Let’s Play Along: “To the Moon” Act III

The fabulous Nathain at Time to Loot is hosting a play-along of To The Moon, a game that follows two doctors as they try to grant a dying man’s wish to go to the moon (roll credits), although they aren’t quite able to discern why he wants to go to the moon.

There are unmarked spoilers below for the second act of To the Moon, so proceed at your own risk! Check out our spoiler-filled responses for Act I here and Act II here!


I’m woefully behind with these posts, but let’s start with the questions posted concerning Act III.

    1. Johnny… Joey… Twins. It seems after the accident Johnny lost his identity to his mother, and became a replacement-Joey. Does it change how you feel about Johnny as compared to your Act 1 impressions?

    Not really. In Act I, I was very judgmental of Johnny because of his interest in River stemming from what he thought she could do for him. Finding out that Johnny had a twin brother who died in a car accident doesn’t change that.

    I understand his frustration at feeling like he lost his identity, and it made his enjoyment of pickled olives and the Animorphs series a little more tragic, since it also seems like he changed himself a bit just to please his mother, but understanding why someone does something doesn’t make it better or more acceptable.

    At the end of the day, Johnny was initially interested in River because of what he thought she could do for him, which is where Act I left off, for the most part.

    Maybe he moved past that eventually. It seemed like he did, and that certainly changes my views of him. However, a tragic backstory doesn’t absolve a person’s actions. Understanding a behavior doesn’t make it an acceptable behavior.

    I realize that sounds very harsh, so I’ll give an example.

    I work with children on the autism spectrum, and many of them have some less-than-pleasant behaviors like hitting and spitting and biting (and many of them do not). One of my clients would have a flash of rage without any reason that I was aware of (note: there was a reason, but I am just not aware of it), and one day, we were having a lovely session when all of a sudden he yelled, lunged at me, and bit me on the arm. He held on until another staff member came and helped get him off.

    I have some theories as to where the bursts of anger and aggression come from, none of which were in his conscious control. To that end, I can say that I understand why he did it. But… biting people isn’t acceptable behavior in society, regardless of the reason.

    So… I’m very sorry that Johnny felt like his identity was blurred or erased, but using someone to make yourself feel better isn’t okay. Nor does refusing to learn more about a medical diagnosis that affects the person you love.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think Johnny loved River, for sure. But there was just something about those two events that rubbed me the wrong way to the point of them coloring my view of him for the whole game.

    1. Eva and Neil have a verbal sparring match on their differing views of contract vs. what they now know (or think they know) about what would make Johnny happier. Outcome of Eva’s actions notwithstanding; do you sympathise with one view over the other here? 

    I understand Eva’s concern about fulfilling the contract and her fear of the legal ramifications, and also the trust a patient puts in a doctor to honor their last wishes. But I also understand Neil’s concerns. His statement of “we know what he wants better than he does” was an interesting twist; what happens if a doctor does “know better” than the patient? At what point do we as a species dare to cross that line and take away a person’s autonomy?

    Ethics and morals aside, I was yelling at the screen (in my mind) that “to the moon” meant to be with River again. Just look at all the rabbits she made to remind him! He “met” her for the first time at school, but she remembered him! She spent her whole life trying to remind him of his promise! Why am I understanding this but the smart scientists whose job it is to figure this stuff out aren’t?!

    I admit, Athena had no chill during this part. I think part of the reason for that relates back to my distaste at the whole idea of changing someone’s memories, as I discussed back during the Act I questions.

    Simply, I sympathized with Neil. He seemed to want to leave well enough alone, and might have been willing to problem-solve what “going to the moon” meant, had Eva not been distracting him by implying she was going to delete River.

    One thing that pushed me over toward Neil’s side is that, in this case, Johnny didn’t know why he wanted to “go to the moon.” He just knew that he did. And then Eva and Neil discovered the real and true reason why, which would have changed the direction their “job” went.


    It also made me think that, if I were ever going to have someone fiddle with my memories, I would leave detailed instructions as to what I wanted, and what things were not to be touched.

    1. Throughout that same exchange, Eva asks Neil to trust her. He clearly didn’t. Did you? 

    Nope. I didn’t think she was going to do anything that was purposefully evil, but I didn’t trust her to not erase the most important thing in Johnny’s life just to put him in a rocket.

    1. “He can always find another ‘River’… But he’ll only have one brother.” Again, pretending for the moment you don’t know the outcome of Eva’s actions and what she (suspected) would happen… Do you agree? What about in this context of overwritten memories as opposed to life as it was? 

    I’m on the fence. I have a brother and a sister, and I would be devastated if anything happened to them, and you can bet your bippy that if there was some way for me to save them from dying an untimely death, I would jump on it with both feet.

    But on the other hand… I waffle back and forth with the idea of soulmates. I am of the opinion that if you find someone to love, and who loves you in return, that’s great and you should go for it and be happy, because life is too short. My immediate reaction to that statement was “no, he won’t.”

    That “River” in his NASA “reality” wasn’t the girl he found at the fair, who he gave his platypus to, and who tried her whole life to show him just how they were made for each other, from their very first meeting, as unlikely a couple as they were. The new “River” was a colleague from work. So, maybe it was a woman with red hair named River who had Aspergers syndrome, but it wasn’t the same person.

    I’m still not sure how I feel about sacrificing an entire lifetime of memories – sacrificing an entire lifetime – for one false memory, no matter how sweet, but we already started talking about that during Act I.

    1. Anything you wish I’d asked you about that I haven’t, for this act or any of the others? Answer that question for this one. 😉 

    Do you think Johnny ever wanted to physically go to the moon?

    No, I think somewhere deep down, he remembered that he promised River that if one of them got lost, they would meet on the moon. I think he loved River so much that he felt lost after she died (or maybe she died so he saw her as “lost”), and he was just expressing that he wanted to “go to the moon,” that is, he wanted to be with her again. I think, on his deathbed, he finally realized (or remembered) what River had been trying to tell him all along.

    Considering my viciousness toward him during the first act, I think that gives him a nice character arc, even before the memory switches happened and changed his memories.

So, apparently there is more to this game! I’m still woefully behind, but we’ll be back soon with some thoughts on the SigCorp Minisodes. In the meantime, what are your thoughts? What did you think “to the moon” meant? Did Johnny get his wish?Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon!
~ Athena

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