War Campaign Finale: Questions (Spoilers)

I may have stopped playing, but that doesn't mean I've stopped following the story. ESPECIALLY when it comes to Sylvanas, because I absolutely want to hear what happens with her.

I know many Sylvanas fans were upset (before Battle for Azeroth) that she might go "fully bad" and end up as a full-on villain/raid boss, but that's never been my thinking. Let's be real, here -- everyone knew she'd make this turn eventually. She's always been too ambitious, too independent, and too confident that she's the smartest person in the room to sit on her laurels just because they named her Warchief.

And you know what? I've always been fine with this! All I've ever wanted is for her turn & eventual downfall to be interesting and satisfying. That doesn't necessarily mean a happy ending, redemption, forgiveness, or anything like that. I just want her to receive better than Garrosh got.

(Also, an upside to not playing is now I can immediately view spoilers when they are revealed without the self-imposed guilt of wanting to wait to see them in-game!)


In addition to the normal lore questions we're all left with after watching the events of the above cinematic, I rewatched it again later and had a few questions. Like most of the tinfoil hat lore theories posted on this blog, chances are extremely high that they're...absolutely nothing at all! But that's okay. They're fun to talk about.

What was that attack?

Sylvanas finished off Saurfang with a blast of some kind of purple energy. Obviously, no one knows what it was. Was it void energy? Shadow magic? Just something she can do, like her banshee wail? But that's not what I'm curious about. I'm curious what its effect was.

"To kill Saurfang!" you might say. But...was it?

Using magic in Warcraft's universe is not an easy thing. It requires effort, exertion. Log onto any of your characters and cast something. Almost always, your spells are accompanied by an energetic burst of motion -- a hand thrust in the air, a palm shot forward as if hurling the spell toward your target, your character's entire body arching as if they're beseeching the heavens for aid. Everyone does it. When Jaina casts spells in cinematics, you can feel the strain, the tension in her entire body.

But in the cinematic, Sylvanas' attack seems to require almost no effort at all.

In fact, what does she do? A flickering purple 'flame' coalesces between her hands, and then seemingly without any impetus or motion by Sylvanas herself, it rockets toward Saurfang.

The body language is...soft, almost gentle. It's strange, especially considering we just saw her violently cutting Saurfang to ribbons a few seconds earlier. And her pose here is almost like someone, I don't know, blowing a pile of feathers into the air, or releasing a bird they'd been holding in their hands.

Sure, it's probably just artistic license. Maybe Sylvanas is just SO POWERFUL that striking Saurfang down with magic doesn't require the same sort of physical effort it does for other people.

Or maybe it doesn't look like a magical attack because its real purpose was something else entirely. Oh sure, it killed Saurfang. That's one pest out of the way. But maybe her true target wasn't even Saurfang to begin with.

A Curious Look

Let's briefly and rewind way back to when the trailer cinematic for Battle for Azeroth first came out. Everyone remember this?

Right after Anduin pulls off his huge Mass Resurrection, Sylvanas gives him a meaningful, dangerous look. I remember a fair amount of speculation at the time as to what this look meant. I think most people chalked it up to Sylvanas recognizing a worthy foe, or even a wry moment of regret, that she had underestimated the boy king. It also might have been simply a "not bad, kid" response, since Anduin revitalized and inspired the Alliance just as she herself had revitalized and inspired the Horde moments earlier. A brief moment, but regardless of what it meant, it felt suitable for her.

Fast forward to the Reckoning cinematic. When Saurfang challenges her to mak'gora, we see this look again. It's a faint smirk, the barest hint of an inside joke that only she knows. It's a look of consideration, calculation, and assessment.

We can all imagine what Sylvanas must be thinking in this moment. "Can I win this duel?" "Is he right? Is my desire to make him suffer enough of a reason to agree to this, something I really don't need to do?" "How much will killing him in front of all these witnesses demoralize them?"

Perfectly logical. A crushing victory over the heart of the rebel army would be devastating to their morale. It might single-handedly win her this conflict. And she knows full well she's stronger than Saurfang.

And yet, her eyes, for the briefest of moments, flicker down before she agrees to the duel.

A question? Confirmation? What is she looking at? Saurfang isn't carrying a fearsome new weapon that might give her pause. He doesn't have new armor, or some mysterious artifact that might be a banshee-slaying device, or really anything. He's the same old orc.

So why does she break eye contact to look downwards? What does Saurfang have that Sylvanas notices, that makes her agree to this duel?

Could it be...Anduin?

That's the thing about AOEs

On my first viewing of the cinematic, I was caught up in the magnificence of the animation and the drama of Sylvanas' words. Upon rewatching, though, I noticed that when she blasts Saurfang and causes the explosion of billowing purple smoke, Anduin is there, clearly visible.


Canonically, I know he's nearby because he's acting as Saurfang's second in this very odd mak'gora. We do see him walk up with Saurfang and leave Zappy Boi and Thrall a few paces behind. But why did the animation team consciously decide to include him in Saurfang's death scene? He's not involved and he doesn't do anything. Perhaps even more strangely, Anduin is actually completely absent from the previous wide, panning shots during the duel, where the rebel army, Zappy Boi and Thrall can all be seen beyond. He does appear again once when Saurfang gathers himself for his final attack, but otherwise, Anduin vanishes completely. Almost as if we're suppose to forget about him.

But for some reason, they plunked Anduin back in when Sylvanas' attack lands. And not only is he present -- he actually gets fully engulfed by the ominous black-and-purple smoke. Sure, it's only for a few seconds...but a lot can happen in that time.

Could this be why Sylvanas agreed to the duel? Is this why she had the same look on her face before accepting the mak'gora as she did when looking across the battlefield at Anduin back at Lordaeron? Did that moment, after witnessing Anduin's power, give birth to a secret plan that is only now coming to fruition?

Probably not. Like I said, most of the speculation on this blog is done for fun and not because I think it's ACTUALLY what will happen. It's just my nature to naturally try to look for extra meaning, plot twists, and complications in everything! I can't help myself. Sadly, over the years I've gradually had to admit that maybe, just maybe, I give Sylvanas a bit too much credit when it comes to sneaky tricks and devious schemes.

Nonetheless, I can't help but feel there's more behind this expression. That maybe, in addition to the considerations described above, there's one more thought running through her head.

Just as planned.

2 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. gravatar

    Can't understand why everyone are saying Horde is nothing. Lol! I believe everyone should appreciate everything most especially the awesome graphics.

    October 3, 2019 at 3:24 AM

  2. gravatar

    The Valley of Honor is under attack!

    That is when you realize the place where everyone duels outside Orgrimmar is where Sylvanas and Varok duel. #Wonderful

    July 10, 2021 at 12:45 AM