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WoWMar 19, 2019 4:00 pm CT

Derek Proudmoore is totally a sleeper agent who played right into Sylvanas’s hands — even if he doesn’t know it

When patch 8.1.5 hit World of Warcraft last week, we were treated to a surprise cinematic involving the a secret meeting between Baine and Jaina — and one which involved the fate of Derek Proudmoore. In case you haven’t seen it and/or know nothing about it, allow this to be your official spoiler alert. From here on out, everything’s fair game.

To quickly recap: The Horde recovered Derek Proudmoore’s body from the bottom of the ocean, where it had been collecting fish-dust since the Second War. Sylvanas then raised Derek so that his mind could be “properly conditioned.” The plan was then to allow the Proudmoores to recover him so that he might “slaughter them in their sleep.” Pretty hardcore stuff. Thing is, Baine wasn’t too keen on this plan. That’s why, in 8.1.5, Horde players help Baine rescue Derek and return him to the Proudmoores before Sylvanas can enact her plan.

Or so Baine thinks.

Derek was on that boat for a reason

There are a couple reasons I suspect Baine to have fallen for Sylvanas’s plans, not the least of which being the location Derek was when Horde players rescue him. Derek is being held captive in Sylvanas’s big, bad boat, The Swift Vengeance. I find this suspect for a couple of reasons.

The first is that The Swift Vengeance is not docked in Horde territory. It’s not docked in neutral territory. It’s docked in Tiragarde Sound — exactly where the Proudmoores make their residence. If Sylvanas’s original plan was for the Proudmoores to “recover” Derek’s body, wouldn’t it make sense that she planted it close enough where they wouldn’t need a full-stage assault but still under enough pseudo-protection (the Banshee Queen’s own personal ship) that it wouldn’t appear obvious?

But let’s ignore the boat’s location for a moment. Heck, let’s pretend the boat was docked off the coast of Orgrimmar, surrounded by the strongest naval fleet ever. Derek would still have been on the boat. That’s important because the entire process of twisting his mind had been taking place at the Hall of Ritual in Dazar’alor. If you talk to Nathanos before all of this goes down and ask him where Derek is, he says, “Derek Proudmoore is being kept in the Hall of Ritual until preparations are complete to properly twist his mind.”

Now, there’s a little wiggle room there, depending on how you interpret “preparations are complete.” But, to me, all signs point to the conversion/mind conditioning taking place in the Hall of Ritual. And if that’s true, then Derek Proudmoore being anywhere but the Hall of Ritual means his mind has been twisted. Not convinced? Let’s look at some more evidence.

Nathanos permits everything

There’s no one more loyal to Sylvanas than Nathanos. I mean, I like to believe I’m her most loyal champion, but the game doesn’t exactly reflect that 100% of the time. It does, however, give you the occasional moment to show where your loyalties lie. In this case, when Baine starts plotting, Horde players have an option — tell Nathanos that Baine has requested our help on a secret task, or say nothing. Obviously, I told on Baine (the dirty traitor).

But Nathanos didn’t tell me to stop him. He didn’t tell me to sabotage Baine. He didn’t specify any conditions in which I should drop my guise and halt Baine’s plans. No, Nathanos told me to do whatever Baine asked of me. Doesn’t that seem a little suspect?

Anyone with any degree of common sense knows Baine wasn’t a fan of Sylvanas’s plans to convert Derek. Moreover, Nathanos is keenly aware of how important Derek is to this entire operation. There’s no way Nathanos wouldn’t have suspected Baine’s plans might involve Derek. Even if he somehow thought that there was a less-than-1% chance Baine would actually stage a rescue of Derek, he still would have mentioned that as being a condition in which you should stop Baine. This is not some clueless NPC who wants to do right by Sylvanas.

This is Nathanos Blightcaller, Champion of the Banshee Queen. Unless he’s starting to question Sylvanas — which, to be clear, is incredibly unlikely at this point — there’s no way he would permit something that could potentially ruin her entire plan. But he does permit this. And that tells me he knows something we don’t — namely, Sylvanas planned for this.

Baine played right into Sylvanas’s plan

This all comes back to Sylvanas’s original plan (emphasis mine):

Derek Proudmoore was a hero to the Kul Tirans. They are sure to stage a rescue attempt when they learn of his fate. And once his mind has been properly conditioned, we will allow the Proudmoores to recover their long-lost prince… so he can slaughter them in their sleep.

Sure, the Proudmoores did not stage a rescue attempt as Sylvanas mentions — but if this had been her plan all along, she wouldn’t have shown her hand to Baine anyhow. What’s important is that, so far, all signs point to Sylvanas’s plan moving right along as expected. Derek’s mind, in all likelihood, has been conditioned. And now, the Proudmoores have recovered him. I believe he genuinely feels like he’s been saved, like his mind is his and Sylvanas did not twist him — but I also believe that’s exactly part of Sylvanas’s plan. He won’t need to pretend to be anything he isn’t, because he’s not aware Sylvanas is a finger-snap away from “activating” him and causing him to turn on his loved ones.

Sylvanas is smart. She is cunning. Look how she played the Desolate Council — and Anduin — in Before the Storm. She promised to allow the Council to reunite with their loved ones, and she kept that promise. She promised not to kill any Alliance, and she kept that promise — Calia is not, strictly speaking, part of the Alliance. And in the end? The Council was destroyed, no Alliance died, and Sylvanas could return to her people, tell them that Human families rejected their Forsaken loved ones, and come away looking like she stopped a deceitful attempt to usurp her throne, thanks to Calia. She went into that meeting having chosen her words very carefully. She had a plan in place, even if that plan was a contingency. And now she’s doing it again with Derek.

But it might not be the win Sylvanas expects

On the Alliance side of things, some dialogue plays out after the cinematic ends. In it, Jaina tells Derek that she knows others who have been through this, and that she believes they can help him. While it’s not explicitly stated, there aren’t a whole lot of people in contact with Jaina who’ve been through this — which means there’s a solid chance she’s taking Derek to Calia Menethil and the Saa’ra in the Netherlight Temple.

Sylvanas doesn’t know Calia has been resurrected, an undead in service of the Light. Sylvanas is not even aware that there’s any other way to raise the dead. For all of her cunning, Sylvans will not have prepared for anything like what’s happening at the Netherlight Temple. As a result, whenever she does choose to “activate” Derek, it will likely not work. He’ll have either gained complete control over his will thanks to the Light, or he’ll have enough strength to fight it.

Then again, maybe he won’t. Maybe Sylvanas will win this one. What’s important is that we’ve seen enough evidence that I’m convinced Derek isn’t as free as he thinks. And I cannot wait to see what happens when he realizes that.

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