While at present Red Dead Redemption 2 is all the hype—not surprising, considering it was a cumulative effort by Rockstar Games over eight long years—let's not forget about its predecessor, 2010's Red Dead Redemption.
It took the steadfast GTA formula and transposed it to the Wild West, yet it was saddled with a stronger and emotional story and a thick atmosphere steeped in real-life American history—resulting in both an exhilarating yet moving experience, bittersweet to the core. It was an impressive piece of work that arguably stands as the development studio's masterpiece—which is no mean feat in itself.
That doesn't mean it's near flawless, though. As with even the greatest Rockstar Games' product (and this is likely the best), there are weird tonal shifts, obnoxious side characters, and contradictions galore with the main protagonist. This leads to plenty of holes and dangling threads left in their overall result—Redemption 1 is just as guilty of this as their past games.
Without any surprise, I greatly want to warn those who have not played the game (what's wrong with you???) that there will be SPOILERS aplenty, so read at your own caution. So let's sift through this brilliant game and point out the things not so brilliant—and that just don't plain make any sense whatsoever. Yeeee-haw!
25 Why Did Marston Let Williamson Attack Him So Easily?
As we’re enjoying the rich intro with the plot set up, the stakes start to twist to a resoundingly silly moment. After introducing Marston and his quest to take down ex-gang brother Bill Williamson, the ex-gunslinger goes up to Williamson’s uninviting Fort Mercer in plain sight and lets Williamson know his business.
He then has a gun pointed at him and is soon plugged in the stomach.
Anyone could see this approach was a dumb move, and although Marston later writes it off as him being rusty, it still doesn’t explain the zero common sense, though.
24 Why Wasn't The 'Frenchman' French?
As Marston's story begins to kick into gears as he recruits help to take down Bill Williamson, we have the mission A Frenchman, A Welshman, and an Irishman, we're introduced to the scruffy and spineless character of Irish, who also happens to be an Irishman.
In the mission, Irish is being roughed up by a Welshman and an American, whom everyone confusingly refers to as the ‘Frenchman.’ After Marston saves Irish from the two, he asks him Irish why Frenchie held that specific title—Irish doesn’t bother explaining and it's never mentioned again.
23 How Was Seth Able To Get Into Fort Mercer?
After running endless chores, Marston is able to gain enough equipment and aid to take the fight to Fort Mercer. By the time you arrive, one of Marston's allies—the clearly insane Seth—has already made his way inside and is humoring the outlaw gangs inside.Seth is able to open the gate in the process yet up to that point, Mercer had been heavily guarded and impenetrable.
Suddenly they just let some total weirdo into the place and let him operate the gates?
Marston should have just done the same—it would've saved the last six hours of fetch quests for sure.
22 How Are Irish, West Dickens, And Seth Even Friends?
In the early quarter of the game, you assign the help of Nigel West Dickens, a snotty and theatrical man who is literally a snake oil salesperson. West Dickens suggests you connect with his colleagues Irish and Seth to help in your mission to break into Fort Mercer.
Irish is a dishonorable homeless man and Seth an unhinged and creepy gravedigger. All of the characters are vastly different ‘loners’ with nothing in common—yet they're all meant to be friends? There’s never any real attempt to justify or show off the trio’s kinship and the story quickly moves on from this info.
21 Why Didn't Marston Just Threaten People To Get His Way?
Marston doesn’t have a lot of time to waste; his family is being held hostage by Government agents, to coax him to track and off his old gang members.
So, why is he so willing on taking the longest route in getting to his goal?
He needs help from several offbeat characters yet doesn't hesitate to do several thankless errands in return. Why doesn’t Marston (the former outlaw) just threaten these guys and get what he needs instead? He doesn’t have the time to waste and isn’t above going back to his old ways to get what he needs—aside from in this aspect.
20 Why Doesn't Irish Stay In Mexico?
As the game heads to Mexico, Marston has the unreliable Irish take him on a raft and sneak into the regions of South America’s capital. On the way, Irish waxes on about how much he loves Mexico; things are cheap, the women beautiful etc.
He even calls it a paradise on earth—so what happens when you finally make it over the border? Irish up and leaves back to the US never to be seen again. It's a weird move considering his existence in the States is beyond miserable, plus the trip has been one arduous and dangerous ride—yet for no specific reason, he heads back again.
19 No One Calls Out Marston For Being On Both Sides Of A Mexican Civil War
In the Mexico section, Marston is placed in the middle of a Civil War between the ruthless Government and the hapless rebels—both sides of the conflict offer Marston's help on his quest in return for his gun-for-hire.
So he takes on work for both sides, terminating members of each equation of the war.
No big deal, since Marston, doesn’t have any personal investment in the conflict—but why does no one ever really call him out on it? He’s easily able to saunter over to the other side without even the slightest resistance—it’s a bit of a stretch methinks.
18 How Come Marston Is So Easily Fooled By Allende's Ambush?
Of course, things eventually come to a betrayal with Marston working for the clearly ‘evil’ Mexican government—yet, weirdly enough our hero doesn't see the twist coming from a mile away.
It’s an effective if slightly predictable plot twist in the game, yet, the scene in question of Commander Allende urging Marston to walk into an empty church into a blatantly obvious ambush is slightly laughable due to how naively the wise gunslinger saunters right into it without a second thought—and guess what? He's betrayed soon after.
17 Why Does Landon Ricketts Return To The USA?
The wise old gunslinger Landon Ricketts becomes a mentor-like buddy for Marston in the Mexico segment. He’s bitter and elusive about his past in the states, satisfied to be living his existence in the dusty bars of Mexico and going on a bunch of adventures with Marston.
Then you have his final mission where you rescue a butch of government prisoners and run them into the USA.
Ricketts suddenly decides to do a 180 on his former statements and suddenly stays on in America with nary an explanation of why. Come again?
16 Never Explained Why Bill Williamson Was Hiding With General De Santa
As the Mexican chapter wraps itself up with some dramatic and exciting set-pieces, and with Marston finally getting the better of Bill Williamson—a man he's been chasing from the jump of the game—yet, all of the excitement sort of glosses over a important fact—why and how has Williamson been hiding with Captain De Santa this whole time?
There were little benefits or connections to those two characters, they just both happen to be antagonists of Marston really. So, the fact that both of them were secretly in cahoots (with a very little build-up to the matter) feels a little neat.
15 Marston, The A ‘Man Of Few Words’ That Blabs A Lot
The lead protagonist John Marston is a glorious throwback to the classic Western anti-hero in the Clint Eastwood mold; scruffy, speedy at the quick-draw, and sporting a steely glare that speaks a thousand words. Well, not so much that last point.
This wouldn’t be a point of contention if the game wasn't constantly reminding you from NPC’s stating Marston is a ‘man of few words’ etc.
Yet every interaction he gets into, the fellow can’t stop chatting away and revealing extraneous details about his life to people he barely knows. Seems like an odd contradiction?
14 What Was The Point Of Professor MacDougal?
This is not so much a plot hole as it is a head-scratching design choice. Rockstar is known for its off-beat supporting characters filling up the cast; in fact, the first two-quarters of Redemption is filled with them.
But once the story hits Blackwater it enters an endgame between Dutch and Marston. Why did the creators feel the need to shoehorn this obnoxious character into things? It doesn’t help that he takes Marston on a series of superfluous adventures instead of letting the character get on with what he’s meant to be doing—smells like pure filler really.
13 Why Is Nastas So Useless?
Nastas is a Native American tracker whose skills are supposedly so impressive he's a hired associate of the weird government agents Marston works for- yet this is confusing because the guy is straight-up useless (an obvious fact the game weirdly overlooks).
His intro has Marston find him tied and beaten by Dutch's gang with him then having to carry a whinging Nastas while fending off bad guys.
Later, as he shows Marston the location of Dutch’s camp he is pretty much wounded straight away, having to sit out the rest of the events. And nothing is more faceplanting dumb than his demise—yet, we'll get to that later.
12 Why Bring MacDougal Along For A Stealth Mission?
So as Marston and Nastas head off to sneak into Dutch's top secret (and incredibly dangerous) camp, they decide to bring along…a random erratic professor?That’s right, for absolutely no explanation they let the loud-mouthed and unreliable Professor MacDougal tag along, on this ultra-important mission that holds Marston's family's fate in the precipice.
It even lacks any purpose as the Professor ends up turning tail as you get to the destination—what was the point of any of that?
11 Why Does Agent Ross NEED Marston To Off Dutch?
Agent Ross, the nefarious government man that has tasked Marston to track and take out his old gang, has plenty of mystery surrounding his actions. Some could say he might be a symbolic force, something more supernatural than logical. Regardless, there’s a plot hole surrounding him later in the game.
Marston has taken out targets Williamson and Escuella—with only Dutch left.
The Agent’s have tracked down the laters location—but still need Marston to off him? Considering the fact that they have an entire military force at their disposal, once they have Dutch's whereabouts, why do they need Marston at all?
10 Who Would Go To A ‘Meeting Of Minds’ In The Middle Of A War?
The offing of Nastas is one of the most bafflingly dumb moments of the entire game; in the midst of Marston being in a lethal war against Dutch and his gang of natives, Professor MacDougal has convinced Nastas to take him for a ‘meeting of minds’ conversation with the warring gang.
Marston perplexingly goes along, even with the red flag flying high over this scenario. As they meet, the gang immediately become aggressive and turns on a (surprisingly) surprised Nastas—who is quickly offed at point-blank range. This guy couldn't see this coming? Really???
9 Marston And His 'Moral' Standards
From the game’s outset it's clearly established that Marston is a man with a dark past who’s trying to be a better man—regardless of this situation he’s being forced into, he still attempts to walk a moral high ground.
Yet, in a similar story stumble to Rockstar’s GTA IV, this notion constantly contradicts itself.
As Marston is quite easy and willing to lends his gun to whoever’s open to doing him a favor—not really a clear-cut path to redemption, huh?
8 Why Is Jack’s Character So Erratic?
The introduction of Jack so late in the game is an interesting one—understandably the kid has gone through plenty of hardship but for goodness sake...his emotions are all over the place.
In the beginning, he is the well-behaved son who’s happy to see his dad is back. Then suddenly, he is a know-it-all who resents his father for never raising him. It’s hard to get a grip on the character when the pendulum of his motives are constantly swinging.
Then again, maybe Rockstar was just trying to represent the exhausting and confusing chore of having to raise a teenager.
7 Is Red Dead Revolver's Plot A Book In The Game?
Near the end of the story, Marston begins to build a bond with his son Jack, a boy who prefers to read books than hunt. At the beginning of a mission, John interrupts Jack in the middle of a reading session.
Jack begins to explain the book’s story and it weirdly echoes major plot points from the game’s final act.
Is this a weird piece of Meta-Trivia or as another theory presents (by Reddit user Cumber The Cool) actually based on Redemption's predecessor Red Dead Revolver—in fact, the plot Jack is talking about is a ringer for it.
6 How Can Red Dead And GTA Exist In The Same World?
This is based on easter eggs connecting the GTA game world with several other Rockstar Games in a shared universe. The most prevalently quoted is Red Dead Redemption, as it has a book by Jack Marston appearing in GTA V and also John Marston’s hat appearing in a museum in L.A. Noire.
Yet, if they are meant to be connected, it leads to one big plot hole—GTA’s landmark cities are all made-up amalgamations of famous real-world cities, yet the locations in Redemption are based on real-world places and historical events; so how could they share the same universe if the consistency doesn't add up?
5 Jack's Confusing Backstory
Another entry, another plot hole concerning Jack Marston. As we pointed out his weird contradictory nature in terms of emotions, we also have to point out his erratic backstory; his parents have worked hard to shelter him from their past lives to give him a better future...
...but didn’t they also claim he grew up rough with them during those days?
This was only further accented later in Red Dead Redemption 2 as it revealed Jack to be a kid amongst the outlaw crew that Marston and Arthur Morgan ran with; so how did Jack end up being so naive and oblivious to his parent's past?
4 How Could Write A Book If He Didn't Know The Full Story?
This entry ties into the easter egg in GTA V where a book called Red Dead was written by a J.Marston and is found on a bookshelf. Eagled-eyed fans have concluded, Jack Marston would go on to write the adventures of his father and his ‘redemption’ into book form.While this is an awesome little tidbit, one hole remains—Jack’s parents have constantly attempted to shelter and hide John’s outlaw past from their son, including the events of Redemption 1, in particular—so how would Jack be able to write a book about something he didn't fully know?
3 How Did Abigail Marston Pass?
Tying into the game's final time-jump, as we’re introduced to a grizzled Jack Marston, he stands by the burial of his mother Abigail. If it had been a large jump in time, one would shrug it off with her passing of old age—yet, it's only been a minor three years gone.
In fact, last we saw of Abigail she was healthy and full of life—what was it that made her pass?
We can always write it off as an unfortunate farmhouse accident, yet it seems like a pretty big plot swerve to throw at us with little explanation.
2 Why Did Ross Actually NEED To Off John Marston?
The passing of Marston’s character is a tragic and iconic moment in gaming, yet due to its dramatic nature we tend to forget a major question about it—why was he actually offed?
Marston had paid his debt to the government and if they had actually wanted him offed they had ample time to do it at any point during the confrontation with Dutch. So, why wait and go after him?
There are minor suggestions in the plot that point to Agent Ross being some sort of supernatural or symbolic figure, yet that is never really fully embellished either. Still, it can't take away the power in the end regardless.
1 How Did Jack Grow So Much In Only Three Years?
After the surprising and dramatic demise of our main character John Marston, gamers are left shell-shocked and devastated—then a dramatic fade out and we are left in control of Jack, now suddenly a grown man, featuring facial hair, a strong build, and a thousand eye stare.
Jack's the polar opposite of the naive boy we met hours earlier.
Yet if you studying the time that has passed (it’s only been a meager three years) how does this kid look so much vastly older then?