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The Insane Child Leader is the unnamed leader of the Insane Children who resides in the Dollhouse domain of Alice: Madness Returns. She is the commander of the Insane Children residing in Fort Resistance, and is the only person in the entire Dollhouse domain to speak to Alice Liddell other than the Dollmaker.
Alice: Madness Returns Edit
When she first greets Alice by Fort Resistance, she directs her through the Doll Doorway to the next area of the game, before ushering her friends inside the fort after hearing the cry of a Doll Girl. She closes the fort's door behind her, leaving Alice to fight the Doll Girl alone.
During this appearance she fully explains the fate of the Insane Children in Wonderland, but very elliptically, so Alice (and the player) don't fully realize the extent of what's going on until later in the level. Alice says she would help the children in their fight against the Dollmaker, but worries she is too mad to be of service (which mirrors Alice's failure to protect the orphans in the real world from Doctor Bumby's abuse.) The Insane Child Leader says that Alice is not mad enough to be rejected either by her- as a champion- or the Dollmaker- as a victim- and goes on to tell Alice that Alice is like the children (i.e.: prey to the Dollmaker) but not (i.e.: strong enough to fight back). Here her speech becomes muddled, indicating that she is just as mad as her friends. She concludes by telling Alice the way to her destination is clearly marked, and that she should go now to confront the Dollmaker. Once again, Alice is reluctant to help, but their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of the Doll Girl.
As Alice progresses through the Dollhouse it becomes clear that the way is indeed clearly marked, for in the same way that the Cheshire Cat left shrink sense drawing clues around the previous domains, the Insane Child Leader has done the same around the Dollhouse. This is shown through her drawing style being slightly different from the Cat's (the lines are less scratchy, particularly noticeable on a drawing of the Cat's face on a platform about halfway through Fort Resistance: Delivered) and through her repeated drawing of her own face through the underground parts of the domain. A number of her drawings again explicitly show what happens to the insane children, by showing her face, then either a child on a hook or the Dollmaker's hand, then a Doll Girl face, then the Infernal Train.
After Alice re-emerges from the underground parts of the domain for the first time, she returns to Fort Resistance, which has been breached in her absence. The fort is deserted, but the Insane Child Leader's corpse is visible on the steps outside the door. The blood surrounding her implies she was fatally hit and was either dragged for a short distance, or crawled out before succumbing to her wounds. Her eyes have been removed, and her teddy bear is nowhere to be seen. It is an interesting note that out of all of the Insane Children, she is the only one never actually turned into a doll by the Dollmaker, but is killed outright instead.
Further on still in the domain, she is seen, alive and well (but bear-less) standing in an area with a deserted Looking Glass Line station in it, staring at a wall on which she has drawn the fate of the Insane Children. While some fans speculate that this is in fact a different girl with the same character model, this seems unlikely; she was given enough individual features to be easily distinguished from her peers (i.e. her distinctive facial wounds, more realistic eyes, a speaking part) that if it was meant to be any Insane Child standing there they would have used another character model. A more likely theory is that, like the Hatter and the White Rabbit, she did actually die, but reappears in a depowered form to point Alice towards the truth because Wonderland functions on dream logic and therefore has a tenuous relationship with true continuity. The fact that she is virtually inert in this incarnation supports this theory; her 'depowering' was the fact that she could no longer actually verbally help Alice, but instead only implies what's going on from her position in the area.
She is a small girl with long, messy brown hair and green eyes. Like the rest of her companions in Fort Resistance, she bears numerous scars from previous encounter(s) with the Dollmaker. However, unlike her friends, who have clean cuts around their skulls wholly or exposing their brains, she has a jagged cut which slants slightly downwards that has been haphazardly stitched together without being cauterized. This implies that she escaped midway through an encounter with the Dollmaker, and either she or a friend of hers patched her up. The signs that she escaped midway into being turned into a doll are quite apparent on her face; her eyelids have been pinned back (preparing her eyes for removal, as most of the Doll Girls are eyeless) and her lips have been pulled back and stitched into an almost permanent smile. She wears a plain white nightdress with cuffed sleeves which is covered in blood splatters from her facial wounds. The hem has been ripped just above her knees, possibly another subtle allusion to the fate of Doctor Bumby's charges in the real world. In her first appearance, she is carrying a teddy bear whose stitches match her own.
Her personality seems to be one of a brave child with mental health problems, who both respects Alice as another of Dollmaker's prey and a possible savior but is also frustrated with her at her lack of action to protect her and her friends in the past. This is particularly evident in the Extra Content note from her (there confusingly named 'Doll Girl') that can be seen on the pause screen of Domain 5, where she implies that the debt she owes to the children for failing to protect them will be collected by the Dollmaker in the form of her becoming a doll. In that note it is also implied that she is aware of Doctor Bumby's role in Alice's past. She appears to be (and certainly thinks she is) the most sane and intelligent of the Insane Children, and affectionately refers to the others as "dimwits." In the Extra Content, Alice questions the validity of this belief. Despite her courage at standing up to the Dollmaker and protecting her friends, she still seems to be quite a nervous child, as she has several nervous behavioral ticks; such as tugging on her lower lip and wringing her hands.
Symbolically, her pro-activity, knowledge of the truth of seemingly both the Dollmaker and Doctor Bumby, and her frustration at Alice's lack of action make her similar to both the Queen of Hearts (in Alice: Madness Returns only) and Alice herself. As American McGee stated that the Queen represented Alice's superego, and Alice's Wonderland self represents her ego, it is possible that the Insane Child Leader is a manifestation of a part of Alice's ego; a part which has acknowledged and come to terms with the abuse that happened both in the past and presently and is fighting against Alice's repression of her memories. By being the part of Alice which refuses to forget, she therefore cannot be corrupted and turned into a doll, hence she is the part of Alice's mind that will die if Alice was turned into a mindless prostitute in real life.
- She is one of the smallest non-insect characters Alice encounters in the game; at full height Alice comes up to her eyes in shrunken form.
- She speaks with a strong Estuary accent, a trait she shares with the real life children in Houndsditch; but her dialogue is peppered with polysyllabic, latinate words, similar to the other Wonderland characters such as the Hatter and the Carpenter.
- It is possible that she has a real life counterpart in the form of the female orphan character model with two plaits, as they share similar visual motifs, behaviors and interactions with Alice.
- The real-life version is drawing alone in the girl's room in the opening (in Wonderland she is the person who draws all over the Dollhouse) and exchanges dialogue with Alice Along these lines. "Doctor do you right? Still sick in the head?" (Alice) "I'm passed a cure." (Girl is silent.) (Alice) "Terminal condition." This reflects Alice's failure to acknowledge the children's problems in the same way as their Wonderland dialogue does in the game. Also, she is noticeably more polite to Alice than the other orphans.
- Later on in London, it is this character model which is shown staring at a wall, ignoring Alice and reciting the Dollmaker's poem, therefore hinting what's happening to the children. This is strikingly similar to the Insane Child Leader's after-death appearance.
- During the Rutledge segment of the game, this is the only children model used. In it, her monochrome "asylum" version is shown strapped to a bed on the wall of one of the cells. She is eyeless, much like her corpse in Wonderland.
- It is a common misconception that the little girl running ahead of Alice in the Vale of Tears and the Foundry is the Insane Child Leader; it is in fact the small red-headed insane girl Alice encounters dying outside a hallucination of her burning house. You can see this if you keep your distance form her and go into aiming mode, at which point she does an inert animation where she jumps around, playing with the falling leaves and petals, occasionally breaking off to look around for you.
- There are signs of a forced breakout by either her or the whole of Fort Resistance in the Dollmaker's lair. Right before the "assembly line" area, in an otherwise nasty-looking, but well-organized area, there are some broken cabinets and smashed glass on the floor, as well as some of her drawings on the walls nearby.
- If Alice looks at Fort Resistance after destroying the Doll Girl, the player can see the leader and her companions looking out of the windows.
- She might possibly be a reflection of young Alice, with her dark brown hair and green eyes, with her tattered nightgown and all. In a hallucination, Alice was being trepanned, and the same was to happen to the Leader.
- "The unstable are more than merely mad; they have other parts. The Dollmaker will deprive them of what remains of their deranged souls. They need care."
- "A limited quantity [of sanity]; you're not mad enough to be rejected. You're like them... of them, in a way... but not them. I should say not "us," for I'm them, but you are on your way. The way is clearly marked."
- "It's here, you dimwits: get inside!"
From the Extra Content note on the Domain 5 pause screen (named here as 'Doll Girl'):
- " 'Mad enough.' Do you see yourself? The seeds of your destruction were sown long ago, and now he will reap the harvest. He owns your mind, and you've just been renting. You owe a debt and he will collect."