Blizzard has finally released the last of its four-part animated series, Afterlives, in preparation for the highly-anticipated new WoW expansion, Shadowlands. Featuring the tear-jerking stories of iconic characters and fresh faces alike, it’s fair to say that Afterlives has taken a toll on this writer’s mental health, perhaps even more so than the recent passing of my dear, sweet mother. Why is it that I cry at the end of Warcraft trailers, but I couldn’t shed a single tear at my own mother’s funeral? Is there something wrong with me?
The first episode of the series, Bastion, explores the trauma inflicted by Arthas, the second Lich King. Arthas was once a noble paladin who lost himself to a desire for vengeance, eventually turning on his own people and razing the same kingdom he once protected. Fans often laud the Lich King’s tale as the peak of Blizzard’s heart-wrenching storytelling ability, but surely it can’t compare to the pain of losing the woman who raised me, who fed and nurtured me for my entire life. Why, then, do I feel nothing inside when my thoughts turn toward her?
Episode three, Ardenweald, shows us a humble fae spirit contending with an impossible choice when he knows he can’t save everyone. I wish I could tell you it reminded me of my agonizing decision to pull my mother off of life support, but in truth, I thought of no such thing when I broke down and wept over that little forest man. The memory of the fictional bear in his care is more day-ruining than that of the woman who left little treats in my lunchbox and let me stay home from school even when she knew I wasn’t really sick. I don’t understand it.
In the words of Sylvanas Windrunner: “In the end, death claims us all.” I just thought she was talking about our physical bodies, not our capacity to love.
Shadowlands releases on October 27. Please join me next month for the official launch, when I’ll be discussing why playing the new expansion gives me more genuine joy than playing with my three-year-old son.