Illidan (from Warcraft)

This will be the last in the belated Warcraft-Month postings, there are some other details I can touch on, but I can save them for later in the year, I bonked it this time.  This will be part of a double feature, tomorrow I expect to be done with my review of the Tenth Doctor.  That’s right.  Onto topic!

I don’t know what the original plan for Illidan was.  Maybe he was supposed to become a sort of Night Elf messiah to get their heads out of their butts.  Illidan’s story was originally one about obsession.  It was a parallel to run side by side with Maiev in Frozen Throne.  The old Nietzsche quote about staring into the abyss for too long is a nice sum up here: Illidian was driven to do dark things because of his obsession and, as the Night Elves saw it, baseless trust in magic.  And Maiev would disobey orders, lie, cheat, and eventually go half insane chasing Illidan.  And unintentionally or not, the irony in Illidan’s title, “the Betrayer”, had a huge impact on me, and several people I know regarding his character.  He was a tragic hero, one you couldn’t help but feel sorry for, even root for up until his introduction in World of Warcraft.

And then, we saw a great hand, the Hand of Metzen, reach out and crush him.

I should explain that phrase by the way…entering random tangent mode!

Early in Season 2 of Babylon 5, yes, that show that I am convinced Metzen takes way more than his fair share of material from (I don’t, by the way, hold the same grudge against Mass Effect because they outright TOLD US that they were inspired by B5), there is an episode where Londo Mollari, the future ruler of the Centauri Republic, meets a techno-mage (that is, a person who uses mechanical technology to simulate magic, another class in the WoW RPG) who Londo is desperate to get a blessing from.  See, in Centauri culture, Techno Mages are revered, and it is said that three of them blessed the reign of the First Emperor, a Dynasty that endured for 2,000 years.  It is a powerful symbol to the Centauri, and Londo has just joined the treacherous Lord Refa in a political alliance to seize power from the Imperial House after the current Emperor, Turano, dies.

The Techno-Mage obliges him with a vision, a conversation that goes like this:

“You want a blessing, well take this for what it’s worth.  I see a Great Hand, reaching out of the stars.  That hand is your hand.  And I hear the sounds of billions of people calling out your name.”

“My followers?”

“Your victims.”

So for those of you wondering why I call it “The Hand of Metzen”, there you go XD.

Back to Illidan, I admit I am bitter for the retcons that went into him.  This is one of the few places where I can’t even justify the retconing.  I mean, like at the least, I usually can see WHY they might want to (like with Sylvanas), or sometimes where it would draw a more dramatic story than already exists (like with the Draenei).  But with Illidan I can’t fathom it.  We already HAD a “mad with power” story in the Burning Crusade with Kael’Thas.  And there was no tragedy to befall a new hero to take Illidan’s place as the sympathetic villain.  So from a character, and universe building standpoint, I really can’t see a reason why the retcon occurred.

Illidan was the true fallen hero.  He was motivated by heroic traits, honor, the safety of others, love- but always ended up on the wrong side of his society’s law.

Originally we knew only a little of Illidan.  He was a Highborne, like the magic users who summoned the Legion, but he sided with his brother Malfurion out of devotion to Tyrande.  He apparently tried to impress her with his magic, to no avail.  He tried to stop using his talents, found the addiction was too strong to endure, but Tyrande helped him through it.

After the First Sundering, it was Illidan who founded a new Well of Eternity, ensuring that magic could still be used.  For this, he was imprisoned.

“Thanks fr the immortality, mate.  You’ll be spending it in jail, of course.”

As a MAJOR aside, it is Illidan who I think proves that the Night Elves are NOT about girl power.  Tyrande clearly doesn’t share Malfurion’s sentiments in the game, or at least, she remains silent.  When she DOES talk about Illidan, she talks about him in terms of him being a comrade, and a strong military asset.  She doesn’t love him, by any means, and she’s not entirely comfortable with his feelings for her, but she acts like a god-damned adult, and does view him as a friend.

Furion? Fuck no, he’s so paranoid about his brother that he just imprisons him and banishes him on his authority alone, without even consulting Tyrande.  Maybe he’s scared that he will win her over? Who knows.  It’s Furion’s one major flaw.  He’s this epic, majestic leader of the Night Elves! The first druid! But when it comes to his brother he is just petty.  So banishing Illidan appears to be purely Furion’s decision.  He doesn’t need Tyrande’s approval to get rid of a major military asset.  This says one of two things.  One, Furion really holds the power in Night Elf society, Tyrande is his stand in while he’s asleep for 7,000 years, acting as kind of a minister who can’t overturn the actions of the emperor.  Or, two, Tyrande is such a weak and fragile flower that she HAS to do whatever her man says, she just loves him that much.  Loves him enough to be blind stupid, even though she’s been the ruler of Night Elf society for 10,000 years.  Seperation of powers my ass, military decisions should be military rule.  After all! We now know that Night Elves have a warrior caste! Civilian rule over the military makes little sense (and since a third the population appears to be warrior caste, and the Night Elves don’t exactly have a Grey Council, it should be Tyrande’s decision. If it isn’t, that means the druids are in charge, and they’re all male, traditionally).

So, yeah, Illidan ends up being our proof positive that Night Elves are not feminist friendly.

Also, I liked putting Arthas and Illidan together in the little movie before his mission in WC3. It was a nice parallel.  They both are heroes who turned against their people’s values and found themselves isolated.  Arthas embraced it, now he’s the Lich King’s #2.  Illidan tried to fit in, and he’s gotten nothing but grief for it, for 10,000 years.  I wouldn’t be assuming too much by thinking meeting Arthas might have contributed to Illidan forming his own federation? Something to think about at least.  Illidan certainly doesn’t seem to hate Arthas in TFT.  When they fight at the Citadel, it’s Arthas who’s all “Stupid mortal you will pay for your foolishness”, whereas Illidan’s tone is much more “Step aside, walk away, this is my job, I don’t want to fight”.

Then, Illidan absorbs the Skull of Guldan.  EVEN AS A DEMON, Illidan says “the Legion is gone from here, Furion.  The forests will grow again.”  But all Furion can see is “Ahhh! MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC! FIRE WOULD BE BAD!”  This is really depressing, for me! It’s probably the moment where I decided I liked Illidan, and hated Furion.  Well not hated, I thought it was all part of some grand design to show that in war, our prejudices get ahead of our minds and we act rashly.  I could appreciate that, Furion’s function as being a moral of the story mis-judgement.

It wasn’t until much later when I saw that, no, it was actually a “Nature is better than using magic and technology, why do you hate America?” message that I decided, fuck you Furion.

Before we go any further, let me explain what a demon hunter is.  They find a demon, ritualistically sacrifice, and then with the sacred blade used to kill the demon, carve out their eyes to gain a second sight, that works kind of like infrared except with magic.  Basically they fuse their souls with a demon to absorb its power.

Now, Illidan, is the exception.  His powers were granted to him by Sargeras so he could get the Demon Soul.  Strangely, after this change, Aszhara seems interested in Illidan.  Not as a mate, no no, he’s a pansy compared to her still, but maybe as a love boy slave.  We know Azshara is attracted to magic, hence why she was willing to put up with Sargeras, a being made of bronze and FIRE, oh and 500 feet tall, to pound her delicate, 90 pound quivering elf body.

I think I had a point here…

For those of you who don’t know, the entire War of the Ancients was retconned as a novel.  It had to do with the Caverns of Time and Rhonin, of all the fucking mary sues, and Krasus and Broxigar, were sent into the past and completely rewrote history.  This rewritten canon in now the Blizzard given official story.  Illidan briefly led the Moonguard, a group of commoner-mages in Night Elf society, who were SO gifted with magic, that they used it even without Noble birth.  I personally think it should have been the Moonguard, not Highborne who became mages in Cataclysm, but another rant altogether.  After Illidan went to play double agent to gain the Demon Soul, Rhonin took over. Illidan’s story remains mostly unchaged after this point, indeed it may not be changed at all since it was mostly fill ins of empty space.

Then, to draw another sci-fi parallel, Illidan forms basically the Dominion.  Or rather, how the Dominion of Deep Space Nine were originally envisioned, an “anti-Federation”.  He gathers Naga, Blood Elf, and Draenei followers, into a third faction.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is no small task.  It took the Orcs breathing down Azeroth’s neck to form the Alliance, and the Horde didn’t get back into adopting non-Orcs until Thrall assumed control.  Sometimes we look at batshit insane Illidan and forget how, once upon a time, he was incredibly charismatic and made a lot of sense.

Illidan makes a deal with Kil’Jaeden, ala “please don’t kill me”.  He tries to destroy the Frozen Throne, but he is stopped by Furion.

“You’re hurting the forests and the land!” Oh, boo fucking hoo! You know what will hurt nature a whole lot more? 100,000 Scourge ripping all of its animals into itty bity pieces until Azerth becomes a world totally inhabited by the undead.  The planet can suck it up for a few minutes and take one for the fucking team.

But, no, “Nature is glorious” is our moral yet again.  And then, AND THEN! Illidan helps recover Tyrande.  This is pretty damn lame.  Fortunately, FOR ONCE, Malfurion decides “hey maybe the fact Illidan is helping us means I don’t have to kill him”.  And instead he’s banished.  Illidan, for his part, seems to acknowledge he cannot win Tyrande’s love, and resigns himself to life without her.

This is where my heart broke.  I remember screaming, at myself, to Tyrande, “If you could only see what a bitch Furion is!”

Illidan is no different from any other Night Elf.  They are ALL obsessed with power.  It probably comes from their make up, Trolls warped by the Well of Eternity into the Night Elves.  That’s why their civilization expanded WAY beyond its needs, to reach all the corners of the earth, because they like power.  They LIKE being on top.

The druids built a second world tree.  One made for selfish reasons, because they wanted their immortality.  It’s like people who say “oh, money doesn’t help”, but aren’t willing to give up their money.  When it IS gone, they become obsessed trying to get it back.

“But Anna, we know that Fandrel was just corrupted by the Emerald Nightmare!”  To which I say, 1) retcon.  2) Tyrande was under NO obligation to MAKE the fucking SYMBOL OF HUBRIS her capital city.  But that’s what she did.  3) Furions not in any rush to get rid of the fucker, is he?

Further, Darnassus (the greater kingdom now, not just the city) is identical to Silvermoon, the only differences are in the magics the elves use to make their lives easier.  In Silvermoon you have arcane guardians, power converters, magical tomes and lights all around.  In Darnassus there are treants, moonwells – oh, fucking MOON WELLS, which we have recently found out ARE, in fact, remnants of the Well of Eternity.  Night Elf priestesses and druids are using the Well of Eternity, that alone is fucking case closed- and animals roam the streets aiding their night elf companions, they even use fireflies for lights.

Night Elves = Blood Elves.

This is what makes me so angry regarding Illidan’s treatment at the hands of Malfurion.  He’s fine with all this other shit going down, but noooo, Illidan’s just one step too far.  “But Anna, it’s because he thinks magic is inherently chaotic.”

Moon. Fucking. Well.

I’m not gonna give them a pass because they make them for Elune instead of Azshara.

Then, of course, we hit Burning Crusade.  Illidan, the Hand of Metzen was not kind to you, and you became one of his victims.  I’m so, so sorry.  All that wonderful character growth and destiny that awaited you.  All the hardship you endured to come out stronger on the other side.   All those people you helped, brought into your new alliance. How your love for Tyrande spurred you on, even though it made you sick knowing you were helping your ignorant brother. All that struggle you did, and all you became was a lazy metaphor for greenhouse gases.  RIP.

Seriously, what was the reasoning behind turning Illidan batshit crazy?  Kael’Thas did it first.  And, I might add, he did it much -better-.  None of this sudden shift in personality.  It made sense.

With Kael’Thas, it was his addiction and his desire to grow strong enough to break free of it that drove him to his actions.  He wanted his whole race so infused with magic, they wouldn’t be addicted to it anymore (another strange carbon-emissions parallel o.O).  It’s misguided, and he’s ruthless to get it, and eventually (EVENTUALLY, it wasn’t right off the bat) he just desires the power that his brief exposure to limitless mana energy made him, but it’s a steady, logical progression.

With Illidan, it’s like they sat down one day plotting out his story, and said “Hey you know that one character trait Illidan has where he gets involved in gross rationalization for some of the more extreme actions he takes?”

“You mean that one trait among like a dozen?”

“Yeah! I was thinking, what if we dialed that one up to 11?”

“Oh, good plan! Soon he’s rationalizing little things, then bigger things, then bigger things, I like that”

“And scale back all his nobility and loyalty and kindness to 1”

“…wait what?” *BANG*

And there were no witnesses.

Like, no one, NO ONE can figure out why Illidan attacked Shattrath.    In game? “Fuck if I know”.  The Scryors? “It was Kael’Thas’ fault”.

There is, only one explanation.  At the Sundering, Illidan began to channel a spell to reverse Sargeras’ summoning spell.  Tyrande was with him, and noticed that the spell was being augmented by several other people, more sinister than Sargeras.  This is, of course, more Old Gods being shoved down our throat.

And, personally, it’s the best option, but I despise it.  They took an intriguing character, one of a kind, and just dummied him up in order to tie in with the Old Gods?

Fail.

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3 Responses to “Illidan (from Warcraft)”

  1. ❤ Illidan.

    I'm a big big big big big Illie fan girl. My WoW screenshot folder is full of pics of when I first battled against him x3

    • Me too, ever since I played War3 I’ve been obsessed. When I recently got my account for WoW back online after 5 years I IMMEDIATELY leveled to 70 so I could go to the Black Temple with 5 of my 85 friends to take him out. LOTS OF FUN, but yes….

      Illidan’s story was cut FAR TOO SHORT.

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