MUSIC VIDEO DRILLDOWN #9: Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

written by David Steffen

This is one of a series of articles wherein I examine a music video as a short film, focusing on the story rather than the music, trying to identify the story arcs and characters motivations, and consider the larger implication of events.

The film this week is Radioactive by Imagine Dragons, a fantasy action thriller.

The film starts as our protagonist, a young woman in a hoodie, walks through the woods alone with a blanket-covered kennel. She approaches a shack on what appears to be a quiet rural property, until she enters and is surrounded by the ruckus of an underground gambling ring. Men shout and wave money at a central ring while the boss of the ring (Lou Diamond Philips) smokes a cigar and fiddles with a key hung around his neck. A chalkboard marks 115 wins for the Champ and 0 for the Challengers.

We catch glimpses of the singers of the background music, who sometimes pause their music to stare apprehensively at the trapdoor in the ceiling, the implication being that they are imprisoned in a dungeon under the shack, presumably locked with the key around the boss’s neck. They are doing their best to play despite drums and guitar caked in thick layers of dust.

The Challenger turns out to be a monster puppet that looks like a gorilla with long purple hair. Muscular and vicious and under the command of the boss, it puts challengers, other puppets and stuffed animals of various shapes, to quick ends, beating and often dismembering them before they are dropped into the dungeon through the trap door to join Imagine Dragons down there.

Our protagonist reveals the resident of her kennel, a pink and white teddy bear, and she pits it against the Champ. At first it seems the fight is going the way every other fight has gone, with the Champ winning decisively, but just when it’s about to be dumped in the dungeon with the others it rises again and gathers itself, gathering some kind of glowing energy into its plushy fist and knocks out the Champ. The shack goes completely silent as everyone freezes in shock at this unexpected development. The boss sics his guards on the bear, and the bear vaporizes them each in turn, and the gamblers cleare out of the shack in a rush, abandoning the boss. Our protagonist takes his key before dumping the boss down the trap door.

She frees Imagine Dragons to go free, and the boss picks himself up from the ground in the dungeon, as a swarm of his plushy victims closes in on him with squeaking sounds and malicious intent and the boss screams as the screen goes black.

Is this a fantasy film or a documentary, the presence of Imagine Dragons in the film might imply that this is a true story from their personal history. Perhaps before they made it big? I don’t believe I’ve heard any public interviews discussing this incident in greater detail, but it’s possible that the boss of that gambling ring has other surviving friends or family who would get their revenge about anyone who gave too many details. It does make me wonder too if this ring is an isolated occurrence or if there are illegal puppet fighting rings all over the place. And even though the boss got his comeuppance, it’s still sad to think of all of the plush creatures who had died there before that, and the people who came to gamble over it. In many ways it’s a classic tale of bad people getting what’s coming to them, but no doubt the survivors will suffer for the rest of their lives from their trauma there. Maybe someday there will be followup films about them finding their happiness in family or art or charity, however they can.

Next up in the Music Video Drilldown series will be Q.U.E.E.N. by Janelle Monáe.


written by David Steffen

Sushi Go Party! is a 2016 expansion of the fun and fast-paced strategy point-scoring game Sushi Go! (previously reviewed here). The basic gameplay of the game is the same: each player starts with a hand of cards, plays a card facedown and then flips it over, and passes their hand to the person next to them and rotates. Points are scored at the end of each round except the desserts which are saved until the end for scoring.

Sushi Go Party! takes the solid concept and execution of the original game and simply expands it with more kinds of cards. You still only have the same number of types of cards per game, but you can choose a different set for each game–you choose one roll, three appetizers, two specials, and a dessert (and the reliable-scoring nigiri are always included).

The original game had types that you would get points by collecting more of, collect 3 sashimi for 10 points, 2 tempura for 5 points, more dumplings for more points apiece. But Sushi Go! Party has tofu, for which you get 2 poitns for 1 tofu, 6 points for 2 tofu, but 0 points for 3 or more tofu. Or eel, for which 1 is -3 points, but 2 is worth 7. The specials in particular have more weird varieties, like the menu which lets you look at the next 4 cards in the deck and pick your favorite, or the special order which can mimic any other card you’ve already laid down.

The original Sushi Go! is a great strategy game that keeps itself interesting with the strategy, and Sushi Go Party! just multiplies that. You can change the game significantly by swapping in some different cards, and so there’s even more potential for replay. Great game for all ages.

All ages who are old enough to be ready for this type of strategy. My 5 year old plays it very well and loves every minute.

Can be quite challenging, and can be made more or less challenging by swapping in different card sets to make you think of new strategies for different combinations.

Session Time
You can play a full game in maybe 10-15 minutes, so reasonably quick, if not as quick as some other games.

Lots of replayability, your strategies might or might not be rigid, but the variations of the card combinations and the other player’s strategies serve to keep it fresh, and once you’ve figured out a good strategy for a particular set of cards, try a different set.

Even considering the original Sushi Go! the new sets of cards are a huge expansion of variety and originality.

A very fun and fast-paced strategy scoring game where chance plays a big enough factor that the best strategist isn’t going to just walk away with a win easily. Suitable for people of all ages, and is a lot of fun. Highly recommended. Only downside compared to the original Sushi Go! is that the other one is a little more compact and easy to set up, because you don’t have to separate out all the cards like you do with this one–so if you’re going to bring it to work to play with friends at lunch or something the original has the advantage of being easy to move and set up.