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Joon, an exercise is disappointment and how to ruin a story in an instant.


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So my first time through End of Dragons I had vague idea of what would probably happen. And after the first act of the campaign 1 character had most of my attention, Joon. Her introduction in the imperial court and her political joisting match set the scene as Minister Li is the boomer curmudgeon resisting the advancement and Joon as an upstart due to being the Empress' sister and the one who modernized Cantha with jade tech. A real career politician v CEO scene. A little on the nose but I can dig it, subtlety isn't always necessary. But something about Joon just didn't sit right with me, it's not like there is anything you can investigate off a single brief meeting but Joon just gave me a bad vibe. 

 

And this sense of unease grew in act 2 when Joon began to act in a "Welcome to My city" kind of way as I began to explore New Kaineng. The city feels dystopian and oppressive. The wealthy and important sit in lavish buildings on the highwall and everyone else has to manage at ground and water level. There's even a district that still uses steam power instead of updating to the jade tech, with the Steam creature storyline basically dead I had a bit of hope this would go somewhere in the future(can't say I still have that hope), but I pressed on. And it was in the final part of chapter 2, Deepest Secrets, that Joon really took hold of the story for me.

 

Going through the powerplant Joon was more than welcoming, but when the tour began to go haywire my alarm bells started to go off. A place this advanced, with this much security and protections in place, located at the literal bottom of the ocean, this had to be an inside job for the Aetherblades and Joon has already worked with them before, or at least with Mai Trin. Working my way through the facility Ankka is worked up to be absolute unhinged lunatic and when she kills off Mai Trin(in a cutscene of all things) it was a heartbreak moment for the story for me. Mai Trin was on a great redemption arc and it would have been incredible to see her and Rama join what ever Dragon's Watch becomes. But now that she's dead she's probably going to be relegated to a Revenant elite spec so just gotta live with that loss and hate Ankka harder. 

 

By the time I was done with the mission I had a few conclusions; Ankka had to have been working with Joon. Joon had to have known about the Dragon Void and security coming to arrest my part was part coverup and part political powerplay. The sent of deceit was wafting hot and heavy from this, and with how in favor of modernization Joon is with probably more than just Minister Li standing in her way, this began to look to me like a hostile takeover of a political stage. "The empress let in these foreigners and now look at the mess they caused, this never would have happened under the late emperor" kind of thing. Fomenting a schism between Shing Jae and mainland Cantha.

 

At the start of act 3 the attempted arrest I was certain there was something crazy going on with Joon and at the end of act 3 in the mission Empty my suspicions were confirmed as Ankka spoke the biggest broken promise of the entire campaign; "You, the Inquest, Joon. Why's everyone want to play god?"

 

That like was like a ludic thought in the middle of an unhinged rant. Ankka related Joon to the player and the Inquest. Now I'm in the camp of "Joko was correct about the player character" with his last rant in Long Live the Lich, and the idea that Joon is a villain was driven in even more in act 4 when Minister Li turns out to be a Purist leader. If she's got enough skill and ability to turn Kaineng from a condensed mess of buildings made from what ever was on hand at the time to a dystopian metropolises that actually rivals Tyria's 5 great cities in magnitude then she could very well be manipulating the Aetherblades, Purists, Speakers, Jade Brotherhood and who knows what else. She might have a stockpile of unchained Risen that she can throw into populated zones just to cause chaos if need be. And with the Aetherblades being able to warp through the mists, Joon could even have quietly set up a stronghold somewhere in central Tyria, near anythin is possible if she's the sane evil genius type.

 

And so I get to Joon's mansion. Joon likes to show off for guests, kinda classic in the evil genius archetype. Work my way through her house, meet the Gokushufudou and think "this could work in favor of the story later" than keep going. Face off against Joon, break her toys, and I'm ready to be denied this confrontation as she does the villainous secret escape route trick. But that's not what happens.

 

No one:

Literally no one:
Not a single character throughout the story:
Joon: "I wONT AppoLOGise FOR being EXcePtIONal!" 

Me: "....What?"

 

All that build up and when finally when confronted she acts like an abused child. At no point in the story does literally ANYTHING hint to this weepy complex she has about her own success. I've not come across a single line of dialog that would have ever hinted at this is who she really is, even if that dialog would have been appropriate since success breeds jealousy. And it's made worse by how Taimi, the child of the group has to placate her feelings. Joon is supposed to be this powerful CEO and revolutionary inventor and here she is throwing a tantrum like a 14 year old over something that, if it was even said at all, the player never hears. And for the rest of the story her character takes this depressed, defeated tone. It's like that one moment of confrontation literally killed off the character she was up until that point. And everything I thought was going on was just my own wishful thinking. Joon wasn't involved in the reactor incident, she wasn't manipulating the purists, there was no back room lobbying or political subterfuge, I'm not even sure why Joon was so insistent on modernizing Shing Jae in the first place.

 

Living World Season 6 could have been something incredible. It could have been Joon building up a paramilitary army of multiple different factions as she launches a literal hostile take over of Cantha with an assault on Shing jae. She could have tried to usurp the imperial system and establish herself as the new ruler in an autocratic technocracy. Her house husband could even have been one of those questionable characters that could have been trying to convince everyone that Joon really does mean well even if her methods aren't completely agreeable. I played through the story 2 more times and even with hindsight and knowledge of the plot it's always the same. Joon's mansion kills her character and changes how the story could have ended.

 

Joon could have been a great character, a compelling BBEG and a story driver for at least 1 full season of Living World content. But that character was erased in a single line of dialog. 

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Why would Joon have to be a big bad? So we can have another "Inquest villain" only this time it's human?

Why in the world would she launch a hostile takeover of the Empire against her Sister? There was zero things hinting that she had anything but a friendly relationship with the government, barring minor butting heads with Li.

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Posted (edited)

Nicely put. I share your disappointment with Joon, but just on a much smaller scale. Over the years I've learned not to expect deep narrative satisfaction from ANet (to be fair, I don't expect that from any MMO, really), so I didn't have any illusions about Joon masterminding much else beyond her own arrogance. I did, however, hold onto the hope that the narrative team is at least in the business of shallow-ly exploring some interesting character themes, like we got with the LWS4 ending scene you reference with Joko. Sure, it was just one scene with one character going on a monologue, but it was good enough for me - Joko was obviously a blight on his people, but it didn't make him wrong about how utterly mindless and destructive the Commander is. "Are we the bad guy?" is often an interesting question to raise about a protagonist, and I think ANet pulled it off well.

So that's the extent of what I was hoping for with Joon. Not any massive villanous setup; but really just a short sequence or two where we really get to explore the effect of Joon's hubris. She did mess up enormously, after all. Her inability to understand that she's bad at managing people and can't engineer her way past the ill intent of outsiders almost got every single one of us fed to the Void. I really can't think of a single other character who messed up so badly.

The enormity of her failures makes an interesting contrast to the enormity of her genius. She didn't just mess up by exposing Cantha's most important state secret to the Aetherblades of all people. She also found a way to stabilize an Elder Dragon on the path to corruption - and turned it into a technological renaissance for her entire civilization. She didn't need a genius progeny, a convenient solves-all-outstanding-issues pocket dragon, or even arcdps to achieve that.

That wide gulf between her successes and failures could have fueled a somewhat interesting exploration of what hubris does, and what it takes for a person to get over it.

But my hopes were dashed at the same moment yours were in the story. I mean, I had the sinking feeling that ANet was going to do that thanks to a handful of unnecessary "woke" markers sprinkled throughout EoD, but it was still disappointing to have the Joon arc literally whimper to that end.

Edited by voltaicbore.8012
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Who are you kidding?  LS6 will see us riding around in the mystery machine with Marjory, Rama, and a cowardly talking great dane that's always hungry.  When we defeat whatever immortal omnipotent being we're up against this time and remove its mask we'll discover that it was the old man who operates the jade tech ferris wheel the whole time!

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I'm all up for the Mystery Machine adventure to the far flung reaches of Cantha and the Unending Ocean.

Would be cool to see the Battle Isles again as well. We've pretty much retired Rox, Braham, all of DE, Canache, and possible Kasmeer. So having Marjory, Rama, and Gorrick galivanting about solving Eldritch Horror type mysteries would be fun af.

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I was convinced that Joon was the main villain for most of the story. When she turned into a good guy and Minister Li was evil it just felt like something was missing. Like I had missed a key character moment or something.
while I really enjoyed EoD the story was only really enjoyable for act 1. Anet does their usual anet, make amazing open world maps with beautiful art and music and not really much else.

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This.

To me, she is a megalomaniacal villain, and I don't understand why the Commander acts like that was not the case. 🤦‍♂️

I was majorly disappointed with the outcome as well. They tried to make her likeable by adding a husband and a child, both also acting strangely ("My mommy killed Soo-Won. Will she go to prison now?" LOL).

Edited by Ashantara.8731
typo correction
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3 hours ago, Ashantara.8731 said:

This.

To me, she is a megalomaniacal villain, and I don't understand why the Commander acts like that was not the case. 🤦‍♂️

I was majorly disappointed with the ourcome as well. They tried to make her likeable by adding a husband and a child, both also acting strangely ("My mommy killed Soo-Won. Will she go to prison now?" LOL).

Its because they already did the female megalomaniacal villain with Scarlet.

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8 hours ago, White Kitsunee.4620 said:

Anet does their usual anet, make amazing open world maps with beautiful art and music and not really much else.

Pretty much my stance regarding Anet. They make awesome open world gameplay, beautiful landscapes, and amazing worldbuilding & lore but their storytelling leaves a lot to be desired.

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I kinda hate Joon as a person but I think she makes sense in the narrative — she's a nicer version of a real-world tech billionaire: a lot more hands-on, a tad more altruistic, but still just as myopically, grandiosely self-obsessed.

I think her partnership with Soo-Won was a good choice (compared to, e.g., just exploiting her against her will); though in retrospect perhaps the story would've been much stronger if it was an open secret and all of Canthan society was just built around this partnership (some of the scenery, like the big dragon pillar in the middle of the city, already seems designed for this) that would be considered absurd and self-destructive by the rest of Tyria — now you've got an interesting reason for the empire's continued isolationism and a lot of *reasonable* distrust for the protagonist, the big ol' serial dragon slayer. As it is right now, you're kinda funneled into only interacting with a few key figures over and over, and it makes Cantha feel a bit small imo.

Overall I think it's fine that Joon turned out an ally rather than an enemy, but her arc is played out and I don't want her to stick around very much in subsequent story stuff.

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5 hours ago, Lan Deathrider.5910 said:

Its because they already did the female megalomaniacal villain with Scarlet.

Oh god could you imagine the reaction some people would have to another genius WOMAN who causes mass damage/chaos 😛

1 hour ago, ASP.8093 said:

I kinda hate Joon as a person but I think she makes sense in the narrative — she's a nicer version of a real-world tech billionaire: a lot more hands-on, a tad more altruistic, but still just as myopically, grandiosely self-obsessed.

I think her partnership with Soo-Won was a good choice (compared to, e.g., just exploiting her against her will); though in retrospect perhaps the story would've been much stronger if it was an open secret and all of Canthan society was just built around this partnership (some of the scenery, like the big dragon pillar in the middle of the city, already seems designed for this) that would be considered absurd and self-destructive by the rest of Tyria — now you've got an interesting reason for the empire's continued isolationism and a lot of *reasonable* distrust for the protagonist, the big ol' serial dragon slayer. As it is right now, you're kinda funneled into only interacting with a few key figures over and over, and it makes Cantha feel a bit small imo.

Overall I think it's fine that Joon turned out an ally rather than an enemy, but her arc is played out and I don't want her to stick around very much in subsequent story stuff.

I think this would raise uncomfortable questions about like, how much Cantha knows of the outside world, without people knowing that Cantha has eyes on them.

I kinda like how everybody basically just goes "You are the commander, the big hero. Well okay, but we don't care." because they don't know the dangers the rest of Tyria has faced so far because of their isolation.

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Just now, Kalavier.1097 said:

Oh god could you imagine the reaction some people would have to another genius WOMAN who causes mass damage/chaos 😛

More like if they did it this time then it would fall prey to the 'Dragon Lady' trope which I do not think would go over very well...

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6 minutes ago, Lan Deathrider.5910 said:

More like if they did it this time then it would fall prey to the 'Dragon Lady' trope which I do not think would go over very well...

Worst case situation. Joon was really a dragon minion all along and once again we are forced to topple a government to save the day.

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1 hour ago, Lan Deathrider.5910 said:

More like if they did it this time then it would fall prey to the 'Dragon Lady' trope which I do not think would go over very well...

I was actually glad to see that it did not go that way, because it sets you up for it.  And like you said, that will not go over well for understandable reasons.  

Once I realized she wasn't the baddie, just someone wanting to achieve great things by somewhat questionable means and possibly ruthless in her pursuits of it, it added an interesting angle.  Genius crossing the line to be potentially evil, and being brought back down.  

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While I do not agree with the OP in that Joon was being laid out as being "obviously the villain", as all the signs I saw were "massive narcissist and egomaniac" and not "hidden villain of the story", I do agree that the mansion story step was... less than stellar, and making Joon a potential villain in the future story would have been better. This paragraph in particular:

On 6/8/2022 at 11:38 AM, Nightbringer Tenchi.5794 said:

All that build up and when finally when confronted she acts like an abused child. At no point in the story does literally ANYTHING hint to this weepy complex she has about her own success. I've not come across a single line of dialog that would have ever hinted at this is who she really is, even if that dialog would have been appropriate since success breeds jealousy. And it's made worse by how Taimi, the child of the group has to placate her feelings. Joon is supposed to be this powerful CEO and revolutionary inventor and here she is throwing a tantrum like a 14 year old over something that, if it was even said at all, the player never hears. And for the rest of the story her character takes this depressed, defeated tone. It's like that one moment of confrontation literally killed off the character she was up until that point. And everything I thought was going on was just my own wishful thinking. Joon wasn't involved in the reactor incident, she wasn't manipulating the purists, there was no back room lobbying or political subterfuge, I'm not even sure why Joon was so insistent on modernizing Shing Jae in the first place.

I have to sadly agree with.

 

18 hours ago, Lan Deathrider.5910 said:

Its because they already did the female megalomaniacal villain with Scarlet.

I think that Scarlet and Joon were vastly different enough that even if Joon was made a villain, the two storylines would play out remarkably differently. They could both be labeled as "female megalomaniac engineer genius villains" but you'd still have key differences to their own personalities and actions:

  • Scarlet was an active terrorist, while Joon is an industrial entrepreneur.
  • Scarlet was influenced by an Elder Dragon, while Joon was housing an Elder Dragon (playing Joon as villain would mean she was tricking Soo-Won into it, or Soo-Won accepted it because despite the harm joon would/could cause, it was far less than the Void).
  • Scarlet was a jokester character, literally described to Tara Strong as "British Harley Quinn", while Joon was a serious business character.
  • Scarlet was a sylvari with global (at the time) experience who studied the Commander, Joon was a human of royal blood with very local experience who never met or knew of the Commander.

 

But you're right, guess we can't have two female megalomaniac villains after an 8 year gap. Not like we didn't have two back-to-back male megalomaniac villains or anything... *cough* /s

I do think Joon could have made an interesting villain, not feel like Scarlet (or Kuda) repeat, and also avoid the Dragon Lady trope.

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12 hours ago, Konig Des Todes.2086 said:

I think that Scarlet and Joon were vastly different enough that even if Joon was made a villain, the two storylines would play out remarkably differently. They could both be labeled as "female megalomaniac engineer genius villains" but you'd still have key differences to their own personalities and actions:

  • Scarlet was an active terrorist, while Joon is an industrial entrepreneur.
  • Scarlet was influenced by an Elder Dragon, while Joon was housing an Elder Dragon (playing Joon as villain would mean she was tricking Soo-Won into it, or Soo-Won accepted it because despite the harm joon would/could cause, it was far less than the Void).
  • Scarlet was a jokester character, literally described to Tara Strong as "British Harley Quinn", while Joon was a serious business character.
  • Scarlet was a sylvari with global (at the time) experience who studied the Commander, Joon was a human of royal blood with very local experience who never met or knew of the Commander.

 

But you're right, guess we can't have two female megalomaniac villains after an 8 year gap. Not like we didn't have two back-to-back male megalomaniac villains or anything... *cough* /s

I do think Joon could have made an interesting villain, not feel like Scarlet (or Kuda) repeat, and also avoid the Dragon Lady trope.

Being fair, we also have Ankka as a tech-based villain for part of EoD, so having her get dealt with and then immediately going into another tech-based villain could be viewed poorly?

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2 hours ago, Kalavier.1097 said:

Being fair, we also have Ankka as a tech-based villain for part of EoD, so having her get dealt with and then immediately going into another tech-based villain could be viewed poorly?

Perhaps. I personally thought Ankka was defined less by tech and more by the emotional hollowness and exhaustion. She was sick and tired of scrabbling around desperately for survival while the big players were always reaching for big things and making big messes along the way - so she wanted to go for a real reset and let it all go to Void. Ironically in her lashing out against it all, she, too imitates one of those people making a big mess of things for all the small folk.

Tech surely defines much of Joon's character in EoD, but unlike Ankka she's one of the big people making the big messes, so I personally would have been okay with her being another tech-villain after Ankka was cleared from the board.

Edited by voltaicbore.8012
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6 minutes ago, Konig Des Todes.2086 said:

"the child of the group" is a phrase used to refer to the youngest individual of the group. In EoD, she's still the youngest even at 21.

Not if the Commander is a sylvari. 😉

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Soooo, people finally begin to see the sad truth? That gw2 writing is a mess, like literary bad. 

Its a story written by people who does not have any rl experience whatsoever. That is why their characters behave different than any rl character in the same situation would behave. Its stereotypical at best: "oh look Joon i Iron Man 2.0 that can destroy half a city and noone gives a ... cause she is a GeNiUs" kinda thing. Yeah thats how societies work, sure, in your fantasies. 

The bs was apparent in IBS when charr became furry kittens instead of highly militarised faction with iron discipline. "Booohooo they are shooting defectors in a middle of war, thats bad and not acceptable" - kitten, just google any, ANY military regulations, the penalty for desertion is death. But hey, not for these pumpkins. 

I do not even want to say anything about the missed opportunities like Mai Trin. This could have been a great chance to explore the mists and revenant "magic". But hey, we should just do the "ryland thing" and kill of a character we never get to feel for. (Although not gonna lie you literary got me when i saw Mai Trins appartment with all these "named" cats. First i was "lol thats funny" then "oh... thats tragic".  Which could have been elaborated a bit more, but whatever.). 

Dont get me wrong i like gw2 a lot, its the best mmo out there, but the story and writing is its weakest point.

Ive got a good idea - lets just throw Taimi and Aurene at any problem we encounter. That should be fun and innovative... oh wait...

Edited by soulknight.9620
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It's fun to read what other people headcannon, but it's best not to expect anything lavish or complicated from Anet. Once you get a read on the tone of the story, usually the most simplest answer will be the one the design team went with.

 

Progressive leaders "going too far" in pushing their reforms/political machinations isn't a vogue story thread atm (as opposed to combatting those stupid stuck-in-the-past nationalists).

 

Joon never struck me as particularly evil (Taimi trusts her, and she's a walking plot device so she's a reliable narrator). If anything, Joon's denial of reality had me recalling my college science classes where my teacher went ballistic when I "interfared" with his unsupervised (mildly unsafe) project, and I really got those sorts of "how dare you" sulky vibes after blowing up Joon's reactor.

Edited by Westenev.5289
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3 hours ago, Westenev.5289 said:

Joon never struck me as particularly evil (Taimi trusts her, and she's a walking plot device so she's a reliable narrator). If anything, Joon's denial of reality had me recalling my college science classes where my teacher went ballistic when I "interfared" with his unsupervised (mildly unsafe) project, and I really got those sorts of "how dare you" sulky vibes after blowing up Joon's reactor.

Which is exactly how her husband describes her.

It's not that she's against the commander, but she's got a hard time accepting that HER answer/project  is wrong. She's got it stuck in her head that she can build a filter device and fix the reactor as it is right now and everything back to normal, when that just isn't the case at all and she has to be forced to understand she can't fix things back to that point.

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