Ella Purnell as Lucy in 'Fallout'

I Can’t Stop Thinking About This Line in ‘Fallout’

I’ve watched several episodes of Fallout, the new Prime Video series based on the acclaimed video-game franchise of the same name. It’s both goofier and more thoughtful than I assumed it would be, and while I find the story pretty engaging, one line in episode 2 is haunting me.

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Before you ask, and only because it’s relevant: No, I have not played the Fallout games. I can’t remember the last time I owned a PC or an Xbox, and yes, that is a point of pride. Thankfully, we’re in a new era of video-game adaptations, where having played the source material is not a prerequisite and showrunners are making shows that prioritize good, accessible storytelling over pandering to hardcore fans (it is my understanding that Fallout is doing a pretty good job of balancing both). My only major criticism of the series, created by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Graham Wagner, is that Prime Video in its infinite stupidity dropped all eight episodes at once. Now, I know I have a dumb little working-class baby girl brain (I HAVEN’T EVEN PLAYED THE GAMES, HOW CAN THEY LET ME WRITE THIS), but if I spent millions of dollars per episode, I’d want to make sure people continued talking about the show as much and as often as possible, maybe even using a seven-day break between episodes to build anticipation and tease new plot developments. At the very least, as a person who works professionally at Website, I can tell you that eight weeks of content is better than a weekend of the stuff.

I digress. This was supposed to be an article about a line in episode 2 that is making it impossible to focus on anything else that happens in this show. Giant axolotl monster, I’m sorry, but even with all those human fingers masquerading as intestinal cilia, you cannot distract me from the harrowing words uttered in episode 2. Decapitated heads, comically large shotgun blasts, be-skulled Walton Goggins (be still my heart, more like it), and yes, even you, very good dog CX404—none of you are capable of making me forget the most heinous sentence fragment in human history:

Incisors to help ingest larger prey.

Okay, on its own it doesn’t sound so bad. But this is another example of the importance of context: This line is spoken by Dr. Siggy Wilzig (good name), played by Michael Emerson of Previously … on LOST fame, who is describing to our protagonist Lucy (Ella Purnell) how COCKROACHES have evolved since the nuclear war that forced humanity’s most privileged into underground shelters. (Don’t worry—they have to do a lot of incest down there, so it all evens out.) Lucy, a vault-dweller who is now wandering the radioactive wastelands (still unsure how the science works here) in search of her missing dad, is napping in front of a campfire when she awakens to find Dr. Siggy and his most-favorite research dog, CX404, staring at her. We hear a skittering sound and CX404 runs off-screen to attack the offending skitter while Dr. Siggy explains:

Before the war, people joked about cockroaches surviving a nuclear blast. But they didn’t merely survive, they improved. Enlarged thorax to ward off attack. Extended antennae in order to hunt in packs. Incisors to help ingest larger prey.

At which point I promptly blacked out. COCKROACHES have TEETH?! Not only do they have friggin’ teeth in their friggin’ heads, but they have the sharp ones for tearing into meats. HUMAN MEATS, OF COURSE. She might be this world’s equivalent of a weird homeschooled kid, but Lucy clearly has her shit together more than I do because the moment I heard “incisors” in a monologue about cockroaches I became physically incapable of taking in new information. Lucy is on screen asking questions and helping people and saving the day and hanging out with Dale Dickey (queen). Meanwhile, I’m prone on the couch, googling “cockroaches teeth????”

The episode ends and I turn to my boyfriend, who has played Fallout (boyfriends! They’re good for something!), and say, “I’m sorry—did he say the cockroaches have teeth?!” My boyfriend attempts to explain—radroaches, yes, okay—but once again, I am graying the hell out. I am the confused bisexual math woman in the meme, but all the symbols are cockroaches and teeth. We start another episode. Midway through, I turn to him and say, “Wait, did that guy say the cockroaches have TEETH?!” You’ve seen cockroaches. You understand. Another key piece of context is that we live in Texas, where roaches come in different varieties, including the little assholes that live in kitchens and others that are VERY LARGE and FLY. You have not known terror until you are on a patio with a (different, not good) boyfriend who runs inside and SHUTS THE DOOR, leaving you outside with a GIANT COCKROACH that FLIES AT YOUR FACE. I hope he never knows peace.

And this is why Amazon Prime Video shouldn’t have released all eight episodes of Fallout at once. I need at least seven days to process harrowing information such as “cockroaches are now the size of pugs and have sharp teeth.” How can I be expected to follow a plot with that fact bopping around in my brain?

(featured image: Prime Video)


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Author
Britt Hayes
Britt Hayes (she/her) is an editor, writer, and recovering film critic with over a decade of experience. She has written for The A.V. Club, Birth.Movies.Death, and The Austin Chronicle, and is the former associate editor for ScreenCrush. Britt's work has also been published in Fangoria, TV Guide, and SXSWorld Magazine. She loves film, horror, exhaustively analyzing a theme, and casually dissociating. Her brain is a cursed tomb of pop culture knowledge.