By focusing on the stories of newcomers, Red Dead Redemption 2 failed to do justice by Javier and Bill, original characters from the first game.
Bill Williamson and Javier Escuella played large roles in the original Red Dead Redemption, when John Marston hunted his old gang associates down after his wife and child were taken hostage by the Pinkertons. Given how big their role was in the first game, it’s surprising that Bill and Javier weren’t given more screen time in the game’s sequel, Red Dead Redemption 2.
In the first Red Dead Redemption, John follows his associates all the way to Mexico in effort to hunt them down. Most of the game is spent trailing Bill and later Javier after the two abandoned the Van der Linde gang – events that are explored in the second game, which acts as a prequel. John later goes after Dutch, the Van der Linde ringleader, before meeting an untimely fate himself at the hands of government forces.
The second game provides more context about how the Van der Lindes ended up in such precarious positions after they disbanded. It does so by largely telling the story from the perspective of newcomer Arthur Morgan, who, after joining the gang as a teenager (just like John), ended up becoming a brother-like figure to Marston, as well as a pseudo-son to Dutch. But the focus on Arthur and several other newcomers, like Sadie and Charles, took the opportunity to focus on Bill and Javier’s stories away.
The fact that Bill and Javier played such important roles in the first game set a precedent that they would be given equally involved roles in the second game. And while they were present for missions and always available to chat with at the camp, Red Dead Redemption 2 did a poor job at providing any background information into these characters in order to tie up loose ends or further develop them. On the other hand, even though the game was mostly focused on Arthur, it still gave ample time to the Marston family. The entire epilogue focuses on John and how he became established before the Pinkertons found him. Granted, Javier and Bill weren’t as important to RDR as John, but RDR2’s epilogue doesn’t even give them any attention at all.
Most of Red Dead Redemption 2’s character stories are neatly wrapped up in the epilogue, with scenes that show what they got up to after the Van der Linde gang parted ways. But the last time players see Javier or Bill is during the main story, when the Pinkertons raid the gang’s camp and the duo runs away, implying this was the last time they had anything to do with the Van der Lindes. It seems uncharacteristic that they would be so quick to abandon their gang without another word. Moreover, it would’ve been simple enough to include a mention of either one of them in the epilogue. Without that, many loose ends are left open. For instance, it still remains unclear when and why Javier returned to Mexico, knowing his and his family’s lives were in danger if he returned. It’s also unclear how Bill managed to form his own loyal gang in only a few years.
Had Red Dead Redemption 2 given more time to Javier and Bill’s stories, these plot holes may have been explained, and players would have a better understanding of the two characters. While the first game portrays them as villains, the second game treats them as minor side characters that are unimportant to the plot, making Red Dead Redemption 2’s portrayal of Javier and Bill unfair and a lost opportunity.
Alexandra is a freelance writer and editor based in Montreal. She enjoys being a plant mom, complaining about politics, and spending too much time playing Rockstar games.
Red Dead Redemption 2, John Marston
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