In March, I wrote about the main things I’m hoping for in 9.1, and the last one is a short blurb on how I hope Sylvanas’ story ends. It basically boiled down to I don’t want her to have a “no, she’s trying to help us actually” ending, and I don’t want her “to just be a broken shell of herself.” I feel pretty confident that we won’t get the first option, but the second might have some possibilities I hadn’t considered before. Since we don’t know exactly how the raid will end just yet, it seemed like a good time to walk through my line of thought on this. Also, I may have changed my mind a bit about what I think a fitting end for Sylvanas might be, and it’s all Taliesin’s fault.
First thing first, I was never a huge fan of Sylvanas to start in the first place. Yes, her story is interesting and has many intrigues, but she always seemed a bit self-centered. Sure, she would claim that she cared about her people, but her actions often went against that. Her whole thing about forcing other people to be undead also ran counter to her supposed belief in freedom of choice and made it seem like she was only concerned about her people dying out because then who would she be lead (or use as fodder in her plans). After all, if she had killed Arthas outright when the Dreadlords betrayed him, he would have met his end much sooner. However, she wanted to make him suffer the way she had. Understandable, but still a selfish choice.
One of my biggest hopes when Sylvanas became Warchief was it would cause her to grow up a bit and be less selfish. She had some real potential there. I knew there was potential for things to go badly instead, but I never expected it to go as catastrophically wrong as it did. As much as I think Tyrande’s focus has been misplaced (especially when facing an old god), I also can’t fault her for seeking vengeance. I, too, have wanted to make Sylvanas pay, but also, vengeance is kind of pointless. It might feel good in the moment, but what does it accomplish? Sylvanas’ atrocities were on such a scale that there is no real justice possible. Killing her won’t undo anything she did, and the concept of death stopping her from doing more harm is laughable. So, what should happen to Sylvanas?
I had concluded the best place for Sylvanas would be Revendreth to atone for her sins, and if she were unable to do that, then she’d be fit for the Maw. Of course, who knows if the Maw will exist after this, but that’s a whole other thing. Revendreth seemed to be the best I could hope for as there’s no satisfying fate for her. And then, I watched Taliesin & Evitel’s video about the Sylvanas boss fight in Chains of Domination, and he made an interesting observation. Taliesin points out that the Arbitor’s job is to take stock of a person’s life and decide where they fit in the afterlife. We don’t know how undeath works in this calculation, but if the only aspects of her life are considered, then the calculus changes a lot.
The cutscenes with Sylvanas and Anduin have been hammering at over and over the importance of choice. One of the significant differences between Arthas and Anduin is Anduin didn’t choose any of this. While it could be argued Arthas didn’t understand where his choices would lead, you can’t say he didn’t choose it. However, what if Sylvanas never had a choice. It’s possible from the moment she was raised into undeath, she was chained to, not the Lich King, but to the Jailer. All of her supposed free will could have just been an illusion. Going from the direct and overbearing control of the Lich King could have made it even less likely she would have realized she was being controlled more subtly. If this is the case, then I could see everything she has done in undeath being ignored. I firmly believe the Jailer manipulated what she saw when she threw herself off Icecrown, and if that’s true, then her never really having a choice would make even more sense.
As Taliesin pointed out, based on her life before undeath, she could potentially find herself in Bastion, which is multiple levels of interesting. The Kyrian are at a bit of a crossroads currently as they have had some deep introspection of late. At the end of the Spires of Ascension dungeon, Kyrestia concedes that perhaps they were wrong in their insistence that all memories must be purged. With the Kyrian potentially willing to let soul retain their living memories in some cases, I wonder if they can do a partial service for Sylvanas. The cutscenes with her, starting with her Warbringer episode, seem to point out that she is plagued by the memory of everything taken from her. What if the Kyrian could take away her memories of being turned into a banshee and everything she did in undeath. Just leave her with memories of a life well-lived, where she fought and died to protect her people. That would finally correct the terrible wrong that was done to her. This is a fate I hadn’t considered before, but despite my anger about Teldrassil, I feel like it would be a fitting end for her.
Of course, if she did have total free will in all of this, she needs to go to Revendreth. Not just to atone for the terrible things she’s done but also to figure out how to find peace with everything that has happened to her. If she could move past it all and truly atone, then seeing her in Maldraxxus seems like it would be fitting as well and would be acceptable to people who want to see her suffer. Of course, the entire process in Bastion is also super painful, so technically, she’d be suffering either way. The Revendreth to Maldraxxus path would also be more “realistic” in that when terrible things happen to someone, you can’t just forget it and move on. There’s a potentially powerful message there.
Either way, though, I’m mad at Taliesin (not really, but I am) for finding a potential Sylvanas “redemption” arc I would be happy with. It’ll be interesting to how everything plays out and what road they take with her. After all, even if we kill her (she’s here in mortal form too), she’ll still be in the Shadowlands just as a spirit instead. Also, where the hell is Nathanos? He should be with her; he certainly seemed convinced he would be at least. Since everyone was going to the Maw, he definitely should have gone there, so why isn’t he with her? This is a super important question, Blizzard! Anywho, what do you think should happen with Sylvanas after the 9.1 raid?