2145: Heists And Escapes

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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.


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 enter the dreams 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 or plant ideas into it.
  • 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. Humor is provided by the style of the work's description, likening The Divine Comedy to a movie, though there were no movies in 1320.[citation needed]

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":

The escape room begins in a small room, shown with Cueball and Megan standing inside, who likely represent the participants of the escape room. An arrow leads out from that room into a larger bank, where some more characters labeled The Dead, referencing The Battle of Winterfell, are standing. An arrow leaves from them that merges into Cueball and Megan’s, implying they join them as they escape the room.

The arrows continue outside the bank, into a larger room labeled Truman Show, inspired by the film where the protagonist was living in a constructed reality show, although he did not know it. The path branches upwards around or into Kevin McCallister’s house, with the arrows inside spitting yet again, either exiting the house again or entering Kevin McCallister’s subconscious, a reference to the movie Inception. The arrows once again split and continue either downwards or to the right, both exiting McCallister’s house.

The path to the right splits, the top path crossing Styx, a river in Greek mythology that forms the boundary between Earth and the Underworld, represented by Dante’s Inferno, taken from The Divine Comedy, and the other returning to the line that leads downwards. The line that leads to Dante’s Inferno is met by the line that leads around Kevin McCallister’s house. It can be assumed that this is not a breaking into the underworld as portrayed in some movies, but due to the simplicity of the paths (note that unlike for the escape the line just crosses Styx) it is the possibility of failing prior puzzles and dying. In that case the escape room puzzle would continue with escaping from the underworld to rejoin the puzzles.

Both paths lead downwards back across Styx, rejoining the other lines below McCallister’s house. The lines continue to the bank and spit to either re-enter the bank or exit the escape room entirely. The line that re-enters the bank either returns to The Dead or into the bank’s vault, which the line also exits the escape room.

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


[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
[A small version of Cueball stands in the middle of a room while a Hairy on the left and Cueball on the right 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


Judging by the depicted scene, the Battle of Winterfell referenced in the comic seems to refer to the battle taking place in the 3rd episode of the 8th season of the TV show Game of Thrones. While there is no official naming of all battles in the show, this is in line with the naming on most blogs and other discussions published around the premiere of that episode. However several wikis and other more long term reviews of the show refer to this battle as the "Battle of Ice and Fire". On these sites the "Battle of Winterfell" refers to the battle in the 10th episode of the 5th season between Stannis Baratheon and the Boltons.

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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.