There are minor GTA V spoilers for the mission “By the Book.” You have been warned.
Grand Theft Auto V thus far has been a truly memorable experience. Watching the demise of a family man, the shattering dreams of an up and coming gangster, and the pure sadism of a maniac has been a treat, exemplifying once again that Rockstar Games can write characters like no other company today. As soon as you meet him, Trevor is the purest example of what the entire Grand Theft Auto series has been, and always will be: mayhem. His slapstick nature and over-the-top crudeness has made it easy to laugh along while he’s mowing down person after person in the most sick way possible. But in a series first, it went too far.
I’m rarely put off by videogames. I’ve seen eyeballs ripped out of the socket of giants. I’ve had people chainsawed in half, painting a black and white world red. The hilarious romp GTA V once was turned very dark, very quick. In working with the FIB, you must torture a man to the edge of death in order to attain the proper information to assassinate a target. The key word is must. There is no other way of going about the mission, and you must actively engage in the torturing. You have an array of tools to choose from, ranging from a pair of pliers, to a jerry can full of water. Trevor laughs along while laying a cloth over the innocent man’s face, pouring water over him, waterboarding him, or listening to the grinding of his tooth as you ply it straight from his gums. The man gives you some information, but Michael doesn’t think it’s enough. Trevor scans his tools, looking for the most effective method for his next torture session.
It’s horrifying. Each method has a short mini game, whether it’s turning your analog stick to pour the water, or rotating the stick to wiggle this poor man’s tooth out. It was incredibly uncomfortable to watch, never mind to engage in it. Yet I had no choice. I contemplated just turning the game off right there, being pretty sickened by it. Why would Rockstar include this?
At first glance, I wasn’t sure how to react to this whole scene. I was wholly disturbed, but like all the other treacherous acts Trevor had committed in the game thus far, he was laughing along, enjoying the ride. Until then, I was right on board, but in that moment, I was truly disturbed. All I could do was search for a reason as to why this would be in the game. It felt unnecessary.
From his first mission, Trevor is sadistic through and through. He laughs at violence, thrives for blood, and he is in the business he is in because he enjoys it. You begin as Trevor with nearly $100,000, which is a telling, yet subtle way of showing that he has been like this for a long time. He obviously didn’t attain this money in a legitimate fashion. He blows an entire trailer park up to eliminate his business competitors. He tortures innocent men and enjoys it.
The nature of each scene before the torture scene is funny because Trevor is a funny man. It’s easy to forget the horrible nature of his actions because he is quick-witted; nullifying each action with laughter. We aren’t supposed to laugh along with the horrible torture sequence because it’s not funny. It’s so easy to forget the horrifying human being he is, but in this scene, Rockstar is telling us not to forget. It’s a reminder that we are the ones that make Trevor so horrible, and to distinguish right from wrong. If you came away from that torture sequence thinking, “Wow, that was disturbing,” then you understand the message Rockstar is trying to convey with Trevor and his actions. He is not a good person, and deserves no sympathy. You can laugh along, but never forget he is a murderer, a thief, and certifiably insane.
“Torture’s for the torturer. Or the guy giving the orders to the torturer. You torture for the good times – we should all admit that. It’s useless as a means of getting information!”