Phineas Gage and the Canon Courier

Discussion in 'Fallout: New Vegas Discussion' started by KingArthur, Jun 23, 2020.

What’s the canon ending, in your opinion?

  1. NCR

    1 vote(s)
  2. Not At Home

    6 vote(s)
  3. Yes Man

    7 vote(s)
  4. The Violent Wasteland Gay Bar

    1 vote(s)
  1. KingArthur

    KingArthur You Have Alerted the Horse [REDACTED]

    Jun 25, 2018
    So, I don’t think anyone has made a thread like this, or if they did, I couldn’t find it by searching. What the thread IS is mainly two things:

    1) my argument against a Good Karma Courier

    2) Hopefully a discussion about what the canon ending (faction and karma) likely was, and I’ll give hints as to my inkling (meaning I’ll state my opinion flat out).

    So first of all, in terms of Karma, I can’t see a Good Courier even being viable. My reason for this is the nature of their injury: brain damage.

    Let’s look at people who have survived brain trauma akin to bullets; first, Gabby Giffords, shot in the head by a maniac with a rifle. Now, going into Gabby Gifford’s story, it’s important to note that speech in the brain is governed by two sections: Broca’s Area and Wehrnicke’s Area. It’s not important which does which for the purposes of the thread, simply that damaging them can result in either not understanding/recognizing words but being able to speak, or recognizing words but not being able to express oneself verbally without significant speech therapy. The latter happened to Giffords.

    Her personality was untouched, miraculously, and she was still the same woman, but her language, her ability to speak, were horribly damaged and required a large amount of speech training to fix.

    The Courier speaks just fine (we think), so why is this relevant? Well, it ties into my argument as to why the Courier’s brain damage is more like my second example: Phineas Gage. We all likely know the story; railroad worker tamps some gunpowder and an iron rod flies through his skull. Ouch. What happened to Gage, you may not know; his personality became erratic. He could speak fine, unlike Giffords, but his brains were scrambled. Friends described him as quick tempered and easily distracted, not the man they once knew.

    I believe the Courier is more like Gage than Giffords. Should Benny shoot the Courier once, then somehow fuck up the lethal temple shot when they’re on the ground (which I suppose he does, considering that New Vegas even happens), they can speak, but wouldn’t it stand to reason that the round knocked something loose? Would the Courier really become Santa Claus of the Wastes, or would they rather become like Gage, quick to distract and quick to anger? In that vein, we have to use another psych example: Doc Mitchell’s eval.

    The Trait system in NV, as you know, is in the form of a psych eval. Now we’re gonna use me as an example. I have Borderline Personality Disorder. There’s a bunch of shit that involves abandonment issues and such, but we only care about one aspect of my disorder: violence. Some Borderline people self harm, others get violent fits of rage. The really lucky ones, like myself, experience both and become actual sociopaths off their meds.

    Now, while the Courier is free to choose no Traits, say they have an underlying condition. Wouldn’t the bullets emphasize that shit? How would the rounds to the head impact someone who’s already suffering from likely untreated mental illness? Wouldn’t it stand to reason that the hostile dialogue options, and perhaps even Terrifying Presence, are canon, simply due to that?

    Furthermore, the ending... as hostile as they are, I’d argue House is canon, or Yes Man. I say those two simply because, in the case of House, a “Chaotic Neutral” or “Lawful Evil” Courier is like to side with the man who makes him rich. I see Yes Man as the other canon option because, well, if the Courier does have an underlying mental illness made worse by being shot, it wouldn’t surprise me if they killed high-and-mighty House for the sin of being a pompous dick.

    In any event, those are my theories. What did you think of my logic? What are your theories as to a canon Karma and base game ending?
  2. Dragula

    Dragula Stormtrooper oTO Orderite

    Nov 6, 2008
    Independence is canon.
  3. Aurelius Of Phoenix

    Aurelius Of Phoenix Psued.

    Mar 9, 2018
    The House ending is the thinking man's choice.

    The Yes man ending is the wannabe revolutionaries' choice.

    The NCR ending is the "BUT MUH DEMOCRACY! BUT MUH OLD WORLD VALUES!" moralist's choice.

    The legion ending is the thinking barbarian's (militant fudge-packer's) choice.

    The OWB ending is the "I FUCKING LOVE SCIENCE" retard's choice.

    The Dead Money ending is the sex robot (hologram) aficionado's choice.

    The Lonesome Road ending is the nihilist's choice.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
  4. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Archives Overseer

    Mar 16, 2013
    I have spent far too much time in the past autistically trying to create sensical narrative arcs out of the quests in NV so I do have some thoughts on it.

    With the way the game is structured in quest-design and narratively I'd say that the "canon" or route that at least inclines that way is a Courier that mostly sides with NCR but ultimately betrays them at Hoover Dam with Yes Man.

    I don't believe it's the Legion for obvious reasons. I don't believe it's House because I think the Brotherhood gets too much of a look-in with the likes of Veronica, all their questlines and the ties to Elijah and the DLCs (Seriously, doing the HELIOS ONE route for 'I Could Make You Care' segues narratively into Dead Money so well I feel like I'm missing out when I don't do that quest before DM) for the Courier to just scrub them at some point. (Although I could see an argument for a Courier who helped Veronica leave, convinced of the Brotherhood being dead-ended and wiping them out) and similarly his questline is fairly minimalist. However personally I do think it makes 100% sense for a "Canon" Courier to do House's first job with the Chip, getting it from Benny and activating the Fort army. It feels like a solid continuation of the main quest.

    I don't think it's straight Yes Man because going full Indie right out the gate because the Wild Card questline is so barebones in terms of structure and presentation and it would IMO make sense for Yes Man to be a trick up the sleeve (An ace in the hole as the questline is referenced) that the Courier is keeping cooking in the background until the time is right to show his hand.

    The game is broadly heavily skewed toward the player assisting the NCR whether it's at McCarran or wherever else, and the NCR's main-questline itself is the best "tour" of the map and the various factions whilst also conviently allowing you to check off the boxes for "getting to know" all of the tribes for Yes Man. It feels like a complete journey to get paid by NCR to go explore the Khans or the Boomers, taking your paycheck with Crocker or Moore and then walking back to Benny's hotel room to report to Yes Man what you thought of them as a kind of debrief. This also gels decently with Old World Blues, with the Courier adding the Think Tank sneakily as another card to their deck. This then works extra well with NCR ordering you to go pop-off House. I think House is too well-written and embedded of a character to where killing him off immediately or early is very anti-climatic and would be weird for a "canon" version of the story. So, later on in the game NCR tells you to wipe out House. Perfect opportunity to, at the same time, upload your robot buddy to the Lucky 38 Mainframe after you're done. NCR wants you to save the President, as does Yes Man.

    At the battle of Hoover Dam itself, I always thought the way that the dialogue is phrased and the quest structured that it seems like the NCR are shocked you're turning on them at the Dam and not helping them like you always do. Them not really questioning your presence, Oliver handing you a cigar and laughing about how he really wishes he had more of you etc etc don't gel as smoothly with a full Indie courier totally seperate or actively hostile to NCR itself.

    I think Independence makes the most sense because in terms of the endings it's literally the biggest gamble. With the other factions you have clear images of the short-and-long term, with Independent you only know the short term and what it means for the Mojave in the long-term is literally anybody's guess. Tie that together with all the "21" imagery tied with the Courier (Not just the Vault Suit but his Dead Money collar # also being 21), the fact that it's originally Benny's plan, the fact that Independence is the only non "Old World" faction, the Forecaster's predicition and the whole deal made out of the Courier fostering the Divide, a community that lay in between NCR and Legion and strengthed by the adventurers/travels of the Courier (much like the Mojave) that represented a potential future and something new, better than both NCR and Legion. My only inkling otherwise is that the NCR ending provides much more fleshed out and narratively conclusive/satisfying ending slides than Independent. Independent has a lot of missing slides, loose ends or weirdly phrased endings that it doesn't feel quite as complete.

    I mean overall the game thankfully, like so many others, doesn't have a clear canon or dev intended path and you could literally make an argument for the most sensical/best narrative being literally any of the factions, but that is my 2 cents on the matter anyway.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  5. kharille

    kharille First time out of the vault

    Jul 2, 2011
    Gage had his front brain destroyed. That controls some higher functions such as inhibitions as well as anticipation and projecting into future possibilities. Oh and impede the speech skill. Gabs had half her brain destroyed, the left side I believe which would be the more logical side. Not sure about the damage to the Courier, don't recall reading into Benny's shot.

    Wonder what would be the best canon result for an intelligence 1 courier?
  6. Legion, probably. To someone with 1 Int, the 4 Int Caesar would probably seem like a genius.
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  7. Malpais Dominus

    Malpais Dominus First time out of the vault

    Jun 1, 2020
    If there were to be another game the canon ending would almost certainly be an "independence ending" shrouded in mystery with Kimball, Caesar, and House all dying from circumstances that are never made concrete.
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  8. KingArthur

    KingArthur You Have Alerted the Horse [REDACTED]

    Jun 25, 2018
    I can see the Indie side of things; frankly, if the Courier does have frontal lobe damage, in all likelihood he’d kill House (especially considering 3 out of 4 factions require it).

    As for Legion being canon... oh, I wish. Unfortunately if Beth made another (let’s face it, Avellone and his team aren’t getting another crack, at least not together), they’d either go ambiguous (as @Malpais Dominus said), or NCR because Bethesda loves their widespread appeal and Old World Blues.
  9. Malpais Dominus

    Malpais Dominus First time out of the vault

    Jun 1, 2020
    I can only imagine a bethesda written NCR. Would probably look like it was a propaganda piece made by the NCR themselves considering how little bethesda understands about the setting or gray morality. Their treatment of the Legion would make Inglorious Bastards look like Triumph of the Will as well for how cartoonish and arbitrary they like their villains.
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  10. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Archives Overseer

    Mar 16, 2013
    Truthfully the West Coast will just simply never be touched again in Fallout. End of story. It is far better off that way.
  11. Malpais Dominus

    Malpais Dominus First time out of the vault

    Jun 1, 2020
    That would be ideal but considering bethesda has started to mention the west coast more and the NCR by name in Fallout 4 combined with New Vegas' increasing status as a cult classic makes me very afraid of them trying to cash in on that.
  12. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Archives Overseer

    Mar 16, 2013
    I don't see why. Fallout as a creative IP has been raped thoroughly enough as is. I disregard everything that isn't Fallout, Fallout 2, the Fallout Bible and New Vegas already so doing it to another Bethesda product won't hurt my reverance of the original IP.
  13. KingArthur

    KingArthur You Have Alerted the Horse [REDACTED]

    Jun 25, 2018
    Imo it’s less fear of the IP being fucked and more fear of sullying the legacy for people newly coming into the series.

    Look at it this way; Beth is already selling NCR shit on the Bethesda Store. They have something in mind for the West Coast, and whatever it is, I don’t like it already.
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  14. Malpais Dominus

    Malpais Dominus First time out of the vault

    Jun 1, 2020
    This is pretty much how I play New Vegas except I do all of the NCR's side quests and pretend to side with the Legion for all the main story quests because I like the idea of the Courier getting an intimate idea of how each faction works. Help the NCR because it seems like the default "right thing" to do, become disillusioned with them, work for Mr. House because at least it pays better, get further frustrated with the state of the Mojave, get seduced by the simplicity/purity of the Legion's idea of justice, initially turn down Benny's plan but have it in the back of their mind until the Legion too ends up disappointing them, and then deciding that no one else knows what's best for the Mojave unleashing the Securitrons. I think it blends well with the idea of the Courier being the "synthesis" that Caesar talks about but wrongly believes will be his Legion. Taking what works from each faction and discarding what doesn't.
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  15. KingArthur

    KingArthur You Have Alerted the Horse [REDACTED]

    Jun 25, 2018
    I do enjoy the idea of the Courier going Indie after witnessing each other faction fuck up. It’s a good concept.

    I feel that the Courier, at that point, is the embodiment of a punk rock, DIY aesthetic moreso than wannabe revolutionary.
  16. Black Prince

    Black Prince The Fool on the Hill

    Jul 8, 2020
    Thematically speaking, when one takes into account the "lesson" that is being taught not only through the main game but the DLC, it's Yes Man/Independent. Personal opinions on which faction is the best ideologically aside, the Independent Path makes sense in the way of the themes being presented throughout the course of the game. It's most obvious in Dead Money, I think, but it's hammered on elsewhere and even in the base game. It can be summed up in the slogan of Dead Money:

    Begin again, and know when to let go.

    None of the other three factions are capable of this. All of them are wrapped in the Old World in one way or another, hung up on the past and all its baggage for good and for bad. House is the most obvious, and so is the NCR. House is the Old World, a relic of a bygone era. With him in charge, things will run smoothly - coldly - and all of his dreams that he was never able to let go of will continue. House is a genius, but he's a man of luck primarily. It is by sheer luck and luck alone that the Courier manages to do what he does - assuming a House endgame. The NCR is also wrapped up in the trappings of the Old World, presenting itself in the symbols of Old World Democracy and all of that. But they are likewise, due to their inability to let it all go - of their own imperial ambitions in Baja and the Mojave and elsewhere, of their own corruption and decadence - they will succumb to the same disease that struck the Old World. The Legion has taken upon the images of ancient Rome while not knowing their power, and indeed Caesar is deadset upon Vegas, the Mojave, and all of New California, because he can't let go of it all. He will doom his own empire in the pursuit of his conquest of the NCR.

    The merits and the possibility of a true Independent Free Vegas aside, it is the only one that fits with this theme. My feeling is that the Courier sides with House up until he goes to the Big Empty and the Divide, and turns against his former employer once he realizes the meta-theme.
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  17. KingArthur

    KingArthur You Have Alerted the Horse [REDACTED]

    Jun 25, 2018
    That honestly makes sense, and makes me reconsider my views on the House ending. Huh.
  18. Black Prince

    Black Prince The Fool on the Hill

    Jul 8, 2020
    On the surface, the House Ending seems to be the "best" one but it really doesn't quite fit with the theme of the game. The theme hammered in throughout its entirety is about letting go of the past, letting go of the Old World and its symbols and its dreams and its delusions and its games. House is a mummified Old Worlder clinging to life in a stasis tube, hellbent on not only returning to the Old World but resurrecting its dreams. His vision may seem to be about beginning again, but he misses that last part: but know when to let go. In his pursuit of recreating Vegas, he's created a mess on the Strip that he can't contain because he's locked inside his ivory tower, unable to actually do anything. He is a Think Tank Brain that hasn't gone insane yet, basically. If he had been conscious for all of the decades since the Bombs, he probably would've gone insane.

    Personally, I'm a Legionposter, but I can recognize the meta-theme of the game and see where the logical conclusion of everything that's said points towards. You have, at the end, an inherently 'Good Karma' Courier who dismisses the NCR for their incompetence, their Legion for their shortsightedness, and breaks from House when realizing that the future he promises is one of coldness, and of no real progress except on his terms. Because House hasn't, and will not, let go.
  19. Cathedral Psyker

    Cathedral Psyker Telekinesis? In my Fallout?

    May 6, 2020
    I think that a House ending may seem the least conclusive, but it is the best way devs could resolve New Vegas if necessary. Assuming they could make a west coast fallout game, the House ending allows all factions to remain alive (except the stagnant Mojave brotherhood of steel).

    The dlc like Lonesome Road and Dead Money overtly suggest to let go of the old world and forge something anew, while Old World Blues shows the degeneration of pre-war research outfits. In Old World Blues the courier can appropriate the boons of pre-war research to improve technological outlook of the Mojave wasteland.
    Thus throughout the game the player is nudged towards Yes Man, seeing house as an inward autocrat who wants to maintain Vegas as the jewel of the Mojave (like his snow globes). Likewise the avaricious plutocracy of the NCR proves to be a more fragile imitation of the old world, and Caesar’s Legion is quickly discarded by most due to ‘it collapsing when Caesar dies’.

    Despite this, I don’t think wild card is a good choice just because of the potential for Yes Man to seize power from the courier. It’s possible that in a qualitative sense he doesn’t have the capacity for true artificial intelligence, but it’s likely that he has made the upgrades necessary right after Hoover Dam. Collectively the fungible computing assets of the securitrons and House’s network amount to more than ZAX in the glow and the medical mainframe in San Francisco. Both of these computers were self-aware, and the latter even alludes to the possibility of ai instigating the Great War. Comparatively these computers are harmless, not just because they claim to harbor no animus towards humans but also because they lack mobile bodies, sensors, networking, and tools of manipulation. The companion Skynet operates remotely through the robobrain from the Sierra Army Depot, but is more of a passing pop culture reference but concerning if canon.

    Yes man is front and center with the single key to one of the most powerful polities in the Southwest and likely has the computing power to outfox the superior economic resources of the NCR (or bait them into civil war). An accident of his programming- or feature if House hedged against betrayal- would be self determination. Yes man could keep his agreeable facade and then say “thus always to tyrants” to the courier in the same way he seized power from House. Through imitating House who is the legitimate ruler he could get them to cooperate with his plans. The computer ruling Vegas may become another hard obstacle in human perseverance, amidst tunnelers, poisonous cloud, scientific abominations, and the remnants of past horrors. Human survival would be like orchids growing out of volcanic rock.

    Tl;dr it is bargaining with Mephistopheles to give Yes Man control of the administrative reigns of New Vegas.

    There is also the possibility that if Yes Man is obedient the player character is an incompetent ruler, or that the Mojave’s internal factions cause trouble. The beauty of this is that it all depends in degree on your initial stats, roleplay, and quest choices.

    Both House and Yes Man share the weakness of pretending to have jurisdiction over the vast Mojave desert of Southern Nevada with perhaps 1000 securitrons. Either they fortify New Vegas and include key settlements like Goodsprings while leaving the rest unguarded, or risk spreading themselves thin. Either way a .50 caliber rifle in the hands of a ranger or centurion will be able to shoot outside of the range of a non-seeking missile; the securitrons would exhaust that expensive ammunition quickly. Depending on the range limits of a Gatling laser they are better off waiting in ambush behind rocks for ncr divisions. As House puts it, the threat of counterattack from the other side dissuades NCR or Legion from attacking him. The legion with its three states and ambitious birthrates has enough attrition recruits to continually throw at securitrons (and perhaps overwhelm), but the ranged capabilities of securitrons may ward them off. The legion is more clever, and praetorian guards with the frumentarii show they will use better means. For House’s purposes NCR sanctions are worse than invasion, but if the NCR was committed in total war Vegas would be had.

    House may not be able to implement all of the lofty technological feats he boasts of but in this respect a high intelligence/science courier could complement his blind spots. The will, the excess capital, and the track record of House indicates to me an optimal outcome relative to Yes Man. Many also discount the possibility in a House ending of the courier molding the regime to have elements alien to the old world, and the courier inheriting the rule of Vegas from House when his body cannot sustain. A House ending utilizes his intelligence and leaves the possibility for later betrayal by the courier. Given that he lapsed in and out of life support for many years, his quick rebound in the 2270’s to establish a government in Vegas proves he is determined to move forward with a long term plan to restore the human lot.

    A House ending gives the NCR a chance to sort out its structural problems instead of using imperialism as a pressure release, and Vegas forms a buffer state that allows for some detente between the Legion and the NCR.
    If Caesar dies, the legion may split up like the Mongol hordes did as they conquered Asia. I suspect though that an effective successor could arise after Caesar as the filius divi (id est Octavian) or the legion may become a theocracy venerating a deified Caesar.

    A victory for the NCR or the legion will lead to asymmetrical warfare as traditional tactics won’t get the legion deep into NCR territory with what was once an expansionist war becoming existential, and NCR not being able to push deep into Arizona without logistical failing. Stuff like Lonesome Road nukes and the brotherhood attack on the Redding gold would be more common. The House ending allows each faction to survive or die on the merits of their ideology and societal governance, and that’s why it should be canon.

    Alternatively we never hear about what happens if a future Fallout took place in the northwest. The setting would be geographically divorced from the affairs of the core region.
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  20. Ugly Kid

    Ugly Kid Still Mildly Glowing

    May 9, 2018
    Josh Sawyer said that when Yes Man was going to become "more assertive", it just meant that he'll make it so only the courier can order him around. Of course, you might be thinking, Yes Man can just make it so he himself is independent, but the Courier could just say "don't betray me" and Yes Man would have to say "Yes".

    Plus Yes Man has at least a century worth of planning from Mr House, by the time the plans run out I'm sure the Courier's nation would be well fortified with Securitrons, Boomers, Big MT, and maybe even the BoS(Although they may betray the Courier, there are many other things on the Courier's side in comparison to the BoS.). And assuming the Courier got the Great Khans to flee the Mojave, I'm sure their new empire would be on friendly terms with the person that found them their new glory.

    And I'm sure there are more than 1000 securitrons, if not then they could just make more. There are several factories around the mojave, and if the Fiends of all people could get one up and running then I'm sure the Courier could too.

    And the concerns that the Courier may be a bad leader are swept away for me in the DLCs. In Dead Money, the Courier got the others to get along until they made it into the Sierra Madre, and after they get out they continue to get along and only leave out of fear of each other. In Honest Hearts, the Courier can lead the tribes of Zion to glory alongside either Joshua or Daniel, and even persuade Josh to not do a bad thing. In the slideshow for Old World Blues, the Courier frequently comes back to Big MT just to check up on them and solve problems now and then. And in Lonesome Road, the Courier leads ED-E to the temple and convinces him to let go, then can do the same thing to Ulysses regardless of who you're rooting for. In each DLC, the Courier is shown to display various leadership skills. There are some examples in the main game, like leading the Khans to realizing their true value, finding a better leader for the BoS than McNamara, taking over Gomorrah, leading the Boomers to glory, leading the Enclave Remnants to work together and convincing someone who HATES the NCR to work with them, pulling Goodsprings together to fight off the Powder Gangers, and even getting each of the companions to realize their true potential and see the Courier's way as the right way. And I'm sure there are more examples I can't think of right now.

    And even if all of that doesn't matter...

    Don't you think Yes Man betraying the Courier could make for a really cool story, maybe as a comic book, maybe as a tale told in future games? The Courier is kicked out of the Lucky 38 and Vegas entirely, Yes Man has been making more securitrons than he let on and even convinced the Courier's ally factions to turn on them somehow. The Courier would have to either have to talk to their allies and convince them to help take out Yes Man, or the Courier fights back hundreds or even thousands of people to get back at Yes Man. In the end, either the Courier wins and is idolized by everyone else even more so than before, or the Courier dies and the people are unsure of the new AI controlled society they live in.

    Don't you think the NCR being pushed out of the dam, Oliver angry he lost, and Kimball being blamed and impeached, would make for an interesting story? Maybe the next president of the NCR does everything that Kimball does wrong, right. The NCR will see their failures are because of stretching too thin and claiming territory while unprepared. And all the while, Oliver gets demoted and has to try to gain the title General again. While doing so, he plans his revenge on the Courier, and then there's a war between the Courier and their allies against the NCR.

    Don't you think the Legion being pushed out of the mojave, Caesar dying, the Legion fracturing, and Lanius trying to put the pieces back together, would make for an interesting story? Lanius would become the new Caesar, maybe he doesn't fully understand Ancient Rome and tweaks the aesthetic a little. Maybe Lanius is not only Caesar, but also still the Legate, or maybe he gets a new legate who is even more powerful than he. And all the while he is placing the Legion back together, he plans for a war against the Courier and their allies.

    And at least the last two happen, they could happen at the same time or far apart, either way when each war occurs, the Courier would've built up enough of a military to fend off the invading forces.

    If the first one is also thrown in there, then it could be a key part of the Courier taking back Vegas since Yes Man has to also fend off the NCR and Legion.

    Plus, here are the outcomes for the other factions:
    NCR expands further and further east until almost all of the American west is NCR. And now boring, since there are barely any new factions showing up and conflicts would occur less and less, "why fight them when joining them insures your safety?".

    Legion takes over New California, Caesar eventually dies, and the Legion fractures harder than it could ever have been thought possible. Then the American west is just the modern Middle-East and society goes from 100 down to like 5.

    Mr House eventually makes a peaceful, prosperous Mojave wasteland. No more conflicts with other nations since a couple of months of planning can destroy anyone who tries to defy House. House's people go to space and then all that's left is peasants who couldn't afford the trip to sapce.

    TL;DR even if independent isn't the best ending, it has so much story potential that we shouldn't even care.
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