Mother 3's second segment is dominated by a dysfunctional pair.
…which was done absolutely no favors by the abrupt shift in tone emanating breezily from Chapter 2. What was it I was intended to draw out of this seemingly incongruous portrait of a crusty thief and his quiet, supposed dolt of a son, fresh out of the innocence-obscuring blows of the preceding chapter?
Another look at a family, it turned out—layered in levity, and nearly undone just the same.
Wess and Duster hardly represent an archetypal family unit. There’s a family of five’s worth of bickering and contention between them, but most of it rockets from the elder’s mouth before coming to a condescending smack on the shoulders of his son. The dynamic between them is built less from moments of recognizing any sort father-son kinship they might share than it is from Wess’s casual, open-handed beratement of Duster as his pupil in the art of thievery.
Wess’s callous demeanor comes in the name of his trade, the skills of which he attempts to force into his son through a regimen of item retrieval and teasingly dismissive moments of attention. As the chapter progresses, however, there’s noticeable tenderness, relenting, and senile silliness in the minutiae of his words and actions as they pertain to Duster; his caricature slumps from antagonistic loudmouth to grouchy well-wisher with questionable parenting methods.
The stretch encompassing the opening fifteen or so minutes of the chapter cements its status as a side view of the thundering events previously witnessed, though not without its own consequential moments. Duster’s fetch quest in Osohe Castle is as much a training exercise—introducing the momentum-shifting rhythmic element of battles—as it is an opportunity to impart perspective on a number of issues, both present and oncoming. In an indelible sequence of moments, there’s a glimpse of a certain corruption being introduced by an outside party, as well as its blossoming perversion of an idyllic society. At the same time, characters who quietly suffered through the brunt of the previous tragedies get the chance to speak, at least for a moment, honestly and poignantly.
Seeing them on their own, at least temporarily bereft of their protagonist puppet strings, is liberating in its own simple way. For one character, my involvement in his present arch seems to have done some good, and I’m happy to see him off into his independent role. For the other, it’s the only glimpse I’ll likely get before things spiral into event…