Hi there everyone! Welcome back to the fourth–but not final–installment of Interpreting the Main Four’s Dreams. Finally, it’s time to focus on the dream I’ve been waiting to interpret since I began this series back in August: Binary Bard’s dream.
Warning: behemoth post ahead.
From start to finish, a ton of stuff happens within Binary Bard’s dream world. Evil robotic animals, blueprints, doors, flying plant pods, time-freezing, a huge clock, plus that stunning galaxy artwork — where to look first?
Let’s start with the very first scene, in which Binary Bard himself (who interestingly is Mordred rather than the half-cyborg we see in Astro-Knights) is seated on a throne, complaining about how a door won’t open. The door in question is swinging tantalizingly, too fast for you or Bard to slip through. Doors in dreams might symbolize change and new opportunities; its rapid opening and closing could mean that Bard is trying to reach a new place, but every time he thinks he’s there, the world snatches things out of his control. Maybe he’d get through if he timed it at the right second.
Which he does! Interestingly enough, it’s with the player’s help that Bard manages to get through; if the player hadn’t frozen time, would he have been forced to wait out the remainder of the dream in his throne? Would he have gotten anywhere at all? Hmm.
After entering the second room, the player makes an intriguing remark: “Looks like there’s no going back.” Maybe this has a deeper meaning than simply “The door’s locked and I can’t go back to the throne room.”
There’s also a strange picture on the wall:
Notice it’s ripped where Mordred’s cybernetics later appear.
Within the remaining rooms you’ll enter before reaching the final area, there are two large blueprints on the walls: one depicting the iconic Merlin, the second showing a robotic mouse (the same one you lure out of a hole in the castle wall during the events of Astro-Knights — I like to call it Morgan).
The blueprints come to life when you pass them. But something’s wrong — instead of a friendly bird and a shy rodent, they’ve turned against you, and their eyes and joints are scarlet instead of blue. Hmm.
A couple more things I’ll mention before focusing on the climax: firstly, notice the backgrounds in the rooms. They started out looking very much like Bard’s underground laboratory, but slowly disintegrate as you progress, revealing a blueprint of a castle on a nebula background. And secondly, let’s discuss that red-eyed, metal figure of Bard, shall we? Might Bard be exploring what would happen if he dropped his human side and became fully robotic?
And now let’s peek inside the final area, where the walls of Bard’s trusty lab have vanished completely, to be replaced by one of the most beautiful (albeit weirdest) scenes in Poptropica.
During this scene, you climb up a series of flying mechanical plant pods with the help of your time-freezing stopwatch. I interpreted a few different keywords here, but most interesting are these two: levitation, which symbolizes all things incredible and impossible; and plants, which might indicate ideas, progress, or development.
Once you complete this jungle planet-esque obstacle course, it’s time for Poptropica’s second Binary Bard boss battle. While the first one took place in Bard’s asteroid castle, this one’s even stranger: Bard (now complete with cybernetics and jester guise) is inside an enormous clock, and the only way to defeat him is to freeze time whenever the moving hands of his clock pause. Doing so electrocutes him.
Clocks in dreams symbolize inevitability or a strong awareness of what you need to do. (Clocks and time have been a recurring motif throughout this dream, with the player frequently using the time-freezing stopwatch; at first, it helps Bard through, but now, it comes back to bite him). Electrocution on the other hand could signify underestimation or misjudgement, or serve as a warning about the consequences of your actions.
After you electrocute him thrice, Bard will disappear and his astrolabe totem will fall out, signaling the end of his dream. What a wild ride!
So… put together, what does all this mean?
In a nutshell, I believe this entire dream represents Bard’s journey, with each area symbolizing a stage of his life. At the very beginning, we see prim and proper Mordred on his throne, showing us the way things were before he donned a jester hat and ran for the stars. Although, even at this point he’s eyeing the door, longing to escape from his Arturus residence and create something more.
The player with their stopwatch being the one to open the door for him implies that we enabled him to pursue his creativity in the first place; but that’s impossible, seeing as we arrived on Astro-Knights many years after he’d already left. A more likely theory is that, in this case, we as the player symbolize someone or something else that inspired him. An associate or a member of the royal family, perhaps? Maybe a notable event? A new side of his brain he hadn’t tapped into yet? It remains a mystery. As for the stopwatch helping him and then bringing about his downfall, it reminds me of Princess Elyana, who worshiped and followed him only for him to kidnap her, which resulted in her kicking him and leaving him on his lonely asteroid at the end of Astro-Knights.
Moving onto the following rooms, we can see Mordred’s gradual progression into insanity: his imprisonment (which isn’t depicted, but probably happens at the first door) and the establishment of his underground lab. The aforementioned ripped portrait in this room hints at his transition from esteemed scholar to unhinged genius – he’s still dressed as royal Mordred, but the slash could indicate the start of his cyborg makeover, as well as his need to distance himself from the character Mordred as he forms a new persona, the Binary Bard.
As for evil Merlin and Morgan, they refer to two things: Bard regretting Merlin’s betrayal from when the owl left him to assist the player, and reflecting on the way he felt back before the events of Astro-Knights when he was still confined to his lab, when everyone had turned against him and thought him to be a mad wizard.
While the throne and the underground rooms represent Bard’s past, the final scene may be the future, or ideas that never came to fruition before Bard was brought to Erewhon Prison — hence the fully robotic Bard and everything in the last area being unfamiliar (save for the planets). Floating in his cryotube, Bard still thinks of all the things he planned but never accomplished, all those sketches he never colored in…
…and that’s the end of Bard’s dream interpretation! It’s been a long time coming, and I’m relieved it’s finally finished. Catch the rest of the series in these links: Dr. Hare, Captain Crawfish, and Black Widow.
Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, and stay tuned for this series’ last post coming soon!