Part 12: Resistance Gamer Kids
PART 13: Meryl's Not Interested
It's fair to say Meryl Silverburgh is the "Honey Ryder" of the Metal Gear series: the original Bond Girl. She's sexy, tough, and has perfect chemistry with the antisocial killer we're rooting for, which is why we want to see the two of them end up together -- at least for a little while. Meryl's reappearance in MGS4 is clearly fanservice, but it's also a way of tying up any loose ends in the strange ongoing history of the series.
When we meet Meryl, we find out she's no longer the impressionable rookie we once knew, but rather a hardened commander who can easily keep three tough male soldiers in line. She's revolted by Snake's aged appearance and continuously shows sympathy for him by wanting him to give up. She cares about him like he's a father figure, not lusting over him like he's a badass hero.
Snake: You're all grown up.
Meryl: Maybe it's because someone taught me well. A certain legendary hero who suddenly disappeared? You quit the unit. Me... I never gave up on you... Or on FOXHOUND. Back then, I just wanted you to accept me. I wanted you to turn around and see who I was. But... I've put the past behind. I'm done playing little love games.
We now know Snake walked out on Meryl after their honeymoon together in order to found Philanthropy and eventually fake his death. This is in keeping with his allusion he makes in MGS2 about being tired of "tomboys". Meryl doesn't hate Snake, but she's grown out of "little love games" and returned to being a trained soldier.
It makes sense that there's not even a trace of romance between Snake and Meryl, and it also makes sense that when they disagree over what to do, she insults Snake to his face. She always had a lippy attitude to begin with, and claimed to hate men. Now she's too experienced to be told what to do, even from the legendary Solid Snake. Only this time Snake isn't willing to fight back; his feelings are hurt when she belittles him, truthfully indicated by the "PSYCHE" meter dropping. The changed dynamics between the two serves as evidence that Meryl has grown as a character, and that Snake isn't what he once was.
Meryl: Look, our ways of thinking might be different, but to me, you're still a legend... A hero. I know all about the things you did when you were young. It was what kept me going. I can't bear to watch you die over something so pointless.
Or perhaps she hasn't grown that much after all. There's plenty of reason to believe that Meryl is the same as ever. She relies on the "Sons of the Patriots" System to function and regulate her emotions during battle, and controls her unit through its ability to share senses. She calls men "selfish, egotistical pigs" and still isn't looking for love. And as far as wisdom goes, she underestimates Liquid Ocelot and overestimates the System, almost gets killed, and is proven wrong about the need for Snake to keep fighting.
Whether or not she has truly changed, it only makes sense that she no longer finds Snake attractive. He's old, his face gets burnt, and he's one ill-timed coughing fit away from being a liability. They already had each other, and any love they shared is a distant memory.
The Hidden Reasons
The truth is, Meryl could have been anything in MGS4, but Kojima decided to make her yet another reminder of how far Snake has fallen from greatness. It was established that Snake and Meryl parted ways after Shadow Moses, but there's no reason she had to revert to military service or give up on "little love games", as Kojima now calls them. The profound lessons about the meaning of life the two of them learned by going through the hell of Shadow Moses are now discarded like trash.
What motivation does Meryl have for running a PMC inspection team for ArmsTech -- the same people who manufactured the railgun used by Metal Gear REX? Why is she alone and disgruntled after so many years, instead of putting down her weapon and enjoying life like she promised to? Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but I wouldn't want to work for any company involved with top-secret illegal events leading up to my imprisonment, torture, and -- ahem -- "things worse than that". To me, her loyalty to ArmsTech is almost as bizarre as the fact that she doesn't hold any particular grudge against Liquid Ocelot for, you know, torturing and raping her to the point of near-death, back in the day. I guess she put that past of her past behind her too, huh? No hard feelings?
There's no arguing with the plot, though. Meryl's character could use some more explanation, but it's not beyond belief. The more interesting question is why her character was designed this way to begin with.
Meryl's selective memory, her rejection of Snake, and her abandonment the meaning of life in favor of bossy independence all have an important, hidden purpose: To depress the hell out of anyone who loved MGS1, or who demanded that Kojima tie up its "loose ends"! How do you like your fanservice reunion, you entitled pricks?
The disappointing return of Snake and Meryl (interrupted by Johnny's frequent diarrhea attacks and retarded behavior, just to make sure you can't get too sentimental) was meant to suck the life out of Snake's classic appeal, along with any hope of reliving our favorite spy fantasies. Women used to fawn over him and try to get down his pants back in the day, but not anymore. It's strategically spiteful writing, carefully contrived by Kojima to make MGS4 one big depressing bummer.
And no, that's not even considering her new interest in Akiba...