Just thinking out loud here, because I’m still trying to figure him out.
I’m on my third play-through of the game. With the first one my impression of him was derpy bumbling cute, which seems to be the general idea of Wheatley, more or less — dumb, but well-meaning and lovable. In the second play-through he felt very different. Maybe it was just knowing what was going to happen, but I picked up on the sinister undertones in some of his lines — if you don’t do what he says he gets very short with you, and I almost feel like his frustration builds some tension between him and Chell.
With this play-through, though, I think I’m starting to get a feel for him, not as a dopey sidekick caricature or as a villain, but as a person. He’s a guy in over his head, prone to panic, trying to control that panic, and his one shot at survival is with a woman he simply cannot understand. I think that’s where his frustration comes from — she’s an enigma. And, like everything else in his world, she’s out of his control. Her strength makes him feel powerless. I think that resentment of power is what the DOS chassis amplified in his takeover — finally, finally, tiny little Wheatley has some control. Except he doesn’t, and losing his power as soon as he gets it feeds his desperate rage at the end.
My sense of his intelligence isn’t that he’s dumb. He’s clearly the most advanced of the cores in terms of sentience-simulation. (I’m working on the premise that he was created from scratch and not uploaded from a human brain as GLaDOS was.) He seems to me like a regular guy — except all his knowledge was programmed into him, rather than taught. Everything he knows has the sense of being secondhand, as if he heard it somewhere but can’t remember the source. He may know facts, but he doesn’t have any understanding of them.
I think his moron-ness comes not from being dumb, but from having no filter. You know how every so often a crazy stupid idea will flash through your mind, but you blow it off immediately because it’s crazy stupid? He doesn’t. He doesn’t recognize that terrible ideas are terrible. That’s what makes him act like a moron.
Maybe. I really have no idea.
This is a great analysis, especially on his general behavior pre-potato. Everyone paints him as cute and lovable, but I think a lot of that can be attributed to Merchant’s rambling, endearing line delivery. People seem to forget or ignore that he’s very selfish and can be at times mean spirited. I love the character, I do, and I don’t think he’s intentionally scheming to screw over Chell. But he’s still out to protect his own skin (metal, whatever), and if that means sacrificing her for his own sake, then so be it.
I like the idea of a post-game redemptive arc, that he genuinely feels bad for what he did and wants to right it, but I don’t think he cared all that much for Chell during the first part of the game. He probably enjoyed the presence of her company, having someone to talk to and listen, even if she doesn’t talk back. He strikes me as someone who hates being alone, and will talk to himself if there’s no one else around, just to cut through the silence. But that he was actually all that concerned about her well-being? Eh, he only knew her for a day or two before the stalemate went down, so I don’t feel like that’s enough time to develop much of a bond.
And this is coming from someone who ships them.
I agree on the filter theory as well. For someone who’s supposedly a huge moron, he doesn’t strike me as all that dumb. His vocabulary is sound and he has some decent knowledge on the workings of the facility and even some pop culture. He seems the most human of all the AI, lacking that sort of analytical process GlaDOS possesses, and if anything, suffers from not thinking through, not a matter of not thinking at all. I relate it to someone who is rushed and panicked. If I’m crunched for time, my work gets very sloppy and I can’t seem to do anything correctly. The more the facility deteriorates and things fall apart, the more he panics and can’t think straight and his “stupidity” seems worse than ever.
tl;dr – He’s a flawed, but likable jerkface, and super sweet, innocent, functionally-helpless Wheat sort of confuses me.
on the road today
sO IM TRYING TO MAKE AKINATOR GUESS BENJAMIN FRANKLIN RIGHT???? AND
OKAY BRO GOIN GOOD SO FAR
YEP THATS RIGHT
oH SHIT I THINK HES GOT ME
AKINATOR WTF WHAT KINDA QUESTION IS THAT I BELIEVED IN YOUR ASS I THOUGHT YOU WERE SMART BUT NO YEAH BENJAMIN FRANKLIN WHOSE BEEN DEAD OVER 100 YEARS TOTALLY COSPLAYED HOMESTUCK MAN BENJAMIN KARKAT
where the party at
I took my little brother (who falls on the autism spectrum) to see Guardians of the Galaxy and after this scene he lit up like a Christmas tree and screamed “He’s like me! He can’t do metaphors!” And for the rest of the film my brother stared at Drax in a state of rapture.
So for the last 6 days I have heard my brother repeatedly quote all of the Drax lines from the movie verbatim (one of his talents), begin studying vocabulary test words, and tell everyone he knows that people with autism can also be superheroes.
Now I am not saying that Drax the Destroyer is, or was ever, intended to be autistic. All I am saying is that it warmed my heart to see my brother have an opportunity to identify himself with a character known for his strength, badassness, and honor. And that is pretty damn awesome.
So while I adored Guardians of the Galaxy as a great fun loving film with cool characters I can do nothing but thank Marvel Studios and Dave Bautista for finally bringing a superhero to the screen that my little brother can relate to.
but for now let’s just be kids