Before we get started here, let me say that you are now entering spoiler city. If you haven't played every Metal Gear game and you don't want to be spoiled absolutely rotten, turn back now. Hell, depending on your definition of a spoiler, we may even learn more about Metal Gear Solid V than you are comfortable with. So yep... you've been warned.
Still with me? Good. Lets do this!
Before we start, make sure you've watched the trailer for Ground Zeroes.
While technically not Metal Gear Solid V, it has been stated that Ground Zeroes is in fact a prologue to MGSV. It probably takes place soon before MGSV, like the Tanker Mission in MGS2 or the Virtuous Mission in MGS3.
But wait a minute... MGSV!? When did we start using Roman numerals? And Ground Zeroes... like more than one zero? We'll get back to all of that later.
So here we are, Camp Omega, a wonderful slice of American pie on Cuban soil. A prison camp, much like the one at Guantanamo Bay, but more, ummm... Metal Geary? Camp Omega. Let's think on that. When there is a Hideo Kojima story afoot, a name says a lot. It wouldn't be crazy to assume that Camp Omega is not only located at the far end of Cuba, but that the events that take place there could also spell the end of our Cuba story arch in the Metal Gear universe. It is notable that Omega may also imply an empty value (like zero). On top of that, it's raining pretty hard. Like cats and dogs hard. Yikes! Foreboding! Speaking of dogs, there a few of them here. Look like Rhodesian Ridgebacks if I must say. Not your typical guard dog, and a long way from Africa, too. Odd choice.
Anyway, enter our Mystery Man. He's a tall man, but his face is intentionally hidden from our view. When we eventually get glimpses of his face, it's all burnt up. If he's a new character in the Metal Gear universe, why bother hiding his face in the first place? Right? He is likely somebody we have already seen before.
Regardless of who this guy is, I don't think there is any speculation over whether or not the imprisoned child he soon encounters is Chico.
Ground Zeroes takes place after Peacewalker. It looks like that may have put a little bit of age on him, but its still everybody's favorite monster hunting enthusiast Chico. You'll notice he's not his usual chipper self. He knows a lot about MSF and Motherbase and I'm sure torture runs wild over at old Camp Omega, so use your imagination. The things our Mystery Man says next subtly imply a few things.
1) "She told us everything. Don't worry, I kept my word. She didn't suffer long."
They have Paz and they squeezed everything they needed to know out of her. Now, he doesn't specifically say that she is dead, but it does imply more torture.
2) "Here - you earned it. How's it feel to play the traitor?"
Oh, Chico, you little squealer! Take that juicy walkman reward! It's doubtful that Chico could could keep his mouth shut during his interrogation. He has a history of that. If nothing else, he helped them locate Paz in some way. Chico is an explorer and knows the area better than anybody. Topped off with his crush on Paz, it's not unlikely he would be the first one to discover her whereabouts.
3) "No more war games - you're a real man, now, soldier. Give my regards to your Boss, when you get home."
SNAP! It's about to get real, son! He's sending Chico back to Mother Base. He really doesn't need him anymore, but why set him free? I suspect that Mother Base is going down soon. Real soon. Also, the second statement may imply that our Mystery Man actually knows Big Boss himself and is sending him a "friendly" hello.
If you have ever played a Metal Gear game in Japanese (I know I haven't), you may even be able to infer his identity from the soothing sounds of his deep grainy voice (granted the same voice actor was used). To me he sounds a bit like Kenji Utsumi, the voice of Volgin, but honestly... I have no idea.
Here's where things get weird. Chico's headphones are connected to his chest. While its fun to assume that this means some sort of wacky implant, its impossible to know for sure. It's just as likely that the jack was crammed into his chest as a form of torture. After all, that wound isn't looking so good. It doesn't look quite as clean as an implant you would expect to see from a Metal Gear mad scientist type. Either way, symbolically, its the equivalent of solitary confinement.
As our Mystery Man heads off, the walkman is turned on and we begin to hear "Here's to you" by Ennio Morricone and Joan Baez as it appeared in the 1971 film "Sacco e Vanzetti". Apparently, the song itself was very popular amongst the more liberal minded in the 70s and a new version of the song even plays during the credits to MGS4. What's most telling about this little metaphorical clue, however, is within the true story of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.
It's a fascinating American trial from the 1920s that tells the story of two foreign born anarchists that were convicted of robbery and murder, then put to death with very little evidence actually linking them to said murder. To sum it up, the prosecution's main arguments were that Sacco and Vanzetti were untrustworthy foreign political radicals and that Sacco owned a pistol similar to the one used in the murder. Sadly, in the 20s, that was enough. The case was wildly famous at the time, and remains to be a popular today. In 1977, 50 years after they were executed, the men were exonerated and to this day the case remains to be unsolved.
Does Ground Zeroes take place in 1977? Maybe, but that isn't the most important thing here. Big Boss is no longer an American; he left his country behind. In fact, he belongs to no nation at all. He is literally a foreigner on every piece of soil he sets foot on.
Big Boss is also an anarchist. Now, I'm not saying he is a bad guy. He just doesn't live his life by any code, rules, laws, etc. He lives to keep peace and will do that in any way he deems fit at any given time. The man embodies chaos.
Cue Master Miller and Big Boss:
Miller: Ten days ago, we got reports that Paz was still alive.
Big Boss: She survived?
Miller: She was rescued by a Belizean fisherman who found her drifting in the Caribbean.
Big Boss: So what's the plan? Silence her before we're compromised?
Miller: No, I've got something else in mind.
Miller: Our 'friends' at Cipher suspect Paz could be a double agent. She's being held for interrogation at a camp on the southern tip of Cuba.
Big Boss: Black site - nice. A slice of American pie on communist soil, and out of the U.S. legal jurisdiction.
Miller: The upcoming inspection of Mother Base has to be connected somehow. The timing's too perfect.
Big Boss: The UN's nuclear inspection...
Miller: My guess is they're trying to corroborate Paz's leak.
Big Boss: We're an army without a nation. Word of our capabilities gets out, and we'll have the whole world out to shut us down.
Miller: Having an American private intelligence agency involved is bad news. Cipher's the ones who sent Paz to us in the first place.
Big Boss: She knows their true nature.
Miller: Right. Paz is our only link to Cipher. If she's still alive... we need her on our side.
So let's connect the dots. Do you think the UN is going to be very pleased when they find Metal Gear Zeke armed with a nuke just chilling at Mother Base with a bunch of anarchists? Probably not. But Big Boss and Miller are smart guys, right? Everything will be fine unless somebody interferes...
Cue Tall, Dark, and Handsome (aka the Mystery Man):
TDH: The Trojan Horse's in.
TDH: This pirate crackdown's a go. MOVE!
Crap. What is Plan B? If the Trojan Horse is already in, it must be alluding to the UN inspection. If the mysterious burnt-faced man wants to crackdown those MSF pirates over at Mother Base, all he has to do is jump out of the horse with his XOF goon squad. And who is the Mystery Man anyway? I only know two guys that come close to being that ugly. Psycho Mantis and Decoy Octopus. Mantis would still be very young, and Octopus (in the few times he has been depicted without a mask) has a pale, smooth face and short hair.
A third option is Volgin. He was assumed to have died after being struck by lightening and lit ablaze in Snake Eater, but there was never any confirmation. He could potentially be alive. Does the V in Metal Gear Solid V stand for Volgin? He would certainly be tall enough. Does the rain foretell a coming of thunder? XOF, led by Volgin, would be an appropriate antithesis of a Big Boss led FOX. Even though Camp Omega appears to be an American base, it is probably actually run by Cipher, which has more widespread/worldly power. That means that even a Russian Colonel could find a home there.
The whole thing reeks of Cipher trying to put away Big Boss (Sacco and Vanzetti-style). A failed inspection would go a long way to officially stain Big Boss' character. But if you really wanted to shut him down for good, it might be best to pin a separate, more damning, crime on him. The whole time Big Boss is waltzing around Camp Omega, he has no alibi. Cipher could put him anywhere doing anything.
Snake is back on FOX.
From "FOX," two phantoms were born.
For all intents and purposes, its safe to assume that Major Zero is still the commanding officer of FOX. By this point in time, Zero and Big Boss aren't the best of friends, so why join up? A common threat? Is Cipher being run by AI? This would make Major Zero and Cipher (which can also mean zero) two completely different zeroes. The AI Network, created by Zero, slated to take control of the Patriots and the rest of the world, was already being tested in Peacewalker. Each AI Weapon contained one (GW, TJ, and TR) and Peacwalker itself contained two (AL and BS). The Boss AI (BS) was either lost completely or likely considered to be a failure by Cipher and was eventually replaced by the AI with Big Boss' given name, John Doe (JD).
Perhaps Ground Zeroes sees the AI Network start to become aware? Maybe JD needs more testing? The ever-growing power of this AI Network would surely put Zero at unease, if it didn't obey him. Is Zero the Vanzetti to Big Bosses Sacco? Are they both in urgent danger? Is the AI Network's first priority to clear away the Patriots, just like the Patriots' first priority was to clear away the Philosophers? History does always repeat itself in the Metal Gear world. Or do you think Zero himself is still in control and launching Big Boss into infamy to be hunted like a dog? My money is on Zero not being such a bad guy after all, but that's just me.
What do you think?
Next time, follow me across the pond to fight the killer whale, Moby Dick, as we dive into the Phantom Pain (aka MGSV). More Volgin, yet another Zero, and mythical creatures in Let us solve a Metal Gears: Part 2!?