Part II (MGS2: A Complete Breakdown)

The Story From Hell


Plot hole #1: The Patriots’ existence

A plot hole is basically something that doesn’t make sense in a story which gets conveniently ignored as if it didn’t matter.

Like, remember how Sons of Liberty revolves around a secret society known as the Patriots?  Well, turns out they’re dead!  Or at least the so-called “Wisemen’s Committee” that everyone seems so eager to kill, and who President Johnson claimed were in charge of America…

Johnson    : The Patriots -- even I don't know who the actual members are. Are
             they financial, political, or military leaders? No one knows who
             the Patriots really are. Even my instructions  come from a
             cut-out. All I've been told is that every key decision is made by
             a group of twelve men known as the Wisemen's Committee.

Interesting.  So if they died a hundred years ago, who’s calling the shots today?  Who’s actually giving the President his orders?  Who does Revolver Ocelot actually report to?  We might have assumed it’s just some unknown group of dudes who took over for the original Wisemen’s Committee, except that the A.I. inside of Arsenal Gear tries to tell us this…

…And this makes even less sense.  A formless secret society, without any actual members, is somehow controlling world affairs?  From where?  How?  We know of three people who work directly for the Patriots, not including Raiden or Rose:  Olga, Ocelot, and Ames.

Olga, who was pregnant when we first saw her on the Tanker, had her baby stolen by the Patriots and was forced to participate in the S3 Plan in exchange for her child’s safety.  If Raiden died, it would trigger the death of her child.  That’s what she tells us.  There’s no doubt that the Patriots–whoever they may be–are capable of physical force, which means they must employ a small army of highly trained agents to do their bidding.

As for Ames, his previous work on behalf of the Patriots (found in the digital book including with the game, titled “In the Darkness of Shadow Moses”) confirms this view.  We read how he acted on behalf of the Patriots under the guise of the DIA inside the mission control room, overriding the orders of the Secretary of Defense and having him arrested when he makes a rash decision to cover up the Shadow Moses incident with a nuke.

He introduces himself as a Patriot agent, but only refers to them as the “la-li-lu-le-lo”, suggesting that he isn’t high-level enough to know their real name…

Ames      : I'm Richard Ames.

Raiden    : Secret service?

Ames      : No, I was sent in by the la-li-lu-le-lo, just like you.

Yet when talking about President Johnson, he counts himself as one of them…

Raiden     : So this means the President is cooperating with them?

Ames       : It would have to be, yes. Probably tired of being a puppet.
             But it wasn't a smart move to betray us...

Soon, however, it becomes clear that he wasn’t told the whole story.  Ocelot kills him as part of the “Solid Snake Simulation”, imitating the death of Donald Anderson from MGS1, proving that even Patriot agents can be as misinformed and expendable as everyone else.  He dies without giving us a trace of information about who the Patriots actually are, or how they function.

Which leaves only Ocelot.  By the end, Ocelot pretty much confesses everything he knows, but still doesn’t even hint at how his orders are given to him.  Does he have the same neural communication as Raiden does?  If so, is he also talking to an A.I. system, or to actual people?  The logistics are baffling, given what we eventually learn.

Why would anyone be scared of an organization that doesn’t actually exist?  Are we supposed to believe that somebody built a computer which thinks for itself and commands an army, but not even the smartest people in the world who work for this computer are aware of the fact that such a computer exists?  It must be asked: who designed the computer, and what happened in the decades between the death of the Wisemen’s Committee and this amazing self-aware computer’s completion?  When did they design it?  Where is it now?  When did the Patriots go from being a group of powerful men to being Windows 98?

We know that Emma Emmerich is the one who created the A.I. for Arsenal Gear along with a team of programmers, but this isn’t even considered complete until the end of the game, so it can’t be the system that’s been giving orders to everyone for decades.  What did the Patriots do back in the 1950’s?

Because the glitchy A.I. makes it sound as if the Patriots are a kind of self-perpetuating hoax–some kind of faceless ideology that magically gives orders to everybody and hides its own existence (or lack thereof)–the whole idea falls apart.

“Since the Colonel doesn’t exist…”

With that said, the true plot hole in question isn’t the Patriot’s existence per se.  It’s the fact that their non-existence is used in the game to explain why Raiden’s girlfriend is in no danger of being kidnapped:

Aside from the age-old question of how characters can selectively listen in on other people’s Codec conversations, the Colonel says that “they’ve” got Rose in the holds, so why does Snake make it sound like the Colonel was supposedly the one personally kidnapping her?  Secondly, even if Raiden listened to the Colonel, where would he go?  There are no “holds” that we know of, and the Colonel wants Raiden’s to continue his mission and fight Solidus anyway, so what’s the point of that bluff?  If Snake hadn’t said anything and Raiden listened, would the Colonel really have given them instructions which led into some kind of “trap”?  Presumably, this would be a trap even more deadly than the stream of hi-tech ninjas they just barely killed?  It makes no sense.

But besides that, think about Snake’s logic.  The Patriots, without inhabiting corporeal bodies, are able to arrange for the following to be done:

  • Alter people’s memories using cerebral implants
  • Kidnap babies, then wire them to remotely die at the same time as somebody else
  • Sink a tanker full of U.S. marines in New York harbor, and somehow hide the fact
  • Construct a massive, state-of-the-art offshore facility on top of that spot
  • Build an even more massive and futuristic underwater fortress beneath that facility, complete with a factory for producing Metal Gears, secretly
  • Compel Russian mercenaries and former government black ops units to seize the facility and take the President of the United States of America hostage

But according to Snake, they can’t do the following:

  • Hold an unarmed young woman hostage, who already works for them and obeys their orders

Is Solid Snake a complete moron, or is this a plot hole?  Colonel Campbell may be a figment of Raiden’s imagination, but somebody gave Raiden his super hi-tech ninja suit, and somebody stole Olga’s baby too.  It’s completely stupid to say that Rose is safe because the Colonel isn’t real.  Give me a break.  We already know that the Patriots must have the equivalent of an entire army of secret agents waiting to do their bidding, since they manage to control all major American events.  But Raiden, for whatever reason, agrees with Snake and says he’s right, so the matter is concluded and we’re supposed to move on.

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