Here’s two problems I’ve always had with this cutscene:
1. The Doc threatens to destroy everything if Mickey doesn’t give him the Brush. He doesn’t give him the Brush, but the Doc does absolutely nothing to back up his threat, thereby rendering the entire exchange completely pointless.
2. When the Doc reaches down with the claw and Oswald stops him, he stops the claw. So, what the hell, Doc? He clearly wants these two dead, and he literally had them about 3cm from his evil claw of death. He could have squished them there and then, taken the Brush, and be done with it. But no, he decides to be nice, pulls the claw away, and folds his arms in a mini-tantrum instead. Nice going. He had them in his grasp, and he just lets them go. And it’s not a question of showing mercy, he really wants these two dead; in the ensuing battle. he’s firing electricity and Thinner and all sorts of crap at them, but no, here, when he could actually win, he decides not to. Wow.
… also, where the hell does Gus go during all this? You only see him during the earlier zoomed-out shots, but even when the Doc’s taking the Brush in the lower GIF, he’s randomly disappeared. Weird.
(OK, I still think the final boss is pretty epic, but these two things always irked me…)
Maybe it was done on purpose though? Perhaps him hesitating when Oswald got in the way was foreshadowing his ultimate (apparent) change of heart.
I mean, I’ll be the first to say I don’t know if he really has completely turned nice, but if the game was supposed to say that yes, he definitely has, this could be proof to back it up? Their way of saying the Mad Doctor does, actually, still have the capacity for good inside him. Good that finally gets drawn back out once Oswald almost dies to save him. He and Oswald do go way back, after all. I know we only see bad sides to him in the comics, but perhaps things weren’t always like that. There may have been a time when the Mad Doctor truly DID consider Oswald and his family friends.
If he was only always bad, why would Ortensia have out up with him to begin with?
And if they truly were friends, it isn’t a big stretch to say that could give him pause here. It isn’t until Oswald jumps in the way that he stops, showing he didn’t actually care about Mickey. Why should he? Literally all of their history together is nothing but them being enemies. But Oswald, on the other hand, was once his friend. Oswald is the one who goes to save him — even when MICKEY FREAKING MOUSE wouldn’t. Sure, his other motives may have kicked in after this initial jolt, leading to the boss fight as we know it, but I don’t see why him hesitating before Oswald should be considered to out of character.
If we truly are meant to believe the Mad Doctor has been redeemed at the end of the game, this hesitation makes perfect sense.