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Father, Shaun, and the Institute

father shaun institute story theory

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#1
CaarosKingOfChaos

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So, there seems to be some debate on what exactly is going on with the whole "The leader of the Institute is apparently your son, Shaun" point in the storyline. What I am going to do is put forward all the information I've gathered on the subject, and then put in my opinion/theory. Then I would like to see what you all think.

 

Information-

So in the main storyline, you are introduced to man who goes by Father, and claims to be the Sole Survivor's son, Shaun. According to father, it has been 60 years since he was taken from Vault 111 by Kellogg, and that he has ascended to be the leader of the Institute. To show that he is grateful for the Sole Survivor's role in being his parent, he gives the player unrestricted access to the facilities of the Institute. However, many people question whether he is truly Shaun. While there are a few avenues that the Sole Survivor could take to confirm or deny this, like a blood test or checking possible databases of detected openings of Vault 111, none of them are available. This is for two reasons, one more solid than the other. On one hand, the Institute could fake or tamper with almost anything the Sole Survivor could attempt to do, twisting it in their favor. On the other hand, any avenue for the truth could turn the player's opinions too quickly, which leaves the answer very obvious and one-sided. Bethesda most likely wanted this important part of the story to be left to player interpretation, making the storyline more interesting. So in order to find the truth, one must look to the evidence that is displayed throughout the game.

 

First of all, why would the Institute only take a child from Vault 111? The best possible explanation is that with a child, they could continue to observe how the body functions throughout growth, thus being able to perfect their gen-3 synths of any age. But why would they let a child, whose only purpose was being a resource, ascend to any rank of Institute scientist? This is most likely for two reasons. One, a large portion of Institute scientists are not 'evil' and are seemingly kept in the dark about the Institute's darker side (Like Virgil and his FEV research later on) so they likely grew attached to the child shaun during the time he was a resource, and would be adamant against letting Shaun be simply disposed of. Two, a child fresh from a Vault would have no past experience with things like morals, making that child perfect for molding with the more malicious side of the Institute.

 

But there are many inconsistencies to keep in mind. One, look at Kellogg at the time of him taking Shaun from the Vault and the time of the Sole Survivor catching up with him. No difference in appearance that would be caused by age. While it is safe to reason that his life has been prolonged by the Institute, it makes no sense that only Kellogg would get this and not Father. If you are going to keep your best weapon (Kellogg) in good condition, why not keep yourself in good condition too? The Institute isn't stupid like that, if they had that technology they would use it to the best of their abilities. Two, when you finally encounter Kellogg and he tells that Shaun is with the Institute, he mentions that he's a good kid. While it is feasible for Kellogg to view even the aged Father as being younger than him if the age extending point was true, he simply wouldn't do that. Say Father is actually Shaun, combine his age by the events of 2877 and the fact he spent a couple hundred years in an icebox, and it's obvious that he would be too old for him ever to be referred as a kid, especially not by Kellogg. Kellogg might be a murderer and a mercenary, but he is honest enough to not lie about that. Besides, it is revealed through his memories that he personally wishes to see the Institute's downfall, so he probably would have told the Sole Survivor if his son grew up to be the head of a murderous corporation he hates, rather than saying that he's a good kid. The final inconsistency is that even though Father greets you as family when you finally meet him, up to that point he has let the Institute's Synths target you like a regular wastelander. If he truly saw you as family, he would have brought you in as soon as possible. He wouldn't risk you dieing at the metal hands of those under his control, putting your blood on his hands. He also doesn't seem to care about the Sole Survivor's spouse dying, but that can be assigned to the no previous morals point.

 

My Opinion/Theory

​The way I see it, Father is indeed lying to you, but on two fronts rather than the obvious one. He is not your son, Shaun, and seeks to use you as a replacement for Kellogg, seeing as you had the skill to kill him. He wants you to be the Institute's new weapon, and is willing to pretend that he is your son to do so. He is also lying about the child being a synth. The child is the actual Shaun, and was taught to believe otherwise. By time Father realizes his best weapon has turned towards him in one way or another, he turns the Synths back against him for a relatively short moment of cannon-fodder safety. He uses this time to reveal the truth to Shaun, and then purposely gives himself some form of material to make himself sick in a last ditch effort to save himself through the Sole Survivor's compassion. Instead, he realizes too late that he failed to keep himself and the Institute above water, and being the intelligent man he is, accepts his fate. By doing this, he dooms himself to die, and unintentionally gives the true shaun a chance at life.

 

So, what do you all think about this? What are your theories and opinions?



#2
jcdenton2012

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There is another inconsistency regarding Kellogg which is important. When you play through his memories, Kellogg references 'The Old Man' both before and after Shaun's kidnapping. If Shaun IS the old man then this is a huge inconsistency since how can he be running The Institute before he was kidnapped. After listening to his personal thoughts it is possible to conclude that he might have been thinking in reflection to Shaun from now... but... that's kind of odd considering how the rest of his memories allude in vagueness to upcoming events and even if it was foreshadowing  then how could The Old Man give him this order from the future? My point being, either he is referencing The Old Man, as two Old Men who each ran The Institute, or... it's the same person, the Shaun you meet. Assuming this is the case... then... the android Shaun might just be your biological child. 



#3
CaarosKingOfChaos

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There is another inconsistency regarding Kellogg which is important. When you play through his memories, Kellogg references 'The Old Man' both before and after Shaun's kidnapping. If Shaun IS the old man then this is a huge inconsistency since how can he be running The Institute before he was kidnapped. After listening to his personal thoughts it is possible to conclude that he might have been thinking in reflection to Shaun from now... but... that's kind of odd considering how the rest of his memories allude in vagueness to upcoming events and even if it was foreshadowing  then how could The Old Man give him this order from the future? My point being, either he is referencing The Old Man, as two Old Men who each ran The Institute, or... it's the same person, the Shaun you meet. Assuming this is the case... then... the android Shaun might just be your biological child. 

Exactly. Kellogg's thoughts and dialogue point too much away from Father being Shaun at all.



#4
RelicDuDe

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I just completed a play trough where i carefully did not align with anyone... I never build the Minute-men beyond Sanctuary, or became their General..

 

i only used the rail-road for the decoding of the Chip... and i never bothered with the hated BOS at all..

 

When i broke into the institute.. Father tells me that i might have gotten the wrong idea about them...

 

Sorry ?...

 

"They kidnapped my child, they murdered my husband.. they massacred whole towns.. tried to kill me on more the one occasion.. they kill anyone, anywhere, for no reason at all...."

 

Nah.. i don't think i got the wrong idea....

 

 

When i told "Father"  i didn't believe him, he told me i was free to leave.. but that after i left i would be considered hostile...

 

Lol.. what could that possibly mean, beyond what they already did.. and tried to do ?....



#5
Omnimmotus

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My first thought was "Yeah right, lies." Then I realized he had just shut down the "younger" Shaun, aka the synth. At that point, I was instead thinking "Oh great, Bethesda wrote this so he's telling the truth, didn't they?" I then wandered around looking for any evidence for or against his statements. I could not find anything that I felt truly disproved his statements, and I found multiple things that supported it. While I did briefly consider that he might have set up the entire thing beforehand... eh. I got the impression he really was supposed to be Shaun.

 

Not the best writing I've seen. I like the whole "It was actually 60 years, surprise!" thing. That's pretty fun. But beyond that... a little lackluster. Honestly, I wish he HAD been lying. That'd be far more interesting.

 

Then again, might be more fun to just decide that he actually is lying, regardless of whatever Bethesda intended. Also, I've not yet tested if Father looks any different depending on how your character and spouse look, since it supposedly generates a face from what you make.

 

I'll admit that Father supposedly dying after they were able to keep Kellogg alive for so long... what? That really confused me. It just feels poorly thought out in my opinion.


Edited by Omnimmotus, 13 December 2015 - 02:53 PM.


#6
CaarosKingOfChaos

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Then I realized he had just shut down the "younger" Shaun, aka the synth.

I don't want to delve too deep into the mental science of it all (mostly because I have a very basic understanding of it), but it would be possible to mentally condition someone to have instinctive reactions to certain keywords and phrases, especially someone as young and consequently weak-minded as Shaun. If anyone still understood how to do that after the Great War, it would likely organizations like the Institute and the Enclave.

 

I could not find anything that I felt truly disproved his statements, and I found multiple things that supported it.

Could you possibly give us some of that supporting evidence? It would be really helpful for the debate.



#7
Moraelin

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The "Old Man" references got me thinking too. Not only that, but in the vault he refers to killing those people as the Old Man tying loose ends, and then about you being led to him as the Old Man basically tying up the last loose end, him. It's not just the same title, but the same modus operandi and really the continuation of the same action.

 

As for Father not behaving like family... well, it's only scratching the surface. As I keep saying, if you go with the institute until the Battle Of Bunker Hill, you can talk to him on the roof of the CIT. He'll explain quite calmly and emotionlessly that he triggered the Vault 111 override and let you out, just because:

 

1. At that point, they didn't need you as backup any more. (Presumably having perfected Gen 3 enough to be confident they don't need backup DNA.) And,

 

2. It was just an experiment. He just wanted to see how long until you'd faceplant in an unfamiliar and hostile world.

 

Choosing the "but I still love you" option at that point just elicit some calm saying that he finds it curious.

 

Whether or not he actually is Shaun... that's sociopathic beyond belief. At that point, well, I decided that it doesn't actually matter if he's Shaun or not.



#8
Omnimmotus

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I could not find anything that I felt truly disproved his statements, and I found multiple things that supported it.

Could you possibly give us some of that supporting evidence? It would be really helpful for the debate.

 

Eh, it's been a while... not sure I can remember all the things I found. On terminals in the Institute you can find comments clearly made on the assumption that Father is indeed Shaun and you are indeed his father. Those could be fake, so it's not the most conclusive evidence, but I don't remember running into any contradictions. Other people in the Institute mention your relation while you're talking to them. Again, this could be planned, but maintaining an illusion on a large scale can be difficult, and keep in mind these are scientists rather than actors. They don't avoid the topic either, so they seem to think it's a topic worth discussing. (Or they're doing a great job faking it.) There are also various notes about the young synth Shaun, further supporting Father's claims.

 

More than anything, I was looking for contradictions. I didn't really find any; everything seemed to support what he was saying, though never in a way to eliminate all doubt. If nothing else, I found it clear that the writers meant for Father to actually be your son. Part of the fun of art, however, is that you are welcome to interpret it your own way.  :happy: Let me know if you think there are indeed any contradictions present on the terminals in the Institute.



#9
CaarosKingOfChaos

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More than anything, I was looking for contradictions. I didn't really find any; everything seemed to support what he was saying, though never in a way to eliminate all doubt.

Look at the inconsistencies I described earlier.



#10
charwo

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Choosing the "but I still love you" option at that point just elicit some calm saying that he finds it curious.

 

Whether or not he actually is Shaun... that's sociopathic beyond belief. At that point, well, I decided that it doesn't actually matter if he's Shaun or not.

 

Like it or not, Shaun was raised to be the sh!thead. I'm playing myself to get a feel for the game, but my proto-Sole Survivor just said "Son's a slaver. Gotta kill him."

Shaun is completely morally bankrupt and he knows it, which is why he wants you to lead the Institute. It's probably why he wants to die rather than fight the cancer. He's only 60. Anything with Kellogg's memories is just inconsistent writing. That's simple Occam's Razor. Not being able to help Shaun with some of the more interesting serums you come across is lazy design. I mean s***, if they really wanted to they could hack out his brain and put it in a Synth, given that basically their brain is the only thing about them that isn't organic. Shaun has a deathwish, and serious mommy/daddy issues.


Edited by charwo, 14 December 2015 - 01:14 AM.






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