future of humanity.

When it comes time to open the vault doors, we and our families will be in a perfect position to repopulate the Earth – and perhaps even the stars – in a rational, perfected society free from conflict or scarcity. We can either have a perfect future that we create, or we can allow the same fools who got us into this mess to destroy humanity again.

Is it Shakespeare? Obviously not. I’m biased, but I’d say it’s better than what we got in Bezos-Yutani Corporation’s “The Fallout Awakens”.

But, of course, this is only fiction. Only in the most ludicrous right-wing fantasy could a cabal of unaccountable technocrats abuse a civilization-level threat that they directly precipitated – even if unintentionally – and publicly planned for to justify a massive violation of civil rights, giving them totalitarian control over the vast majority of surviving humanity.

Right?

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A.J. Cooke
Written By

A.J. Cooke is Cuban-American freelance journalist and ghostwriter based in Northern Virginia. He grew up in Japan, Malaysia and Portugal. His father, Don Cooke, was one of the 1979 Iran Hostages and his grandfather, the late Ambassador Diego Asencio, was held hostage by M-19 guerrillas in the 1980 Bogota Embassy Siege. A veteran political campaigner, fundraiser and ghostwriter, Cooke writes mostly political news with a focus on data science and legal analysis.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Lawrence M

    April 17, 2024 at 10:37 am

    The bullcrap and propaganda marches on in mentally unbalanced America!

    Communism, (Marxist Woke Demon Shit) is and will be the Death Knell of all that is good and still remains intact in this upside-down sick world now, unless it’s completely obliterated and sent back to whence it came; the infernal Pit of Hell! As per Lord of the Rings, when spoken by Elrond quite fittingly): “The Ring was made in the fires of Mount Doom; only there can it be unmade. It must be taken deep into Mordor and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came.” Give the Devil his due right back so that he consumes himself!

    And so therefore I can say this with the utmost assurance because Communism was handed off to Lenin and Marx directly from Satan, and the earthly battle is on, just like the “Holy Scriptures from God Himself” forewarned would be the case in the “End Time!” The youngest generations are so poisoned and mentally deranged already, but this is not as bad as it gets, or will be just before Judgment Day!

    All you “Commie Pinko Stooges,” blow it out your asses!

    2 Timothy 3:1-5 “1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.”

    God has already spoken and Satan with all his demons along with all the damned will get their reward!

    Revelation 20:10 Amplified “And the devil who had deceived them was hurled into the lake of fire and burning brimstone (sulfur), where the beast (Antichrist) and false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night, forever and ever.”
    Amen.

    Brother in-Christ Jesus-Lawrence

  2. Avatar

    Luke S.

    April 22, 2024 at 10:54 am

    This is a great review that mirrors my criticisms of the show – especially the Brotherhood. Great job!

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