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|“||Everyone of you! You got my name! And after all you've been through! Good, good-good-good. I mean how does that feel? How does it feel? Do you enjoy feeling terrorized? Humiliated? I mean, panicked? All those emotions that my sisters got to feel once one year ago! Only guess what? They didn't get to laugh it off! NO! Nope! No no NO! They're GONE!||„|
|~ Josh revealing his motivation.|
Joshua "Josh" Washington, also called "The Psycho", is one of the eight main protagonists and the (former) secondary antagonist of Until Dawn. Josh is the brother of the missing twins, Beth and Hannah; unbeknownst to the other main playable characters, he blames his closest friends for their disappearance - as a result of the prank that prompted Hannah and Beth to leave the lodge in the first place - and has arranged a prank of his own to get revenge.
The son of film director Bob Washington, Joshua enjoyed a luxurious childhood thanks to his father's wealth. As an adult, he still recalls their summer retreats to Blackwood Pines and the baseball games he played with his family on the lawn of their mountain lodge.
However, his happiness didn't last: his parents became more and more preoccupied in their work, gradually leaving Josh neglected. As a result, Josh formed a very close bond with his sisters, Hannah and Beth, relying on them for the emotional support his parents could not provide. He also formed a lasting friendship with classmate Chris, eventually drawing him and his sisters into a larger circle of friends consisting of Samantha, Mike, Jessica, Emily, Ashley, and Matt.
After an "incident" at school, Josh was referred to a psychiatrist in 2006 and diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. Over the course of the next few years, he was referred to a number of other medical professionals and prescribed a number of antidepressant drugs; often, the effects of the drugs tapered or simply failed to help Josh at all, forcing his doctors to change prescriptions. By 2013, he was self-medicating with progressively larger doses of Amitriptyline in a desperate attempt to improve his mood.
During the fateful winter getaway at Blackwood Pines, Josh spent most of the evening getting drunk with Chris; as a result, he was not included in the prank his friends played on Hannah, left passed out on the kitchen counter while his twin sisters left the lodge, never to be seen again.
Josh took the disappearance very badly: medical records from around this time suggest he came dangerously close to committing suicide, and his ongoing state of delirium quickly resulted in him being committed to Oceanview Hospital for observation while his current doctor, Alan Hill, considered possible treatments. Though Josh was discharged two weeks later with a new prescription of Phenelzine, he had changed for the worst: though outwardly good-humored and sociable as ever, he had become obsessed with taking revenge on his friends for causing his sisters' disappearance, ideally by pranking them in a similar way.
Drawing upon his family's wealth and his father's contacts among practical effects artists, he spent most of the year planning, designing and commissioning the props necessary for his grand prank. At some point, against the advice of Dr Hill, he also gave up on his medication (Later claiming that, "Revenge is the best medicine!") and resolved to live with the withdrawal symptoms.
Eventually, he returned to Blackwood Pines and rigged the Washington lodge with all the props necessary for the ultimate practical joke - including video cameras to ensure that the events would be recorded for posterity and uploaded to the Internet. He then invited his friends back to the mountain for another winter getaway, and waited for his intended victims to arrive. Josh had planned for almost anything, arranging everything from animatronic ghosts to fake bodies, even creating evidence of a slasher villain - the disgruntled janitor "Victor Milgram" - in fake newspapers and wanted posters to help cover his tracks. However, despite his desperate need to see his "friends" suffer, he had no overwhelming desire to actually kill them, and carefully designed the prank to ensure that nobody would actually be hurt over the course of the evening.
Unfortunately, Josh hadn't anticipated the arrival of the Wendigo.
The "Therapy" Sessions
|“||What gives you the right to play god in these people's lives? What makes you so special, then? You're sick! You're a sick fuck! Now what the hell have you done to them? What the hell have you done to them, you psychopath? Psychopath!||„|
|~ Dr. Hill, as hallucinated by Josh.|
By the first chapter of the game, Josh is regularly hallucinating - either as a side-effect of giving up Phenelzine or as a symptom of schizophrenia. Throughout the game, he finds himself in imaginary therapy sessions with a hallucination of Dr Hill, during which Josh decides the course of the lesser pranks and who among the group he likes or dislikes the most. He also admits to his deepest fears, ultimately incorporating them into his prank in order to torment his friends with his own neuroses.
At first friendly, Hill grows more and more aggressive as the prank continues, his disapproval growing as Josh's prank grows more vicious. In many ways, the hallucinatory psychiatrist comes to embody Josh's moral compass and his self-loathing: at first merely trying to convince his "patient" that the "game" is dangerously unhealthy for both himself and his friends, he graduates to needling him for his inadequacies if he fails to capture Sam, eventually calling Josh a psychopath following the saw blades trap. In the aftermath of the prank, he blames Josh for every death on the mountain, taunting him for being abandoned by his friends to isolation (one of Josh's fears) even blaming him for the disappearance of Hannah and Beth. Finally, Dr Hill leaves him to his madness, offering a last word of advice before ceasing to exist.
As a product of Josh's imagination, Dr. Hill's office corresponds to Josh's deteriorating state of mind: at first immaculate, well-decorated and brightly-lit, it slowly declines over the course of the game, first being plunged into darkness, then acquiring ragged curtains, boarded-up windows, hooks and chains, even bleeding walls. Josh's fears are also displayed, depending on the player's decisions, including open displays of gore, mannequins dressed as clowns, scarecrows or zombies, and jars filled with spiders, cockroaches, rats, and even snakes. During Josh's capture, the office gradually gives way to the environment he's been imprisoned in, first sprouting the trees of the forest surrounding the lodge, then presenting the harsh rock walls of the Wendigo's underground lair.
Once the guests had arrived at the lodge, Joshua began readying the various elements of the prank. By the time it was ready, most of the group had separated: Sam was taking a bath, Matt and Emily had returned to the capable car to retrieve lost luggage, and Josh had sent Mike and Jessica off to a guest cabin some distance away (presumably with the intention of subjecting them to a prank set up there, or else waiting for them to return for their part in the prank). So, Josh began with Chris and Ashley: first, he plants the idea of Hannah and Beth haunting the mountain by conducting a rigged seance with the two friends, before leading them to the library, where several "clues" reveal the threat of a serial killer on the mountain. Then, disguised in a janitor's boiler suit and a horror mask, he lures Ashley into the kitchen and tranquilizes her; when Chris arrives seconds later, Josh knocks him unconscious and drags Ashley out of the lodge.
After regaining consciousness, Chris starts looking for Ashley, and is led out of the lodge and onto a mountain path booby-trapped with scarecrows and other alarming paraphernalia. At the end of the trail, Chris arrives at one of the lodge's outbuildings, where he finds Josh and Ashley tied to a wall, a giant saw blade arranged on a track between them. The "Psycho" (really just a pre-recorded audio track prepared by Josh) then introduces himself by loudspeaker, and orders Chris to choose whether Josh or Ashley will die: however, the machine is designed to spare Ashley regardless of the player's decision, leaving Chris to watch helplessly as the revolving blades slice Josh in half. Unknown to both Chris and Ashley, Josh is actually unharmed: the corpse is really a custom-made mannequin stuffed with pig's intestines, with Josh positioning his real face over the stump of the mannequin's face. However, the results are believable enough to convince Ashley and Chris that Joshua really is dead. With neither of them willing to investigate the scene further and both Matt and Emily soon aware of his "death," Josh is free to continue his prank without anyone suspecting him.
In between each stage of the prank, Josh remains carefully hidden in his workshop under the lodge, keeping a close eye on the other participants through the surveillance cameras that he would set up throughout the grounds. It was during one of these lulls in the action that he observes Matt and Emily attempting to escape the mountain via the cable car, unaware that Josh has already locked the controls and pushed the car well out of reach. For good measure, Josh remotely locks the gates, trapping Matt and Emily by the cable car station - unwittingly endangering their lives when their escape attempt leads them directly into the path of the roaming Wendigo.
He then turns his attention to Sam's bath, stealing her clothes and leaving a trail of balloons leading down to the lodge's cinema. At first thinking this to be a joke, Sam wanders around the lodge in a towel, wondering why no one is answering her as she follows the trail downstairs. Upon her arrival in the cinema, the "Psycho" once again taunts her over the loudspeaker, showing her video footage of her own bath and then footage of Josh's faked death - once again in order to avoid suspicion of his true identity. After giving her ten seconds (of which she gets less than seven), he bursts into the cinema, resulting in a chase: depending on the player's decisions, Sam can be tranquilized and captured or can successfully evade her pursuer - escaping into the basement and hiding in the ruined hotel beneath the lodge.
Later, while investigating the basement, Ashley and Chris find themselves embroiled in another stage of the prank, this one involving animatronic ghosts designed to resemble the missing twins, a dollhouse re-enactment of the prank played on Hannah, and even a video recording of the prank itself - complete with a ghostly jumpscare.
After continuing through the basement and into the ruined hotel, the two are lured into a trap, either by Sam's unconscious body or by a dummy in Sam's stolen clothes (depending on whether Josh was able to capture her or not). While Chris and Ashley are distracted, Josh ambushes them, chloroforming Chris into unconsciousness before making a grab for Ashley: if Ashley has collected scissors from the basement, she will stab her attacker in the shoulder; shocked and enraged, Josh will sucker-punch her unconscious, leaving her with a black eye. One way or another, Ashley will be captured.
Meanwhile, Sam finds herself in Josh's lair - either as a result of evading Josh or being captured by him. In the former case, she is able to investigate the workshop and discover several clues to the "Psycho's" true identity, including a phone and a medical report. In the latter case, she is strapped to a chair and has to be rescued by Mike. In either case, Sam must let Mike into the hotel, allowing the two of them to continue through the underground together.
Around this time, Chris and Ashley awaken to find themselves strapped into chairs with a gun sitting on the table between them. Once again, Josh contacts them over a loudspeaker and orders Chris to take the gun and either shoot himself or Ashley: the survivor can leave unharmed. If he does not make a choice, both of them will be torn to shreds by the circular saw blades positioned above them. However, it's later revealed that Josh is bluffing and never intended for either trap to be lethal: if Chris tries to shoot himself or Ashley, it is revealed that the gun is loaded with blanks. If Chris doesn't make a choice, the saw blades stop before they can do any damage.
No sooner has Chris decided, Sam and Mike burst in, just in time to see the Psycho entering the room and unmasking himself - revealing himself as Josh.
|“||I DID something! I made you believe in the world I created and I showed you parts of yourself you were too afraid to visit.||„|
|~ Josh ranting at Mike.|
Confronted by his friends, Josh reveals the details of his prank, gloating how well he fooled them and boasting of how the uploaded footage will make them Internet sensations. Mike, enraged and believing that Josh is responsible for Jessica's death, knocks him unconscious; after tying his hands, Mike and Chris drag him to the shack where he faked his death, intending to keep him there until they can call the police, all the while ignoring Josh's protestations of innocence. As the confrontation goes on, Josh's behavior begins to degenerate: already high-strung and prone to grandiose bragging at the start of the chapter, he slowly declines, first into increasingly crazed denials, then vicious insults aimed at his captors, before finally dissolving into deranged, barely-coherent attempts at humor. After either knocking Josh unconscious or disarming Mike to prevent him from shooting Josh, Chris departs, leaving Mike on guard.
During this time, Emily is fleeing from the Wendigo, either dying in the attempt or making it back to the lodge: in any event, her screams get carry as far as the shack, prompting Mike to investigate - leaving Josh behind in the process. Soon after, the Stranger arrives to explain the true nature of the threat on the mountain, introducing the group to the concept of the Wendigo. Too late, Mike realizes that Josh has been left alone in the Wendigo's hunting ground, prompting Chris - accompanied by the Stranger - to attempt a rescue: however, on reaching the shack, they find it deserted and covered in blood; presuming Josh dead, the two of them leave - only to be ambushed by the Wendigo. The Stranger is instantly decapitated, and Chris is forced to retreat to the lodge (his survival once again dependent on the player's decision). After this, the Wendigo drags an unconscious Josh into the forest, and placed into the wendigo's lair.
Refusing to wait until dawn to escape and knowing that the cable car won't work without Josh's keys, Mike resolves to find him, prompting the action over the next few hours of the game.
Meanwhile, Josh is dragged into the abandoned mines and deposited in the Wendigo's lair. There, abandoned by his hallucinations of Dr Hill, Josh suffers a complete mental breakdown: taunted on all sides by the voices of his psychiatrist, his sisters, his friends and even himself, he swings wildly between fear, grief and utter despair as his mental health rapidly deteriorates. His hallucinations take a dark turn, confronting him with the animated corpses of his sisters, Hannah encouraging him to join them, Beth blaming him for their deaths.
While hallucinating giant pig's heads, showers of intestines, the skinned bodies of his sisters and giant Wendigos, Josh is finally located by Sam and Mike - the latter of whom is able to bring Josh back to reality by slapping him across the face. Upon realizing that his friends are with him, he willingly hands over the cable car key. Though Sam is able to climb out of the cavern on her own, Mike clearly recognizes that Josh won't be able to climb in his current condition, and decides to help him find another way out.
However, while wading through an underground lake, they are ambushed by a Wendigo: Mike is dragged under the water and flung aside while the creature attacks Josh - his fate determinant on the player's decisions. If Sam was unable to locate Hannah's diary and inform Josh of it, the Wendigo will crush Josh's skull to pulp and drag his corpse back to its lair. Due to the destruction of the lodge however, his body was presumably found by the rescue team, and not finished off the wendigos. However, if the diary was located, Josh will notice the butterfly tattoo on the Wendigo's shoulder and realize that the creature is actually his sister, Hannah. Sparing her brother's life, she nonetheless drags the screaming Josh back to her lair.
If he was spared by Hannah, Josh is captured by her, and remains on the mountain following the destruction of the lodge and the end of the game. In a desperate attempt to avoid starvation, he feeds on human flesh from the Wendigo's stockpile, ultimately being transformed into a Wendigo himself. Josh is later discovered by two rangers while feasting on the Stranger's decapitated head - before turning around and attacking them, presumably killing both.
|“||I don't take orders from you, you can't... you can't tell me what to do! You can't tell me what to do anymore! YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO! Oh... okay... okay... I trust you... I trust you.... I trust you.||„|
|~ Josh, suffering a mental breakdown.|
The game describes Josh as "thoughtful," "loving" and "complicated." This last descriptive may very well be the most appropriate, as of all the characters in the game, Josh's personality is arguably the hardest to pin down, especially considering his efforts to disguise it: having grown accustomed to hiding his depression from his friends, he adopts a jovial, good-humored persona throughout the early chapters of the game, masking his insecurities with crude humor and innuendo. Rather tellingly, he has a habit of deflecting any concerns over his state of mind with remarks like "I'm over it" and "I just want to have a good time, like we always used to." However, his flair for the grandiose is on display even in these early stages, even beginning his video address to the other members of the group with "Hello, friends and fans!"
Under his outwardly benign exterior, Josh is desperate for revenge against his former friends, seeing it as the only way to recover from the disappearance of Hannah and Beth. To that end, he has sunk months of work and likely hundreds of thousands of dollars into setting up the perfect prank on the guests at the Washington Lodge, much of it having been designed and prepared alone - a testament not only to the depths of Josh's anger, but also to his intelligence and dedication. Fancying himself an actor as well as a budding director, he is more than capable of assuming whatever role is necessary over the course of the prank's story, from victim to villain - even faking his death to drive the threat of the evening home. When finally unmasked, he can only gloat over having fooled everyone so perfectly, once again indulging his flair for the grandiose in revealing the full extent of his plan.
However, despite his desire for vengeance, Josh honestly doesn't want to hurt anyone - only resorting to hitting Ashley after being stabbed with a pair of scissors. Though his primary goal is to achieve closure and recover from the loss of his sisters, he also intends the prank as a warped attempt to get Chris and Ashley to acknowledge their feelings for one another, and seems to genuinely believe that everyone in the group will achieve internet stardom when the film of the prank goes viral. When Mike reveals that Jessica is dead (as far as he knows), Josh can only respond with shock and confusion - his behavior growing more and more frenzied as his stress escalates.
The final chapter of the game reveals the depths of Josh's self-loathing and neurosis: already badgered by the imaginary Dr Hill, his time in the Wendigo's lair sees him confronted on all sides by hallucinatory visions of his sisters, accusing him of wanting them dead. Josh can only respond with hysterical tears.
|~ The Psycho if he catches Sam.|
|“||Here little kitty. Here pussy pussy.||„|
|~ The Psycho looking for Sam in the dumbwaiter.|
|“||No, no, no, no. LIVE AND LEARN!||„|
|~ The Psycho if stabbed by Ashley.|
|“||Oooh! Sleepover! C-can we order pizza?||„|
|~ Joshua to Mike and Chris while tied up.|
- Josh is the only playable main character that cannot be saved in the game.
- Even though the Wendigos were the true villains, the first half of the game revolved around Josh's prank.
- It has been suggested that Josh has been misdiagnosed by his doctors, and is actually suffering from schizophrenia. This would perhaps explain why he responded so badly to antidepressants, along with several of the symptoms he displays over the course of the game, including delusions of grandeur, delusions of persecution, social withdrawal, disorganized speech, and a number of vivid audio/visual hallucinations.
- Josh's psycho masked changed during the development of the game, as in the trailers, it was a seen knapsack.
- Concept art also depicts different masks.
- Josh testing his victims is similar to John Kramer of the Saw Series, and both characters are similar in that the victims have wronged him, or someone they knew.