Disclaimer: I did not watch a single cinematic analysis or didnt read Wowhead’s article or something yet. Because I would like to share my own thoughts without affected by anyone else’ opinions. Well, if I say something has already been tol, we can call it “Great minds think alike”.
This one will be long, really long. So take a seat before reading.
Shadowlands has been brave in terms of lore so far. In 9.0, we have defeated one of the main lietunants of Zovaal: Sire Denathrius. But whats done is done, tremendous amount of Anima have already been sent to The Maw. At the end of 9.0, we defeated The Forsworn in Bastion, stopped Kel’thuzad’s schemes in both Revendreth and Maldraxxus and pushed back to Drust from Ardenweald. But as The Winter Queen has stated, The Jailer’s power has been growing. And soon, The Covenants would have to stand together against “Death” itself.
“The Maw Continues To Grow”
So, the opening sentence alone emphasizes that the Maw is growing stronger and Shadowlands may be in a state of no-return. Despite the “peaceful” shot of Elysian Hold, soon after we encounter the grim discussion between The Archon and her lietunants inside. Archon states “None of that should have happened” as expected. Because she wasn’t expecting the “perfect order” she and her friends built to finally break after the banishment of Zovaal. Yes, Devos made even Archon to question the mindset of The Kyrian, but she isn’t pleased of the order is falling to pieces. Before moving on I want to point out to Thenios’ uncompleted sentence;
” Perhaps the Winter Queen could…”
I wonder what Thenious would say before being interrupted by Kleia. What help would Winter Queen lend? As we know Ardenweald is one of the (if not the) most impacted zones from the draught. Would she sacrifice more souls to donate a bit more Anima to the rest of The Shadowlands? Or would they ask her to strengthen the Heart Of The Forest so they could try to push The Jailer back a bit more? We cannot be sure. But we can assume that The Winter Queen has some kind of emergency plan for such situations.
“A King Whose Heart Is True”
I guess for most of the people ıt would seem absurd for Anduin simply walks in front of The Archon without any suspicion. But remember, among all the Covenants, Kyrian is the ” most foolish” of them all. I’m sorry but that is the case. Questioning or researching is not what they meant to be. After all, they have used to see mortals (mortals who even escaped The Maw) among them thanks to us, the players. So Kleia would simply measure Anduin through the surface. Not the darkness below, expcent one person in particular.
Yes, Uther senses the darkness within Anduin. But he has been so oppressed by The Kyrian through his path to “redemption” it seems. That he would sense a dread within his heart (and the wound) but simply gave a stare, nothing he could do more. May be he was to save the day, but he couldn’t be brave enough to shout out a warning. And that was the first implication to show us something was wrong with Anduin. After all, why would Jailer and Sylvanas simply sent him out, and to Bastion specifially?
“ Very well. He may approach”
I will try to keep this section brief. If The Jailer had sent Anduin to a zone but Bastion, he would not succeed. If Anduin has been sent to Revendreth for example, if no one else, The Accuser would sense something is wrong with. She would expose Zovaal wih an ease.
If Anduin has been sent to Maldraxxus or Ardenweald, he may not even allowed to enter. Especially in Ardenweald, The Wild Hunt would not allow a stranger would approach to their queen with a weapon after all. And Winter Queen would immediately sense the darkness behind the shell.
So, due to how easy to fool Kyrians with a mask on your face, Zovaal chose Bastion to strike. As he states later in the cinematic, Archon had one of the keys. The other three though? We will speak of it later.
“That Prison Could Not Hold Me Forever”
Well, if you did not get Anduin has been controlled by Zovaal until this point, you should’ve realized it when he started to speak;
” That prison could not hold me forever”
Well, Anduin would never , ever say such an arrogant line with such a threatening tone. At that point, even The Archon realized something is not right. Congratulations! He is not the “king” you thought of , but may be another king? May be your own brother, that you have imprisoned eons ago?
And well, then Zovaal exposes himself by changing Anduin’s voice, the color of the screen shaded into grey, and then Zovaal binds his enemies. Then struck a devastating blow to Archon and takes the ” key”.
Now, it time for some real-speculations;
We knew that The Lich King has been created for Zovaal to control it. Now we can confirm that the main reason he was in need of The Lich King is not to have a puppet, but a direct vessel. So I do not believe he has commisioned or created the Helm and Frostmourne for himself. A puppet and a vessel are not the exact same. The Lich King (and everyone who became the LK but Bolvar) was created to be a vessel but instead they became puppets. First in the hand of The Legion, as I have speculated before that Zovaal and The Legion has been working for so long. Frostmourne and The Helm Of Domination were not meant to Zovaal, or at least until he escapes The Maw. Their only purpose to extend Zovaal’s rech beyond The Maw.
Anduın Is Not Arthas 2.0!
Well, despite how Blizzard tried to imply the similarities between Arthas and Anduin’s destiny, they are still not the same. Yes, the name of the cinematic is Kingsmourne, due to Anduin is carrying a mourneblade. Yes, he now wears a cool Maw-themed tier set with runs all around him. And he has a new, emo hair style. But no, he is still not Arthas 2.0!
Arthas has walked a path designed by The jailer and Nathrezim, he has been slowly transformed into The Lich King. And until he weared the helm, he was aware of everything. So Arthas is still responsible for most of the things he had done. But in Anduin’s situation ,it was clear he was not in control. As you can see, after he killed The Archon, for a brief moment he was like “Oh shit what have I done?” then the runes took over the control again.
Also, I have some doubts about that The Winter Queen and Denathrius were really a part of the Pantheon Of Death. Most likely Zovaal, Kyrestia and The Primus were the real brothers/sisters. Primus was the leader, Zovaal was the one who judge and place the souls and Kyrestia was the one who carry the souls into the afterlife.
Until this point, The Runecarver is actually being The Primus was a most likely theory. But after he got the “key” of Archon, Zovaal states there are still 3 keys left. As he stated before, Denathrius played his part already. So, if the remaining keys are The Winter Queen, The Arbiter and The Primus, this means we cannot say The Primus is The Runecarver. Because Zovaal is still in search to find him. But I saw a theory. That Runecarver is The Primus, but his key is hidden inside Draka. I rather think that she was the key to save Maldraxxus from the treachery.
” Death Was Never Meant To Be Chained”
Zovaal keeps referring himself as Death. As he closes the cinematic with ” They will see Death was never meant to be chained” But he is not “Death”. I mean, the only Cosmological Force has “bosses” to lead it over is The Void at the moment, confirmed as “canon”. There is no evidence for that the other Cosmological Forces such as Disorder has a ” Grand Demon” or something to lead it.
All of the cosmological forces’ actions are simply instinctive. Zovaal is probably the most powerful agent of Death in the Universe. And he was the “Arbiter” of Shadowlands before being imprisoned in my opinion. But he, the real symbol of Death in their pantheon has been imprisoned. Neither Maldraxxus nor Ardenweald is “death”. The unending darkness, the nothingness is death, and it is The Maw.
Yes we will face Sylvanas as the final boss of the next raid. But I don’t think she will die, and she won’t switch sides or something. The look she gave to Anduin was not because she was sad for “being evil”. She is sorry because of things had to go like this. Zovaal kind of warned her about this before. “If you won’t be able to convince him, I will deal with this in my own way“. Because that was what needed to be done. The end cinematic of The Sanctum will be the twist would lead us into 9.2, just like the ending of The Nighthold.
The special “guest” in Jailer’s sanctum is probably Arthas. But what if it is Tyrande?. It is possible that she has been captured by The Jailer himself during her destructive wake inside Torghast. And a champion of Elune is a prize that Zovaal would wish to deal with in person.
” The Arbiter Is The Final Key”
“The Arbiter is the final key. Protect her or all is lost”
So, I think we can assume the word “key” was literal all along. Because we now know The Arbiter holds one of the last 3 remaining keys. But, was that key belonged to her after all? I mean, I have stated it before, loong before. that The Arbiter has been created to replace Zovaal, after his banishment into The Maw. Zovaal’s original duty was to judge and place the souls but you know, some events happened we didn’t know the details yet.
Now, note this! The hole in Zovaal’s chest was to contain his key! It has been ripped by his “brothers and sisters” to imprison him inside The Maw. Now imagine how powerful Zovaal actually is. Maw is already an inescepable place. Insıde it, Torghast has been placed as well with its endless changing halls to imprison Zovaal further. Moreoverly, they have sealed it with 5 keys divided among The Eternal Ones and their puppet The Arbiter.
Well here comes a guess for 9.2 aswell! How about not 9.3, but 9.2 will be the Oribos raid? We already know the city is ready to be converted into a raid. We would either fight against a corrupted Arbiter or gonna protect her. Or, after the ending of 9.1 raid, we may want to fight against her due to a revelation we will witness.
So, how about a wild 9.3 guess aswell? Here comes my friend Aernath!:
I support this theory because we need a final raid that would outshadow even Torghast, the “big bad tower” of this expansion. Why?:
So, the final raid boss of the expansion can be Sire Denathrius, yet again. The mastermind of Nathrezim, a raid may be not even in the Shadowlands but at a place directly related to The First Ones themselves. As we will learn about The Nathrezim and The First Ones a bit during 9.1.