First, it must be said that the nature of this article is not to force the reader into another interpretation. It is merely that: an interpretation. After several days of critically thinking about the ending of Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain, a different conclusion was created as opposed to many of the more popular one’s that are abundant. This is a different perspective of what was witnessed. As with any interpretation, this one is also open to debate.
This essay will cover the relationships between the major characters, the overall storyline, and the themes. There are several elements which must be addressed in order to clarify some confusion. In time, through explicating these topics, perhaps a greater appreciation will be gained from the story and the characters. Evidence and connections will be laid out in support of these findings. Evidence and connections that would include what one would find in the many cassette tapes, dialogue exchanges, and future events that happens in the series. That being said…
You have been lied to.
Not Your Kind of People: Venom Snake and You
Immediately into the game, your presence is established through making an avatar. At first, there’s hesitation given the circumstances. Why change Big Boss’s face? Will I look like this forever? But I want to play as Big Boss, so why…? It’s uncomfortable when you knowingly change the face of Big Boss. So, you give yourself hair, skin color, facial hair, everything you think looks appealing. But there is still that lingering feeling of unease: why am I doing this? Once that is complete, you find, with a sigh of relief Big Boss’s face hasn’t changed. That entire sequence was pushed to the back and perhaps was settled with “probably online features”.
Sins of the Father: Big Boss and Venom Snake
Let us tackle one of the main issues. The ending of Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain has effectively divided the community due to its ambiguous nature and outright obliteration of the fourth wall. After several hours of gameplay, you are told that Venom Snake is a body double. You are not the real Big Boss.
There is a sense of disbelief as you hear the recording of, “I cheated death, thanks to you. And thanks to you, I’ve left my mark. You have too. You’ve written your own history. You’re your own man. I’m Big Boss, and you are too. No… he’s the two of us together. Where we are today, we built. This story, this legend; it’s ours. We can change the world, and with it, the future. I am you, and you are me. Carry that with you wherever you go. Thank you, my friend. From here on out… you’re Big Boss.”
This is not a message of praise. I will make this clear: it is pure manipulation from Big Boss’s part. There seems to be some confusion regarding Venom’s mental state when he learns about his “true self” and what happened. In this message, it’s implied that Big Boss is thanking you. Others assume that it is Hideo Kojima thanking you for “sticking with the series”. That is not the case. There can only be “one Boss”, so with Big Boss stating “he’s the two of us together” is entirely false and misleading. In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, The Boss states “There is room for only one Boss”. There is no two, there is only one. The player is being told that as a form of appeal, a sort of “pat on the back” for doing all that work. All of that effort. All of that hours of gameplay. All in the name of Big Boss.
There is no “you”. “You” never existed. There is only “Big Boss”. You will be swallowed in his legacy. At first, the idea of becoming Big Boss or being Big Boss seems extraordinary. You becoming the legendary soldier and spreading the word of his accomplishments. His legend lives through you. But this is all wrong. All of it. You were erased from history. Venom’s identity was erased. There is nothing left except Big Boss. All of Venom’s accomplishments, all of his actions, all of his would-be dreams will be consumed by Big Boss.
The scene in which this plays out shows Venom smirking to himself when Big Boss explains the situation. In a bizarre way, the player feels the same emotions. “Alright. I’m Big Boss. Sounds good!” but once the realization dawns on Venom and the player as he sees his reflection, his emotions change. He no longer sees himself. He sees a bloodied, demonic Big Boss glaring right back at him. The man that stole his face in a constant reminder on what happened to him. In response, he smashes the mirror. The realization of this makes him angry. This is outright betrayal in the worse way.
Many say, “Venom is a soldier of Big Boss, he would be happy to do this!” Even Ocelot in the game agrees with this. It’s almost as if the game is telling you would be happy to be Big Boss. However, there is no record of Venom consenting to this. I will say this again: no evidence whatsoever was shown regarding Venom’s consent to having his very identity rubbed away. No written documents, no cassette tapes, flashbacks—absolutely nothing supports this so-called “consent”. To assume otherwise is victim-blaming at its finest.
Another argument is the simple fact that Zero was the reason for Venom’s transformation. In order to protect Big Boss, the legendary soldier who saved the world from nuclear war, one of his own men was “destroyed”. This is a fact. Venom’s identity is forever erased and he would be used as a body double for selfish ploys.
Big Boss said nothing.
To one of his most trusted and loyal soldiers, he allowed and even went along with the best lie in the world. He took advantage of Venom’s state to fulfill his own needs. Venom would be the decoy as Big Boss went off into the world, switching places, to make his dreams of creating his own nation. Venom now had the largest target on his back. He would unknowingly accept this role. He would endure these challenges he never asked for, nor did he get the opportunity to say so otherwise.
Big Boss had the opportunity to be truthful towards Venom and perhaps even express outrage to Zero. After all, Venom was his own soldier. Nothing was said, however, and Venom was strung along for these escapades. Venom was lied to and betrayed from the very beginning. He was lead to believe he was someone else when, in fact, he was not. Big Boss had issues with betrayal himself; he left the United States because of it after Operation Snake Eater in 1964. Betrayal and hypocrisy.
This is unacceptable on many levels. The argument of, “Venom doesn’t have a personality anyway, so it doesn’t matter. We don’t know anything about him so why should we feel sorry for a character who is mute?” is absurd. I’ll address his personality on another note, but the simple fact that a man’s life was erased to fulfill anothers agenda is morally wrong. There was no consent. No one considers the feelings of Venom. Just because he is a “blank slate”, does not justify Big Boss’s actions.
But this entire charade was absolutely necessary.
The Man Who Sold the World: Big Boss’s Downfall
By far the largest compliant is that we never truly see the beloved Big Boss “turn evil”. Many of the trailers of Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain led the Metal Gear community to believe that this was it. I felt the same. I was anxious every time there was an opportunity for Boss to do something “evil”. I had the exact expectations. I shared the same disappointment of the reveal.
Until I realized I was witnessing the downfall right before my eyes. When Venom sees his betrayal and becomes angry, I felt the same way. A form of evil is to manipulate another in such a way. Venom’s very existence is an example of Big Boss’s downfall. Many, many soldiers around the world look up to Big Boss as a hero. The legendary soldier who saved the world and the legendary soldier who stood up against the American government because of their corruption. The legendary soldier who betrayed one of his own men to accomplish his own goals.
Does this mean this would-be “one instance” made him “evil”? No, but this isn’t the first event. In the hospital, where you and Ishmael (Big Boss) are attacked, several people—innocent people—are killed. We watch as patients are grabbed, dragged, and shot. Sometimes in outright massacres. People begging to be saved. Others hopefully reaching for the helicopters, only to be filled with holes. Its total chaos and confusion.
Instead of making the effort to save or even attempt to help, Big Boss only saves you. He ignores the cries for help and hides within the shadows. He only saves you because he only needs you. Instead of, “Let’s move to an area where there are less people” we get, “Hide among the bodies to hide yourself”. Just like you, Big Boss uses the innocent people of the hospital as a shield.
It is vital to accept that Big Boss will do horrible things. In the very beginning, it becomes apparent when he allows innocent people to die and use them for his own purposes. In the Metal Gear series, Big Boss is an iconic bad guy. Big Boss becomes a massive threat to the world as he builds his nation of soldiers and he is willing to do anything to achieve this. He wants a world of endless war so soldiers have a place in it; he explains about the endless cycle of war in Metal Gear 2. Child soldiers raised into the next generation of war to keep killing and ruining the lives of other children so they can become soldiers. Big Boss wants the opposite of peace. Big Boss manipulated and used one of his own men to help along his dream. Imagine what he would do to complete strangers.
Big Boss was once the hero but not anymore. He manipulates you, the player, into becoming his decoy. In a brilliant way, it is a form of violation and betrayal. The man that you admired took everything away from you. Nothing will be left. Not even a memory. You were consumed in Big Boss’s legacy. You, the player, were sacrificed for his goals. You are a victim of his plans. Big Boss took something very precious to you and will never give it back. Many are not grasping the ramifications of this conclusion.
Big Boss plays it as a good thing, that you wanted this, that the legend is something you “both” build. The assumption of “he would want to play as Big Boss anyway!”, but if the opportunity were to arise—if the opportunity of a choice were to arise—of willingly allow Venom’s memories almost completely washed out, no doubt there would be hesitation. The idea of having your very mind erased and taken over by another personality…how would one enjoy the experience if they weren’t aware of it? There is no “enjoyment”, there is only deception and betrayal. Erasing yourself to allow another to absorb you would make anyone hesitate. It’s only natural. Imagine all of your memories and experiences snuffed out without hesitation. Unfortunately, your own actions as you live through this phantom will never be remembered. The accomplishments you achieve with your own hands will only be remembered from the person you portray. “You” never existed.
There were many chances to tell Venom of his circumstances. Big Boss could have revealed the truth to him—to you, the player—about the situation, but he said nothing until much later. The reason why was it would destroy the “illusion” if you being Big Boss. Had you’d find out at the beginning of the game, that lingering aura of “Big Boss” wouldn’t be the same. You would be a phantom. Venom would be a phantom, nothing more than a fake. A copy of the real thing.
Big Boss plans on having you eliminated later. After all, there can only be “one Boss”. Big Boss denies his “sons” yet he accepts his body double. This is inconsistent. Venom is a victim of Big Boss’s eventual fall from grace. You never outright witness Big Boss doing horrible things, rather, you become a product of his plans. You are a living sin of his actions, a sin of the father.
Nuclear: The Face of Venom
Venom seems to be a blank canvas, designed to have the player put themselves into his shoes. Many games have done this with the best example being Gordon Freeman from the Half Life series. Games do this so the player can feel more like they’re “in the game”. In Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain, the opposite effect happened. Many players lack empathy for Venom because he seemingly lacks a personality. He’s a virtual mute. He responds to nearly nothing in the game.
But this is the beauty of his personality. Through his actions, we notice how passive he is. How quiet and reclusive his responses are to the things around him. Very rarely do we get any emotion. We’re almost starving for it. However, when he does make any responses, it’s critical we take note on what he does. Venom is a massive contrast from Big Boss.
One of the first instances is with the companion Quiet, the young and skilled sniper. If the player chooses to spare Quiet, Venom is criticized by Kaz for his choices. In the helicopter, Venom covers Quiet with a Diamond Dog jacket, as if trying to comfort her. Against Venom’s orders, Kaz tried to have Quiet killed (understandably but Venom is still “Boss” and what he says, goes). Kaz pointed out “She was saving herself!” instead of Venom. Quiet would have been killed if Venom didn’t step in and calmed the situation down. “Put her in the cell. Keep an eye on her.” Despite knowing that Quiet is the enemy, Venom decided to spare her and keep watch.
Venom also showed mercy towards the children who were working in the mines. Kaz, who was willing to do anything for revenge, hinted on Venom to kill them for money. Venom rescued and defended the children from their captors. One could argue that yes, because they’re kids, anyone would do that…except for Kaz. Some would be willing to do anything for money. Once Venom brings the kids back to the Mother Base, Kaz is bitter about his decision. At first, Venom observes the children are “natural” at holding a gun (after being antagonized by Kaz). However, Kaz rejects the idea of children ever becoming soldiers and instead opts for basic education. Venom Snake agrees, stating it would be a life “better than behind a gun”.
One of the most apparent differences is his interactions with Huey Emmerich, who is accused of causing the destruction of Mother Base nine years prior. Ocelot and Kaz interrogate Huey for 6 hours. Kaz has it set in his mind that Huey was responsible. Venom states, “We need more evidence before we can pass judgment.” Once again, we see consistency with Venom’s almost pacifist personality. He doesn’t jump to conclusions. He shows mercy instead, even against better judgments.
Once Venom extracted the badly damaged Sahelanthropus, I had honestly thought he would use it as a weapon. After all, that’s what the new ‘fallen’ Big Boss would do. It would be a valuable resource against his enemies. But Venom sees it more as a trophy, as a symbol of Diamond Dog’s “strength”. He doesn’t want to use it as a weapon. He knows how dangerous it is.
The best example of Venom’s personality is during the quarantine incident. He is forced to execute his own men who are infected with the vocal cord parasites that threaten the entire world. Kojima shows his desires of the horror genre as Venom makes his way through the chaos of panicked men and bloodied floors. The mission is to search and extract survivors. Many are killing each other. Many are laying on the ground, writhing in pain. They’re all calling out to their Boss, begging for help. They’re relieved to see him there.
The horrible realization of finding out the entire facility has been infected dawns upon everyone through the heat-sensor goggles. The only way to stop the infection is to kill the hosts. There is clear hesitation on Venom’s part, even shooting the legs of his men to stop them from moving. But it would be cruel to allow them to live in this state. His men salute as he kills them. Some are still sane enough to realize what’s happening. They shout in disbelief, others try to fight back, and some beg him to kill them. The entire sequence was emotional for Venom and the player. Surrounded by the dying and the dead, the people Venom himself recruited and trained, it was a powerful impact. Huey kept shouting in Venom’s ear “This isn’t the Big Boss I know!”, criticizing him for killing his own men. He even saw himself as a demon as he walked through the hallway, feeling the heaviness of their deaths.
In his grief, Venom falls to his knees in the bloody hallway. His fists are clenched and he lowers his head. No words need to be spoken here. This is clear remorse and despair over what has happened to his people. Venom feels responsible for everything. He is their commander and they died because of him. The weight of their deaths are heavy on his conscious right from the beginning.
Afterwards, Venom is seen gazing at the burning coffins of his dead soldiers. He’s motionless, staring at the flames. There is emotion. There is guilt. During the ceremony, Venom spreads the ashes of his fallen men on his face. “I won’t scatter your sorrow into the heartless sea. Plant your roots in me. I’ll always be with you. I won’t see you end as ashes; you’re all diamonds.” He blames himself for their deaths. “I killed them, with my own hands.” He genuinely cares about his men. He felt remorse for having to kill them. He turns their ashes into diamonds as a memento instead of casting them into the sea, so they can be with him at all times. Venom tried to spare them, shooting their legs, but he had no choice but to give them a quick and painless death as his only act of mercy.
One of the defining characteristic for Venom is his consciousness. Given what we know about Big Boss now (hospital, how he treated Venom, ect.), one would ask if he would respond in the same way. Venom clearly shows remorse over how his soldiers died. Big Boss used one of his own soldiers for his own selfish gain. How much would he be willing to sacrifice for his dreams?
The consistency continues to an almost disbelieving level: Huey is found out to be a compulsive liar. He lied about Mother Base, his son, Strangelove, and a mountain of other elements. It’s discovered that he was in contact with Cipher. He caused the second outbreak of parasites on Mother Base. Huey was the cause of much suffering.
Yet Venom spared him. He gave him food and water and a boat to exile him from Mother Base. “That’ll be the end of it.” When we expected him to lose his temper, Venom doesn’t. He continues to show mercy towards his enemies. Once again, would Big Boss do the same at this point?
Venom shows to be his own individual through his actions (and inactions). He has the memories and experiences of Big Boss, but how he responds is dramatically different. Some are frustrated with this “goody-two-shoes” act but this shows how drastically different he is from Big Boss. He is truly his own person with his responses. One can change their memories and experiences, but how one responds to these can define who they are.
To reinforce Venom’s compassion towards his comrades, a cut-scene can be activated when morale is low, the amount of soldiers in the waiting room, or the amount of GMP a player has is low. This cut-scene shows a group of soldiers cheering on a fight as two men beat on one another. The situation escalates when one draws a knife. Soldiers keep cheering louder and louder in their fevered excitement. Before the armed soldier can attack, Venom grabs him and throws him against the other soldier. He stumbles before Venom successfully separates the two. In his rage, the unarmed soldier also draws out a knife and readies to attack. Venom grabs his hand and says, “We don’t draw weapons on comrades. Look around you…this is your family.” He plunges the blade into his shoulder, allowing himself to be injured instead of his own men and as a way to calm the situation down using himself. He encourages his men to work together and not fight with one another. He encourages the element of “family”. The fight ends abruptly in shock and Ocelot intervenes to break the crowd away.
Once again, Venom is faced with the decision of punishing those who were in the wrong. Ocelot threatens to send them to the brig for a week and clean the decks by day. Instead, Venom rejects the idea and states that the soldier’s CQC is “sloppy” and tells them, “Come see me later for a lesson you won’t forget.” One could say he’s going to punish them via beatings, however, as we see on Mother Base: soldiers ask for training in CQC from Venom. They show gratitude whenever Venom works with them. The idea of getting lessons from ‘Big Boss’ increases morale from them (why—that is truly left to interpretation). Instead of locking away his soldiers, Venom chose to work with them one-on-one to improve their CQC.
The only time that Venom Snake doesn’t show his merciful side are between the moral choices of choosing to spare Quiet or shooting Skull Face yourself. These moments are up to the player to decide, but even then, such as shooting Skull Face—Venom Snake misses his shots before Kaz shoots his arms and legs off for revenge. Venom has no response to this, as if he has no satisfaction out of causing Skull Face misery. It conflicts with who he is. It’s not in his nature to want to cause harm or have conflict.
Venom Snake has a personality, just not the personality the Metal Gear community expect because we thought he was “Big Boss”. This is because he isn’t Big Boss, but an entirely different person all together. Venom shows he’s willing to compromise. Big Boss has already shown us he’s willing to do anything to achieve his dreams; using one of his own men as a decoy and sacrificing innocent people as literal shields. We know the nature of both individuals and realize they are very much different.
Decoding Venom’s personality is also challenging. When using the actor Kiefer Sutherland, the idea was emphases on acting; showing, not telling. In the past, the Metal Gear series has pampered its fans with wordy exposition and several minutes of exchanging dialog for the players to know the story and characters. The entire meaning of replacing voice actor David Hayter (Solid Snake, Naked Snake) with ‘live-action’ actor Kiefer Sutherland was to portray Venom’s emotions/personality through actions instead of words. It’s important to pay attention to even the smallest of detail whenever we watch cutscenes of Venom Snake and the characters around him. Telling a good story doesn’t always need a thousand pages.
But there are absolutely negative consequences with this conclusion. Consequences that further shape Venom into the ‘person’ that he is and that he never asked for. He is haunted by nightmares for the reasons he calls himself a “demon”.
The Phantoms of Venom Snake: Paz
Whether you believe it or not, Paz has a presence in the game that impacted Venom Snake in a real way. The missions involving the extraction of wandering Mother Base soldiers allows an optional sub-plot in which the player can help Paz “revive” her memories. These memories are small building blocks for the player to figure out the “mystery” of her existence.
Arguments about Venom’s relationships between him and Paz often come up. But we have to remember that Venom was the Medic who worked on Paz right before she died. He had his hands buried within her stomach to remove an implanted bomb. He caused her extreme pain before she died. He failed to know about the other bomb (hence why he was wishful about finding and extracting the second bomb) and thus died because of it. There is a relationship between the two, as doctor and patient.
Paz refers Venom’s memories towards the end of the cassette tapes. “It is no mystery now. I am just a phantom, a fragment of the mind you have lost.” Whatever parts of Venom/Medic’s mind is left, he still remembers only a few elements. So far, all we see him are small interactions with Paz. He has guilt over not being able to save her. In the tapes, Paz talks about “Peace Day”. She talks about peace, how she is an angel of peace, how she’s excited for Peace Day. Peace, peace, peace.
To quote one of the tapes: “It is just a dream. It is all a dream. I am in it, and you are in it too. I am the dreamer, but you are having my dream. Do you get it now? You do, don’t you? Peace Day never came … Our wishes do not come true. We just cling on to our dreams, our phantoms. Mine and yours.” – Paz
This heavily implies that Venom Snake wants peace, but knows that will never come true. The ‘fragment’ of Paz focuses on peace and is excited for it. That wish correlates with his behavior; how passive and non-confronting he is when the time comes. He avoids conflict whenever possible and wants as few sacrifices as possible. His consistency has never stopped since the beginning of the game. Venom is a pacifist at heart.
The Phantom of Venom Snake: Skull Face
Although Skull Face’s time in Phantom Pain was brief, he represents a massive foreshadowing of what is to come in the future.
There are core similarities between Venom and Skull Face. Both lost their face, their identity, their origins, and both are phantoms of Big Boss. Both were created to be phantoms by Zero for the sole purpose to support Big Boss. In Skull Face case it was cleanup work and possibly other tasks that we don’t know about. With Venom, it was to be a distraction and extend Big Boss legacy until he is ready to resurface. However, Skull Face knew about Big Boss. Who he was a phantom of. Big Boss did not know about him. With Venom it is the opposite. Big Boss knows about Venom, but Venom does not know about Big Boss.
Ocelot comments on the background of Skull Face in the tape “Skull Face’s Origins and XOF.”
“His country, his family, his face, his identity, everything was stolen for him.”
Skull Face also comments that he never had choice to Paz. Where he was born, the language he speaks. He talks about how he never had the freedom to choose, but says Paz does. There is subtle resemblance that whispers to you. Venom had no choice. The face he’s baring, the identity he has taken over, and his name. Everything was stolen for him as well. This could be the reason why Skull Face lingers around after his death to Venom. The comparison that we see in the trailers where Venom is burning until you just see a skull.
But that’s where the similarities end. Their motives are different. Skull Face wants revenge on Zero and Big Boss, and has his own interpretation of The Boss’s Will. Skull Face wants to destroy the English language as an attack against Zero and cause a world retaliation to make the world unite as one to complete The Boss’s Will. His thirst for vengeance is attracted the third boy to help accomplish his goal. Venom’s vengeance was not strong as his. Kaz is the one that is constantly pushing the vengeance against Cipher throughout the whole game, but ends up respecting Venom for not being mad with vengeance like him.
What Skull Face could represent is that if vengeance consumes Venom, he could become like Skull Face.
The Phantoms of Venom Snake: The Boss
Venom Snake shares the memories and experiences of Big Boss. Through hypnotherapy and other bizarre Metal Gear Solid plotlines, Venom’s personality has mostly been consumed by Big Boss. This includes all of the good and the bad.
“Kaz…I’m already a demon. Heaven’s not my kind of place anyway.”
Venom Snake remembers the bad things “he” has done. He remembers when “he” killed The Boss and feels guilty because of it. He refers himself as a demon for the actions he never committed. This would also explain his pacifist nature; he wants to avoid becoming that demon he sees himself as.
He may share the memories and experiences of Big Boss, but clearly his attitude is different. His responses to these memories is what is substantial to him as a character. One can change the memories and experiences of an individual but their consciousness—your awareness of these memories/experiences—can reflect differently. The attitude of Big Boss and Venom are two entirely different personalities.
This consciousness shines through when we see the alternative ending of Forward Operating Base after successfully disposing of all the nukes.
Venom has a brief dialog as he addresses a certain someone, “I haven’t forgotten what you told me Boss. We have no tomorrow, but there is still hope for the future. In our struggle to survive the present, we push the future further away. Will I see it in my lifetime? Probably not. Which means there is no time to waste. Some day the world will no longer need us, no need for the gun or the hand to pull the trigger. I have to drag out this demon inside me and build a better future. That’s what I…heh…what we will leave as our legacy. Another mission, right Boss?”
Many believe that this is Venom talking to Big Boss. That this is confirmation of Venom and Big Boss working together. This is not the case.
Venom is talking to The Boss, The Mother of Special Forces, from “his” memories with her. He remembers the lessons that she taught “him” and remembers how she died. He remembers her talking to “him”. This sequence can be activated before ‘The Truth’ mission from the online features. This means that this “ending” could or could not be the actual ending of the game. However, that has little value compared to the significance of the scene. It is very likely that Venom is interpreting The Boss’s Will in his own way.
Skull Face interpreted The Boss’s Will. Zero/Cipher interpreted The Boss’s Will. Big Boss rejected her Will, and instead chose to pick up his gun and fight. Anyone with memories and experiences with The Boss could interpret her Will, and this includes Venom Snake.
But Venom Snake is not Big Boss. From what we’ve gathered, his attitude is different than that from Big Boss. It would make little sense for Venom Snake to address Big Boss in that near word-for-word dialog when Big Boss rejected for what The Boss stood for. She chose to put down her gun, while Big Boss kept his.
Furthermore, this scene happens when the player disposes of all of the nukes in the FOB missions. The world is effectively safe from their danger. Venom’s pacifist personality would coincide with what he thinks The Boss wants. The story would become far more enriched as well if Venom, the man who never even met The Boss, interprets her Will in the exact opposite of what her “son” wanted. The “fake boss” strives to leave a better legacy for the future and he must “drag out this demon” inside of him.
The demon Venom addresses is Big Boss. In selective moments, we see Venom have a bloodied face and elongated horn. This happens whenever he feels he’s doing something horrible and that’s the “demon” inside of him. It was apparent in the hallway during the quarantine mission. He wants to abandon that side of him, cast it aside because it conflicts with his true personality. It’s almost as if the memories of Big Boss are haunting him through these nightmarish images.
Venom Snake: The Soldier
Venom Snake has accomplished many, many trials. Without the aid of so-called “superior genes”, he did what Big Boss could do. He was one of the best soldiers in Big Boss’s army. The complaint about the player not playing as Big Boss often comes up as a disappointment but that’s beside the point: you’re playing as Venom Snake. He’s a character that can stand on his own without the legacy of ‘Big Boss’ to back him up.
Aside from infiltrating several bases, recusing prisoners, soldiers, taking down gunships and tanks, Venom established and helped recreate Mother Base that was lost nine years prior. He trekked across two countries as he gathered materials, soldiers, civilians, blueprints, weapons, vehicles, and even animals to strengthen his stronghold. To strengthen the home of Diamond Dogs. Through his increased heroism and influence, he attracts soldiers from around the world who are eager to join his army. Venom’s army, not Big Boss’s. He shares similar abilities and leadership as Big Boss but his actions are different.
The threat of Metal Gear ST-84 (Sahelanthropus) was eliminated by Venom, preventing the world from knowing about its deadly existence. Venom kept the machine as a testament to Diamond Dog’s triumph. He would never allow it to become of use as he saw it to be far too dangerous of a weapon. Venom continued to defeat threats of the world by stopping Skull Face’s plan of wiping out the English language in a twisted version of The Boss’s Will. He destroyed the English strain of parasites (save the one which Eli had gotten from The Third Boy). Defeating Skull Face also prevented the use of nukes being created so commonly until every country would have them at their disposal, ultimately having a world filled with them. By killing Skull Face, Venom was able to save the world from a free-market of nuclear weapons.
In another contrast to Big Boss, Venom attempted to reintegrate child soldiers back into society. He had rescued a handful of children from a mine and brought them back into Mother Base. At first, they seem to be “natural” at holding a gun, but still lack obvious training. Kaz said they would provide basic education for them that wouldn’t involve guns. Venom agrees, suggesting a life besides “behind a gun” would be better for them. Big Boss, on the other hand, wanted child soldiers to train into the next generation of soldiers to create an endless cycle of war in the world. We’re still seeing subtle differences between the characters.
By now, we’ve established that Big Boss had willfully used one of his own soldiers as a decoy. He had hidden a precious truth from one of his most trusted and loyal men. He used him as a “poster boy” for the world as dangerous enemies drew to him like a flame. Big Boss stayed hidden in the shadows, working towards his goals and dreams. Venom Snake fought against Big Boss’s enemies and survived every trial, but he was still haunted by his own ‘phantoms’ with each step. Venom was willing to put himself in danger for the benefit off others (e.g. the quarantine incident) while Big Boss allowed dozens of innocent civilians to die for cover.
We, the players, admire Big Boss for his previous actions. He was once a hero to our eyes because of these actions. It is very possible that Venom once felt the same way. But that is no longer the reality in which we live in. Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain shows us the indirect fall of Big Boss by becoming the product of his sins. We wanted to witness the fall of the man we were loyal to the most but instead became a victim of his dreams. The desire of emulating this man, of wanting to be him, is a mistake. To want to embrace the idea of becoming a demon is wrong.
It is clear that Venom Snake is not Big Boss. He doesn’t need the title of “Big Boss” in order to exist. He is his own individual through his choices and accomplishments. Many of these accomplishments he had done through his own hands. One could argue that it was because he thought he was Big Boss—but his physical abilities and prowess were his own. Only his face and memories/experiences were changed. How he used them and how he thought, were his own actions.
There Can Only be One Boss: Conclusion and Predictions
There is a massive amount of confusion regarding the ending of Phantom Pain. When Venom Snake hears the tape of Big Boss praising him for his ‘work’, he smiles with a nod. He acknowledges the appreciation and seems to be honored with his task. When the tape stops, however, and Venom looks at the mirror, he no longer sees himself. He sees the phantom—the demon—that has been haunting him throughout the game. The personality he tries to cast away. He sees the image of Big Boss glaring back at him, bloodied with a long “horn”. Venom closes his eyes and slams his prosthetic fist into the mirror, shattering it in anger. He destroyed the image of Big Boss to reveal the image of himself as Venom Snake. We have already established they are two different characters. They are not “one in the same”.
It has been stated over and over again throughout the Metal Gear series: There can only be one Boss. Usually this statement is associated as a death sentence. There is only room for one ‘Boss’. There is never ‘two’, there is only ‘one’.
At the very end of Metal Gear Solid V, we are treated with a cassette tape of the one and only Big Boss addressing Venom Snake.
In the tape, “I cheated death, thanks to you. And thanks to you, I’ve left my mark. You have too. You’ve written your own history. You’re your own man. I’m Big Boss, and you are too. No… he’s the two of us together. Where we are today, we built. This story, this legend; it’s ours. We can change the world, and with it, the future. I am you, and you are me. Carry that with you wherever you go. Thank you, my friend. From here on out… you’re Big Boss.”
This is a death sentence.
Further into the ending, at the last of the credits, we hear the last pieces of dialog between Kazuhira Miller and Revolver Ocelot. Ocelot states, “Huh. You know…sooner or later there will be only one Boss. There’s only room for one Boss.” This is meant to be a type of threat towards Venom Snake. Once Venom has established his Mother Base and done all of his work, what would happen when Big Boss created his new nation? What would happen when Big Boss rises from the shadows and declare himself as the real “Big Boss”? There can only be one Boss. Venom’s use will be no more.
Venom is well aware of this. He is aware of the danger that he is now in. Aside from having the target on his back from Big Boss’s enemies, his existence is now limited because he is the “extra” Boss. It is only a matter of time before he is completely erased because there can only be one Boss.
In the same dialog exchanged between Ocelot and Kaz, Kaz feels betrayed and abandoned by Big Boss’s ambitions. Left behind and angry, he tells Ocelot, “No…Big Boss can go to hell. I’ll make the phantom and his sons stronger, to send him there. For that… I’ll keep playing my role.”
The biggest theme in Phantom Pain is vengeance. Almost every character in the game is driven by vengeance. Kaz’s vengeance towards Skull Face and Huey, Huey’s vengeance towards Skull Face for forcing him to make weapons, Eli’s vengeance towards Snake, the child soldier’s vengeance towards the men who destroyed their families, Skull Face towards Zero—it’s almost universal as every major character we interact with desires a form of revenge.
All except for Venom Snake.
Venom’s emotions don’t outright declare a motive for revenge. He willingly goes along with Kazuhira’s plans for vengeance (maybe to simply stop Skull Face) but doesn’t immediately kill Skull Face when he has the opportunity. Kaz is the one who makes Skull Face suffer and leaves him to die. Venom is more concerned about the English strain of parasites. Huey has the finishing blow on Skull Face. We’ve seen Venom’s passive emotions even when he’s been wronged. Everyone around him shouts and screams of vengeance and he is the calm voice of reason. He avoids conflict and tries to compromise.
Everything has been revealed to him. Venom is aware of what has happened to him and why. His very identity erased, his accomplishments forgotten, his personality swallowed up by the man he trusted the most. He will never exist, only Big Boss. His life is short because he is “Big Boss” and he is expendable. Betrayed and left to face hordes of enemies, haunted by memories and crimes he never committed—all of which he never asked for. This ‘gift’ is a curse.
Now is the time for Venom’s vengeance. Now is the time for Venom Snake to take out his revenge on the man who ruined his life. Would it break his consistency? Yes. But that is only because of Big Boss’s actions; if Venom were to become angry and take revenge against Big Boss, it would be on Big Boss’s shoulders alone. He was the cause of Venom’s tragedy. The beautiful irony and the true twist of the story is to have Venom (the player) have vengeance against the man who told the best lie in the world.
Venom Snake would attempt to become a better Big Boss as Kaz hinted in the end dialog. Aware of the dangers towards himself (and his soldiers), Venom would build his own Outer Heaven to combat against Big Boss. Venom Snake first acted as the decoy, the shield in which protected Big Boss against his enemies. Suddenly, he would be the weapons in which attacked the very thing he meant to protect. The possibilities of revenge are everywhere here.
The idea of Venom Snake following Big Boss’s plans would be, frankly, dry. He would indeed just be another Big Boss. He would die (at the hands of rookie Solid Snake) and nothing would remain. There is no accomplishments here, no celebration, no Venom or Medic, only Big Boss. There is nothing enriching about a copy-cat Big Boss doing precisely what the original Big Boss intended. With strong hints of retaliation from both Ocelot and Kaz, it’s a strong assumption that there will be conflicts between the two parties.
At the end, we know that Venom Snake will fail in his attempts to rise up against Big Boss. Even in death Venom Snake will continue to be swallowed up in Big Boss’s legacy and act as a decoy against his enemies. His actions will never be remembered nor will they be acknowledged. All of achievements and so-called legacy will be consumed for Big Boss’s image and glory. Nothing is left, only the one true Big Boss. Venom’s very existence is tragic for the simple reason that he will be forgotten, something strikingly similar to how The Boss was consumed by the U.S. Government. Betrayed by their leaders and died as phantoms, except Venom Snake’s presence never existed. Not even a memory.
You were devoured by the legacy of Big Boss.
90 thoughts on “Critical Analysis of Metal Gear Solid V: The Boldfaced Lie”
Great GREAT read. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Like everyone my initial reaction to the reveal was heartache. I couldn’t carry on with the remainder of the side ops because every time I’d look at the person sitting in the chopper, I knew it wasn’t the real Big Boss – the man whose downfall I wanted to experience and had it stolen from me.
Fast forward to a week later, and letting go of the pain of not being Big Boss has given way to a deep appreciation and respect for the character of Venom. I was sort of slowly arriving at a couple of conclusions regarding the real villainy of Big Boss that you’ve expounded on above, but this post has connected more pieces for me than I ever would have on my own, so thanks very much for that. 😀
It’s such a shame how the pacing is completely off, because the broad strokes of the story, minus the parasites taking center stage in the middle, are otherwise great.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for the kind comment!
My co-writer and I (V) came up with these ideas through a series of analyzing and connecting the dots. It was incredibly fun to think (and rant) about it. Every day we were discovering something new! Although it’s seemingly all there, it’s very subtle and unfortunately is indeed off.
We’re very flattered that you enjoyed this article! It’s far, far from perfect and we’re planning on covering the first two Metal Gear games in the future (as they’re critical to Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain) and feature is in perhaps this article.
Remember: you’re just as awesome without having to be Big Boss. 😉 You are your own legacy!
Uh, isn’t Venom Snake the person you kill in Metal Gear 1? That is the canon explanation of how Big Boss could at the same time be commander of Foxhound and rule Outer Heaven – and survive his own death, that the Big Boss in Outer Haven was actually Venom Snake (fitting with a spy movie pastiche nature of first Metal Gear). So, he did go with Big Boss’es plan in the end.
LikeLiked by 1 person
There are some foreshadowing that there will be a falling out between the two. Kaz mentioning that he’ll use the Phantom and/or the clones to kill Big Boss. Ocelot then replying to him that there could only be one Big Boss, and that there is only room for one Big Boss. This is a threat. Venom breaking the mirror in the end is another sign that he isn’t happy over the situation.
And imo, it doesn’t make any sense that Gray Fox would captured in MG1 in the first place. Fox is supposed to Big Boss second in command, and one of his trusted man. If all they need to do was to give out false info in MG1, then Gray Fox could’ve done that. BB could’ve just told Venom treat Fox like a VIP and tell him what to say, and send him home. But no, he got captured and he mentions Metal Gear. Combine that with Kaz and Ocelot foreshadowing that one day they may clash, it all seems suspicious to me.
This is just speculation on my part. The evidence are there to suggest BB and V are going to clash, but we probably will never know. We don’t know what went behind the scenes in MG1.
I’m surprised you didn’t mention the precedent set that shows Big Boss was willing to employ child soldiers even back in Peace Walker. In your staff assignment screens, you can see Chico. You can move him to whichever unit you like, if I recall correctly. Now, be honest, how many of us went to the effort of putting him in the waiting room so we wouldn’t be employing a child? Big Boss was already making slow strides to demonhood even in Peace Walker.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for the reply. You bring up a good point about Big Boss in Peace Walker, and often we do see this come up from time to time! We didn’t forget about Chico (Paz as well) and his position at Mother Base. However, Chico and Paz aren’t actively sent out into the field to do “soldier business”, they mostly stay at the base. We also have to remember that Chico really wanted to be a soldier! He was tired of being “treated like a kid all the time”. Regarding Paz, we’re going to say she wanted “peace” and would be against the idea of being sent out. Could she wield a gun? The “student” Paz probably couldn’t so she would be effectively useless of being out in the field.
Although it is suspect to have two children running around a military base, they weren’t being sent out to kill or do anything dangerous. 🙂 We would consider that pretty horrible if he did. We try to be fair when looking at both sides of the field and found that Chico/Paz’s involvement at Mother Base would be weak compared with Big Boss’s speech about how they [Mother Base soldiers] will be “defined by the times”. Of course, this means they would be either “revolutionaries or terrorists” depending on the situation and they “may be headed straight to Hell”. That entire sequence had nasty foreshadowing written all over it we think.
Big Boss did being his path do becoming a someone horrible at the tail of of Peace Walker once he realized who he was in denying The Boss’s will. You are right about that!
Thank you for posting this. I do not agree with parts of it although I do think a lot of thought has went into this which I find quite rare these days!
My main problem with the game aside from the twist, which I think debases not just TPP but also other games in the series, is the behaviour of the real Big Boss. The character wakes up from his coma and is suddenly a callous manipulator who suddenly starts buying into his own legend. It is one of the worst bits of writing I have ever witnessed. Why bother setting up a character over the course of numerous games, developing and fleshing them out in each installment, when you can simply put them in a coma and have them wake up a totally different person?
Big Boss not only agrees to use his best soldier as a double, something which should be totally against his character but then also agrees to a plan that will see innocent civilians killed. The plan to use a double and to go into hiding makes no sense for a man whose whole life has been about fighting. Big Boss can never walk away from the battlefield, he can never put down his gun and yet when he agrees with Ocelot’s plan that is exactly what he does. It is absurd and is the antithesis of the character.
Big Boss has had his home destroyed, watched his friends and comrades murdered and had nine years of his life stolen from him and yet after all that he chooses not to fight not to go after the people responsible? If all those things are not a reason to fight then what on earth would be? Why is running off to secretly build Outer Heaven in Africa such a pressing need? What is his thinking behind it and why doesn’t his double (Venom) share these same thoughts?
Also since when did Big Boss start believing his own legend? It was always others who exaggerated his exploits never him and yet in TPP he wants his best soldier to take his place and carry on his name. Just like the sudden disregard for human life this comes out of nowhere. People do not wake up from a coma and change their personalities like this. Indeed listening to the tapes you would come away with the impression that Snake has just been napping for nine years. He apparently has suffered no ill effects from the coma at all! So why the drastic change in his character from the one established in previous games? The answer is lazy writing. If you are going to turn Big Boss into a villain then show us the journey properly from a decent man to a force of evil. What Kojima has done is awful and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you for the very thoughtful comment! 🙂
I do agree that the transition of Big Boss’s downfall was a little rushed and near-unexplainable. We really wanted to witness first hand his villainy and it’s a shame we didn’t get to.
I would say at the very tail end of ‘Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker’ do we witness the beginning of Big Boss’s downfall. At the very end, he gives a speech to his troops about how they won’t follow anyone, they’ll only fight for themselves, and won’t be controlled by the government. They fight “the times” and may becomes “revolutionaries or terrorists” depending on what the “times” define them as. This is massive foreshadowing of Big Boss’s dream of Outer Haven. One could also argue this is when he begins his transition.
In ‘Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes’, this is right after the events of ‘Peace Walker’. Paz & Chico have been captured by the XOF forces and are being held prisoner. Chico is totally innocent albeit a little foolish for getting himself captured. However, Paz is the important person to rescue because she has information on the MSF and Big Boss Big Boss is willing to eliminate Paz if she talked to Skull Face about anything. He had fondness of Paz during ‘Peace Walker’ but that changed very quickly when he realized she could jeopardize his entire MSF operation.
The entire reason for this transition was simply because Big Boss felt betrayed by The Boss. When she chose “to sing”, she effectively put down her gun. According to Big Boss (who was an emotion wreck during the events of ‘Peace Walker’; lost, confused, depressed, ect.), she went against everything she was as a soldier and “abandoned” him. Feeling this, Big Boss probably got angry and decided to do his own thing. He decided to make his future different than that of The Boss. Remember, her ideology–she herself–was everything to him. To feel betrayed by the person you love probably had a massive impact on his mental state.
As for the legend, I would respectfully disagree that it makes for bad writing by making it, in a way, flimsy because Venom Snake helped accomplish half of it. This should tell you that “legend” is merely a word. What defines a legend? Is it so important? After all, Big Boss is just a man. Even Solid Snake hated the idea of being a “legend”; he downplayed it when Meryl praised him for all his work. I think the entire idea of that premise is to show that legends aren’t that big of a deal, and men are just men at the end of the day. Even the “legendary” soldier, Big Boss, didn’t accomplish everything on his own. This should solidify the saying of “legendary” is just that–a saying. There isn’t any weight to it.
“What is his thinking behind it and why doesn’t his double (Venom) share these same thoughts?”
As we explained in the article, Venom Snake doesn’t have the exact responses as Big Boss. One could argue that because he was an MFS soldier that he should, however, Big Boss recruited and trained all those that were killed so he’d have more of an attachment. Furthermore, it’s apparent that Venom Snake doesn’t waste his energy on revenge when given the opportunity. This follows along his passive behavior that we consistently see throughout the game. You can change someone’s experiences and memories, but how they react do it cannot be determined.
I do agree that Big Boss not running off to find the XOF or Skull Face is a little weird, but it might be because his priorities are clearly skewered. Even Kaz felt abandoned when Big Boss ran off to create his dream. This only solidifies his selfishness in pursuing his own goals. He only cares about his dreams and ambitions, moreso than his own people. I’m not defending the writing on that, only explaining the possible reason why he’s behaving this way.
It was Zero’s idea to create the Phantom. Zero is Cipher, and Cipher didn’t kill MSF.
SKULLFACE killed MSF and Paz. Also worth mentioning: Paz was never supposed to use Zeke against BB.
So upon waking up and hearing Zero’s plan from ocelot, Big Boss is probably thinking “Well shit, you’ve already gone through the trouble of mind fucking this guy…” What else is the Big Boss we so far know and love supposed to do? Kill his Phantom? Tell him the truth, let him get all fucked up and probably die?
He trains him a bit. He saves Venom’s life a few times and leaves behind a tape admitting and owning up to his actions a bit (though they weren’t his actions. He’s just going along with plans that were set in motion without his approval).
We know nothing of Big Boss’s thoughts in TPP except for one cassette tape, and the fact that he goes off and makes Outer Heaven.
That ‘sort of’ answers the first point you raised. For the others in order:
He went off and made Outer Heaven. He didn’t leave the battlefield. What he left was the shitty chore of doing it while everyone was out to get him.
He knew Zero didn’t take down MSF, so he knew Cipher didn’t, so he had no reason to take vengeance against Cipher for that. But BB still needs an army, he still opposes OTHER things about Cipher and zero’s interpretation of the boss’s will. For THAT he goes off and raises a new base and creates a cool unit like FOXHOUND. Well, that and the fact that he never left the battlefield of course.
At a certain point, especially along Peacewalker’s storyline, he sort of accepts being Big Boss (basically when he went ahead and tossed away the Boss’s bandana). But that’s not the point here. Big Boss only ever does what Big Boss wants to. He left the US government to become his own man and live life loyal to himself, and to those he liked. Fighting for causes HE found just.
He didn’t accept the mantle of and legacy of “Big Boss” He left a huge chunk of that for Venom, and even tells him that.” Thank you, my friend. From here on out… you’re Big Boss.”
In BB’s mind, Venom can go ahead and take that brunt he can be the “Big Boss” while our BB goes ahead and keeps doing whatever the hell he wants to (little selfish? Yeah, but I still think Big Boss did what was mostly-ish best for both him and Venom. I can’t think of a better way he could’ve handled waking up from a coma to find his doppleganger). Big Boss let Venom live out whatever rest of his life he can, and Venom even manages to find some happiness, along with grief. He gets to LIVE.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi Krakken86. Thank you for commenting!
I feel like blaming Zero for everything that happened to Venom and not blaming Big Boss for what he put Venom through is like blaming the gun maker for creating the gun and not blaming the shooter for murdering someone. You’re right that it was Zero’s fault and plan to create the Medic into a phantom of Big Boss, but it was Big Boss’s plan to use Venom as a distraction in order for him to create his true Outer Heaven.
This is something that goes against his ideology however. The honor of soldiers, independence, and not being used as tools of others gets thrown out the window when he used Venom and the patients and doctors as tools to escape. This is a betrayal of everything he stood for, and that’s why it’s clever. This is a subtle downfall of Big Boss and his ideology, portraying him as hypocrite. Solid Snake also called him a hypocrite in Metal Gear 2, but it was in different context. In this context, it was more of a means to and end.
And to your question of what else he could’ve done in that situation, the answer is in Metal Gear Solid 2. Solid Snake encounter a similar situation with Raiden. He went through the S3 plan, and it was supposed to make him into a image of Solid Snake. Striking similar to what happened to Venom, but in a different way. The Patriots mocked Raiden for not having his own idea after he quoted Snake to combat their philosophy and their plan to control human will and consciousness. They told him that he lacked the qualification to exercise free will. In the end of the game, it showed Raiden having a short identity crisis.
Solid Snake came in and told him that he is his own man. He tells him to find his own name, his own memories, and his own legacy. He should find a new path for himself. He essentially told him to create his own memes.
Do you see the similarities here and the difference between Solid Snake and Big Boss? To make the comparison even stronger, Ocelot mentioned in the post credit said that Venom would continue Big Boss’s legacy and his memes. Memes is the whole theme of MGS2, in which Solid Snake told Raiden to create his own meme. What Big Boss said to Venom is the complete opposite to what Solid Snake told to Raiden. Snake’s speech screams independence, what Big Boss said did not. What Big Boss said goes the against the whole theme of independence that the series is trying to push at you. It directly goes against the whole point of Metal Gear Solid 2.
This even goes against what Solidus was trying to fight for, not to be forgotten and engrossed in memes. Instead of the Patriots destroying Solidus in their memes, it’s Big Boss destroying Venom in his memes. Venom is devoured by Big Boss’s memes. He will never remembered. He will never be credit for his accomplishments. Instead of being his own man, he is a phantom of Big Boss. Where is the honor in that? What happened to not being used as tools? What happened to independence? This is the same crap that made Big Boss leave America and Cipher, yet he is doing it to one of his best soldiers.
Solid Snake freed Raiden of his memes and Big Boss trapped Venom in his. And in the end, there could be only one Boss. Ocelot recited this in the post credits. This implies Venom is temporary and that they may clash in the future. Venom does get to live, but he gets to live as a phantom. He will die, and it’ll be whimper. No one will ever remember what he did and no one will ever know the truth. Big Boss should know that very well since this is also something that happened to The Boss.
This is hypocritical in his ideology in so many levels. And this goes against the franchise theme as well.
Thanks for the reply and I pretty much agree with you on Venom Snake and appreciate the fact you have went into great detail into his personality and actions and not just outright dismissed him as a character. He came across as a truly decent man.
My issue, however, remains with Big Boss. Big Boss is just a man but his legend no matter how much it is embellished or exaggerated is fundamentally true. The events of Snake Eater, Portable Ops and Peace Walker all happened. The player experienced them first hand. Skull Face may have helped behind the scenes but so what? That does not diminish the actions of Big Boss. Skull Face is just like those generic cleaners that show up after the action in movies like Men In Black. He is irrelevant to the story of Naked Snake and in no way diminishes his actions.
Big Boss states in PW that he would silence Paz however his actions show that he couldn’t do it. Notice how tender the character is with Paz when he finds her in Camp Omega or even later on in the chopper. He is trying to reassure her and make her feel safe even though he knows she betrayed them. There is no anger in the character unlike that of Miller and his behaviour is almost identical to that of his phantom, Venom Snake. Big Boss says one thing, due to male bravado or whatever but in game when push comes to shove his basic deceny always shines through. I honestly do not believe the character could ever have pulled the trigger on Paz. Nor do I believe he would turn his back on his friends and comrades as he so callously did in TPP. I again state his drastic changes in character come out of nowhere in TPP. Without proper writing as to why the character would change so drastically it should be seen as nothing more than a cop out.
There is indeed foreshadowing in PW, as you menfion, but nothing that impacts on the loyalty the character has to his friends and comrades. At all times the character cared about others and especially his own men. This was the fundamental difference between him and Gene the main villain of Portable Ops. Gene only thought of himself and how people could serve him and Snake rightly called him out on this. Big Boss always cared about his comrades and even in Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 this was alluded to by other characters such as Schneider, Grey Fox and the children at a time when he was supposedly an out and out villain. This above all other things is why he inspired such loyalty in his men and why they were so devoted to him: he genuinely cared about them.
Off topic in this discussion but something that has always bothered me is subject of The Boss and her will. One of my biggest problems with Snake Eater, which incidentally is my favourite in the series, is the idolization of The Boss. In my opinion she was a hypocrite and a coward who never had the courage to question her orders or step outside them. She fired TWO Davy Crockett miniature nuclear warheads and killed countless people all under the orders of the CIA. She was nothing more than a CIA stooge. She wanted the world to be whole and yet stole the Philosopher’s legacy from another country on behalf of the CIA. Where is the honour in that? How does stealing something on the behalf of one country at the expense of others unite the world? Surely the exact opposite would be the case? According to Eva The Boss wanted Snake to see her as a woman. She never acted as a woman though or as a mother but instead she at all times acted as a loyal soldier devoted to her mission no matter how morally repugnant it may have been. She should have been forgotten about after Snake Eater.
I am rambling on here slighty, but your article went into such detail I felt compelled to try and add my own thoughts in an attempt to keep it running so please forgive me.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you! We really appreciate the acknowledgement. It means a lot to us! I personally think going over Venom Snake’s personality was the most fun and rewarding once I began to see consistencies. Very cool!
Absolutely! Big Boss did accomplish many things, including those events in Peace Walker, Snake Eater, and Portable Ops. Probably a bunch of other things off-screen as well! Nothing can or will diminish his legend up to this point other than the reveal of Venom Snake’s existence. However, we will never know about him (except for us, the player) which is quite tragic. I think we’d have to ask ourselves the value/potency of each event that Big Boss accomplished. The events of Snake Eater REALLY put Big Boss on the stage when he stopped the world from going nuclear. That will forever be remembered. Stopping the A.I. from sending the world into another nuclear frenzy, I’m not sure! But you’re right, nothing will change his legacy.
Again, you bring up a good point. Venom Snake made a similar threat towards Quiet when he first brought her to Diamond Dogs. “Either way, one of these days we’re going to have to kill her. But now is not the time. When the time comes…I’ll pull the trigger.” I personally didn’t believe it for a second. We see them freely skipping about in the rain like children in one scene (that wasn’t strange at all) and I found myself laughing when remembering what he had said earlier! So yes, Big Boss may or may not have hurt Paz. He was sincerely concerned about her when she woke up, panicked and afraid, and he tried to reassure her that the bomb was extracted safely.
The only problem with speculating about whether or not Big Boss would’ve killed her is that she never lived long enough for us to get a substantial answer. I’m only basing off of what was heard in ‘Ground Zeroes’. It does seem out of character for him to kill Paz, however, if she’s threatening everything they built, it would be “rational” for them to eliminate her. It is very poor writing that we have to go back and forth and wonder, considering it’s such a critical thing to happen to a character like Big Boss.
I will say about the children is that they were heavily influenced by Big Boss. He did rescue them, yes, but he also used them as tools of war. Of course children are going to emulate the man who helped/rescue them. They wouldn’t know any better. Children can be hard-wired to do things they later can’t live without (Gray Fox was the same; he hated war, but couldn’t live without it). This is see even in the real world. We have to remember exactly WHY Big Boss cared about his comrades: he wanted a world with constant war. I would argue that the reason why he helped all those kids is to continue feeding into his “madness” that was witnessed in MG2.
So what does this all mean? Big Boss is a complicated bad guy for sure. Just about every bad guy had good intentions in the Metal Gear series. Zero wanted to unite the world through control, Volgin also wanted to unite the world, Skull Face too–the villains in Metal Gear aren’t so black and white. To simplify them into “good vs. evil” categories is, I think, trivial. However, Big Boss was the main antagonist throughout the series and DID want constant war, using child soldiers to feed into that.
How that went about, however, the transition, is a little suspect. As I said, the only evidence and/or explanation we can offer are the events of Peace Walker and Ground Zeroes…and The Phantom Pain.
I think the realization of using one of his most trusted/loyal men as a tool—they very thing he was AGAINST and the reason why he left America—should tell us what he’s willing to sacrifice to get his way. It goes against everything that he believed in: not treating soldiers as tools nor deceiving him as he was. Was this aspect told badly? Depends on how you look at it. I think it was told brilliantly in it’s subtly. How it was executed was great. However, the reasons behind it are incredibly suspect as you say and I completely agree. It does seem “out of no-where” and the only evidence is PW and GZ. It’s the best we got so far.
As for The Boss: We have to remember she was a soldier. The Boss stressed this principle as much as possible. She hammered Naked Snake’s head over and over again. “You’re a soldier! Do your duty to your country!” Regardless of the contents, regardless of her own feelings, regardless of her morals, she was willing to do anything because, as Eva stated, “she was a true patriot”. The Boss went as far as to kill her own lover, The Sorrow, because she’s a soldier. She follows her orders.
Unfortunately, we don’t know what The Boss could have done with the Legacy. It has billions of dollars within it’s data and a lot could be done with that much money. But great things cannot be accomplished without some sacrifices. This would include stealing. It does seem bizarre, but how else could she get it? According to Peace Walker, The Boss wanted peace. She chose to “put down her gun” and “sing” instead. I’m not sure how billions of dollars would correlate with peace but I’m sure she had something in mind.
Sorry i’m in class and in a hurry so didn’t finish your whole comment, and I replied to you further above, but you brought up again how Big Boss suddenly changes and becomes callous, cold, calculating and manipulative.
We see nothing of this. ALL we see of BB in TPP is him training up his phantom for what lies ahead of him, and riding off into the sunset(rise?) to start up his own motherbase. We see nothing of his actions there. We see no examples of mercy, or cruelty, of compassion or sympathy.
We see him only leave kind words for his best soldier who’s life was taken from him (venom/medic) and gives him his blessing if he wants it. If not, he can go ahead and punch a mirror if he feels like it, because you know what? HE’S HIS OWN MAN.
Big Boss might be selfish and a implicit bad guy, but he’s never explicitly evil, and since Snake Eater we’ve known that ‘enemies’ and bad men are all relative. Made my the times.
Some people can see BB as a bad guy (and be justified).
Some people can see BB as just a man that wants to do with his life what he wants to (and be justified).
(And just because I feel like emphasizing this: ZERO made venom. Big Boss only didn’t kill him while he slept.)
LikeLiked by 1 person
What’s up Krakken86! You were in class when you wrote that, huh? Haha! You slacker! That’s okay. I did similar things myself! Going on the internet when I’m supposed to be doing something else.
Anyway, Big Boss is never really evil and same way that Zero is never evil. It is subjective. Me and my co-writer stated that in the article. They are doing what they think is right. However, Big Boss does calls himself an old evil in MGS4 is a form of regretting things that happened in the past. He has done bad things. And things that he regret as well, like the Patriots, constant conflict and etc.
What we saw in Big Boss in the TTP is more of his ideology and how hypocritical he is. Remember when Ocelot said in the post credit that the true Outer Heaven would maintain world balance? This is the same balance that Liquid Snake was talking about in Metal Gear Solid 1. This goes along with his idea of creating a world of constant conflict. Big Boss’s idea of a better future is the destruction of Cipher and a world where soldiers like him, who want war and doesn’t want it to stop, could strive. He is addicted to it. That is his whole dream. Along with not to be tools of any government and honor of soldiers.
Yet he used Venom as a tool and didn’t tell him that he’s not Big Boss until some unknown time later. He tells him that he did a good job playing as Big Boss and basically continue it. He’s not really his own man if he is living for another man tho. But do you see the subtle difference between them, despite having the same memories.
But he did express concern for Venom, no question about that. He’s not completely apathetic. He knows it’s a bit messed up, and he wonders if he is up for the task. Does it excuse what he did? No. It still goes against everything he stood for. This is similar to what happened to another game called Bioshock. A person in there did something that goes against his ideals, and express concern about it. He did it anyway because the end justify the means. Same case here.
Theres somenthing that doesnt fit in the timeline. The time when venom received the tape with the info about operation intrude n313, should be arround 1995. Theres no way that big boss knew about it 10 years before.
So Venom live 10 years believing he is big boss, kaz must have find out arround the same time, so the events o mg1 are made by big boss, who used venom once again.
Then he finds out he is a copy and play along, Big Boss didn’t want to kill him, why did he warning about the operation? Why did he give false information to Snake (David)?
That tape is the only thing that bothers me about the history, its a nice nod, but doesnt fit in the time line.
Also what paz say:
” Peace Day never came … Our wishes do not come true. We just cling on to our dreams, our phantoms. Mine and yours.”
Could be a allusion to chapter 3: Peace?
Ps: Sorry for my poor english, i did the best i could hahaha.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi there! Thank you for replying to us! Your English is perfectly fine. 🙂
You’re right in saying that there is no possible way for Big Boss to know Operation Intrude was going to happen ten years prior. If he did, we’d be incredibly impressed and question his career as a soldier!
We also aren’t sure when exactly Venom Snake discovers he is the “fake boss”, but what we can infer is what we see around the Diamond Dogs base. After the TRUTH mission, the soldiers around the base acknowledge you in a different way. “Boss, I don’t care who you are, I’ll still follow you!” or “Boss, no matter what, you’re still my CO [commanding officer]!” So from this, it seems that Venom Snake discovers his “true identity” relatively soon. This would also give Kazuhira enough time to ‘train up’ Venom Snake to fight Big Boss. It wouldn’t make much sense to decide to act at the last moment.
From what we gather, Venom Snake does ‘play along’, but for what reasons? Would it be for Big Boss? Venom Snake might attempt to become a “better” Big Boss by creating his own Outer Heaven. We also don’t know what was on the Operation Intrude tape. It could be Big Boss warning Venom Snake, but if it was indeed a warning, why did Venom Snake fail? And why would Big Boss warn Venom to begin with? It would be more useful for him to get rid of Venom Snake because there can only be ONE Boss. If Venom were to succeed, how long before Big Boss decides to rise up and reclaim his title?
I do believe Venom Snake gives the false information to Solid Snake because he is invading Outer Heaven and doesn’t expect him to get far. If Big Boss and Venom Snake are truly enemies at this point, he wouldn’t want Solid Snake to succeed. Clearly he underestimated Solid Snake!
Yes! I’m so happy you caught that! Yes, we did notice about Paz’s commentary on peace, and how it might connect with Chapter 3.
Oooooh! I missed that change in the motherbase…. After the last ending i was i little angry and dissapointed… so i listen to the tapes and turn off the game hahaha
I realize that he listen to the tape in outer heaven (when you start the game, before you wake up, it says you are there), and its like the game is a big flashback and come back to the present after mission 46.
But i cant argue with the motherbase changes. (Although its doesnt makes much sense to let everybody knows that secret hahaha)
Anyway, now i can say that its a great game, a good metal gear and cool experience that need some digest before you can appreciate it.
Thank you for your analysis, great work!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks so much for your comment! 🙂
Yes, many people had that same response it seems haha! Lot’s of anger and disappointment.
There is a time-skip during the end of the game where Venom Snake looks at the tape of Operation Intrude where the Diamond Dogs base becomes Outer Heaven. Those last few moments are a tad confusing because it is so rushed, but what we can tell is that Venom Snake isn’t too happy with whatever turn of events.
It is a lot to digest. We had the same reaction as many, many other fans of Metal Gear but, like you said, once everything sank in, we began to appreciate the game a lot more. I agree with you that it’s a great game, tho!
And thank you for your kind words, Eljefe!
Reblogged this on Calo Nordic and commented:
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks so much! 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Did you ever come across the little fan-comic called ‘Last Day in Outer Heaven’? Its essentially, what might have happened when Solid Snake left Outer Heaven after offing Venom and activating the self-destruct. Don’t get me wrong, this essay is an interesting read, I just have this interpritation that BB and V were working together. Also John (BB) never knew who created the whole body-double plan either, so it could tie in with why he left to work on Outer Heaven solo (which leadership is handed over to Venom upon its completion as BB goes back to lead FOXHOUND).
Anyway, interesting work you have done here and also, check this out.
Everyone has their own interpritations of things. I still wonder how much could’ve been avoided had John and Zero sat down and talked (Skullface plays a larger role in the series than what most think).
LikeLiked by 1 person
Greetings! Thank you for the comment!
Yes, we stumbled upon that comic that was scattered around the web right around the time we finished the game (V and I played practically side-by-side and finished within minutes of one another so we could discuss everything step-by-step). I personally think the comic is beautifully done; the artist did a marvelous job capturing the original artwork of the Metal Gear series! Very emotional and captivating.
That being said, I must disagree with it. Simply because the events of MG1 don’t add up to us. During those events, Gray Fox was sent to OH for information. If Venom Snake and Big Boss were truly working with one another, wouldn’t Gray Fox be a VIP and let in with open arms? Why did he get captured and imprisoned if they were truly working with one another? Others say G-Fox was used as bait to lure in Solid Snake, the rookie soldier of FOXHOUND. However, I believe it’s a huge stretch to operate OH and FOXHOUND just to kill one rookie soldier. It seems to be one elaborate scheme to kill off one guy! Something simply doesn’t add up. Grey Fox was sent in to get false information, but before his communications went offline, he said, “Metal.. Gear…” which was true! Outer Haven did have a Metal Gear! Something very, very odd is happening in MG1 indeed!
In addition to all of this, and as we mentioned in the article, Venom Snake has all the reason in the world to go against Big Boss. It’s hinted by Kazuhira Miller and even Ocelot that there will be conflict between both parties. That evidence is backed up from the unclear events of MG1. Again, our interpretation; we’re merely backing it up with what the game is giving us. The strongest indication is Kazuhira and Ocelot discussing the future, and in the past, they’ve been correct. This cannot be ignored, there must be a reason for it.
We do believe that Big Boss knew who created the body double from Ocelot’s end. Is very strange how he responded, considering his biggest foe at the time used one of his best soldiers as a decoy. There should have been some form of outrage from Big Boss, but he was more willing to go along with what had happened. Yes, it wasn’t his fault, but as we explained, he moved forward with the plan and used it as his advantage.
Thanks for sharing those articles! I really enjoyed the first one. I never thought about those parasites being a bizarre prototype of the nanomachines! That’s a nice find. 😛
The second one, however, rubs us the wrong way. Although we understand the need to “humanize” Big Boss, to outright say he tried to interpret The Boss’s will.
As the article says, “…Big Boss, with the help of his “phantom” Venom, created Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land to fulfill his interpretation of his mentor’s final words.
That is simply not true. In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Big Boss outright rejected The Boss’s will when he believed she “betrayed” him by putting down her gun. He said, “My future is going to be different…” when he talked about comparing her will to his; he refused to put down his gun as opposed to her. There is no interpretation here. To hope that it was misheard or misread is leading oneself into falsehood. When the series again and again states that Big Boss wanted constant war, that he needed it and that he strove for it. These are facts that we cannot deny when it’s so strongly embedded in the series itself.
As much as we appreciate the idea of Big Boss interpreting his beloved mentors words, but when Big Boss himself says he’s taking a different path, there isn’t any wiggle room for anything else!
Regarding Zero and Big Boss, it is a shame that Zero was brain-dead by the time Big Boss woke up. It would’ve been interesting to have those two work things out. However, Zero did go behind Big Boss’s back and had him cloned as a form of “insurance”. I don’t think there’s going back from that!
Thanks again for your comments and resources Elijah! 🙂
To add more to the:
“…Big Boss, with the help of his “phantom” Venom, created Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land to fulfill his interpretation of his mentor’s final words.”
Big Boss admits he didn’t follow her will twice. Once in Peace Walker when he said that she betrayed by putting down her gun and that he won’t make the same mistake as her. And the other in Metal Gear Solid 4 where Big Boss said that:
“The Boss and I may have chosen different paths…”
He was not following The Boss will. He rejected it. He wanted to keep his gun and fight. We know the type of future that Big Boss was fighting for. He wanted independence form nations, the Patriots system, and constant war that he and his soldiers would belong in. BB’s ideology has always been the antagonist in the story. It truly started with Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, when Gray Fox and Big Boss both told Snake that all they wanted to do is fight. They could not accept peace.
This carried over to Metal Gear Solid, where Liquid Snake wanted to revive Big Boss’s dream. He repeated basically what Fox and Big Boss said about constant war. He wanted to bring back honor back to soldiers, just like Big Boss. He wanted to free himself of any nation, and wanted to fight the Patriots. Solid Snake constantly rejected Big Boss’s dream. His dream is against the series main message which is anti-war and anti-nukes. This is why in almost every Metal Gear game, you’ll have a character that goes on a monologue saying to enjoy life and you have freedom. Even Big Boss admits that he was wrong and made mistakes. He called himself an old evil that should die along with Zero and the rest of the members of Cipher/Patriots.
He tells Snake that it’s time to put down his gun, which is opposite of what he believed in Peace Walker.
He tells Snake to enjoy life and the has freedom to choose, which is opposite of what happened to Venom.
He finally accepts The Boss will, which is opposite in Peace Walker when he rejected The Boss’s will.
Everything that Big Boss regrets in Metal Gear Solid 4 is what we see in Peace Walker and The Phantom Pain. If Solid Snake believes he is wrong, Big Boss believes he is wrong, and if the series main themes goes against Big Boss’s dream, then the series is telling the player that Big Boss’s ideals are something you shouldn’t follow.
Zero’s plan to unite the world through information control and eventually the Patriots S3 system is also wrong. Along with anti-war and anti-nukes, the series also promotes freedom and independence. So, the Patriots vs Outer Heaven are complete polar opposite of each other. Control vs chaos. This was also mentioned in Metal Gear Solid 4, when Liquid Ocelot thought that chaos would engulf the world and constant conflict would start.
Both sides are extreme. One side took The Boss will and made it about control and censorship. The other side rejected The Boss will and wanted the conflict to never end.
Thank you very much for your insightful analysis, it correlates very well with feelings and thoughts I had after this ending.
But I also spotted some interesting thing during the scene with Big Boss’s tape. I didn’t see this discussed before. I’m interested in your opinion on this.
Before Venom listens to the tape, door behind him shows usual Diamond Dogs logo. You can see it here: http://i.imgur.com/1KpOIGD.jpg behind his shoulder.
However, after Venom breakes mirror but before he goes into nothingness (interesting thing by itself and mixes very well with your thoughts about Venom’s “erasure”) you can see Outer Haven’s skull in the mirror’s reflection (but not on actual wall, since there is no actual wall, only emptiness).
Again, behind his shoulder.
I wonder what this supposed to mean. Given your idea about Venom’s reflection in this mirror being a real Big Boss, this could represent that Outer Haven is a sort of dark double, antipode of the Diamond Dogs, it’s reflection or perverison in Big Boss’s dream, because again there is no “real” skull on the wall, only one in reflection where Diamond Dog should be.
Thank you again and forgive me for any mistakes in English since it’s not my first language.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi Ratstranger! Your English is great! 🙂 Thank you for your insightful comment!
First we must understand that there is a time skip between Venom Snake punching the mirror. Before, we clearly see the Diamond Dog’s logo in the background (as you pointed out). After, we clearly see the Outer Haven logo in the background (again, as you pointed out). This would suggest a time skip between the shattering of the mirror.
At the end of the game, within the credits, it does say that Venom Snake is in Outer Haven. This would correlate with what we see in the end scene. Venom Snake creates a separate Outer Haven (a “fake”) while Big Boss creates his own which is in Zanzibar Land. Ocelot talks to Kazuhira about this at the end of the game.
Now the following is simple predictions and interpretations based on what we’ve gathered:
As Kazuhira mentioned, he wants to make Venom Snake a “better” Big Boss. It’s very possible that Venom tries to create a “better” Outer Haven to combat Big Boss. How he does it, is very sketchy and probably not all that moral (he has a nuke and Metal Gear at this point). The reasons behind the Outer Haven Uprising is unclear as well since Metal Gear 1 was the first of the series and the story was “simpler”. However, we can make the strong assumption that it was Venom Snake uprising against Big Boss, who was in FOXHOUND at the time. This could’ve been a way to draw him out of hiding.
If you’re asking about the smoke and darkness in the background, it may be symbolic in the sense that Venom Snake walks and “vanishes” into the fog. It’s implied that he’s walking to his death as he faces Solid Snake outside. There’s a lot of symbolism going on in this scene. You could say it’s a “darker” version of what Big Boss would want, however, Big Boss’s dream was to have a nation for soldiers. He wanted a nation for himself most of all.
Venom Snake creates Outer Haven, which, according to Miller, would be similar to MSF. It would be an organization not tied down by countries or ideologies; no cultures or races would divide them. They would be united under “Big Boss” and do work for money. It was a business for Miller. Venom Snake might’ve adopted this for awhile before it got big and he started the Uprising. Remember, Miller also changed his tune for revenge against Big Boss.
So, in terms of vision, Venom Snake and Big Boss are fairly similar. I don’t believe Venom would create a “darker” version, rather, he would try to create a “better” version. In order for it to be “darker”, it might be opposite of Big Boss’s dream. You’d have to narrow down what you mean by “dark”. 🙂
In short: it could be symbolism of Venom Snake vanishing from history, as you said. Although I find it very interesting that you pointed it out!
Thank you for a quick response!
You may misinterpret a bit what I tried to say. I think it’s important that in this scene Outer Heaven is a reflection of Diamond Dogs, not the other way around. I meant that the Outer Haven is a “darker” version of Diamond Dogs. You pointed yourself to the Venom’s ideals. He hoped to use Diamond Dogs as a tool to create a better future, like with nuclear disarmement. Real Big Biss didn’t have such considerations, for him such organization was a tool to gain power and wage contast cycle of war. Ocelot says in the ending about Outer Haven being not an army without nation, paradise for a soldiers, but a real nation – all for the Big Boss himself.
It’s looks like Diamond Dogs as organisation will end up as part of Outer Haven one way or another. So he did more than just steal Venom’s identity. He stole Diamond Dogs as well and remade them into Outer Haven or some sort of cog in his machine, cover or disguise for his real plan (which honestly even worse).
So Venom’s life’s work was destroyed with his personality.
I think this scene was meant to represent this. Dog becomes a Skull. Sort of like Galactic Republic turns into Empire in the Star Wars due to the Palpatin’s manipulations.
Of course, may be I’m overthinking it. Ending was both grim and symbolic enough to give a birth to such interpretations.
Thank you again.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi again Ratstranger!
Oh! Now I see what you mean. That’s a very interesting point! From what you say, Big Boss could take over Venom Snake’s Diamond Dog’s and create Outer Haven. There’s a way of looking at it. It’s quite tragic too! This could very well happen. I really like that outcome. 🙂 We never thought of it that way.
So, from what you described, this could happen as well. But we have to ask ourselves how willing is Venom Snake to give over his beloved Diamond Dogs to the man who betrayed him? To use the base he [Venom] created for his own purposes? I think Venom would fight to the teeth for his men and his base. That may be a sign of something happening at the end of the game. Maybe Venom is indeed fighting for his people!
It could also mean that Venom Snake did some questionable stuff to become Outer Haven as well. This is also a tragic solution. There is no happy ending for this story, unfortunately.
Sorry for the misunderstanding! I was trying to pin-down what you mean. Thanks for clarifying! We really like that conclusion you’ve come up with! We never thought of it that way.
You take care now. 🙂 Thank you again for your comments!
Hi, thanks for this analysis. This is the best analysis, that tries to cover the game as a whole, I have read so far.
Still, there is one thing that bothers me: You have transcribed (and so do many) Venom Snake’s words in the nuclear disarmament ending as “That’s what I…heh…what we will leave as our legacy”. I have just listened to the scene like 10 times and what I hear is “That’s what I…SHE…what we will leave as our legacy. That’s a problem, because if I am correct, Venom Snake can’t be talking to The Boss. Otherwise he would refer to the same person as “you” and “she”.
Is there something wrong with my ears? 😀 Even the official subtitles do not have an transcription for this “sound” Venom Snake makes. But in my opinion a “she” in this line makes perfect sense, since Venom Snake refers to The Boss’ will in the form of his interpretation, hence the “I…she…we”. But who is he talking to then? Nonetheless he calls the person “Boss” at the beginning. It obviously can’t be Big Boss like you stated, I agree.
Thanks for your answer. I hope I was able to express, what I mean. English isn’t my first language 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi Zonal! Thank you for reading and for your comment! 😀 Your English is fine!
I understand the confusion. I’ll go ahead and give you a link to the disarmament ending right here: FOB Venom Snake’s Speech
Yes, he is saying “we” although it does sound a little odd! But remember, this ending can be activated before or after the TRUTH ending. If we activated it before, that would mean that Venom Snake is aware that he’s a “fake” and but he still would be addressing The Boss because of what he says in the speech. If we play with the idea of Big Boss and Venom Snake working together to strive for their goal, it just wouldn’t many any sense! Big Boss’s path was different from The Boss’s path. If Venom Snake, aware of his identity and purpose, would still strive for HER legacy, I don’t think his real boss would be happy. 😉 He would want to keep those nukes for himself and possibly terrorize the world with it, as history tells us.
Thank you again for your comment. 🙂
I thank from the bottom of my heart for writing this. I’ve been looking for an explanation of the game that would coincide with the one I had and finally finding one beautifully written makes my mind feel at ease. 🙂
I’ve only one question: I’m assuming that according to your interpretation, Big Boss sends Gray Fox and Solid Snake to Venom’s Outer Heaven in order to kill him because he doesn’t need him anymore or he sees him as a threat. If that was Big Boss’ intention, it is understandable that he would send Gray Fox since he is FOXHOUND’s finest; but why then would he send after he fails a rookie like Solid Snake if he wants him to succeed? Is it because he trusts in Solid Snake’s abilities knowing that he’s a clone of him? Or because whoever fails, Big Boss wins anyway (either his clone and potential future threat to his plans dies, or his phantom is taken out)?
Thanks again 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Aww! Thank you for the very kind comment, Roderick! We’re so glad our writing has helped you!
Ultimately, we really don’t know what’s happening between Big Boss & Venom Snake in Metal Gear 2. From what we gathered in The Phantom Pain, we can infer some conclusions that make some sense. But again, our theories aren’t set in stone!
In the events of Metal Gear 2, we know that Big Boss’s best soldier, Gray Fox, is sent out into Outer Heaven to send out false information about the place. Like we said to other commenters, that “false” information was actual fact! The last words he said, “Metal…Gear…” Which was true! It turns out he was captured and imprisons (and probably not having the best of times). This is the strongest hint of Venom Snake going up against Big Boss.
Now, this is where things start getting strange…
Since The Phantom Pain, we’re not too sure that Big Boss intended for Solid Snake to successfully infiltrate Outer Heaven. He was too good for a rookie! He advanced into the fortress unexpectedly. Even Big Boss was rather surprised at this. Big Boss [Venom] tries to trick him into traps and all that fun stuff, but alas, Solid Snake is just too good for some reason!
It would make sense for both parties to take each other out since Big Boss would benefit either way. There can only be “one Boss”, after all. The real Big Boss might’ve thought Solid Snake was “good enough” as a clone or not. Like we say, it’s really difficult to get a firm idea on what’s going on here. It doesn’t make much sense for the rookie to be sent in on, essentially, a death mission. Sure, Solid and Venom could kill each other (win-win for BB), but what about Gray Fox? Perhaps he’d be killed during the bombardment. He did fail to leak false information in the world.
Our strongest indication of rebellion of Venom Snake is Gray Fox being captured and leaking true information about Metal Gear to the world. Big Boss, in Foxhound at the time, probably flipped out that his “secret” was revealed and sent in Solid Snake. Why the rookie? Did he have faith that his clone (which he initially doesn’t like, but respects as a soldier) could do what the second-in-command could not? But that’s still very strange, isn’t it?
One could argue that it was one great big plan to kill Solid Snake (from Venom and Big Boss) but that’s an awful lot of trouble to kill ONE rookie. Not to mention, Gray Fox, Big Boss’s bestie, being captured and imprisoned? Blasphemy!
The biggest and simplest reason for all these questions is probably because Mr. Kojima didn’t think that far ahead ahahaha!
We can only infer that perhaps Big Boss hoped that Solid Snake and Venom Snake would take one another out. For sure, it was a suicide mission for that poor rookie. 😀
A lot of your analysis is about Venom’s life being stolen by BB, but it’s stated in the cassettes that without this plan Venom wouldn’t have received the medical care required to survive.
So how can Venom be angry for staying alive?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hey Bobby! Thanks for the comment.
Your statement does come up in discussions about Venom Snake’s state of mind and how some would believe he should be happy.
But the thing is, the doctors and nurses who worked on Venom Snake went well beyond the normal protocols of saving his life. In the article, we talk about consent. There are several types of consent! In Venom’s case, this would be called implied consent, which applies to those who are unconscious and need medical treatment. An example is for someone to get in a car accident and isn’t able to verbally respond. The paramedics who arrive at the scene imply that you want help (makes no sense to wake up and find yourself bleeding on the pavement and THEN the paramedics ask).
The nature of doctors and nurses is to help the sick and injured to recover to the best of their abilities to live their normal lives. Their lives, not the lives of others. When a soccer player breaks a leg, a doctor puts it in a cast to they can heal and play soccer again. The leg isn’t altered in any shape way or form. The leg mustn’t be altered or else the soccer player can’t play soccer anymore! This can apply to the human body.
The medics body was essentially brought back from “death” (Ocelot stating that he “died” in that chopper). This would make sense considering how badly we see he’s scarred up. Venom Snake had 108 foreign bodies removed from him, including human teeth and bone. Cipher/Zero’s medical staff did everything under the sun to get him back on his feet. He’s akin to the Frankenstein monster!
The problem with this is that he didn’t continue to live his life normally. The life of the medic was erased thanks to hypnotherapy and plastic surgery. The doctors and nurses were wrong to alter him like that against his will. That’s what makes it horrible. Venom has every right to be upset that his life was taken away from him. He may be alive, but he’s living for someone else now. He will never exist. He was used by the man he trusted/admired the most. This would upset anyone!
I hope this answers your question! 🙂
Nice read, but a couple of things don’t fit for me.
I believe Big Boss and Venom were working together at Outer Heaven. During the ending timeline, it states that while commanding Foxhound, Big Boss establishes the military fortress, Outer Heaven. And that this is where Solid Snake kills Big Boss’ Phantom. I think this is important because it separately mentions Big Boss and Venom(Big Boss’ Phantom). This would suggest that they were in cahoots, and during The Phantom Pain, Big Boss is getting Outer Heaven ready for Venom to run with the Diamond Dogs. I see Outer Heaven being similar to an FOB for Zanzibar Land.
I don’t think Venom was necessarily angry during the mirror scene. Think about a professional fighter getting amped up for a fight. They get warmed up and get mentally prepared. For Venom, this is the moment of truth, part one of a plan that never happened because a rookie who was sent to die, turned out to be the man who could kill Big Boss.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Hey Adam, thank you for your comment!
Like we say, you don’t have to agree with us and that’s perfectly fine. 😀 We’re just trying to explain things from our perspective. At any rate-
One of the reasons why we say that Venom Snake will rebel against Big Boss is because of the conversation between Ocelot and Kazuhira Miller. Kaz states, “Big Boss can go to hell…” and that he’ll use his “sons” and “his phantom” to send him there. These two have predicted lots of things in the series, heck, even in the same conversation – Ocelot talks about how Big Boss will build his own military nation, which does happen! So why even have that part in there if there isn’t a possibility of it coming true? Kaz even uses one of Big Boss’s “sons”, Solid Snake, against him in MG2.
And let’s ask a question: if Big Boss and Venom Snake were working together and it was a big plot to kill Solid Snake. Let’s assume that Solid Snake would die. Plot successful!
Now what? Now what happens? How long is Big Boss willing to wait until he comes up and threatens the world with Zanzibar Land and nukes? After all, there can only be “one Boss”.
Also, when Big Boss send in Gray Fox to give out false information about Outer Heaven, it turns out that Fox was captured and imprisoned! And he let out the true information about Metal Gear. Whoops! That wasn’t supposed to happen. Why did it? Don’t you think if Big Boss and Venom Snake were truly working with each other, wouldn’t Fox be treated a little more nicely? And assuming he was bait for Snake – it all seems a big deal just to kill one rookie soldier. Why would Big Boss endanger Fox if he was his second-in-command? There are still many questions, clearly.
This is why, ultimately, we don’t know. We can only infer based on what Kaz said at the end of MGSV, Venom’s attitude at the end of the game (his reasons, themes of MGSV, ect.) and it makes the most sense to us. Feel free to disagree!
Venom Snake found out he was lied to and betrayed by the man he admired and trusted the most. The breaking of the mirror must be from anger because, frankly, anger is a powerful emotion that can manifest in violence. Breaking something is usually a result (do you break things when you’re happy? ;)). It could be that he’s getting himself pumped up for a fight, but how does he know that Snake, the rookie, can kill the legendary Big Boss? Why would he need to get himself all pumped up for a rookie like Solid Snake?
I hope I cleared things up a bit. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Adam. 😀
First of all, thank you, you brought peace to my mind, I was really feeling the phantom pain and getting mad over it!
I agree with your theory in general but what do you think about those points :
1) As the previous comment, Big Boss builds Outer Heaven and Venom dies there, it suggest a collaboration. As a reminder, Outer Heaven is not the Diamond Dogs base. OH is located 200km north of South Africa, while Diamond Dogs is in the Seychelles
2) If indeed, there’s a clash between BB and V with BB trying to assassinate V once he’s not needed, why give him the operation N313 tape? Otherwise it makes sense to send Solid do the job, he’s a rookie, yes, but only in Foxhound, he has war experience in Irak (he was a green beret) and Big Boss would know he is his clone.
3) Who records the tapes in the game and who gives them to V? Kinda strange that everyone is recording every secret conversation to hand them to V.
4) Kinda curious on your take about the Kojima/Konami clash. To me it looks like a real life Cipher/Big Boss confrontation
5) Your take on the taboo Kojima talked about? And on the something that could be done only in video games?
6) Your take on Chapter 3? Existence, meaning, etc…?
6) Aren’t you guys Python Selkan? Just wondering, two guys doing Metal Gear Analysis
That’s it for now, thanks for the good work!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Greetings Alex! Thank you for the kind comment. 🙂 Don’t worry, you’re not alone in the “phantom pain”. We still feel it since the game is, essentially, incomplete! Sigh.
As a small reminder, the events of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 are very sketchy to try and pick apart because the games were “simpler” back then. Granted, Metal Gear 2 we stunning with it’s gameplay and, of course, story! The main reason for this is probably because Mr. Kojima wasn’t expecting this far into the series! There are clearly still some unanswered questions even when we try to come to conclusions. It’s all very uncertain.
2.) The Operation N313 Tape is thought to be a “warning” for Venom Snake. But, if this is indeed the case, why did he end up dying? And if this indeed a warning, maybe Venom got angry because Big Boss was planning this whole thing the entire time? Maybe the tape tells Venom Snake that his role is finished, that his “mission” is complete, and he must die again for Big Boss. This would upset anyone, frankly. And remember: Solid Snake was sent on a suicide mission when he was flung into Outer Heaven. He wasn’t expecting to succeed–not by Venom Snake anyway! Maybe Big Boss himself expected Snake to succeed in killing Venom Snake. Venom might’ve used his “Big Bossness” to try and trick Snake, but clearly, that didn’t happen. This is all speculation on our part, of course, because things are so strange in those first two games! Our strongest evidence is the capture and imprisonment of Gray Fox and Kaz’s threat at the end of MGSV.
3.) Oh now there’s a fun thought! The cassette tapes are widespread and if we’re going to ask who recorded what, we might as well ask who in the world recorded that poor man excavating his bowls with titanium force (Johnny reference, yes I know). But let’s massage the idea for a bit and see what we get. It seems that everywhere they go, they record themselves. Everything is recorded. This feels strangely akin to “Big Brother” (or simple convenience for the player to listen to) and how everyone is “watched and heard”. I digress. 😉 Frankly, it’s hard to say where Venom found all those tapes. Maybe he had them the entire time. Maybe it was convenience for the player to find out right then and there. Maybe it was given to him by Kaz. We really don’t know! Many tapes are recorded in the game and we keep asking ourselves, “Whhhyyyy would you record that??” Kazuhira’s Hamburgers is a good example. What purpose did it serve? Who did he expect to listen to that? I dunno about you, but I wanted some cheeseburgers after hearing all those things! So, we can boil it down to simple game mechanics. Every mission has a set of cassette tapes for us to listen to. This might’ve been used to avoid the whole “too many cutscenes” complaint that was heard after Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Honestly it was like watching a movie! I wouldn’t have minded it in the fifth game, personally. ‘Dat Fox Engine tho!
4.) Ah, there are so many elements to that whole scenario. But I like how you think! We could compare it to Cipher/Big Boss, but that would mean Konami did something that Mr. Kojima didn’t approve of. I, personally (S), don’t know the nitty gritty details because the media can twist things into different party’s favor (THE PATRIOTS!!). What I do know is that Konami is apparently going down the route of slot machines for their new Silent Hill game. Honestly that would make any game developer run for the hills! Now my biggest question is why isn’t Mr. Kojima heading over to America to work on games there? I’m sure he’d be welcomed with open arms. Anyway, there are a lot of complicated aspects to the relations of Konami and Mr. Kojima. We could draw some interesting parallels or flatline it to simple contract issues. Either way, it’s ironic!
5.) Erasing the player from the game. 🙂 That’s exactly what happened at the end of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I’ve never seen a video game where the player themselves vanish from the franchise. Venom Snake is supposed to be the player in a sense. Venom Snake (you) vanishes from living memory by being forced to take the role of Big Boss. This breaks the forth wall completely!
6.) Chapter 3 Peace is the cut content (for now ;)) of the latest game. After floating through the web, hearing what Konami developers have been tweeting, seeing the datamine content on /r/NeverBeGameOver – I’m convinced something is going to happen. Maybe I’m delusional but I can dream! They’ve done some fascinating work over there. As for the meaning, I believe there would be some irony about it. I (S) don’t believe it would be entirely about Peace. It would, at first, be a fruitless attempt at Peace. Paz Ortega’s tapes are the best example of what we have of Venom Snake’s mind. She goes on about peace, how she’s excited about Peace Day, ect. But knows it will never come. What I can gather about the third chapter: it would be about Venom Snake trying to achieve some peace (i.e. goes on with his passive nature as we’ve seen in the game) but something breaks him. Something must happen that makes him break his consistent behavior, and this is where we see the tragedy begin. We don’t know what that will be. But, in the world of Metal Gear, there is no such thing as “peace”. We may want it from the bottom of our hearts, but it never comes.
7.) Is Python Selkan two people? 😮 I honestly don’t know! My co-writer might know who that is. But, I assure you, we’re not. We’re just a couple of writers who love story-driven video games! That’s all! 😀
Thanks again for your thorough and thoughtful comment, Alex! 😀 I enjoyed thinking about all that!
Thanks for the reply! BTW, I’m myself on NeverBeGameOver, hence why I wanted your thoughts 😉
Some comments on the comments :
1) It’s sketchy but we know for example that Zanzibar Land is located at Tselinoyarsk
5) Nice thought, but we’re still here for the moment, but I recognize the game isn’t finished. Wait and see!
7) From what I understood yes, but nevermind, I was just curious 🙂
BTW this might interest you (from the mgsforums apparently) : http://imgur.com/3jqKMV4
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi again Alex! I had a funny feeling you were with /r/NeverBeGameOver 😀
1) Right! I often wonder what would happen to the Diamond Dogs. Although at the end, the DD logo changes to OH. That’s very bizarre, considering where we know where the DD base is located. Hm!
5) “Here”? 😉 But…we’re not – only Big Boss! There is no “we” or “you”! Just big Boss. That’s our point. But indeed, I believe the game is still unfinished.
7) Haha alright! We’ll have to check the dude out!
I saw that! It’s amazing what you guys find! V and I were discussing it last night and sheesh, it just makes me anxious sometimes. If the FOB Ending is truly the “key” to unlocking the third chapter, this would mean teamwork from across the online players. It would be an interesting social experiment, no? To have the “world” work to achieve peace. It is truly possible? I wonder.
On the one hand, it’s mad genius to have the entire player base work together to unlock that much-desired third chapter. On the other, there are several factors like, “How many nukes need to be disarmed? The amount that exists today? But what about those who will build a nuke and go offline – does it still count? Does one player need to disarm them all? Or do the exact amount need to be disarmed in order to unlock the third chapter?”
According to some developers, there’s a “surprise” or something within the game. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the FOB ending now. Gives me the shivers!
Thanks for that awesome information Alex! We’ll have to wait and see now!
Just a quick thought that came to my mind the other day :
In MG1, maybe Big Boss did send Solid Snake to kill V, expecting him to have a good chance at succeeding. Either way, that’s a win for BB : either is phantom who is not doing his will dies, or his clone that he never wanted and doesn’t care about dies. Manipulating your ennemies to kill each over, what a ruse!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hello again Alex! 😀 Good to see you!
Yes, we’ve thought the same! It would be a win-win for Big Boss if his clone were to be killed by his phantom and his phantom were to die in the process. We know that Big Boss didn’t have much affection for Solid Snake (poor kid!) and the fact that Venom needs to “disappear” anyway…well, why not both? We’ve thought about the idea of having both parties kill each other in the fray, allowing Big Boss to do whatever he wants in the future. The only issue that spawns up is: What about Gray Fox? Unless Big Boss wants to punish him for messing up the mission, he still needs to get out of there somehow.
Thanks again for stopping by. 🙂
Thanks to the author(s) for this article. I really enjoyed the reading, and shone new light of MGS TPP that almost made appreciate the game. I say almost because the paradox is that this article is better than the story it talks about!
Unfortunately, the pace and the developing of the story in TPP were too bad, slow and low key, mostly due to the open-world approach, in my opinion. Open world and the cassette tapes too, that cannot convey the same emotional depth of cutscenes (by removing them, Kojima listened to the majority of gamers, but ignored people like me “whose body is 70% made of movies”.
As with many movies actually, nice idea, nice story, nice concept, but alas poorly executed.
The story itself, as well put in this article, is not bad at all (as rightly said, we cannot play as a bad guy in a MGS!). But the ‘building’ of it had none of the great ‘tone’ of the past MGS. “Whats going to happen next?”, “What silly kojima stuff will happen now?” All these questions were met with true disappointment.
We could also have actually played as Big Boss, since he is bad only in the event of the first MG.
(And let’s be honest, by ‘betraying’ his loyal friend Kaz, (he treated him more like shit, really, since both had the same goal against Zero), Big Boss proved himself to be, rather than a villain, just an asshole.)
I agree overall with the Youtube review by SuperBunnyHop, and the majority (it seems) of comments that say “good game (tedious and boring imho) bad metal gear”. In fact, if it was called just “TPP” i would not have buyed a limited edition MGS TPP PS4 and would be happier now.
Well, thanks anyway Kojima for inventing MGS. And for the final chapter… Well, everyone gets old.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hello Mr. Kojima! 😉 Thanks so much for the read and the wonderful compliment!
In Metal Gear Solid 4: Sons of Liberty, the game itself was like playing a movie! It was ridiculous on how many cut scenes there were! Although lovely, the exposition was heavy-handed and too much at times. In response to that, Hideo Kojima implemented cassette tapes as opposed to the lengthy cutscenes. I wouldn’t have minded the long cutscenes with the new FOX Engine, though! It was gorgeous and innovative! Alas, we’re not allowed to enjoy it seems haha. Although I would kindly disagree about the open world mechanic; I usually enjoy walking around and enjoying the environment of Afghanistan or Africa. The developers did a marvelous job! But we mostly cover themes and storyline in the game, not so much on gameplay. 😉 That’s far more subjective.
Although I will agree that the pacing was incredibly off towards the end of the game. The first chapter was all well and good, but the second chapter was clearly choppy and rushed. Very disappointing. The pacing was similar to blunt force trauma I think! Like getting hit with a train all of a sudden! About a one hundred hours of gameplay and BAM you’re done. It’s a shame that the opportunity was missed! We’ve sifted through cut content and the game was meant to be so much more (especially for Venom!). It’s a mystery as to why they cut so much but we may or may not find out in the future as to why.
From what I understand, the usual MGS silliness wouldn’t be as apparent because this was meant to be a very serious game. It truly was! I remember when I first saw the children carrying those machine guns, I had to pause the game to process what exactly I was looking at! Those guns were as big as they were! The idea is horrific. It’s a powerful message as well. This happens to this day. It’s horrible. We’re also dealing with themes of revenge, in which “men become demons” (hint hint?), and that in itself is serious. I think Kojima wanted this game to be more serious compared to his previous games because of the themes we were handling. The first Metal Gear games were pretty serious as well!
Yes! Betraying Kazuhira was a jerk move on Big Boss’s part! We didn’t cover it because we believe that using and lying to Venom Snake is more treacherous than abandoning Kazuhira simply because it’s hypocritical of Big Boss to do that. Don’t get us wrong, we certainly feel for Kaz, who lost it all, but Venom lost a lot more in Big Boss’s plans.
We saw SuperBunnyHop’s review and we agree for the most part. 😀 The story-telling is a little off, but the gameplay is fantastic, but it’s overall incomplete. We’re all feeling the phantom pain here!
Thanks for your thoughtful comment Mr. Kojima. 😉
Maybe Big Boss send solid snake to kill Venom “Thank you, my friend. From here on out… you’re Big Boss.” and after that he puts the intrude n313 tape in msx, he realize the situation, smash the window and accept to fight is fate, Solid snake is comming, you can hear the gunshots of him approaching, there are no more d dogs logos in the scene, instead there are outer heavens ones. From here on out… you’re Big Boss.” and solid snake is comming to kill big boss.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Heya Cako! Thanks for the comment!
Oooooh! I really like that idea. 😮 I never thought of it that way! That could be a possibility as well. We did theorize that Solid Snake was sent to kill Venom Snake once his usefulness had worn down, but that subtle “you’re Big Boss…” and Solid Snake coming to kill “Big Boss: (i.e. Venom Snake) could indicate why Venom Snake broke the mirror. Once again, he’d see the image of the demon (Big Boss) and he’d reject it. Maybe that is why? We don’t know what was heard on the tape, so that could be a possibility as well.
Thanks for the insight! 😀
Just gon’ flex the fact that tis dude you replied to like 6 years ago is my dad
Hi S, thank you for writing such passionated article about my work 😉 😀
I wanna add something about the gameplay. I think the gameplay itself is not completely un-related to the story and its pace, especially in MG. Previous MGS were set, for the most part, in closed environment (in TPP only Code Talker mansion is present, if i remember correctly) and this already set you in a “claustrophobic” mood, and if you fail to be stealthy, is over. Even the open space like Eastern EU in MGS4 was somewhat confined and you couldn’t really escape.
Which is the contrary of TPP, where for the majority of the missions is very easy to actually escape if you get caught. The open-world gameplay leads to the “missions” approach, which are very similar to each other (destroy this, extract that), and seem more like an ‘excuse’ to let the player enjoy the various possibility of the detailed, indeed, gameplay (they even add the same missions but more difficult! 😦 )
Which is, again, the contrary of MGS1, for example, where the gameplay might be ‘fixed’, (although varied) but you go along with a single (“single”, we are talking about MG :D) story line, which develops overtime, and it has time to grow until the final climax.
That’s why i think gameplay and story are intertwined. The deep focus on the open-world gameplay naturally removes resources story wise.
Who told Kojima to do an open-world? WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO?!
(What do you think about the theory V= Gray Fox? 🙂 )
LikeLiked by 1 person
Any time Mr. Kojima. 😉 Hey, shouldn’t you be on vacation? Take a break already dude!
I understand what you mean. With the previous MGS games, the setting was more “linear” compared to TTP. I personally loved the mansion because it was so incredibly different from the other locations! My second favourite would probably be the airport in Africa. Big, wide open space with a huge fence around it. Once you’re caught, it’s almost frantic to try and find your way out. Very cool!
The repeatable missions left a sour taste in my mouth, especially when it was needed to proceed with the story. The storyline came to a grinding halt when they introduced the repeatable missions. I didn’t appreciate that either! Oh well. The [TOTAL STEALTH] and [SUBSISTENCE] were great. Just didn’t need to be forced on me, simply. But, as you mentioned, the entire idea of the open world was to allow the player more freedom to explore possibilities. As V and I played side-by-side, we found out our play styles were incredibly different. We’d approach missions differently depending on our strategies. Sometimes one of us would hate a mission, while the other loved it, and vise versa. This adds an entirely different experience depending on the player! It’s unique and clever, I think. Since the gameplay is so dynamic, this adds an element of variables such as the A.I. doing this, or doing that, or the player doing something much more different than the other player.
But I completely understand when you compare it to the other MGS games. Each area was like a step further into the story. Almost every MGS did this. Every stage was an advancement to the story! The Phantom Pain literally just dumped you in a sandbox and said, “Have fun!” Which is great, but what does that mean for the story? I think the main focus was gameplay and play style depending on the player and the situation. I don’t think anything could be linear when we’re dealing with a sandbox engine, unfortunately. There are pros and cons with both sides.
Gray Fox being V is something we’ve heard before. I was more accepting of V being Solidus (he’s a character I wish we got to know more of). Anyway, we think it’s a huge stretch to believe Gray Fox is V. It wouldn’t match up with the MG lore at all. Fox was a young child who was captured by some nasty people, tortured (apparently he got his nose and ear cut off, goodness!), and rescued by Big Boss. I believe this happens twice? Afterwards, he’s trained by Big Boss to become his second-in-command. The timeline is incredibly funky and we do there are two Big Boss’s around 1994 when the Outer Heaven Uprising takes place. Venom Snake captures and imprisons Gray Fox…so…himself? Does that mean the real Big Boss is ordering Solid Snake around? But wait, if Venom Snake is Gray Fox, wouldn’t Solid Snake be able to tell the difference when he rescues him? Ah too many questions that don’t add up haha! Like I say, I’m more accepting of the idea of Venom Snake being Solidus, but that in itself isn’t possible.
Thanks for your comment! 🙂
Hi great article!
Just wanted to get your view on the fact that Diamond Dogs base is referenced as being Outer Heaven during the game long before MG1?, for example when rescuing the child soldiers from the mine.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hello Stickz! Thanks for the comment! 🙂
You’re right! After rescuing the children, including Eli, I believe Venom Snake gives the lad a firm pat on the back, saying, “Welcome to Outer Heaven.” Something along those lines. But he does say that!
This could be a reference in the future or in the past. At the end of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Big Boss gives a speech about the MSF’s future and how the “times will define them” and “this is our heaven, and our Hell…this – is Outer Heaven.” The MSF was originally a independent military operation that removed itself from all government influence. They were soldiers who worked for money and for other countries who needed them. It was an establishment that wasn’t controlled by the government. This includes fighting for other nations who cannot fight for themselves. “Terrorists” or “revolutionaries”, they’ll be defined by whoever and whenever they fight. Inspired by his detachment from the U.S. and the ideology of Big Boss, soldiers flock to MSF’s base. During this time, it was considered ‘Outer Heaven’ but it never set in stone as the official title.
Since Venom Snake has all memories/experiences of Big Boss, and Diamond Dogs is the spiritual successor of MSF, they probably still hold the same ideology: fight for money and fight for those who need them. This is seen as we pick up contracts from all sorts of people in TTP. Like their predecessor, Diamond Dogs was a business (Kazuhira wanted this) but in TTP it became sort of a driving force to get vengeance against those who destroyed Mother Base 9 years prior – but that was all Kaz who wanted that! So Diamond Dogs might call themselves ‘Outer Heaven’ as the unofficial title because that was the last thing that was mentioned about MFS in Peace Walker. That thought probably stuck in Venom Snake’s head.
In short: MFS had the same title as ‘Outer Heaven’ back in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and since Venom Snake has all those memories, he probably passed down the MFS’s unofficial title onto Diamond Dog’s, as being the spiritual successor to MFS.
It is very possible that Diamond Dogs would “evolve” into Outer Heaven, but according to the timeline at the end of TTP, it says that Big Boss (who is in Foxhound) establishes Outer Heaven. It’s hinted that Venom Snake is “given” the base to be the poster boy of the world, but in the end cutscene in TTP, the Diamond Dog logo is in the exact location of where the Outer Heaven logo is. This would mean that either the infrastructure is a copy-cat of Diamond Dogs or Diamond Dogs became Outer Heaven. But this would conflict with the timeline, wouldn’t it? So something is very off here. Speculation is all we can do because there are small contradictions here and there.
Thanks again for your comment! 🙂
I want you to know that I stayed up til ungodly hours reading your analysis and each and every one of the comment responses, and it was totally worth it. I’m still a little unsure what to make of the big twist but your theories feel like the next best thing to closure. I’m grateful for that!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you KazBurgers, you poor thing! No one should be subjugated to all this rambling hahah!
That being said, we really, really appreciate that! We try to encourage discussion by thoroughly replying to each and every comment we get. Also to show our utmost gratitude. 🙂 Because really, it’s always nice to know that people read our work and give us feedback!
We’re glad that our article was able to provide some closure for you. Albeit far from perfect, it’s wonderful to know you got a bit of satisfaction from it. Makes all this worth it!
Thank you again for your wonderful comment! Now sleep! 😀 ⭐
Hello, thanks for writing this brilliant piece. I’ve read it twice and all the comments. It helped the plot of The Phantom Pain a lot. I agreed with most everything in it. However the one point I kinda disagree with is about Venom rebelling during the events of Metal Gear 1. I think yours is a very valid and good interpretation. I just wanted to share something I already wrote about what I thought was going on in 1995. It is kinda lengthy and repeats things you already said however I’m too lazy too edit it to make sense with what you expanded on in the comments. Sorry
I think Big Boss set up the Outer Heaven Uprising as a win-win. “There can be only one Boss.” Venom Snake will eventually have to be dealt with. Big Boss is happy to let him continue work he believed in (Outer Heaven is an evolution of MSF) but the real one wants more. An army that is a nation instead of an army with no nation. Zanzibar. However eventually Big Boss needs to be the sole leader, they cannot co-exist. That is why he sent Solid Snake in. Either he gets his unwanted clone killed and out of the way or his phantom dies and he becomes the sole leader of the Outer Heaven concept. Now a question is why BB sent Gray Fox in first. That suggest that Operation Intrude was set up to kill Venom Snake. Big Boss sends his best man in to get the job done. However I still want to go by the story from the MSX version where the South African fortress exists for a while, but it can’t be hidden forever and the West learns of it and it’s potential weapon. Fox-Hound is then commissioned to investigate so BB naturally has to send his best man in. That part still stands for me. However did BB Send him in to kill Venom Snake or for misinformation? I like the 2nd one. Big Boss is still in contact with Venom and sets a trap for Gray Fox so he is unharmed and to buy time. BB then gets the idea to send Solid Snake in and get a win-win. Either the clone or Phantom dies.
I’ll leave it there for now because that is long and put in another post. Sorry about not editing it.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for reading our article and all of the comments Clutch! We really appreciate the feedback.
Me and my co-writer were talking about Fox the other day. Why did BB send in Fox first to go deal with the Outer Heaven Uprising? We think it’s because BB wanted Fox make Venom to sleep with the fishes, mafia style. He failed, but he found out what was going on and leaked out the secret weapon of Metal Gear.
To us, it seems unusual for Fox to leak out Big Boss’s trump card with Metal Gear unless the situation is urgent. If the point was misinformation, I would figure he would try to keep Metal Gear a secret just like in Ground Zeroes when they thought the UN wanted to inspect their base.
Big Boss would have to deal with Venom sooner or later like you said. The TTP even hints this with Ocelot saying, “There’s only room for one Boss”. BB could’ve had a win-win scenario. Snake gets killed, Venom gets killed or both would kill each other. Perhaps he wanted Venom to be taken quietly, so he can still play his role in Foxhound. This all could be true.
We don’t know exactly what happened behind the scenes of Metal Gear 1. We only have hints and indications. That is Kaz saying he’ll use Venom to kill Big Boss and Ocelot saying that there could be only one Boss.
Here is the 2nd part where I finish detailing about Metal Gear 1 and talk about what Venom is thinking during all this. This was pre-written by the way.
So to recap Fox-Hound was told by the U.S gov to send in their best man to investigate Outer Heaven. Big Boss complies but also gives Venom a call to let him know Fox is coming and to capture him. BB doesn’t want Fox dead. After Fox gets captured the U.S gov doesn’t know what to do and Boss gets the idea to send his clone in. BB calls Venom again to let him know and tells him something about how Venom is the true continuation of his (their?) legacy. So Big Boss would prefer his phantom to his clone. Losing the phantom isn’t the worse thing in the world but (there can be only one Boss) but BB wants him to win. He is still a valuable asset. After Venom dies BB retrieves Gray Fox and retreats to Zanzibar, which he has already built up a lot.
I Just realized that these parts weren’t that interesting but oh well. Here is whats going on with Venom. This was also written a bit ago. That is why I do
Some people interpret Venom smashing the mirror as anger against Big Boss and Outer Heaven as an act of rebellion. However, I don’t really buy it. Venom was certainly angry about his life being taken away (how could you not) and having no legacy of his own. However Venom wasn’t the type to seek revenge. I believe Venom still played the part of a loyal soldier who does Big Boss’ bidding. This makes his story even more tragic and in line with The Boss. Venom was set up by the person he admired most. He had his identity, legacy, face, and place in history erased just to take the fall for someone else’s sins. Venom played his part perfectly and how was he repayed? With death. A death set up (albeit not intentionaly but he really didn’t care too much) by the entity he was loyal to the most. Just like The Boss.
During that last sentence I kinda realized it sound like Big Boss set up Operation Intrude to kill Venom even though I just talked about why that wasn’t the case. Oh well. I still don’t see Venom rebelling but more submissive to his eventual fate like The Boss.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hiya Clutch! Thanks for your second part. 🙂 And for your comment, of course!
You’re correct in saying that it does make the story very tragic if Venom Snake were to follow the same path as The Boss when it comes to being loyal. But we have to understand the circumstances in which these two became “phantoms”. The Boss chose her path. As a patriot, she was loyal to the people who, despite telling her flatout the mission, she still agreed to it. In Venom’s case, it was put on his shoulders without his knowledge and he was living a lie for quite some time until Big Boss told him what happened. By then, the damages have been done and Venom has nothing else left. We don’t know if Venom would have agreed to such huge terms so by not saying anything (being unconscious and all), we’re going to have to go with the default answer of “no”.
As with anything in the series, at the end of each game (save MG1 and MG2), there is always a dialog to listen to after the credits. This is always a prediction of what’s to come in the next game (or next event). Metal Gear Solid 1 had Ocelot talking to Soldius Snake, who would appear in Metal Gear Solid 2. That sequel had Otacon and Solid Snake talking about some twelve members of some sort of organization that was established over one-hundred years ago! They were talking about the Wisemen’s Committee, who consisted of The Philosophers, which was talked about over and over again in the next game of Metal Gear Solid 3! At the end of that game, Ocelot talks about some new nuclear system that would be interesting to look in to, predicting the Metal Gear mechanics throughout the series!
In Metal Gear Solid 4, Otacon, Snake, and Sunny talk about a bright future because The Patriots are dead, Zero is dead, and Big Boss is dead; the “old evils” are gone and, as Sunny puts it, “the sun is rising”. Bunch of symbolism there! So in Metal Gear Solid V, Ocelot and Kazuhira’s conversation is something extremely important to listen to. When Kaz says he’ll use Big Boss’s sons and phantom to “send him to hell” & Ocelot saying “there can only be one Boss”, you can bet there’s some retaliation happening!
My point is, throughout the series, the end dialog has accurately predicted the events of the next game.
I really like your theory! It would be interesting and tragic to see it all play out like that. However, based on what the games themselves have been telling us, it might end a little differently. Maybe! Since V already explained to you about the events of MG1 and MG2 being difficult to portray because event when we come up with answers, there are still questions that don’t make sense to us.
I think both interpretations are pretty good and plausible but yours definitely has more evidence. I was thinking of the post credits call but I did forget about how Kaz mentions the phantom and the sons getting stronger to send Big Boss to hell. That does imply Venom fighting Big Boss. I don’t really care which theory is “right” (not that there is a right interpretation) but I do want to play devil’s advocate with Gray Fox. There are ways he could be sent in and have BB and Venom work together. You brought up about why Fox leaked the Metal Gear information if BB was working with Venom. I think it is very possible Fox wasn’t told a lot. You said (jokingly) that Boss and Fox “besties” and why would BB set him up for failure if the uprising was part of his plan. It is highly possible Big Boss didn’t care for Fox an extreme amount. Fox wasn’t like Miller where he was a partner and fellow leader of the troops. Fox cared for BB because he saved his life twice (somehow even though he in a coma for 9 years) but it didn’t go both ways. Fox was simply a very good soldier. The best Boss had. Just like the Medic. BB doesn’t have a great history with his best men. Fox probably wasn’t told what was going on to both make the ruse more realistic (I’m sure people were monitoring his mission) and because there hasn’t been a single mission in the entire Metal Gear series where the main operative knows the truth about his mission. Fox was kept in the dark and then captured and Big Boss would either free him later or just not care about him and keep him captured to keep his 2 identities a secret for longer. As for why the transmission of “METAL GEAR…” was made. It is possible that they set a trap for Fox, however Fox overachieved and got a little too far before being captured and discovered Metal Gear when he wasn’t supposed too (similar to Solid Snake. I really like the theme of both Big Boss and Venom completely underestimating Snake.) I think there are ways that Gray Fox’s infiltration still makes sense in the idea that Big Boss and Venom are still working together. Also I have a question about all the traps set for Snake at the end of the game. If Big Boss wanted him to kill Venom then why was he setting all these traps for him over the radio and telling him to turn off the game console. Unless that was Venom. But I figured the real BB was over the radio and Snake didn’t encounter the phantom until he killed him. Thanks for responding I just wanted to make those points and see what your response is.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Wassup Clutch! Thanks for another insightful comment!
Let’s get right into it, dude. 😀
“It is highly possible Big Boss didn’t care for Fox an extreme amount […] BB doesn’t have a great history with his best men.”
This may or may not be true. What we do know is this: he and Big Boss had gone through a lot during the 1980s. He had rescued Gray Fox a second time during the Mozambique civil war. The war lasted from 1977-1992. In the 1980s, they were together until the war ended. That’s a long time! Gray Fox and Big Boss were fighting along side one another for quite some time, so there must be a significant bond between the two of them. BB even saved Fox and Naomi at one point! She talks about their bond in MGS1 briefly.
Naomi says, “He brought us to this land of freedom , this America. But then he and my brother went back to Africa to continue the war.”
This implies a strong bond between Big Boss and Gray Fox if he [Fox] was willing to leave his “sister” behind in America. Big Boss wouldn’t risk losing Gray Fox if they’ve been through thick and thin over the years. Fox is his best soldier, hence earning the codename ‘Fox’, which is the highest one can earn in Foxhound.
So it seems very unlikely that Big Boss would put his best man at such a risk.
“Also I have a question about all the traps set for Snake at the end of the game. ”
This one is a little trickier to answer. V may know more about it than I! But I’ll try my best:
In MG1, Big Boss’s codec becomes a little strange as he’s talking with Snake. It seems that he’s leading Snake into obvious traps and is trying to get him killed! It’s heavily implied that this is Venom Snake instead of Big Boss. Since they sound the same, this would make sense, and since Venom Snake is essentially defending himself from Big Boss, this would also be plausible.
We don’t know how Venom Snake would intercept the codec between Snake and Big Boss, or if that even happens, but from what we gathered in MGSV and predictions of future events, speculation is all we got!
Thanks again for your comment! 😀
Yeah I guess if Liquid Snake and Deepthroat could call Solid Snake and Liquid do it with the same number MIller used in Zanzibar then I guess it is possible for Venom to get in to Snakes radio to spy on him. I just like the idea of Snake being deliberately screwed over by Big Boss and being underestimated. The thing about the original Metal Gear is the events are so vague that pretty much anything can be said and make enough sense. As for Big Boss and Gray Fox’s relationship, Gray Fox was certainly devoted to him but we don’t know what Big Boss thought. I just don’t trust anything about Big Boss after the Phantom Pain. I have a question for you. Throughout the whole series Big Boss is portrayed as someone who cares for the individual soldier. BB’s motivation is that the government of each nation screws their soldiers over and doesn’t care for them. BB wants a world where the individual soldier has value and a place to fight. Big Boss is a father to his men and cares for them as individuals. That has been established in pretty much every game in the series until V. However what happened to the medic obviously contradicts these statements. My question is do you think that was a one time thing or what Big Boss thought in general. Did he grow to see his soldiers as tools to complete his goals? Was he so focused on completing his goal that he viewed everyone around him as pawns to further his ideology? Or was the medic a one time thing. The medic was involved in a desperate time and wasn’t even his idea and a one time thing to protect himself. Other than the medic he still cares about his fellow soldiers. Or has he become so warped that his paranoid mind can trust no one and he views the people around him as weapons. So did Big Boss care about soldiers with the hypocritical exception of the Medic or did he care about nothing but himself and his goals? Solid Snake did call him a hypocrite in Metal Gear 2( not sure about context or what he was referring too) but was Big Boss a hypocrite about Venom Snake’s creation only or did he stop caring about the individual soldier. I just wanted to know what you think of Big Boss’s post 1984 views. Thanks this has been an insightful and fun conversion.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Wassup Cluch! 🙂 Thanks again for another insightful comment!
Like we say, the events of Metal Gear 1 and Metal Gear 2 are very difficult to analyze because even when we come up with answers based on evidence we see throughout the series, even more questions come up! We don’t really know the exact relationship between Big Boss and Gray Fox, so we can only assume based on what he says in MG2 and MGS1. From those we can infer they were close. How Big Boss saw him may be another thing. We personally think Gray Fox and Big Boss had a strong band throughout the years.
Big Boss’s transition between bad and good was done poorly, we think. The only evidence we have are the tail end events of Peace Walker in which he gives that foreboding speech about how they will be defined by the “times” and all that jazz. Big Boss did indeed want a world for soldiers but he also fought for himself. He was selfish in his ideology as he gathered more men and women who shared his views. He wanted an endless cycle of war so it could be a world for him to live in. Although we know that he cared about his soldiers, The Phantom Pain threw all of that out the window. Your suspicions are justified in this regard.
“My question is do you think that was a one time thing or what Big Boss thought in general. Did he grow to see his soldiers as tools to complete his goals?”
This could have been a one-time thing, since it’s so very specific. We also have to remember he abandoned Kaz, who was captured and tortured by the enemy. It was Venom Snake who had to go out there to rescue him! We can already see that Big Boss’s priorities are off from how he treated two of his best men (Kaz especially). We don’t know why exactly it happened. It seems that Big Boss woke up and suddenly decided to abandon everything and chase his dream. Big Boss may care about the individual soldier, but we can see that is very different in TTP. Like we mentioned earlier, he’s selfish and appears will do anything to get his plans in action. We wouldn’t call him paranoid as much as we’d call him obsessed with war. He doesn’t view his soldiers as weapons against him, more like tools he can use to feed the cycle of war. He’s so driven that he’s willing to orphan children to turn into soldiers for the next war. If he cared about those soldiers, who grew up hating war but needing it, it’s possible Big Boss didn’t see them as people anymore. It’s clear that he’s not sound of mind anymore by the time we reach Metal Gear 2. He cared for himself and his ideals only because he never knew “peace”.
V is more knowledgeable about the events of MG1-2 so he’ll know the question of “why does Solid Snake call BB a hypocrite”. I think you’re onto something there when we’re referring to him caring about soldiers, and we see some of the soldiers in his army suffering because they hate war – but can’t live without it.
Thanks so much! Its fun discussing these things, isn’t it? 🙂
P.S. Happy Halloween! I hope you have a good one!
I’m not sure if someone already mentioned this, but to me the downfall of Big Boss (both of them) is all over MGS 5. They’re both building a nation that profits from war, that is: killing, sabotaging, destroying, etc. He’s destroying infrastructure and doing other people’s dirty work in countries such as Afghanistan. This is pure evil IMO. And all in the name of a stupid revenge. Even though he’s respectful to children, I can’t see this as something that could somehow exonerate him of his evil deeds. It’s interesting to see that from few people are mentioning this, it’s like what Big Boss is doing is okay just because it’s in countries that we (as the player) are very far. Even if you play without killing anyone you’re still profiting from war and disrupting the social fabric of countries. All of this is exactly what the (evil) Big Boss wants: an endless cycle of war, because his very existence depends on this cycle.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hey Dfatori! Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂
You’re right! Although one is building a PMC business and the other is literally building a nation, the methods might be similar. We don’t know what Big Boss is doing in order to build that nation but we can imagine it’s not the greatest methods in the world. Again, we agree that using blood money isn’t justifiable, however, the motivates between Venom Snake and Big Boss are different.
It’s apparent that Venom Snake doesn’t want revenge. He keeps his cool and composure throughout the game. Even Kazuhira Miller makes a comment about it. Venom doesn’t have any satisfaction out of getting “vengeance” against Skull Face when the time comes. So his motive for revenge isn’t there because he simply doesn’t want it. It is true, however, that he is in the PMC business. He is a mercenary and they operate using blood money.
We also have to remember that Diamond Dogs are also rescuing scientists and prisoners! They save children as well. They don’t only kill and sabotage infrastructures. They do good in the world as well as do bad. The potency of those actions is up to us to decide, ultimately (“Is a child’s life more important than that of an enemy?”). It’s a moral gray area. Again, not justifying, just giving two sides of the same coin as it’s not as black and white. This is Diamond Dogs, but with Big Boss, we don’t know what he’s doing to achieve his goals. We already do know he sacrificed a hospital and one of his own soldiers, however.
The biggest contrast, however, is Venom Snake’s memories of The Boss. As we see in the FOB ending, he quotes her and desires a world with a “better future”. He disarms nukes instead of creating them. This is the complete opposite of what Big Boss would do. This isn’t what Big Boss would want. He wants all nukes intact so he can be the only nuclear power in the world, thus, having constant war like you said. We don’t know how long this will last, sadly, and we do know that Venom Snake will eventually fall.
The PMC business isn’t anything to be justified. Venom Snake probably doesn’t like the idea but he strives for a better future. He doesn’t want to be that but war is war and war is Hell. Venom rescues people and at the same time can kill. What do we decide from this? It’s not simple. His moral compass isn’t spotless of course but compared to Big Boss, especially when we look at the FOB ending, it’s just a tad better.
Thanks again for commenting!
Reblogged this on scottsthoughtson and commented:
A well thought out critical analysis of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and its ambiguity. Worth a read.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for the reblog! 🙂
You’re very welcome. Great piece you did there, I’ve been wanting to write something myself about the game as I think it’s a very interesting product of equally interesting circumstances.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Why thank you! We enjoyed thinking and writing all of this out. It’s awesome that you’re wanting to do a piece as well – we say go for it!
I do have a quick question: where on earth did you find this? 😀
Oh it was just on a video game forum I sometimes visit, they were having a discussion about development issues with the game, and how it might have affected the story. Then came some arguments over the interpretation of the story itself, a poster dropped a link to your essay somewhere between all the arguments, so I took the time to give it a read. A stroke of luck really haha.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Sorry for the delay in replying! Anyway, I was only asking because we get people from everywhere here and we were thinking of putting up a poll to see where most of the “traffic” is coming from. Just out of sheer curiosity! Thanks for informing us. Inquiring minds want to know is all. Good luck on your future endeavors in writing! 😀
Thanks for the nod and reading through our article. 🙂
You forgot to mention that Venom did everything one handed. Hahaha.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Haha! Hey Nero! Thanks for reading – and the funny comment!
Hm! You’re probably right. Poor guy made all of those accomplishments single-handed! 😉 Happy Holidays!
“At the end, we know that Venom Snake will fail in his attempts to rise up against Big Boss. Even in death Venom Snake will continue to be swallowed up in Big Boss’s legacy and act as a decoy against his enemies. His actions will never be remembered nor will they be acknowledged.”
I don´t think Venom Snake failed. I think he sacrificed himself (letting himself get killed by Solid Snake) to destroy Big Bosses plans. This would totally fit into the MGS universe, because it´s the Bosses legacy and would make Venom a true unsung hero.. The official MGSV guide talks about sacrifice a lot. The guide even says that Ocelot chose to die when he fought Solid Snake in MGS4.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hello Sola! Thank you for the comment. 😀 Sorry for the very late reply. We’ve been preoccupied lately.
Venom willingly sacrificing himself could be a possibility as well! You’re correct about the sacrificial themes which circulate throughout the series. Although I’m not sure if Venom would allow himself to die to foil Big Boss’s plans (after going through all the trouble to create Diamond Dogs/Outer Heaven), perhaps his heroic deeds are the attempt at peace but will ultimately fail because it isn’t achievable?
Going against Big Boss would foil his plans anyway. By that I mean: trying to achieve world peace. We know there’s an alternative ending to MGSV where all the nukes have been destroyed and peace has been achieved. That would directly conflict with Big Boss’s plans because he wants constant war. Venom wouldn’t need to sacrifice himself. His actions in the FOB ending alone is troublesome enough for Big Boss.
But this is just speculation and all. 🙂 Thanks again for the comment!
I see my analysis is already under “Recent Posts,” but if you haven’t already seen it, I’d love for you to take a look at it. My analysis was heavily influenced by this (fantastic post) and in a lot of ways it’s just a greatly expanded version of your own thesis.
Here is the introduction, the rest of the parts are on my blog:
LikeLiked by 1 person
UPDATE – My analysis is now complete. I have added an entirely new Part 3 and Part 5 (old Part 3 is now new Part 4, also Part 2 is slightly smaller). These Parts provide a far more comprehension presentation of Venom Snake’s ideological divergence from Big Boss, the relationship between Venom and the player, and the overall thematic thrust of MGSV. Enjoy!
Thesis – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain tells the story of Big Boss’s moral downfall via carefully constructed comparisons with Venom Snake. The relationship between Big Boss and Venom Snake reflects both the relationship between Big Boss and the Boss, and the relationship between Big Boss and the player. In both cases, Big Boss’s reputation is used as a smokescreen to obscure his true intentions.
Full Introduction: https://objectivevgaesthetics.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/the-phantoms-pain-turning-venom-snake-into-the-boss-a-metal-gear-solid-v-narrative-analysis-introduction/
Part 1: https://objectivevgaesthetics.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/the-phantoms-pain-turning-venom-snake-into-the-boss-a-metal-gear-solid-v-narrative-analysis-part-1/
Part 2: https://objectivevgaesthetics.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/the-phantoms-pain-turning-venom-snake-into-the-boss-a-metal-gear-solid-v-narrative-analysis-part-2/
Part 3 (NEW WITH UPDATE): https://objectivevgaesthetics.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/the-phantoms-pain-turning-venom-snake-into-the-boss-a-metal-gear-solid-v-narrative-analysis-part-3-2/
Part 4: https://objectivevgaesthetics.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/the-phantoms-pain-turning-venom-snake-into-the-boss-a-metal-gear-solid-v-narrative-analysis-part-3/
Part 5 (NEW WITH UPDATE): https://objectivevgaesthetics.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/the-phantoms-pain-turning-venom-snake-into-the-boss-a-metal-gear-solid-v-narrative-analysis-part-4/
LikeLiked by 1 person
My goodness, that’s a lengthy post! I’ve read your article and given my reply. 😀
Folks! If you see this – read it! It’s an excellent article! Bravo Fahertym!
LikeLiked by 1 person
This was the answer what I was looking for. Initially I thought this story sucked and now with full understanding I truly love the story (minus some of the cringy dialogue). All of the evidence here of both your uniformed analysis makes the most sense to me. BB used V like how the American politicians used BB in MGS 3. He gave BB a Boss’ death, only he died in an explosion while Boss died in a field of flowers. It’s quite poetic. Snake eats Snake. Oh my god. Venom got Snake Eaten. I know that’s obvious but it still shocks me. I’m definitely carrying this phantom with me because this game is the best out of the MGS series imo.
Okay, here’s a theory… Just bear with me it’s kind of a funny long shot.
When BB built Outer Heaven, he probably got invaded by Venom because the mother****** had a teleportation deployment/extraction device developed during TPP playthrough which could signify he had better technology and military prowess. TPP was quite a journey. Venom might’ve spared his life so he wouldn’t become a demon like him in a perpetual cycle of vengeance or something to that note. So he let him go like how he let Quiet, Skull Face, and Huey sort of “live”. BB had to give up Outer Heaven and joined up with the US government to plot against Venom. He might’ve conjured a plan where he kills two birds with one stone by sending Solid Snake on a suicide mission.
Theories of why Venom says in the end of MG1, “I am the supreme commander of the FOXHOUND Unit and the leader of the fortress of Outer Heaven, Big Boss. I gave this mission to you, a rookie, thinking I could use you to fool the rest of the world. But you were too good! You went too far! Solid Snake, I’m not going down alone. I’m taking you down with me! Prepare to die!”
1. (CHICKEN HAT EXPLANATION) Um, this is retconned? lol
2. (Meh, just an idea) Venom cracks and becomes more like Big Boss during their confrontation. i.e. he suffers schizophrenia induced by the years of pretending he’s BB and the amount of tremendous stress he’s dealt with forced his hand to become Big Boss.
3. (DECENT EXPLANATION I HAVE) Venom was tired of fighting, so he actually let himself die by not trying as hard and wanted to kill the legend of Big Boss by allowing himself to fall thinking that this might hurt BB in the long run for his “lust for revenge” and that he too will fall. I mean, Venom is a phenomenal soldier that bested innumerable soldiers in the battlefield for so many years. He’s beaten so many enemies and he just gets “killed” by a rookie? Come on, the real BB gets beaten by Solid Snake later in Zanzibar so that was potentially an indirect consequence of choosing to lay down his weapon like how the Boss metaphorically did in her fight with BB.
4. (A BETTER EXPLANATION) Venom said all that to test Solid Snake and see if he can really defeat “a” Big Boss. With his death, he knew that his vengeance/justice could be carried on through Solid Snake. If Venom killed Solid Snake, then he knew that he’d have to do it himself. Remember, Kaz Miller said he would build the sons and the Phantom to kill BB. This could’ve been Training Day for him. Someone was bound to kill Big Boss somehow… i.e.e Solid Snake kills him with FOXDIE but hey, I mean that’s one way to skin a cat.
5. (BEST EXPLANATION) Kojima is trollololol and I am all wrong and I’m totally missing something because I’m a dumb. The end.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi Gian! Very sorry about the delay.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment! Happy to hear we’ve provided you with some security in regards to the story. The elements are there, as we’ve explained, but the execution is leaves much to be desired. You have a unique way of framing it as well! “Snake Eater”–I never thought of it that way!
You bring up an interesting idea of Venom sparing Big Boss. Although we don’t see it happening, let’s think about the idea. If Venom were to spare Big Boss, what purpose would there be for Venom? Could he take over at Big Boss after? Replace him even? Big Boss might be too large of a threat to leave alive. You are correct in saying it would be out of character for Venom Snake to kill Big Boss, however, that is the tragic aspect of the story. It would be a shame for Venom to descend into that “demon” persona but at this point, what else would there be? After discovering the awful truth, one wouldn’t blame him for going full vengeance. I do agree on the suicide mission involving Solid Snake and Venom Snake. Two birds with one stone seems favorable!
1.) Ahaha the Chicken Hat! I think it’s just a mechanic in the game. I’ve never tried it personally. Looks too silly! Sometimes the missions can be difficult and I suppose people might use it! Just imagining Venom Snake fighting Solid Snake wearing that thing is hilarious, however!
2.) That is a very real possibility as well. It would be tragic if Venom Snake lost his mind in the end, however, he would become another Big Boss in the end.
3.) This is more of an argument of how badass Solid Snake is. Yes, he was a rookie, but he was a badass rookie. And if Venom Snake wanted to die by one of Big Boss’s soldiers, he could’ve allowed himself to die at the hands of Gray fox, who was sent first. Solid Snake was sent after. I don’t think Venom would build up his base, his army, and even obtain a Metal Gear just to allow it to all fall apart on principle. He meant business when he built up Outer Heaven and wasn’t about to give it all up without a fight. I mean, since Venom is, essentially, the player, would you allow someone to come into your home and wreck your stuff? 😉 Wouldn’t you want to defend your home with everything you have?
4.) Again – why allow himself to be killed after making the effort to create Outer Heaven? You do bring up a good point about Kaz, tho. I suppose Venom might’ve been the first attempt to go after Big Boss, but then once that failed, he decided to use Snake. Venom might’ve been considered more capable since he’s a full-grown soldier with the physical/mental capacity to take out Big Boss, rather than a clone of Big Boss.
5.) You’re not dumb, Gian. 😀 It’s good to exercise these ideas because they could be a possibility. There are some holes, clearly, but this is Metal Gear Solid we’re talking about. It can be difficult to wrap your head around because Kojima is a bit of a troll.
Thanks again for your insightful comment! Take care!
Hey, thanks for this work focused on V, it was really a great read. I specially enjoyed the bit of V also interpretating the Boss’ Will with a pacific mindset.
There’s some points I’d like to discuss (maybe it’ll look confused and be confusing to read but my english is not top notch :x), based on what I saw on the game and what you’ve posted.
To begin, Ishmael/Big Boss in the hospital. You brought it up to point that Big Boss is no longer a hero – by leaving innocents people to die and all- and I believed at first too that The Phantom Pain would revolve around the change of Big Boss from hero to vilain, but what if it’s not the point of this game, what if he never was there?
Here is something I found weird upon seeing the ending: what would be the point of going as far as creating a decoy to protect Big Boss if they let him in turn protect said decoy at his own peril?
There is this thing Ishmael says when first talking to V: “Who am I? You’re talking to yourself”.
Later we witness that V can have complex hallucinations with the Paz affair, so it could possible that he totally creates Ishmael.
So this brought me, to think that every interraction directly involving Big Boss in TPP is just a creation of V’s mind trying to cope with the situation he is now counscious he’s in.
Like the tape he receives, the “From the man who sold the world” one -I totally agree on the “there is only room for one Boss” thing, but getting in V’s shoes (not difficult after playing him for days XD) I would love to hear Big Boss acknowledging and thanking me for shouldering his load- or the scene showing Ocelot giving Big Boss new idendity papers, when at the supposed time Ocelot should be on the whaler with V, en route to Afganisthan.
I truly think that everything supposed to be the Truth at the end of the game is just fabrication of V’s mind to adjust to his situation of becoming a phantom, or at least learning he became such an existence.
In the end -I mean by that the moment V punches the mirror while listenning to ‘Operation Intrude N313’ in 1995- it does look like V ends up loathing Big Boss and what himself became for him, a demon.
Anyways, main point is that TPP doesn’t feature Big Boss at all, it only serves to tie up some loose ends the precedent MG games brought -and raise a damn lot of questions at the same time XD- with the introduction of Big Boss phantom in the big picture. What would be your opinion on that?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hello Da Lang! Thank you for your comment–and for reading! Your English is fine by the way. 🙂
Regarding the hospital incident: we can speculate about what if he wasn’t there or not for ages. If he wasn’t there, I can’t imagine anywhere else Big Boss would be placed. In the middle of a desert? Below the earth? He was at the hospital for the simple reason that he would be safe. I can’t imagine any other location for him to be where he wouldn’t be safe. The point is he was there and he (and Ocelot) agreed to use the staff who had helped him (and the patients already in the hospital) as decoys while he ran for cover. We believe that Big Boss’s ambitions takeover any moral reasoning and thus, allows innocent people to die at the hands of his enemies.
You’re referring to why they protected Venom Snake at the beginning, I assume? Venom was being protected because he was needed. I doubt there was any sympathy. He was simply seen as a decoy to be used like the people in the hospital. Venom was being protected because he was seen as a necessity, nothing more. Big Boss awakened a week before Venom and the whole event was planned out.
“Who am I? You’re talking to yourself”
I believe that line is used as a subtle hint about who Venom is/was and who Ishmael is/was. There are many hints about Venom’s identity throughout the game. They weren’t exactly subtle about it! So I’ll list that under “Foreshadowing”. Ishmael could be a hallucination, but I’d argue: how did Venom get out of the hospital then? He could hardly move. Walk. Or do much of anything. Was all of that imagined? He acted like a man who truly just out of a coma for almost ten years. Near helpless! What about the van situation as well? The hallucination idea raises far more questions than answers, I think.
As for Paz–she is a direct result of Venom’s guilt for not saving her. That’s a legitimate response. As the medic, he tried to save her in his last moments. Heck, it’s implied that bits of Paz was removed from Venom (tooth/bone) during surgery. You can think a part of her remained within him and this is why he’s seeing visions of her. Or it’s his way of coping and accepting her death. The human mind is a crazy thing sometimes.
Speculation on the “Truth” ending can go on for days and I’d wager your guess is as good as ours. It came so suddenly, unexpectedly, and without reason–it made absolutely no sense to us! Haha! We interact with Big Boss very little in this game. The beginning and the end. Once you know the ‘truth’, however, you can infer there’s a lot of Big Boss in this game!
One can see that Venom is “cleaning up” after Big Boss by taking on his enemies such as Skull Face. Venom is feeling guilt for actions he never committed, but Big Boss did. Such as the nuke on Mother Base and the Metal Gear in Peace Walker. You can see the influence Venom has on soldiers, but it’s actually Big Boss. You’re living in the shadow of Big Boss throughout the game. You may not be interacting with him directly, but his presence is felt without a doubt. As his “meme”, you’re carrying out his legacy, whether you want to or not–a choice was never given to Venom (you)–and it’s almost a homage to how The Boss was used in Metal Gear Solid 3.
Thanks again for your comment and reading!
I posted the below on a forum discussing the ending, this is my interpretation and possibly get you thinking about it all again.
Also what do you think of Huey and Kaz, their is no direct evidence that huey is guilty and mission 43 could well be a set up constructed by kaz, didn’t he send the materials with the radiation outbreak to huey’s lab? huey may of been last one to touch equipment but damage could of been done before the equipment got to huey’s lab and huey could just be guilty of negligence at worse. DD soldiers can be heard in conversation on mother base that they don’t by the huey guilty story and know one knows what actually caused the radiation. I also think that their is more to Kaz’s eye’s, he clearly hesitates on opening mission when venom asks ” what’s wrong with your eye’s?” they are same colour as code talker and i don’t think blindness is a explanation as he appears to have no trouble with his sight, we know he was in contact with the skulls as he explains in opening mission, so not out of question that he could of been in contact and infected by skull face, but kaz seems to have no special abilities so he does not have the one that covers but if he did have the true parasites why would he not be in critical state as his lungs start to fail, could kaz be intolerable to the parasites and is this the real reason he was assassinated prior to shadow moses as this was the source for the vaccine to fox die that ocelot had, i know the parasites are not fox die but fox die does originate from the parasite’s. Also i think big boss has schizophrenia and venom snake is split personality but his own personality in his own right,The book moby dick does also elude to schizophrenia and is still speculated to this day that ishmael and ahab are the same person. ishmael is a narrator and we see the events of moby dick through his perspective much like with venom, Ishmael is a unreliable source in the book as he state’s he is a historian of voyage’s and well educated but not a experienced seaman, yet he often gets his historical facts wrong in the book and come’s across uneducated and he pauses consistently in the book to say that what he say’s is true and really pushes this and tries to convince reader( like someone who is lying would), he also knows of events involving ahab and his crew that ishmael was not present at in previous voyages and private conversations and events Ahab has with crew members that ishmael was not present or told of, He knows a lot about ahab a man he had never previously heard or known and does not have a relationship with. Ishmael could not know unless he is lying or he is ahab. I don’t just believe big boss has schizophrenia because i believe that is the case in moby dick book, i believe he does because of the lies and inconstancy’s in the phantom pain that you also point out in your video, the whole thing does not add up to truthful facts and venom shows clear systems of schizophrenia that the venom is a medic explanation fails to explain and has to much to suggest that is a lie.
In hospital scene Ishmael gives ahab a shot of dioxin as a “pick me up” dioxin is not a pick me up and is used to regulate heart rate for someone with conditions such as hypertension where the heart is having to work very hard, giving someone dioxin after just waking up from coma would likely put them back into coma or kill them, this cannot just be a mistake as plants used for dioxin are also largely in the game and used for tranquilliser rounds.
I do think big boss has schizophrenia and does not know who he really is, he is no longer the big boss of old. I know he hallucinates but i think the truth tapes are cipher taking advantage of his mental state and influencing big boss while using the big boss meme and “legend” the man himself created to influence him, as that was alway zero’s intention to use the perception of “big boss” to influence society and a propaganda tool, i think he does this using the false icon of big boss as that is all it was to influence big boss and shape the future, the big boss he was( end of peace walker)and the big boss he will become again is the only detterant against cipher and the ai system that can be controlled. The outer heaven and zanzibar events are also essential in the influence of further events with liquid and solidius being influenced directly by big boss war against cipher and push to do the same with their own will, outer heaven and zanzibar fuelled the fire of further conflict and war against cipher, thus still not succumbing to complete un challenged power of cipher. Villians in some perception in liquid and solidius was a reason for a hero like solid snake who ultimately played a vital role in bringing down cipher, the circle of war and conflict and revenge had to continue and play its part, zero understood this and needed big boss, ocelot understood this. Venom snake is influenced by big boss, his own personality that he embodies and is unknowingly lead by this “icon” he himself created to bring out the big boss he once was the struggles between venom snake and demon snake, venom snake and big boss his split personalities he believes he is someone else(the player/medic/venom snake) and he is but he is also big boss the legend and he is lead by this and ultimately fully embodies this again by time of outer heaven. ( hence mirror scene ) ( very similar to the film “fight club” and the first spider man film with william defoe)
Ocelot knows this and will support the rise again of big boss( their is only room for one big boss) and kaz still has the vision he and big boss once started building which is to have their own private military force primarily as a business not a ideology, we can see power struggles in the phantom pain with miller and ocelot and miller and venom and he ultimately will leave diamond dogs and side with what makes business sense which is why he joins foxhound and the patriots/cipher and keep the conflict and war going as it is business and is essentially, he makes himself a enemy of big boss and those who follow big boss such as ocelot even though kaz is not directly fighting big boss.From a business and risk reward stand point kaz is making the better decision. Emotionally, in the phantom pain kaz showed resentment towards big boss for what he feels is betrayal consumed with revenge this is his only way of expressing himself he can’t face his demons either much like big boss and looks to blame and scorn, he directs this at big boss, i don’t believe he knows big boss has schizophrenia and does not have the vision of ocelot and zero who know more than miller of what cipher is capable of and the path cipher is going, ocelot seems content to keep kaz to only know as much as he knows as kaz would be led to play his own role his revenge would help fuel conflicts.
Thats my interpretation of the game and taking into account the other games and how ocelot and zero was always ministry of truth and shaping the future, also just think if the other games had not giving the big reveal and explantation at the conclusions we would be left with games very similar to phantom pain with truths within the lies that we would be dissecting, lets imagine that none of the other games had epic conclusion’s explaining all, we would of finished mgs3 believing the boss was a traitor, the ministry of truth was always a feature in the games it was just revealed and decoded for us. This time as we are the player not the audience we experience it from a first person point of view and how it would feel to be deceived and manipulated and to some it up played like a damn fiddle.
I loved your analysis and agree that ishmael is a hallucination, i think the struggles between venom snake and demon snake and the un washed blood and growing horn, the references to schizophrenia ocelot makes in paz scene and huey being shipped out scene, pills on shelf at mirror scene which match the look of schizophrenia medication, the hallucinations a common side affect of schizophrenia, the personality shift we witnessed in peace walker and differences in solid snake and then big boss at the end of game, post traumatic stress of fallen comrades big boss clearly struggles with, post traumatic stress of the boss assignation naked snake even more clearly showed signs of, the distinctly different shadow big boss had in ground zero’s not matching himself, the small case of being in a helicopter crash followed by a nine year coma and being told by medical professionals that their has been damage to ceribal cortex which is part of the brain, and then the utterly awful explanation that this was all due to big boss being a medic while the truth mission is full of what are inconsistency’s of which can not possibly be true and are either further hallucinations or a lie. It only makes me believe this is schizophrenia more. The evidence that ishmael is a hallucination far out weighs evidence that ishmael is big boss, actually their is no evidence ishmael is big boss.
Reblogged this on Nova Fantasy.
very nice analysis !
when I first saw the truth ending I thought Venom was working for Big Boss and fought Solid to protect him, so I argued against the fan argument that Solid was sent to Outer Heaven to kill a rebellious Venom. But now I wonder if there might be two canons running at the same time ? il might work something like this :
universe A : Miller trains Venom to kill Big Boss. Venom rebels against him and uses Diamond Dogs to create an utopian version of Outer Heaven, calling himself the real Big Boss to the mercenaries in the region. so the real Big Boss, who leads FOXHOUND, sends in Gray Fox then Solid Snake to kill him. Miller, from FOXHOUND, sends in the tape to warn his boss of the treachery. Venom gets angry and punches the mirror. after the mission is complete, the real Big Boss then saves Schneider (who was always pretty much on his side anyway) and disappears to create the real Outer Heaven in Zanzibarland. Miller then goes with his own plan B and trains Solid to kill Big Boss instead. also the nuclear disarmament scene happens before the truth ending and Venom is talking to The Boss.
universe B : Miller tries to train Venom to kill Big Boss, but Venom stays loyal to Big Boss despite knowing the truth of what happened at the hospital, listening to Ocelot instead. there is still only one Big Boss, who is Naked Snake. Venom willingly gives up his own life to become “his own man” only as a part of Big Boss. Venom creates Outer Heaven and models it following Big Boss’ orders while Big Boss is safe in America. Miller is also there, he is still trying to convince Venom to kill Big Boss but at the same time he is also training Solid, his backup weapon. when America becomes aware of Outer Heaven’s nuclear intentions, they send in FOXHOUND and Big Boss chooses Gray Fox, who is not part of Outer Heaven at this point, only FOXHOUND (he would only join Big Boss after the events of the first game). Then he sends in Solid, but Big Boss sends the tape and warns Venom of what is going on. Venom still follows orders but is pissed off about having to kill David, when he already killed the other son, Eli (or so he thinks) ; as he has Big Boss’ memories but not his personality, he genuinely thought about Eli and David as sons. so he punches the mirror. Solid goes “too far” and kills Venom, Big Boss uses the opportunity to disappear. the nuclear disarmament scene happens after the truth ending and Venom is talking to Big Boss.
we get no proof of either universe being the real canon, but maybe that’s the point : they’re both canon. it’s up to the player to decide whether Venom ultimately turned against Big Boss or not. considering that technically, Kojima is Big Boss, this might also be symbolic of having to decide between loyalty to Kojima and his future games or Konami and the Metal Gear universe.
because we see so little of Venom’s character in-game, we can only make assumptions of what he would do. but at the same time, the one who keep assuming what he would do and essentially rob him of his personality are the players. after all, we are Big Boss too !
I love hope open ended the game is, and depending from where you come from in regards of playing MGS you get a wholly different experience. If you played all of them, that ties into the things Oceloth says about the phantom having knowledge of all of Snake’s missions, and if you go in blind then that plays perfectly into the way Snake’s personality.
Another thing is how the game introduces new cycles. In my mind Venom becomes the Joy prior to Snake Eater, because of what they both had to sacrifice, while Naked becomes like the Joy after Snake eater, making the player (Snake) feel betrayed by his intentions just like Snake felt about Joy putting down her gun. Adding to that, you also have Kazuhira and Adamska having a falling out over the phantom much like the one John (Snake) and David (Mayor) had over the les enfants terribles project.
Venom’s tragedy is also felt throughout the game also comes to mind. Mimicking everyone from Skull face, Volgin, Quiet to Paz. IMO Paz most so. The way the Major talks to her in the truth tapes. Saying “she’s already begun” and that’s she’s not the first Paz Ortega Andrade: makes me think she’s undergone something similar as Venom Snake.
Another beauty is the way “two” of the endings are made unreachable for the players. One ending (mission 51) was canceled early on in the development of the game and the other is up to the players (nuclear disarmament). But like you’v said it yourself, and Paz puts it, even if it (that peace) is a lie, you can always dream.
Très belles félicitations!