Spoiler alert for Patch 8.2
Today I finally did the Stay of Execution scenario, months behind schedule, and it was superb. Long an advocate for the Tauren, and for Baine Bloodhoof to become our next Warchief, this solo dungeon make it all the clearer that he is the right choice.
I unlocked it by finishing up some quests in Nazjatar, not really knowing what was going to happen – somehow I’d managed to avoid spoilers for all this time. I was shocked to find that Sylvanas was about to execute Baine for ‘betraying’ her when he reunited the newly Undead Derek Proudmoore with his sister Jaina.
A Shamanistic vision shows us that he is imprisoned below Orgrimmar (in a repurposed dungeon based on the Siege of Orgrimmar raid), and we need to act immediately to rescue him. We’re joined by Thrall and Varok Saurfang, heroes of the Horde and stars of the Safe Haven cinematic, and it’s a thrill fighting alongside the two elder Orc legends.
But that’s nothing to the shock of who we find half way through the mission.
Jaina. I was genuinely surprised, which I guess says something for how little attention I pay to the streamers and data-mining lore-reveals. It’s a nice feeling to find a game you’ve played for so long can still take you by surprise, and a reminder of just how strong Blizzard’s lore and writing team can be – and a reminder of why we keep playing.
Jaina is there to rescue Baine too, not just because of the Derek Proudmore moment, but because Baine is good people. He, of all the participants in this war, doesn’t deserve a traitor’s death. The confrontation between Thrall and Jaina is beautifully played out, as they – and we – unite to rescue Baine from Sylvanas’s prison.
The in-game cinematic that finishes the scenario is one of Blizzard’s best. Jaina and Thrall gazing down on Thunder Bluff, fearing Sylvanas’s retribution, and both reflecting on the terrible cost of the years of conflict and death.
Thrall’s regrets in particular struck home with me, his sorrow over the death of Baine’s father Cairne, and all the conflict and ruin that has wrought. Jaina’s reaction to Thrall’s pain is magic, and brings great hope for future peace between the two warring factions.
I still hold some slim hope that Sylvanas will somehow be shown to have been acting in Azeroth’s best interests, that rousing Azshara and N’zoth was required in order for the factions to unite and defeat the larger threat. But the descruction of Teldrassil has probably put paid to her reputation ever being rehabilitated. Her time is over.
If anyone can heal the rift between the Alliance and the Horde, it’s Baine Bloodhoof. And if Sylvanas really does try and burn down Thunder Bluff nothing can save her from our retribution.