2145: Heists And Escapes

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Heists And Escapes
The interactive experience is built on a single theological framework that unites Dante, George R. R. Martin, every major heist movie, and Erin Gloria Ryan's "Kevin is dead" Home Alone theory.
Title text: The interactive experience is built on a single theological framework that unites Dante, George R. R. Martin, every major heist movie, and Erin Gloria Ryan's "Kevin is dead" Home Alone theory.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: The people in the "greatest escape room" as well as all the arrows in the bottom room have to be explained. How should the arrows be understood? Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Randall is trying to create the "greatest escape room game of all time".

The top six panels show a stylized version of various options where people try to get into or out of rooms. There are always two xkcd figures trying to get into or out of a room. One is always rattling, possibly at a locked door. While no door is drawn, the position of their hands indicates this. The second figure always has their hands at head height, possibly looking for weaknesses in the structure. The characters in each panel vary and there seems to be no specific pattern to them.

The six top panels show these scenarios:

  • Escape rooms: An escape room is a type of puzzle/adventure game where people are locked in a room, or set of rooms, (discounting emergency exits) and have a certain amount of time to solve the puzzles and leave.
  • Heist movies: In heist movies, the thieves are trying to get in to a room, usually to steal what's inside.
  • Home Alone (1990): This refers to the first movie in a franchise, where the home that the burglars tried to rob was protected by someone from the inside, Kevin McCallister (also mentioned in the title text).
  • The Battle of Winterfell: This refers to the 3rd episode of the 8th season of Game of Thrones, aired five days before the publication of this comic. Here the army of the dead tried to enter the castle of Winterfell (the outer room in the picture). At the same time the dead who are in the crypt (the inner room in the picture) tried to get out. The living people in the castle were trapped between them.
  • Inception (2010): In the movie Inception the protagonists could enter the dream world of others, and while in those dreams they could entering the dream of someone inside the dream. Inception can be categorized as a "heist" movie, as the main characters are thieves who steal information from their victim's subconscious.
  • The Divine Comedy (1320): This refers to Dante's work - in particular its first part Inferno, which depicts Hell as nine concentric circles. Purgatory and paradise are similarly concentric, but they are not likely to need to be escaped.

At the end, Randall proposes a combination of all of these things, and also combining it with others, to form the "greatest escape room game of all time":

  • Truman Show: The protagonist of this movie was living in a constructed reality show, although he did not know it.
  • Kevin McCallister's house/subconscious: Refers to the 8-year-old boy who is the main character in the movie Home Alone who protects his home from the burglars combined with idea of exploring subconscious based on movie Inception.
  • Styx: A river in Greek mythology that forms the boundary between Earth and Underworld ("Hades"). It is necessary to cross the river Styx to enter or exit the Underworld. Hell is often likened to the underworld. Seems to be taken here from The Divine Comedy.

The title text refers to this article, which claims that Kevin McCallister is dead, and is actually a ghost.


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[Seven different room scenarios are shown with characters attempting to get inside or outside, each with a label below them.]
[Cueball and Ponytail trying to exit a room.]
Escape rooms
[Cueball and Megan trying to enter a room.]
Heist movies
[Cueball, representing Kevin, standing in the middle of a room while two people, representing Marv and Harry, are trying to enter.]
Home Alone (1990)
[A room is shown inside a larger room. Two characters try to enter from outside and two others try to exit from the inner room while Megan and Cueball are standing between them.]
The Battle of Winterfell
[Four rooms are shown inside of each other. Two characters try to enter from outside while three Cueballs in each room are standing while asleep.]
Inception (2010)
[Smaller rooms are recursively shown inside of larger ones, with two characters trying to escape from each.]
The Divine Comedy (1320)
[At the bottom a more complicated combination of various rooms shown in gray, with arrows labeled with question marks showing escape routes for two characters in black. On the left is a large room labelled Truman Show, and on the right is the nine-level Dante's Inferno. Between them is the river Styx. Inside the Truman Show are the Bank, which contains a Room with the two people in it, a Vault with a money bag in it, and The Dead; and Kevin McCallister's House and Subconscious.]
[Label in the bottom in black:]
My plan for the greatest escape room game of all time

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The real-life battle of Alesia was appparently the opposite of Winterfell, insofar as where the "rattling" happens. 21:37, 3 May 2019 (UTC)

I think that title text theory it's also a reference to the Tommy Westphall universe hypothesis. --valepert (talk) 21:48, 3 May 2019 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure that "Kevin McCallister's Subconscious" is an Inception reference. LegionMammal978 (talk) 22:44, 3 May 2019 (UTC)

I've out of reflex hafe read that Kenny is dead, instead.Gunterkoenigsmann (talk) 05:08, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
"Kevin McCallister" is the name of the lead character in the Home Alone movies, played by Macaulay Culkin.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 17:21, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

I'm guessing that Randall also watches Game of Thrones. Also should we add a GoT or ASoIaF category? It's been referenced in several comics in the past. Herobrine (talk) 00:32, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

Yes please?
ProphetZarquon (talk) 17:16, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
I stopped watching GoT around series 3... I'm now seriously considering catching up just so I get the references...Daemonik (talk) 12:20, 7 May 2019 (UTC)

inb4 crazy anti-semitic conspiracy theorist vandalises the page RandomIsocahedron (talk) 00:56, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

For the most part he only vandalized comics related to space or science, there's no reason for him to vandalize this page. Besides he hasn't vandalized any pages recently either, I think he got tired of constantly having to type in a CAPTCHA to vandalize pages only to have it reverted almost instantly by us. Herobrine (talk) 01:50, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
Can confirm, CAPTCHAs suck. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Dude, spoiler alert?! 19:19, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

Dude, you don't go on a page for explaining stuff if the to-be-explained original contains something which might reference to something you'd like to experience for yourself. Or do you read/watch walkthroughs of games and then think "Dude, spoiler alert?", too? Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 06:57, 6 May 2019 (UTC)

Anyone else get the feeling that Randall is taunting us explainxkcders with the last part of the title text on this one? 21:43, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

Maybe, but that kind of absurdist humour involving combining different stories is fairly common on xkcd. RandomIsocahedron (talk) 00:31, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, let's try. The protagonists are stuck in a room, surrounded by the dead. Kevin is among the dead, and he is the only one who knows how to break into the vault. In order to get into the vault after escaping their room, they must first enter Zombie Kevin's mind and at the same time rescue his soul from Hell, escaping from the land of the dead across the River Styx. They must then reunite their souls with their minds and their minds with their bodies, use the resurrected Kevin to enter the vault, and finally escape, whereupon they find that the whole setup was in fact a staged TV show - except for the descent into Hell, which was actually real. IndigoFenix (talk) 20:28, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Of course! While I would hate to enter Zombie Kevin's mind, it would make for great cinema and/or cartoons. 20:43, 5 May 2019 (UTC)

I would argue that the middle room at the battle of Winterfell is not necessarily the keep but just a reference to the castle of Winterfell as a whole. 06:23, 5 May 2019 (UTC)

The mention of this "middle room" here and in the explanation is quite confusing. In the comic, there's an outer room and an inner room (I'm guessing this is the crypt), but what does the term middle room refer to? Could someone with knowledge of GoT please change this section so it makes sense in terms of two rooms instead of a middle room that doesn't exist? Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 14:33, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
I edited the explanation. Please check if that works.Bischoff (talk) 11:34, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
Much better, thanks. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 11:50, 6 May 2019 (UTC)

I am not sure if it is relevant to mention, but the Battle of Winterfell was in season 5 during the War of Five Kings. I believe the battle in season 8 is the Battle of Ice and Fire, but I have yet to see the current season so I am not sure. Tharkon (talk) 21:43, 7 May 2019 (UTC)

Good catch. I added a trivia section to reflect this. As I have only watched the show and not read the books, maybe someone who has can confirm/clearify if there is a relevant difference to the books here.--Bischoff (talk) 07:52, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
The books have not yet caught up to either of the battles. There is some confusion on naming the battles which happened nearby Winterfell, as shown on another wiki focussing on GOT/ASOIAF: https://gameofthrones.fandom.com/wiki/Battle_of_Winterfell_(disambiguation) but according to that wiki, Tharkon is right. --Lupo (talk) 10:10, 8 May 2019 (UTC)

Anyone think that the (?) marks in the plan was actually meant to be solved and this whole comic is the actual escape room game puzzle? I'm not a fan of escape rooms nor puzzle but its quite fun to think that Randall is waiting for someone to be able to solve this. Chronodumb (talk) 08:24, 9 May 2019 (UTC)

If I have counted right, there are 25 ? marks in the last picture, and I see no hints as to what the actual puzzles in any of them could be. so I doubt that there is any real puzzle or escape room behind this. --Lupo (talk) 09:18, 9 May 2019 (UTC)

"the line that leads around Kevin McCallister’s house, making it unclear of the point of entering his house in the first place, as you can simply walk around it" - I think this path represents the characters dying (presumably being killed by "the dead"). Thus they are teleported directly to Dante's inferno without having to journey through Kevin's subconscious or cross the river Styx. Presumably this option is less preferable because it requires dying. 05:37, 16 May 2019 (UTC)

I think that the "key" to the vault is inside Kevin's mind, and thats why they need to go in there to get out first. Dont know if this was obvious but it didnt say anything like that in the explanation.