Overwatch and the Great Retconning
So, I think there’s something fascinating going on with Overwatch Lore. I think we’re watching Blizzard rewrite unrevealed lore live in response to fan feedback.
And I think it centers around Gabriel Reyes.
Originally, we were presented with the narrative that Reyes was the original Strike Team leader during the Omnic Crisis, was passed over for promotion. Worked with Jack and Ana for twenty years, then at some point got so resentful that he led an armed rebellion against them, resulting in the base exploding and him coming back as an angry smog ghost.
I have a feeling that the canceled First Strike graphic novel was entwined with this narrative, hinting at Gabriel’s future jealousy and villainy.
Except, this is the age of social media and fandom engagement. People rejected that narrative, mostly because on it’s own, it is really stupid. People latched onto Gabriel Reyes as a character, and the idea that he brings down Overwatch out of base envy kind of ruins him. Why have a simply EVIL character when you can have a COMPLEX character? It also implies that a good chunk of Overwatch sided with Gabe over the issue of who go the statue and the big blue coat.
So, first strike was canceled, and we’ve been seeing Gabriel portrayed as still close with Jack and Ana.
And now, I theorize.
Gabriel WAS responsible for the fall of Overwatch, but not because he was mad about a promotion from twenty years ago, but because of a fundamental disagreement about what Overwatch was.
The new comic, Uprising, contains a few key moments.
First: Blackwatch is suspended, and Overwatch isn’t allowed to operate in Britain, but Gabriel sends McCree anyway, showing that he’s more concerned with doing good than following the rules.
Second: The entire comic is based around the struggle between following orders, and helping people who need help. Jack has a base full of agents trained to handle omnic extremists holding hostages in central London, but his hands are tied.
Third: This panel
The implication seems to be that Overwatch wasn’t successful because they had the best gear, or the most skill. Overwatch succeeded because people got desperate enough to let them operate without oversight, free from politics and egos, dedicated entirely to the goal of winning the war.
That was the Overwatch Strike Team that Gabriel Reyes led. A group of soldiers answerable to nobody, willing to do whatever it took, use whatever methods got results. Maybe they were the ones who blacked out Mexico, depriving the Omnics of power. Maybe they leveled chunks of Rio, gave the Outback to the Omnics,
And that’s why Jack Morrison got the statue and the big blue coat. Because, while Gabriel Reyes may have won the war, he probably crossed a lot of lines to do so. As Overwatch was transitioning from a wartime necessity to a global peacekeeping force, they needed somebody more controllable at the helm.
Which brings us to the Fall of Overwatch. Gabriel Reyes has been running Blackwatch his way, doing whatever he feels is necessary without asking permission. But, it’s coming back to bite them, they’re being attacked on all sides, Ana has faked her death, leaving Jack and Gabe to battle over the future of Overwatch.
Jack holds to the dream that Overwatch can return to it’s prior status as a beloved global peacekeeping force, working with the UN, smiling and waving for the cameras. He’s crossed some lines (Like sending the team to London), but he thinks that was a one-time necessity. If asked to stay out, Overwatch should stay out.
Gabriel on the other hand doesn’t care what people think. He LOVES that Jack sent the team to London, he HATES that Jack waited so long. He doesn’t think that Overwatch should be limited by the whims of politicians. He wants it to operate like they did during the Omnic Crisis, a free-roaming band of heroes doing what needed to be done.
Basically, Lawful Good vs Chaotic Good. That’s the conflict that splits Overwatch.
As for the Explosion? Maybe it was caused by the fight, maybe it was Talon.
Now, post-overwatch, their opinions have shifted. Jack, now Soldier: 76, thinks that Overwatch was a failed idea from the start. Any attempts to rebuild it will just lead to the same problem: Oversite vs Action. Ironically, he’s now become exactly what Gabriel wanted Overwatch to be. He’s a vigilante, operating outside the law, doing what he feels is necessary to make the world a better place.
As for Gabriel? He’s Reaper now, and that’s amplified everything, but the main feeling is one of betrayal. From his perspective, everybody that didn’t side with him cared more about playing politics and looking good than actually doing their jobs. They betrayed him, Jack especially. Not that Reaper cares about making the world a better place. He’s mad that Jack turned against him, mad that he was turned into Reaper, Mad in general.
But not about the Statue. It was never about the Statue.