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Just Joshin' Ya
WARNING: This post contains major spoilers for the PS4 game Until Dawn. Also, I know this is a fictional story with fictional characters. It is a great story with decently rounded characters. I just have social commentary about it. Ahem...
I have watched about 11 playthroughs of Until Dawn. There are so many reactions and choices that people make. Some players figured out the plot of the game on their first episode of their Let's Play. Others did not understand what happened even after they had finished. Here's the jist of the plot: Twins Hannah and Beth disappear while at a party in their parents' mountain lodge with their friends and brother Josh. Josh invites everyone who was there to the lodge at the same time the next year. Haunting/psycho killer/paranormal stuff ensues.
In the middle of the game, the player finds out that Josh is behind most of the creepy stuff that is going on (but not the killings) so he can avenge his sisters. Before this reveal, it is possible to find several clues that hint at Josh's poor mental state. First of all, he wants everyone to return to the lodge. No one really wants to go back but they want to help Josh heal from the tragedy. If you find the bat in the cellar while trying to turn on the boiler, Josh can reveal that his movie mogul father became too busy to spend time with his son. The other clues are well hidden. He had been in and out of the hospital even before his sisters disappeared, seen several doctors, and had been on several medications. They finally found one that works and he seemed to be stabilizing. Then he stopped taking his medication and going to see his psychiatrist (at least it is implied he is a psychiatrist. I have rarely been to a psychiatrist that spent any attention on talking to the patient).
Josh cracks after he reveals himself as the "psycho" who has been messing with his friends. It is funny to watch as are most scenes featuring an over-the-top crazy person. Teen slashers commonly end with the killer derailing. Most of the people I watched play Until Dawn hated Josh even after it is revealed that he is mentally ill. I could not help but feel bad for him. He probably needed a major hug and a good cry.
Two things really irked me about the mental illness plotline. First, he stopped taking his meds, the ones that were finally working. That is the dumbest and most dangerous thing someone with a mental illness can do. Diabetics do not stop taking insulin. Asthmatics do not stop taking a controller. Someone with a mental disorder does not stop taking their medication unless under the advice of a doctor. And yes, it is THAT important.
Second and mostly, his parents kept it from his sisters and friends, even Chris whom he has known since 2nd grade. And obviously he was close with his sisters who knew he was sick but did not know the severity of his illness. His friends are worried about him as they make their way up to the lodge. If everyone were clued in on his mental state, there is no telling how everything could have played out. His twin sisters would still be dead (or maybe not if his sisters kept him dry which would have been a good idea but they're irresponsible teenagers), but there would not have been any reunion at the lodge. He had so much support available, which is crucial in managing mental illness, but they had no idea. My prediction is that his movie mogul father did not want the bad press. Josh was his embarrassment that had to be hidden away so as not to ruin his reputation. It cuts deep for me, so I had to point it all out.
If you had been part of the teenage group, what would you have done with Josh?
Still, I hope there is a sequel having to do with the alternative ending. I would love to see Josh have a true chance at revenge.