WoW! Thoughts! — On the Presentation of Jaina Proudmoore in Mists of Pandaria

Thoughts on Jaina's transformation throughout Mists from the Alliance and Horde perspectives.

While Mists of Pandaria has told the story of the Pandaren and also of Garrosh, one of the other characters to receive a major focus has been Jaina Proudmoore.   Starting with Tides of War, Jaina has had a very eventful expansion, and has transitioned from the position of a determined peacekeeper to dutiful Alliance member in the process.  Yet as a Horde player, Jaina’s evolution remained unknown to me;  Her path through Mists felt like a joke (with this the punchline).  It was not until I had the opportunity to play through the Operation: Shieldwall quests from patch 5.1 that the true sorrow of her story presented itself.

Patch 5.1 Escalation told the stories of the Horde and Alliance forces arriving in Pandaria and the subsequent search and recovery of the Divine Bell.  While Garrosh directs Horde players all around the continent to locate the Bell in the Domination Point quests, Alliance players engage in espionage to ascertain Garrosh’s plans as part of Operation: Shieldwall.  Both quest lines lead players to the Divine Bell, where the Alliance claims it first while Garrosh seethes in defeat.  The Warchief responds by enlisting the Sunreavers to stealing the Bell from Darnassus via portals through the city of Dalaran.

Jaina, who had been watching over the Bell at the time of its disappearance, is able to track the path of the thief back to Dalaran, and that is finally the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  While Horde players only witness the aftermath of an enraged Jaina imprisoning or killing the Sunreavers and any other Horde-affiliated characters in an attempt to purge the magical city, Alliance players are there the moment that Jaina is pushed over the edge.  It is the realization that members of the Kirin Tor – the association of mages that Jaina is leader of – have betrayed her that finally causes her to realize that the Horde cannot be trusted in any capacity, and what causes her to urge Varian to dismantle the faction when the opportunity arises.

The most important part of Jaina’s transition is not what happens after the Divine Bell is stolen;  It is when she previously outlines her beliefs.  Jaina’s perspective is explicitly presented in the quest “The Fate of Dalaran” early on in the Operation: Shieldwall storyline.  Varian sends Anduin to convince Jaina to bring the Kirin Tor under the Alliance banner, but Jaina maintains the mages should remain neutral.  Jaina engages the player in a dialogue that attempts to put the player in her shoes, but culminates in a cinematic where she describes her situation to Anduin:

“…it’s important to separate the Horde from its people.  The Sunreavers still operate within this city. Alliance and Horde work together.  As long as we stay above the war, then there’s hope for the world as a whole.  I see our city as a beacon of light, showing the way.  If we can trust one another here, then there’s hope for the rest of the world.”

Jaina outlines that her hope for a future where the Horde and Alliance can overcome their differences is entirely based on her ability to keep the two factions confined and peaceful within her jurisdiction.  Hearing Jaina say that, with full knowledge of the betrayal to come, makes this quest one of the saddest quests in Warcraft lore.  Furthermore, it entirely explains her later behavior.  The Horde betrayal of the Kirin Tor is not just a betrayal against the city; it is a betrayal against her and her beliefs.  Furthermore, as she struggled to maintain that neutrality after all the Horde had taken from her, she now felt like that much more of a fool because she should have listened to herself and acted upon that mistrust earlier.  Her attack on Orgrimmar with a tidal wave of water elementals at the end of Tides of War might have been harsh, but at least she would not have seen a second home desecrated by the Horde.

Conversely, to the Horde observer, Jaina’s actions seem incongruous – she can be brought back from her rage over losing Theramore fairly quickly, but the simply betrayal of some blood elves results in a murderous purge?  Jaina explains that her opinions rested firmly on trusting that the Sunreavers could serve dutifully in the Kirin Tor.  Finding the superiority of their Horde loyalty was the last column of support for her belief in neutrality, and when the Sunreavers helped claim the Divine Bell, Jaina’s longheld belief in a united Azeroth crumbled.  Horde player see none of this.  Consequently, Jaina’s ultimate wrath seems illogical.

Jaina’s evolution throughout Mists of Pandaria has been one of the better stories that Blizzard has told.  Unfortunately, only half the players have been able to see it, as key parts of the narrative are restricted to Alliance characters.  Without that full knowledge, it’s easy to dismiss Jaina as crazy, but it is clear that Blizzard knows just where they are going with her character.  As a Horde player, I previously thought she might wind up as a raid boss at some point down the line.  Knowing the whole picture, I no longer think that.  Jaina Proudmoore will be one of many characters featured in War Crimes which comes out next week, and I look forward to finding out where her story goes.

WoW! Blurbs!

Blizzcon will be November 7th and 8th.  I can’t wait to celebrate/excoriate Blizzard’s efforts in getting Warlords out before/after the convention!  https://twitter.com/BlizzCon/status/458665171595317249

World of Warcraft and Mists of Pandaria are 50% off this week!  Buy both now and you’ll have plenty of time to hit max level before Warlords releases!  https://us.battle.net/shop/en/product/game/wow

New post on PvP gear.  That’s informative, but Players vs. Devs is the real PvP.  http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/13942446

Bashiok explains the removal of flight in Draenor.  Given the response, he must like PvP.  http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/12666436539?page=5#82

The first picture from the Warcraft movie has been circulating.  It shows people in robes and armor!  Now I’m spoiled!  http://www.superherohype.com/news/299907-first-photo-from-the-set-of-warcraft#/slide/1

Blizzard looks back at Molten Core.  Because even their community managers don’t know what to talk about while we wait for Warlords…  http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/13936505/re-visiting-heroism%E2%80%99s-past-molten-core-4-25-2014

Fiery Mechanical Steed teased by Blizzard.  That can’t be comfortable to ride on.  https://twitter.com/Warcraft/statuses/459815542816522240

Blizzard released a three part Dev Watercooler on the history of raiding.  You can read it by yourself, or team up with 9 to 24 of your friends and read it together! http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/13929586 http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/13935559 http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/13942448

Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz

Senior Producer

Host of WoW! Talk! and The Tauren & The Goblin. Sometimes known as the Video Games Public Defender. Wants to play more Destiny and Marvel Heroes but WoW is all-consuming. Decent F2P Hearthstone player. Sad that he lost the Wii that had Wrecking Crew on it. Would be happy if the only game ever made was M.U.L.E. Gragtharr on Skywall-US. Garresque on Ravencrest-US.

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