Content warning for Violence and Abuse
Also Spoilers for the first half of Wolfenstein 2
Wolfenstein The New Colossus is a game about fighting back. It’s about being kicked to the ground multiple times then standing back up and taking another swing at a monster twice your size. The first person you fight back against is actually twice your size. Wolfenstein 2 includes a number of flashbacks in it. BJs dad bursts into the room ready to beat you again in one of the first ones. This time for befriending a black girl. But it’s always something isn’t it. BJ mom stands up for him this time though, but quickly gets knocked out. Your dog then gets kicked against the wall for defending her. The game then gives a young BJ a chance to fight back. BJ throws whatever he can find at his dad. He swats them away like its nothing even taunting you. He catches you and starts to choke BJ. As he chokes BJ you do get a chance to hit back. It’s just a scratch though it doesn’t change anything. The end result is still the same you, your mom, and the family dog on the ground. The flashbacks with BJ’s dad only get worse from there. Besides for one moment though.
Later in the game going back to his childhood home you find a box of bullets. B.J smiles just for a moment shaking the tin and we see that single good memory. B.J’s in bed having night terrors his dad by his side. B.J is afraid of monsters in the basement coming to kill his mother. His dad then gives him a gun. Tells him they’re going down to the basement and “Sometimes the best way to fix a problem is to face it head on.” The whole family Dad and son guns in hands Mom with a bat charge into the basement. When there’s no monsters his dad gives him some pretty weak reassuring words. You know “If you’re not a bad boy no monsters will eat your mom” something like that. B.J asks to keep the gun. The final shot is BJ hugging the gun while he sleeps.
This is the only scene in the game that doesn’t frame B.Js dad as the worst. In these scene we still have his Dad referring to beating him for waking him up before. BJ’s on edge while talking to his dad. It’s still an uncomfortable scene. It’s also still framed as a sweet moment. This scene has B.J learns a lesson from his dad. B.J doesn’t ever try to reason with the Nazis. He fights them head on. That moment was a major character moment for BJ. A moment we can look at and see a core ideal of his give birth.
This adds context to B.J calling the Nazis monsters in the New Order/New Blood. The Nazis are coming to kill people like his Jewish mother. He calls the Nazis monsters to disconnect them from being actual people. In New Colossus though he accepts that they are not monsters but Men. Men like his farther coming up the stairs to hurt his family. B.J resents his dad but he still holds onto that one moment that shapes him. That moment does make of moment of hesitation with the reunion make sense.
B.J enters his parent’s room where his dad has been waiting gun in hand. BJ and his dad argue a scene that many people who have abusive parents my find familiar. B.J says he wished his dad didn’t treat them like living dog shit. Then B.Js dad just screams at him for not being a perfect replica of him (I’m paraphrasing again). We also learn that the B.Js Dad sold his Mom out to the Nazis and then points a gun to his head. This is the moment of hesitation I was talking about. B.J then calls him Daddy and reminds him he’s his son. B.Js dad responds to this by sticking the barrel straight to his head.
This moment may not make sense. Not his dad pointing the gun. The moment of disappointment at B.J expecting better of his dad. Because there was that one moment. Even though it was just his dad saying some general advice before giving him a gun that he can hug instead of him. It’s a moment that B.J looks back on fondly. Even though to his dad it was just a solution to get son his to be quiet. It was as moment of kindness in a sea of abuse. That’s what a young B.J chose to latch onto. And that one moment before he killed his farther was the last time he felt that feeling.
The last thing he says to his dad before he cuts of his arm is that he doesn’t feel a “god damn thing.” He has finally given up on his farther. He now sees him for what he is. A man not a monster who tortured his mother and himself for years before he escaped by joining the army. It’s not painted as a heinous act of a son killing his dad. It’s almost framed as a moment of healing for BJ.
But why did BJ give his Dad so much rope before fighting back again. Why did he reach out that one final time? One is pretty simple sadly. He felt that he needed to give his dad respect just because that was his parent. Even though if your abused you don’t have to give anything to your abuser. He still saw that though as a precious connection. The second is if we go back to that moment again. Remember that part I paraphrased. If you’re a good boy the monsters won’t come. The monsters did come though.
BJ feels some guilt about everything. He sees himself responsible for the bad things that are happening. We see this in game with his constant thoughts about dying. He apologizes in prayer to someone he saw die in front of him. He chooses to distance himself from his friends out of that guilt. BJ is clearly not in a great place for the first half of that game. Until after he kills his dad. When he said he feels nothing before killing his dad that was him finally disowning him. He finally saw his farther for what he was. A abuser.
BJ learns that he was not the evil they caused the monsters to leave the basement. The evils have always been there regardless of his actions. After killing the man he used to call Dad. BJ calls his friends his family. BJ is ready to be farther. BJ is ready to smile again. BJ still feels some guilt though for his actions. He is ready though to stand up again after being kicked down. This time he swings he swings harder then ever before.