Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Max Caulfield: The Goddess Who Can Do Nothing

Why, it is another Life is Strange post. While my previous one (found HERE) did a great job at analyzing the game, there is still much to discuss. There are things that I couldn't get to either because of space, didn't fit with the rest of the post, or I hadn't thought of certain ideas yet.

This time I am going to be focusing on the fact that Max has a great ability but can't use it. Well, she can use her powers if she wants to destroy towns but not if she wants to use them in more innocent matters.

I'm also going to be using terms to denote Chloe and Max having been in a romantic relationship. This is an option based game and I choose to see them as romantic partners.
Loneliness of the Sacrifice Chloe Ending

If you choose to sacrifice Chloe to save Arcadia Bay then Max is left to a lonely life where she can't relate to people like she should be able to. She was never a social butterfly, but at least she could find people that she had things in common with.

She had friendships with Warren and Kate, for instance. The former even willing to get injured so that she could be safe. Her friendships were few and far between, but they were there. They existed.

With Chloe gone, Max now doesn't have anyone that she can relate to. Sacrificing Chloe meant sacrificing the only person that would truly understand the trauma she went through or at least understand how Max perceives the world.

Why not just tell people she wants to connect with about her powers?

Max can't just say she has powers and expect people to believe her, unless the person is extremely understanding, unless she proves them to people.

Which is where the whole 'Max can't use her powers' thing comes along.
In the introduction to this post I stated that Max can't use her powers without bad things happening. Maybe she can't use them because they'll add up eventually creating something as bad as the storm that was going to hit Arcadia Bay or maybe all the bad stuff was happening because Chloe was living when she was supposed to die.

I myself am going to go with a combination of the two. Chloe living was the big trigger but changing reality didn't help either. Especially when it was used in selfish ways such as when Max was trying to be more likable.

So Max can't use her powers without bad things happening.

Ergo, she can't prove to people that she does have powers. She can't make people believe unless she is willing for hundreds, possibly thousands, to die.

Max would probably choose to bottle up all her emotions rather than endure the awkwardness of having people think she is crazy about being gifted with super powers.
Besides being beyond lonely and unable to relate to another human being, she will see the horrors of the world and not be able to help. What will make this worse is that she knows she has powers to help change things but doesn't have the ability to use them. Not without making worse things happen.

Imagine 9/11 happening and being in the same position as Max. You know you could save lives but not without something worse happening. You would watch the news and hear the panic, pain, and sorrow while knowing you could have done something.

Imagine losing someone, whether it be a pet or person, that if one thing had been changed they would still be alive now. People would be mourning and you would be mourning on an entirely different level. You would be mourning because you feel so weak and powerless while having a great power.

That and more is what Max has to look forward to in the future. It'll be a hard life for Max to lead now.
Max and Her Future Relationships

As humans we are social creatures. None of us can exist in a vacuum. Some of us, myself included, need lots of time by ourselves but we always end up needing some social interactions. There is always a need to belong, no matter how weak that calling is.

Max will eventually feel the need to make romantic and/or platonic relationships with other people. She will feel the need to form a great connection with someone. She is shown not to be asexual and she is shown to be selective about who she dates, so she will eventually seek out another relationship like that.

Another person she has feelings for just like she had feelings for Chloe. Deep, personal, intimate, and loyal.

But how can she form those relationships with all she's gone through? Would she feel guilty over killing Chloe, even if it was for the greater good?
And speaking of people dying...Max has the power to change reality but doesn't have the ability to use that ability. She would know, going into any romantic or platonic relationship, that if the person she loved died then it would be her fault.

That she couldn't promise anyone to protect them to the best of her abilities.

Would that stop her from having normal relationships? Normal friendships? Would she just see a sea of dead people?

With an inability to explain that one odd week and everything she found out about her powers, could she ever expect a real relationship?

Maybe if she found a way to put her powers to the back of her mind, maybe even pretending that it was all a horrific fantasy, that she could live a normal life. That she could have the normalcy after the hell she went through.
The best thing to happen for Max is if she found someone that believed her without evidence. A person that trusted Max even when she went into the crazy details of that week. That would be a once in a lifetime kind of person and it probably wouldn't happen.

How many people do you know that believe everything that is told to them and are emotionally stable?

But if she did find a person like that, that would help out a lot. She could talk about the storm and how she had no real moral choice but to let Chloe die. Of course a question comes up about what that person would think about all the choices Max made.

I mean...euthanasia of the girl she loves the most in an alternate timeline isn't the easiest thing to deal with. Even without the 'time travel' aspect, mercy killing someone isn't an easy thing to swallow.

If the person can both accept her story and still like/love her in spite of it, that would be a good way for Max to have a stable relationship. She will still have to deal with the nightmares of them dying without being able to stop it, though.
Max Can Use Her Powers Safely but in a Limited Manner

Up until now I've been going under the assumption that Max can't use her powers at all. That any and all attempts at using her great gift will end in disaster no matter what.

But what if that wasn't really the case?

What if she could user her powers but in a very limited capacity?

So she could make it so that she wasn't late for a class or know a correct answer, but not make big sweeping changes like saving a person's life. While saving people would be the ultimate use of her powers, a person being or not being would make the greatest impact. Saving a life would have the greatest chance of royally screwing something up.

Max would then have some of her power left so that it wouldn't be a total waste and that she could still help people. Even if it isn't how she would like it. It would still be something.
A huge benefit of Max being able to use her powers in a limited manner is the fact that she could prove to people that she does have powers. She won't have to tell everyone, of course, but those she wants to form relationships with wouldn't have to trust her on blind faith.

She could prove to her crush, or her best friend, that she could do amazing stuff. It would be easier, then, to explain to them about the hectic week that ended with her having to make the decision to kill Chloe.

I don't think that the majority of people would ask her to do world changing things to prove herself. And, if they did, she would have to say no and deal with their disbelief. It would be hard not having everyone believe her, but it's a better option than no one believing her.

I'm making assumptions on how she would have to prove herself to others by how she did so with Chloe.
Max being a human with limited human perception of time/reality wouldn't always be able to tell what action could have catastrophic consequences. It took her nearly the entirety of Life is Strange Season 1 to figure out that Chloe's death was the event needed to stop Arcadia Bay from being destroyed.

Let's say Max does good on never saving a person's life and restricts herself to tiny little changes. Changes such as making sure she gets to a place on time or correcting one of her statements so that she appears more friendly.

What if one of those small uses of her powers makes something like the storm at Arcadi's Bay happen?

The Butterfly Effect, after all, is all about tiny little changes being made having unexpected consequences. So there would be no way for Max to really know what action is minor and which one will have a profound effect upon all of reality.
The Powers that Be

There has always been debate on how Max got her powers and why. In my initial Life is Strange post I discussed a few theories including one where Max's powers are because of genetics. That it was because she reached a certain age and so everything that happened with Chloe was pure coincidence.

I pointed to the fact that the Prescott family seems to have some sort of time powers as they were famous for building shelters.

So if this is the case then there is no need for deities. In the Life is Strange universe, it could be that some people just have time power genes.
If Max didn't get them by genetics but because of a higher power, then she must have been given them for a reason. In the game there is a focus on spirit animals which hints at the fact that something gave Max her abilities.

So if a supernatural power gave Max her abilities, what reason could they/it have for doing so?

Maybe it was Rachel Amber so that Max could get vengeance for her. Maybe it was because they/it wanted Max to be able to spend more time with Chloe. Maybe it was a combination of the two.

The game is very lacking on why Max got her powers which makes figuring it out extremely theoretical. Season 2 of Life is Strange will not follow Max's journey any longer but maybe the reason why she got her powers will be answered then.
If the gods, or whatever the higher powers of the Life is Strange universe are, did this to Max the questions arises if the gods are good or evil. If they had a higher meaning to giving Max powers or if it was one cosmic joke.

What we have to look at is the fact that a higher power wouldn't have the same view of reality as we do. What we see as cruel could be something kind in its mind. In different mythologies there is the archetype of the trickster. The trickster can do things that seem immoral but turn out to be for the betterment of the protagonist.

Same could be true of the Life is Strange gods.

What, to us, seems like a cruel act of giving Max powers without the ability to use them, could really be their way of giving the girl more time with Chloe. Maybe they let her keep the powers after or maybe they didn't.

Again, that isn't made too clear.

If they let her keep her powers they may be teaching her that bad things will happen and she won't always being able to help. Or maybe the lack of her powers will push her harder to save people. She'll find different ways to do so.

There is the possibility, of course, that the gods of Life is Strange did mean to torture Max. That their cruel actions were more cruel than a mere mortal could think up. They could've given Max her powers so that she could watch Chloe die and then remove the possibility of Max having a normal life.

The deities might've watched for their own amusement, even. They grew bored one day and decided to torture an innocent girl just for the Hell of it.

I go more with my first theory on the deities, myself.




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