Five Nights At Freddy’s Retrospection: Corrupted Nostalgia in Game Two

The older you get, the more you cling to the things you loved as a child and hope you haven’t outgrown them. Obviously, you outgrow the cartoons like Barney because those songs you once knew from memory have become annoying. Other things you can’t outgrow, because they still bring you joy, like Robin Williams’s Genie.

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Of course, you fear the reboots. At least, I fear most of them. Quite a few don’t get the point, while a few, like the remarkable Ducktales cartoon, understand why we loved the original in the first place and get their new twist. The Jumanji sequel is another great example of adding a new interpretation. But we fear the soulless corporate executive that mandates a new lick of paint and a recycled script, believing we are foolish enough to fall for the same routine.

Sometimes we are. Let’s admit it. We get suckered in because we trust that a creator handling something from our childhood understands the heart. And sometimes a creator gets it. They know why we fell in love with the first place.

What’s worse than reboots are when the news corrupts what you love. The most recent thing has been pedestals falling. An actor, writer or creator comes out as a jerk or a creep, and you in good conscience cannot support them. Or you watch clips guiltily and wonder if you’re going to the Bad Place. Then suddenly our nostalgia becomes corrupted.

Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 was ahead of the curve by predicting reboots and broken pedestal culture and ruined nostalgia. Only we find out that Freddy Fazbear’s pizza has layers of reboot culture, as we will discuss, and the pedestals come with simple murder as opposed to emotional abuse and gaslighting.

The Joy of Freddy’s Pizza

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Game two highlights that kids and adults love Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. The minigames illustrate that loads of kids come for the pizza and for the bots, to see the shows. Their parents also happily bring them and drop them off, presumably because they trust their kids to be safe.

Phone Guy also comes back; his reappearance despite dying in game one is the first hint that nothing is what it seems. He calls every night to give instructions on how to use the Freddy Fazbear head, wind up the music box and the flashlight. We can’t close any doors this time, or block the vents. All we can do is put on the Freddy mask and wait in the dark.

Then it goes from bad to worse; remember the murders from game one? It turns out they happen in this game. Yes, this is the year 1987, and on night six, several children are murdered. Scott didn’t create a sequel; he created a prequel. It also explains why Phone Guy came back when he was killed in the previous game.

Unfortunately, that knowledge doesn’t mean we can change the past. We can’t save the children, and neither can the bots or Phone Guy. We can only man the office, and wait.

Contrasts to Game One

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Game one of Five Nights at Freddy’s introduced us to this crappy world where a night shift job can get you killed, and upper management can cover their butts. Only instead of the usual sort of deaths, like a stray beam cracking your skull open, you would have bots stuffing you into furry iron maidens.

Game two ups the ante: you don’t have to face just four, possibly five, decrepit robots that will pounce on you in the dark. You have to deal with ten of these animatronics. They all see you as the enemy. Instead of screaming, they roar in your face. Foxy and Mangle leap and chomp down. Unlike with the first game, however, you aren’t in danger of losing power; the lights stay on, even as the monsters approach the security guard area.

Jeremy Fitzgerald and Fritz Smith serve as our player characters. They manage the cameras. We know little about either, though there are theories that Fritz is Phone Guy, who promised to take the Night Shift. One contradiction lies in Fritz getting fired after one night, and according to Game One, Phone Guy worked the night shift long enough to figure out all the animatronics’ tricks and horrors on his own.

As for Jeremy, unlike Mike he doesn’t get any follow-up, apart from us knowing he switches to the Day Shift after night six, where we learn that the six children were murdered. We don’t know what happened to him, and can only speculate. At best, he might have been fired and made the scapegoat for the Bite of 1987. It’s highly possible given what happens in game four. At worst, he might have killed the children and used the night shift job to cover his tracks. The bots do seem to target him, and they have child predator detection sensors programmed.

Why does Jeremy return night after night? With Mike, as we noted in the previous article, he seems conditioned to the horrors and is forced to normalize them. The supplemental material in the Logbook says that Jeremy didn’t want to be “scared off” and came back as a matter of pride. The paltry paycheck may have also motivated him. In any case, we never find out. He never appears again after night six, and it’s implied that he received the Bite of 87 after attending a birthday party on the day shift. This never gets confirmed, and game four muddies that theory.

Joy Twisted With Death

Hearing about the murders in optional material was one thing, especially since Mike could have been hallucinating in game one. Finding out they really happened, and we live the events, is quite another. What’s more, game two shows us what happened, courtesy of Atari-like footage.

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If the bots get you, their death screens may trigger mini-games. These games show a mysterious figure murdering children, often in plain view of the bots as they conduct their entertainer duties. Fandom has dubbed this sprite “The Purple Man” because he is purple and we don’t get an official name until the novels come. At one point, he dresses like a security guard and stops Freddy and the puppet from chasing after the children to save them. We get some hints that he worked at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza and wore the uniform, and that’s why the bots hate security guards.

Each minigame portrays heavy implications; Foxy charges out of his curtains to cheer kids with fireworks. He does this twice without any issue. The third time, the Purple Man sprite appears in the bottom left, watching with an eerie grin. Foxy can’t touch the man or interact with him. When he enters the room of children, he finds their corpses. Foxy’s sprite looks confused and lost before the real game bot Foxy jumpscares you. This pattern gets repeated in the other games: Freddy feeds cake to kids but cannot help a crying child outside the pizzeria who gets murdered in front of him. Freddy and the Puppet rush through the restaurant to “save them” but the Purple Man crashes into Freddy, and creates a game over. The Puppet tries to resurrect dead children by giving them gifts, but can only awaken them by placing animatronic heads over their corpses.

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On night six, Phone Guy calls frantic and angry. His words portray it best:

“ Hello? Hello…uh…what on earth are you doing there, uh didn’t you get the memo, uh, the place is closed down, uh, at least for a while. Someone used one of the suits. We had a spare in the back, a yellow one, someone used it…now none of them are acting right. Listen j-just finish your shift it’s safer than trying to leave in the middle of the night. Uh, we have one more event scheduled for tomorrow, a birthday. You’ll be on day shift, wear your uniform, stay close to the animatronics; make sure they don’t hurt anyone okay, uh for now just make it through the night, uh when the place eventually opens again I’ll probably take the night shift myself. Okay, good night and good luck.”

Phone Guy can’t even describe what happened, his voice is choked up, and he sounds terrified for Jeremy. Childhood nostalgia has broken for Phone Guy, and he decides to investigate and avenge the victims at his workplace. Eventually, the nostalgia will kill him because he commands the night shift until the very end. He’s not the only one; it’s implied the murders will shut down this Freddy’s pizzeria location.

From what we can tell, the Purple Man has been a longstanding member of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. He knew enough about the pizzeria to identify what suits to wear, and how to operate them safely. Presumably, he studied his victims to know who wouldn’t be missed for a couple of hours and lured them to the back. The other employees would also have to be out of the way; it’s plausible upper management wouldn’t have adequate security or background checks if they can’t even pay their guards a decent way.

Worst of all, the Purple Man uses nostalgia to commit his crimes. He targets kids, kills them in a place where they feel safe, and inadvertently turns the bots into the midnight monsters they later become. No one can feel safe with their childhood joy; not even Phone Guy can stay chipper after the murders. Management won’t close shop until a few years later, because enough kids visit Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza to justify reopening in the broken-down hovel we endure in game one.

Even with the broken nostalgia and the blatant evidence, the Purple Man gets away with his crimes. The mini-games imply that he messed with the bots so they couldn’t save the children, in one case making Freddy glitch to a game over screen. We get a reason why the Purple Man walks free in the later novels, but for now, we get a sense of injustice that he evades time in a cell. The victims’ parents never see justice for their children, who rot in colorful graves.

Games one and two have hinted that the Purple Man has evaded justice for a long time and is actually a serial killer. The evidence lies in the amount of murderous animatronics. There are ten bots active at the older location, not six. They all gun for you, regardless of your player character’s innocence or guilt. Either the bots know who the murderer is, or each of them has a corpse lodged inside them with a ghost that can’t move onto whatever comes after death. Neither conclusion is reassuring.

Real Life Fatalities and Corruption

There have been cases in real life where the things we like as kid turn out to be terrible as adults. What’s more, we find out about the moral hazard. We can no longer enjoy these videos or events, without thinking about the deaths and abuse. While I cannot verify if Scott drew inspiration from these events, they provide an apt analogy.

Sea World is one such example; the theme park, which also features a few roller coasters and aquariums, made its name with marine mammal shows. Seals do tricks and engage in stunts with goofy human villains. Dolphins let trainers ride them and spin around their tanks. Orcas, or killer whales, jump and splash the audience if you sit in the lowest zones. Or they used to, in the 1980s and 90s.

The theme park failed to mention that their orca Tilikum had killed several trainers in other parks, and one drug addict that had climbed into the tank after hours. Another orca on loan to another park killed trainer Alexis Martinez in the Canary Islands in 2010 and the park covered up his death. Something was not right, but corporate wanted to keep the whales jumping in the pool. They lied to Alexis’s family that he was fine, only to break the news later.

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The tipping point came a few months after Alexis’s death. Dawn Brancheau in 2010 died in broad daylight. She and Tilikum were doing a Dine with Shamu event when Tilikum grabbed her, dragged her into the water, and drowned her, in front of dozens of spectators. The other trainers could only redirect Tilikum to a smaller pool to recover Dawn’s body. Afterward, OSHA fined Sea World for the tragedy, and the film Blackfish would cover why Tilikum acted the way he did. Since then, trainers are not allowed to swim with the orcas.

Dawn and Alexis’s death were tragedies. In the case of Alexis, his family and partner received life insurance, but no legal recourse. Dawn’s parents have rightly said that they don’t like how people seem more concerned about the whales than about the fact that their daughter died. They also told off the Blackfish filmmakers for implying that Dawn was complicit in animal cruelty, when in fact she campaigned for the opposite during her time at Sea World. A tragedy became a media frenzy and a game of pointing fingers, with little justice for the victims. Sea World didn’t help by claiming that Dawn might have caused Tilikum to react by wearing her hair in a ponytail. OSHA didn’t buy it, and neither did the world after Blackfish came out.

The reason why people focused on the whales is that if you went to Sea World, you went for the orcas as a kid. Sea World hadn’t built their suspension rollercoaster The Manta yet, and a good portion of science museums and aquariums have dolphins on display or stingray feedings. You went to see the giant splash of black and white, and it’s a shock to learn people died for it. The fictional Shamu became a mascot to sell plushies and other merchandise. Suddenly, we get some reminders that orcas in the wild can eat seals, penguins, and sometimes larger marine life. And the things we love can get people killed. In good conscience, we cannot support that. No one should die for entertainment.

The only breath of relief we can have for Sea World is that, unlike with the fictional Freddy’s Fazbear’s Pizza, no children were harmed. Even so, people died. In the case of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, security guards have died from the creatures they’re trying to protect turning on them. Dawn and Alexis died working with the creatures they loved. They shouldn’t have died, and their deaths shouldn’t have been covered up. OSHA was right to censure Sea World for what happened. It was heinous, and more still is that they tried to mislead investors about the circumstances.

Infusing Good Feelings Back Into the Bad

Eventually, this Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza will go, with most of the shiny “redesigned” toys scrapped. Phone Guy will die leaving instructions to the bitter end. The Purple Man will get away for his crimes. Dead bodies will still rot in the suits, with fake fur and gears serving as their graves.

And what are we, the player and the spectator left to carry? Pink slips, for one; you get another one after Custom Night. We know that Fritz is unaccounted for, and we can only hope he had the sense to run for it.

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In game one, the players were the one who cared when the established world didn’t. In game two, the players provide the joy that the fictional characters cannot feel. We don’t have the same nostalgia for this pizzeria that Phone Guy or the murdered children do. That way we can appreciate the horror for what it is: a delightful nightmare. We can draw the fanart, and write the fics. YouTube even has some creepy fan audio horror to fill in the gaps of what happened.

Players enjoy the game despite the frights. Why else would you perform as a fictional security guard that can’t leave the vicinity? While a few people may do it for the YouTube views, others play because they take pleasure from the terrifying sensations. We enjoy the thrill of being trapped, and trying to survive the night. And we dove into the mystery to put the clues together.

I admit I became obsessed with the game because it tapped into all my primal fears. FNAF 2 is significantly less scary because there’s less chance of the in-game lights going out. Markiplier’s run also helped with how many times he got hilariously frustrated.

We have some answers in this game for the happenings in game one: the bots hate security guards because the Purple Man was one. He somehow got past their murdering capacity to murder at least six children, and probably killed ten. Management has always been terrible, and the previous six murders happened at the larger location, which led to it getting closed down.

What can game three bring now? An ending. We have a killer on the loose, murderous bots, and a bunch of corpses that management has bleached away. The player has to stop surviving. It’s time to seek justice for the dead, and not just avenge them.

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A 2016 MBA graduate and published author, Priya Sridhar has been writing fantasy and science fiction for fifteen years, and counting.

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