asked me to talk about a bit about Red vs Blue
for the uninitiated, and I was like, man, I've been preparing for this day for ten years.
The first thing you need to know is that they are not
robots. (Well, most of them aren't, but I am not a fan of Lopez or Lopez 2.0 or Freckles, so. The characters I care about are not robots.) They are people wearing futuristic (well, contemporary, for them) armor suits. Come season eight or nine, we even see some of their faces. Totes humans. Most of them.
The first five seasons focus pretty exclusively on the gang(s) at Blood Gulch Outpost Alpha. The Red Army and the Blue Army each have a base there -- two bases in a box canyon ♥ -- that they have been tasked with defending. For reasons. Reasons that are not clear to anyone, but you follow orders and you defend your flag and this is serious business.
Simmons: And the only reason that we set up a red base here, is because they have a blue base over there. And the only reason they have a blue base over there is because we have a red base here.
Grif: Yeah, that's because we're fighting each other.
Simmons: No no, but I mean, even if we were to pull out today, and they were to come take our base, they would have two bases in the middle of a box canyon. Whoop de fucking do!
Grif: What's up with that anyway? I mean, I signed on to fight some aliens. Next thing I know Master Chief blows up the whole Covenant armada, and I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere, fighting a bunch of blue guys.
They don't find out the answer, by the way, until season six or seven. Aaaaaaaah.
But okay. These early seasons focus on these two small teams -- Sarge leading Grif, Simmons, and Donut on Red Team, and Church leading Tucker and Caboose on Blue Team, with Doc as the impartial, incompetent medic and Tex as the resident badass freelancer -- and their adventures and, more prominently, their bickering and characterization and running gags and aaaaah, I love it. The Blood Gulch Chronicles
, as the first five seasons are collectively known, have very little visual going on and are almost as good as radio plays. For this reason, the characters and their relationships -- which are never very deep, but are always still present -- are the most important part of the story.
We have Sarge, the gruff and confident (though incompetent) leader of Red Team. We have Simmons the geeky, lonely kissass and Grif the lazy, apathetic asshole. Over at Blue base, we have Tucker, who tries to be a ladies' man in a canyon where the only lady is Tex, who could kill him in a heartbeat and who also happens to be Church's ex-girlfriend from back home. Caboose and Donut are the rookies and the lovable idiots on each team. Donut's armor, by the way, isn't pink; it's lightish red.
In these early seasons, they deal with evil AIs, unhelpful AIs, time travel, a talking bomb, alien pregnancy and, mostly, each other. Throughout all of this, we have Trocadero's great guitar-heavy soundtrack rocking in the background. So good.
The heavier stuff starts in season six, Reconstruction
. As Reconstruction opens, the war (the war against the aliens, not
the war between Red Army and Blue Army) has ended, our Blood Gulch boys have been split up and reassigned to other bases, and we are introduced to Recovery One, also known as Agent Washington.
(Hahaha, Amber, don't start crying about Wash.)
Agent Washington, who has suffered a very specific horror that makes him uniquely qualified for this job, has been tasked with hunting down the remaining assets -- human, AI, and technological -- of Project Freelancer. And he needs the former residents of Blood Gulch to help.
YOU GUYS IT GETS SO GOOD HERE.
I don't even want to tell you too much about seasons six through eight because Reconstruction
, and Revelation
are this hugely epic trilogy, and the quality jump from 1-5 to 6-8 is just stunning. You need The Blood Gulch Chronicles
to really understand the Recollection
trilogy, especially to know and care about the characters, but they are almost like two different stories in tone. There is some stuff that happens at the end of each of these three seasons that makes me cry and scream and.
And. Another major part of season six is that each episode opens with a voiceover reading us the correspondence between the Director of Project Freelancer and the chairman of a governmental oversight agency that isn't very happy with PFL. See, the project has broken some laws, some ethics, some basic human rights, and there is a lot to talk about. The Director is an interesting figure, and I don't have the energy to argue about whether he's a bad man. I will say that I agree with him that the Chairman is more concerned with power than with really setting things right.
There are other people who will come along and try to set things right. (sob sob whatever)
Okay. Then we have seasons nine and ten! These are the seasons that alternate between present day and flashbacks to Project Freelancer, flashbacks that mostly take place before The Blood Gulch Chronicles
even start. We see how PFL started out with a bunch of very talented young people who were, well, valuable but disposable. (Cough, commentary on war and the military, cough.) Bad people, good people, but all fully realized characters. I will say that these flashbacks go a long way toward making up for the totally male-dominated storytelling up to this point. Carolina, CT, South, 479er. Ah. <3 A lot of important fleshing out of the universe and the characters happens here in these flashbacks. And in the present day, we all learn some lessons about friendship and bravery and consequences, while hunting down the ultimate Big Bad of the series -- the one responsible for all the other smaller bads. These seasons -- and season eight, too -- were beautifully animated and full of action sequences and Jeff Williams's kickass rap/rock soundtrack. The action and fight sequences are so good, and you almost forget that the first seven seasons were just filmed by having characters walk around in a Halo
And season eleven, which ended earlier this fall. To watch the cast and crew talk about it, they had so much fun with this season. It goes back to the simple machinima animation of the beginning, with a lot of the same humor and simple storytelling. It serves as a bridge from the over-the-top, epic action of season ten and the pretty big story they're planning on telling in the year(s) to come. It sets up a new war, new factions, new characters, but it does it by having our guys dick around for a season, being obnoxious and lovable. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger -- shit does get serious in the end -- and season twelve promises to be amazing.
My show, my babies. The entire series is available at the Rooster Teeth website, and I think it streams on amazon if you have Prime. Also, if anyone wants to drive to Pennsylvania, we can drink a lot of caffeine and watch all eleven seasons, I am willing to do that. :P