One of the hallmark moments of the All Will Be One storyline was the compleation of several bedrock Gatewatch members. Jace and Nissa joined Nahiri, Lukka, Vraska, Ajani and Tamiyo as supposed minions of Elesh Norn. A great deal of the last stories of the aforementioned set and the first episode of the March of the Machine stories sees Norn gloating the the victory far before its (forgive the pun) completion.
But one has to wonder just how much control Norn actually has on her new pets. While the rest of Phyrexia sings her praises in unison, the new members seem to sing a bit off key. This should be the first clue that there might be trouble in paradise. The planeswalkers not singing in harmony is a nod to the fact that they are not in so much of a goosestep as the Mother of Machines thinks. The first episode made this painfully clear to Norn as she had to hush their part of the singalong.
But, Planeswalkers being the pinnacle of power in the MTG universe, did we really think compleation would be the end of it? Although the latest stories paint a bleak picture of useless resistance against insurmountable odds. There are clues that the victory is far from airtight.
THE FIRST TO FALL
Tamiyo watches, too. Her grip tightens around an iron-bound scroll. Among the evangels she is the only one not covered in blood.
“Did you love Kamigawa?” Norn asks.
“I did,” Tamiyo says.
While Elesh Norn was gloating all though the first episode, she began to take a visual tour of the war to come. As if rubbing Tamiyo’s nose in it, she asked Nissa to show her Kamigawa. She, then, challenged her by asking her of her love for the plane and, digging deeper, her love for her family.
There is hesitation in her answer. But she gives the party line. She wants them to ‘understand’. But, upon seeing her homeland, ‘Her grip tightens around an iron-bound scroll.” This is foreshadowing. For the scroll she grips is her exit plan.
In Episode 3 (Mother, Son, and Story), she is confronted with her home plane of Kamigawa first hand. As she recites the story of how Phyrexia came to be, “Boseiju, the tree that once held this plane together, bursts apart.” Not long after that the comment, ‘There is a distant part within her that is screaming’, tells us that Norn’s hold is breaking.
‘THIS IS HOW THE STORY ENDS’ is a true statement. But it is not with Phyrexia’s victory as stated. The story must endure. It is what she lived for. It is what she used her spark for. She lived to collect the secrets of the multiverse. It was the reason that, up until recently, she was Elesh Norn’s favorite (she was beginning to place second to Nissa because of her power over the REALMBREAKER).
In a battle with Kaito and Kaya which saw Tamiyo’s adopted son, Nashi. show up to try and talk her down, she seemed unreachable. Preaching the greatness of Phyrexia like an indoctrinated acolyte, there seems to be no bringing her back. But, just before she unleashed Phyrexia upon our heroes, the Emperor intervened and struck Tamiyo down; destroying the first compleated Planeswalker.
But it just wasn’t that simple.
The ‘Wandering’ Emperor knew something was wrong. Tamiyo pulled her punches at the last missing her assailant totally and opening herself up for the killing blow. Suicide by the Emperor’s blade. But she gave her life for a reason.
As she was being struck down, she unleashed the scroll with the Iron bindings. Sealed within this scroll, unaffected by the Phyrexian oil, was the ‘Story Unending’. Tamiyo’s last act was to unleash it upon her adopted son, Nashi. To what end, we’re not totally sure, but it seemed to contain an uncontaminated shadow of who Tamiyo used to be. And, judging by the name, probably carries with it the many stories she collected thus continuing the knowledge of the collection of the mysteries of the planes.
WHERE DOES ALL OF THIS LEAD?
Shifting the story from the Planeswalker Tamiyo to the no-spark Nashi brings up a reoccoring speculation. Spouted back about three months ago by Reddit User u/APe28Comococo:
“The Phyrexian World tree is going to allow non planeswalkers to travel between planes again and physically link them into one huge plane essentially.”
And the more I read, the more I’m prone to agree. This will allow WOTC to center stories on powerful, non-Planeswalker characters. It will also take the spotlight off the sometimes forced creation of Planeswalker cards for every set; some of which fall far short of expectations. The focus of Vorthos should just be great storytelling and allowing some of the myriad of amazing characters (many already have cards in earlier sets) to travel the multi-planes opens up a vast reservoir of stories and drama.
This move will also feed the interest and need for more and diverse Commanders; seeing that most Planeswalkers are not legally able to fill the role.
I also detect a bit of Planeswalker fatigue. Too many, too much focus or too powerful? There are a lot of voices out there bemoaning their very existence. Could an era without spark be coming? Is is simply having the planes open to everyone? Not sure. But, as seen with Tamiyo, Elesh Norn’s grip on her new playthings is flimsy at best and could unravel all of her plans.
NEXT UP? JACE AND NISSA: IMPORTANT PIECES TO NORN’S VICTORY OR HER UNDOING?