The WoW-related internets are buzzing about the latest short story from Folk and Fairy Tales of Azeroth, which is exploring visions of Vereesa about Sylvanas: the shattered soul and stuff like that.
This post would be quite short, as my opinion is quite certain. Blizzard are trying to sneak in some redemption theme, and doing so in the clumsiest way possible.
There are two tropes so far, old as a mammoth shit, they’re trying to pull off. One, is a captured, now powerless silver-tongue dude (normally a damsel in distress, a priest, a sage, or simply a nice guy who cannot fight even if released) trying to talk some sense into an evil sidekick, guard or even the villain. Truth in television, as people/guards are always a prison’s weakest link, and what else could he/she do? So the guard/villain in question would let him out of the cell and/or sidekick/villain would make the ultimate move in the decisive encounter, collapsing the big bad and his plans. Two, “it wasn’t me all along, possessed/soul split/whatever”.
Problem is, none of these tropes really work as far as WoW/Sylvanas arcs roll out by now. The sorry looks she was throwing at Anduin in the latest cinematics mean nothing, as she clearly made her choice of making him a weapon despite all the sweet talk. She’s also a final boss of the raid, fighting viciously for the Jailer and with her usual cheek towards the “heroes” as far as the first minutes of the encounter from beta test go. A sudden insight – if any – in her final minutes is way too little to make any heel-face turn believable.
Second, if Arthas truly split a “good side” of her soul with a runeblade of domination, well, loyalists love Sylvanas PAST that moment. If anything, we were playing on Arthas’ side when this happened, and hated Sylvanas along with him for putting up so much nuisance and resistance in W3 against your armies. So all the love the players put into the character was her Banshee, past-split personality, first a questionable in methods but genuine caretaker of the undead race (Frozen Throne W3 expansion -> MoP), graduating into a genocidal maniac she is now (Legion after intro questline -> Shadowlands). She was doing all she did deliberately, and in full conscience.
Thing is, a shard of her good ranger self may pop back into her somehow – I can’t see how this could happen, granted we’re already in the encounter, and hopping on the chains towards Oribos for Jailer’s final plan with Arbiter, whatever this might be. Well, even if Vereesa or Alleria or Anduin “shoots” or puts this shard back in her chest hole, so she saves Oribos/Anduin in one way or another… she does not deserve redemption anyways for all the atrocities the character has committed. At best it’s centuries in Revendreth, and more likely the Maw – cause any cosmic means card does not excuse massive genocide.
My forecast is grim though. Blizzard would clearly try to throw the bone to loyalist players, and do so in the clumsiest way possible. We’d likely see very little or none of Sylvanas development during our 9.1. questing – only as an evil agent and no steps towards redemption, so they would save all the possible redemption stuff for the final raid cinematic. We’d also likely in BfA style not hear anything certain about the future lore development and Jailer/Sylvanas plans until the raid cinematic. As they did in BfA, the means of preserving the future intrigue would go too far so they reveal too little or nothing in patch questlines, hence the big reveal will not feel logical or well prepared, and we’ll be like “Whaaaaat?” :) Most likely, it’ll be the case of “I thought we were doing some other thing, and you lied to me, Zovaal! So I won’t do your thing anymore, let’s defend the Arbiter.”
Next is when we defeat Sylvanas, the Jailer would proceed with his plans, and she’ll go on our side – “good” shard involved or not, so in 9.2. she’d serve as a source of information about his inside plans to help us deal with him for good. So she’d earn herself a place in Revendreth or even Ardenweald, or even take his place as a Maw caretaker.
I’m too convinced that no help from Sylvanas against the Jailer and/or her sorry looks would seem enough to excuse all the suffering and genocides she caused in her life as a current character. The only redemption outcome I see fit for her is understanding what she’ve done before the oblivion (good shard or not) – but oblivion is the only way out. No working along with covenants, players and Azeroth big bosses, just a last breath of “I deserve it” before the Maw.
We’ll wait and see, but I’m not expecting much from Blizzard concerning Sylvanas. Most likely, they’re trying to paint themselves out of the villain corner, and recently this does not play well at all. You created a perfect villain, like a perfect storm, so have some balls to end her as a villain :)