The recent Shadowlands Cinematic, although not to be liked by some players, was actually a giant bomb planted for us, the lore freaks! It may look underwhelming when you watch it for the first time, which an idea I do not agree with at all to be honest. In my opinion, the ending cinematic of Sanctum of Domination was one of the best cinematics they have ever made! The usage of music, the visual quality and huge lore implications are the reasons for this.
Again, I did not watch any other analysis video so far. I will watch them after this article has been published. So, I respect their ideas and theories and if somehow what I will speculate today would clash with another content creator’s opinion, I would be glad that both of us paid attention to the same details.
We have much to discuss, let’s dive in!
SYLVANAS WILL NEVER “SERVE”.
Let’s throw the Sylvanas part out first. Both because she was the main reason why the cinematic was so controversial and I want to talk about Zovaal and the grand scheme of things today, a lot more.
So, throughout the expansion it has been hinted that Sylvanas has some “doubt” moments about Zovaal’s true goals. But I guess, until this cinematic, Zovaal had never used the word “ serve” , you know, the official “trigger Sylvanas” word. Zovaal was in a kind of “intoxication of triumph” so he revealed his true colors, or did he? We will talk about it later. Let’s continue in this “The Jailer was actually the big bad guy” sense for a bit longer.
So, after Zovaal literally became the Agent Smith after he regained his power, he declared that “the maker’s design was flawed and he will unmake and rebuild it”. Well, until that point everything was OKAY for Sylvanas. You have to understand this first. Sylvanas was okay with the idea for unmaking the flawed system and building a new one and such. What she will never accept is being a “slave”, serving someone. You may say “ But she forced people to serve her such as Anduin!” Well, please take a look at her face and see how unwilling Sylvanas was, when she “threatened” Anduin to serve them.
Guys, if you want to make a proper character development analysis you have to pay attention to their facial expressions and into the little details. Otherwise, it would be normal for you that every single action of a controversial character would seem meaningless or even far-fetched.
What Sylvanas believed in was the idea of unmaking the injustice order of reality, destroying the prison built around us.
But what Zovaal had done, chaining down Thrall-Jaina-Bolvar and using the term to serve the instant when he regained power was unacceptable for her. As how it was supposed to be. So what Sylvanas had done was a 10/10 for her character development. She even “tried” to shoot Zovaal’s HIT HERE! labeled chest the moment she realized things would be really fucked up soon.
WHAT WILL BECOME OF SYLVANAS?
Now, I need to have my “ I said so!” moment, can I? I have been saying for months that Sylvanas will not die because it will not make any sense. There you have it, she survived but at what cost? What was the thing the Jailer threw at her? To be honest I expected him to throw Arthas himself to Sylvanas’ head in a literal way as a reply, shame it didn’t happen.
Jokes aside, it was Sylvanas’ soul fragment taken by Frostmourne and now she had it again. What does that mean? Her soul is now whole, If you take a closer look at the end, her eyes were blue, implying her mortality and -in my opinion- her loss of power.
So, after this point, Sylvanas will have a significant downgrade in terms of power. No more Banshee powers or Zovaal’s power at her back. She will be a Ranger-General, a master archer.
But we should not forget Sylvanas’ real power she had for years. Her tactical genius. She is one of the few characters in the canon lore who have been called as a “master tactician.” And her knowledge about Zovaal’s grand scheme would be a priceless use for us.
I hope we will not consume our time and energy to literally set a court in Oribos and “ judge “ her while a giant sized motherfucker in black armor wants to unmake reality. I repeat, this guy is not a world-ending threat, he is game over. I’m sorry Night Elf players, but your tree should not be our first concern at the moment.
TIME FOR A DIFFERENT SET OF MIND
Now, so far we were in the mind of “ Zovaal is the ultimate bad and Sylvanas switched sides”.
How about twisting the things a bit? This wild theory comes from my lore council buddy Aernath! In his opinion, what we have just witnessed was just another piece of play, featuring Sylvanas and Zovaal. Zovaal left on his own while Sylvanas played the “woman in regret”.
Again, please read Sylvanas’ facial expressions carefully here:
So, when we bring Sylvanas inside Oribos, we will actually do what she exactly wanted. Provided a direct agent for Zovaal inside Oribos, still working ( not serving!) with him and would observe our every action. Meanwhile Zovaal was on his way to save The First Ones, did I just say The First Ones?
Now, here we dive into a bunch of possibilities. What if Zovaal has went to free the First Ones? Back in the beginning of the patch, The Eternal Ones stated that the keys were sealing forbidden knowledge and they banished Zovaal because he wanted to claim them all.
I’ve speculated back in the day, what if those sigils were the keys that closed the gateway of The Void thus the First Ones have been trapped in there won’t have any kind of means to escape?
The key point is this; Zovaal did not have to claim every single one of the sigils if all he wanted was to reclaim what was stolen from him. All he had to do to would be focusing on Arbiter and take back what was belonged to him.
But his goal was to claim every sigil to open the gateway, or at the least a doorway into the void. The portal he opened was not made of light, the assets used for the portal were unique, and they have actually been datamined a few months ago. Labeled as “First One related assets”.
In my opinion, yhe reason why Zovaal has been banished was because he wanted to free The First Ones, through using the sigils by sacrificing their power.
Another detail to shout out here: Every Eternal One’s sigils look like a bit ethereal, much like runes. But the Sigil on The Arbiter’s chest was actually looked like a physical object, resembling the Fİrst Ones assets. Because that was a relic given to Zovaal, directly by The First Ones so he could judge the souls, before being overthrown.
Another point is to mention is Zovaal’s outlook after he regained his power. If you’ve been following the lore properly, you must’ve heard about that particular leak about the Jailer’s original appearance. But what we just get is drastically different. A design full of Thanos or even Megatron vibes. Two options here;
The boring option: Due to his appearance have been leaked by certain people, they redesigned his appearance but in doing so, his appearance became really, really evil. Because being an old big beard wise man and being a walking armor of darkness are not the same. But it would cause tons of work in terms of redesigning even the story itself and the plot for Zovaal.
The “cool” option: The time Zovaal spent in the Maw blackened his noble heart and soul. The runes placed on him and the Domination magic now he mastered, corrupted him at a point that even his supposedly original looking has been altered by the evil of The Maw. He became The Maw itself.
The Domination Magic was the prohibited magic, the 7th force has been mentioned in the lore recently. Its Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet, or the unending copies of the Agent Smith. So at this point, Zovaal is unstoppable by any normal means.
Now before we get to the Old Gods, the part you all have been waiting for, let’s take a look at some little references.
Kneel! The moment he regained his power, his first act was to make his enemies kneel. Just like The Lich King back in Wrath of The Lich King. And of course, Zovaal is the OG Lich King.
Again, this is the same motivation with The Lich King, just on the universal scale, or reality scale?. At the moment, Zovaal is The Endgame.
PUT SOME “OLD” GOD JUICE INTO THE MIX
Listen this first.
So, Icecrown Citadel was the direct reflection of Torghast in the physical universe. At the end of the Shadowlands announcement cinematic, you see it has appeared upside down in the shattered sky, just like a mirrored version.
Also, Sanctum of Domination reminded me of Icecrown Citadel a lot. Just as certain parts of the raid was a direct reference to ICC.
The Icecrown Citadel has been designed by The Nathrezim and built up using Saronite with their knowledge. Which Old God lies beneath the entire continent of Northrend? Yogg Saron! Having a direct connection to Torghast, to the River of Souls, to Oribos and so, to The Arbiter herself.
Through using ICC as a proxy, The Old Gods, -Yogg-Saron in particular- reached out to The Arbiter and corrupted her artifact. Cannot say if it was before or after she has been deactivated. But once I have speculated that it could be Yogg-Saron’s nightmare magic which broke The Arbiter at the first place.
So, when Zovaal took his sigil back, the Old God’s corruption reached to him as well. If I take this possibility with our grand First Ones theory in mind, finally Zovaal and his allies, The Old Gods have become one. Without taking the theory into consideration howewer, I would say Zovaal has been corrupted when he get his sigil back into his chest. As it was full of Void corruption at that stage.
How about another whisper?
As I have stated before, Zovaal did not have to collect every single sigil, the five keys, if all he wanted was toregain his power. No, he opened a doorway to make him finally reach into The First Ones aka Void Lords, to save them. One of the Old God’s biggest plots has reached its peak when Zovaal opened the portal.
Now, all Zovaal has to do is finding the supposed Sepulcher of The First Ones and take the so-called forbidden knowledge to free his masters. I expect a 9.3 patch where the entire expansion would end up in Azeroth where we would also find out N’zoth is waiting for us, with his Black Empire restored.
WoW! That was a long ride just as I had expected and I hope you all could stay until this part. I had so much fun of this wonderful cinematic while analysing every single detail of it, and I believe it is one of the best raid ending cinematics they have ever had. As you see, it had great implications and references.
I hope you will like this analysis and it helps you to have a better understanding of the events. Please let me know what you think in the comments below. And expect some Youtube videos in the upcoming days!