Analysis of the Sylvanas Cinematics in the Epilogue: Judgment Questline
Sylvanas Windrunner faces her legacy in Epilogue: Judgment, the final chapter of 9.2's main story. We analyze the two cinematics in which Sylvanas accepts responsibility for her crimes, and Tyrande Whisperwind finally sees justice for Teldrassil.
Read More in Secrets of the First Ones - Our Patch 9.2 Lore Guide
Judgment - Part 1
The cinematic opens in the Arbiter's Chamber - you have just finished escorting Sylvanas here, past a hostile crowd, and now she stands waiting to hear Arbiter Pelagos make his ruling.
Arbiter Pelagos says: Sylvanas Windrunner... The time for your judgment is at hand.
As she steps forward, Sylvanas glances to her side. Tyrande Whisperwind, flanked by her adopted daughter, Shandris Feathermoon, and the Warden, Maiev Shadowsong, is glaring at her with pure loathing. Once, Sylvanas may have returned the hostility, but instead she lowers her eyes, then turns her attention back to Arbiter Pelagos before her.
Pelagos, who is wearing the Crown of Wills, seems prepared to offer Sylvanas a compassionate judgment, one that acknowledges the Eternal Ones' own role in her fall.
Interestingly, when Pelagos talks about the Eternal Ones's failure to control the Jailer's influence, he uses the pronoun "we" as he glances at the Winter Queen - indicating not only that this was the Eternal Ones' responsibility, but also that - as an Eternal One himself - he bears partial responsibility for their actions.
Arbiter Pelagos says: There can be no true justice without compassion... and I can see your deeds bear the mark of the Jailer's influence. An influence we failed to contain.
Sylvanas seems to show no interest in shifting blame away from herself, and speaks up, confidently claiming her actions as her own, and accepting the consequences as her own as well. Pelagos seems prepared to agree, and, pressing his hands to his heart, tells Sylvanas he expects her to know who really needs to be the one to judge her.
Sylvanas Windrunner says: The Jailer did not control me. My actions were mine alone, and I accept their consequences.
Tyrande Chosen As Judge
Sylvanas understands, and speaks aloud the name. Her judge will be Tyrande, leader of the Night Elves, thousands of whom Sylvanas murdered when she burned Teldrassil.
Sylvanas Windrunner says: I submit to the judgment... of Tyrande Whisperwind.
As Sylvanas speaks Tyrande's name, the crowd gasps. Pelagos voices the reason behind their surprise - Sylvanas has chosen to put her fate in the hands of the one who hates her most. As Pelagos asks the crowd if anyone objects to this, Anduin looks, for a moment, like he might - opening his mouth as if he wants to speak - but then he seems to change his mind, and he holds his silence.
Arbiter Pelagos says: Entrusting justice to your most fervent adversary. Are there any gathered here who object to this fate?
Nobody else speaks up, and so the decision is made. Tyrande will be the one to judge Sylvanas.
Arbiter Pelagos says: So be it.
Tyrande's Righteous Rage
Tyrande strides forward, anger and loathing still visible in her face, and holds her blade to Sylvana's throat, close enough that Sylvanas has to tilt back her head. Aggression and suspicion radiate from her as she questions Sylvanas' motives in asking for her to be judge. Sylvanas is passive, submissive, and Tyrande doesn't trust it - it's so out of character for the Banshee.
Tyrande Whisperwind says: What game do you play now, Banshee? The Sylvanas I hunted would never submit to the blade of her enemy.
Sylvanas' reply is almost gentle, and her face shows signs of weariness as she answers simply that death would be a merciful end, but that she does not expect that mercy from Tyrande.
Sylvanas Windrunner says: Death would be a merciful end, Tyrande. And I do not expect your mercy.
Sylvanas is right. Tyrande lowers her blade, she does not intend to kill Sylvanas, and she even acknowledges that Sylvanas' apparent remorse may be real, but she is not about to be merciful either. Sylvanas cannot have peace for as long as those she harmed do not.
Tyrande Whisperwind says: Your newfound remorse might be genuine... but it can never erase all you have done. There will be no peace for you, Windrunner... until there is peace for the souls of your victims.
Tyrande's conviction is clear in her body language as she makes this statement. As she says the word "you", she quickly looks Sylvanas up and down, her disdain obvious, and as she says the word "victims", she emphasizes the word with a slight stamp - they are the ones Tyrande cares about, who she is determined will see justice.
Finally, Tyrande turns and strides away, declaring Sylvanas to be in her charge. We see Shandris and Maiev stepping forward to take Sylvanas into custody, and the scene fades.
Tyrande Whisperwind says: The prisoner is in my charge now. Bring her!
Judgment - Part 2
Before this cinematic begins, we meet Tyrande and Sylvanas at the center of Oribos, next to the entrance to the Maw. Several important lore characters stand around to witness justice being done. Flanking Tyrande are Maiev, Shandris, and Tyrande's spirit owl companion, Dori-thur. Nearby, Lady Jaina Proudmoore, Genn Greymane, and Anduin Wrynn. Thrall, Lor'themar Theron, and Baine Bloodhoof make up another group. To the side, Highlord Bolvar Fordragon, Tal-Inara, and Uther. And finally, standing with Sylvanas, her sisters - Vereesa and Alleria Windrunner.
Vereesa Windrunner says: ...and now, after so long... there is much we need to say to one another...
Sylvanas Windrunner says: I know, sisters. But judgment comes.
Tyrande's judgment is this: Sylvanas will enter the Maw. Here, she will find every soul, lost and tortured, in this place, and send them to Arbiter Pelagos for judgment - until every last soul is free. As she details the punishment, Tyrande circles around Sylvanas, still angry, a snarl still on her face as she thinks of the things Sylvanas has done. For her part, Sylvanas keeps her face lowered, her eyes downcast, glimpsing up for only a moment to meet Tyrande's. Finally, Tyrande turns to the onlookers - a gesture that indicates they are here to witness that justice has been done.
Tyrande Whisperwind says: Below lies the Maw. An unjust fate to which you doomed so many. And it will be there... that your penance begins. Every soul lost in its depths, betrayed or condemned... You shall find and send forth to the Arbiter to be judged with the compassion all souls deserve. You will toil there, under Dori'thur's watchful eye, scouring every darkened reach, until the final soul is free, and you are all that remains. This... is how you shall bring renewal to your victims, and my people.
Sylvanas speaks, only to agree. She accepts her punishment without argument.
Sylvanas Windrunner says: However long it takes... it shall be done.
Tyrande's spirit owl, Dori'thur, rests on her arm, as Tyrande tasks her with keeping an eye on Sylvanas - making sure she completes her task.
Tyrande Whisperwind says: Andu-falah-dor, old friend. Watch her well.
One Last Look
Sylvanas approaches the entrance to the Maw. Before she jumps, she glances back over her shoulder, to take a last look at her sisters. Alleria's expression is stern, angry. Vereesa's soft - sad. Sylvanas turns her back on them, and jumps, Dori'thur following close behind.
What May Be To Come
Sylvanas' task is meant to be a near-impossible one - the time it is meant to take to find and rescue all souls trapped in the Maw is suggested to be as close to an eternity as possible. After playing a major role in several expansions, it's certianly time for her character to take a back seat as we prepare for a welcome change of pace in 10.0. Even so, the story has also been left with some clear promises - or threats, depending on how you feel about her - that this won't be the very last we'll ever see of the Banshee Queen.
We have already reported on the
conversations with Alleria and Vereesa
, where they reflect on their sister's legacy, but also show optimism for the future, with Vereesa in particular stating that she will not give up on her. Sylvanas once felt so betrayed by Vereesa, it drove her to the belief that she could never experience love again, and may have even
played a role in pushing Sylvanas into falling for the Jailer's manipulations
, so it's good to see Vereesa herself push back against that.
We have also reported on Anduin deciding to
remain in the Shadowlands for now
. At the end of the
novel, it's strongly hinted that Anduin visits Sylvanas in the Maw after her sentence - it's possible he intends to help her, especially considering his moment of looking like he might have been willing to speak up at her judgment.
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