Lego Sun Wukong Character Analysis No One Asked For (Season One - Three)
This will be a LONG and lengthy post covering all three seasons along with the New Years Special and the Pilot of the show. I'll do my best to analyze Wukong's characteristics, mannerisms, personality and relationships! Bare with me, english isn't my first language and I'm sick so.
Word Count: 10790
Sun Wukong’s introduction to the show is seen through a biased narrator’s POV, the idolization of him by placing him in a positive attitude whilst fighting DBK who was, before his entrance, wrecking havoc among the mortal world. He’s surrounded by golden sunbeams and the skies parting for him, a fitting image for the “world’s greatest hero” the narrator wants to paint for him. He’s seen smiling confidently and moves to summon his staff without pause.
(One of the most common tells about Sun Wukong is his false smiles: the strain lines that form around his eyes are the same used for characters throughout the series and this is no exception, this is a fake, idolized smile used throughout his entire fight with DBK)
While this is all fitting for his character (unquestioningly fighting the “evil” demon without prompting question as to why he’s attacking — he’s the bad guy and he has to take care of the bad guy per someone’s request), Sun Wukong is actively one of the most loving characters throughout the course of his story while also being the most complicated.
The Demon Bull King was, presumably, the sworn brother to Sun Wukong and the two shared a history. To say Sun Wukong would fight him without pause is.. incorrect, to say the least. The pilot story goes on to show us the amount of confidence Sun Wukong has during this fight but it never stops to show how they talked or interacted during the fight. Sun Wukong has a habit of talking during his fights (light laughter to small comments) but they removed that and replaced it for a more “fitting” image of a hero: Silence and serious, only letting out small chuckles when it’s clear that he’s won the fight.
After their fight, he traps DBK under a mountain for presumably 500 years until the show’s timeline is caught up. The very same punishment he was given from Buddha after his own wrecking havoc amongst Heaven. In summary: the narrative wants us to see that Sun Wukong, the Great Sage Equal to Heaven, willingly trapped what had been his sworn brother under a mountain the very same punishment Heaven gave to him and traumatized him for over 500 years.
“The king sealed the mountain with the staff that no other being could wield, trapping the Demon Bull King forever.”
“Forever” implies that Sun Wukong would never lift the staff himself to release his friend and the implications that Wukong willingly wanted to give up the one sole weapon that helped him shape himself into an idealistic hero for the sake of containing one demon is intense. The staff is more than a weapon to Wukong when you take into consideration how big of a part it was in his journey, into becoming the Monkey King that is idolized and loved in the narratives historians write when wanting to tell the tale of a hero. Sun Wukong doesn’t even appear to look satisfied in this story, he hesitates for a moment before letting go of the staff and even then he’s frowning at the result of the battle.
“With the battle won, the Monkey King vanished, never to be seen again.”
Sun Wukong going into “hiding” after losing his only weapon is realistic: he’s had an intense journey and this was, presumably, his final fight before “retiring” and he had to give up his prized possession for the sake of keeping the Demon Bull King at bay. He’s isolating himself; easily, Wukong could have carried on with his duties as a “hero” and kept fighting demons but instead he chose to live off on Flower Fruit Mountain for hundreds of years and doesn’t make a public appearance throughout the course of the show’s history regardless of what movies or show or television announcements are made throughout canon — he isolated himself.
“He has a movie based off of him!” as does every other superhero, fictional or otherwise, to say that he participated in creating this show or series is a stretch considering he’s been secluded on Flower Fruit Mountain with no company other than his monkeys.
“What about his lawyer?” that was a gag and a comedic moment but, again, the fact that he’s not actively responding to these messages has the same appeal as “I don’t want people to know where I am or if I’m still active”. This could be brushed off as laziness or simply uncaring but he’s not a lazy character, even in certain moments he’s been simply unmotivated.
Wukong’s first appearance after sealing away DBK was in the form of a bird, first seen when Xiaotian’s delivering the order to the Demon Bull Family, actively paying attention to Red Son removing the staff. He doesn’t transform or react much to DBK’s release and actively nudges Xiaotian to enter the scene and acquire the staff. Although the scenario could be easily questioned with “why didn’t he step in to save Xiaotian? Why did he stand there to watch?” and the answer is simple: because the narrative didn’t want him to get involved. The show wants to highlight Xiaotian as the protagonist and having Sun Wukong step in would disrupt that. A deeper view into it would be that he didn’t want to step out of his hiding and be thrusted back into “hero work” after 500 years of being MIA.
When Xiaotian enters the waterfall curtain cave, the first mural we see is of Monkey King wearing his circlet with the rest of the crew smudged out or blurry. What makes this important is the history of Wukong’s trauma involving the circlet. Although it was given to him by accident on Tripitaka’s extent (the monk did not know what the circlet was other than an additional accessory to Wukong’s outfit) it still played an important role into forcing Wukong to change into a perfect “disciple” for the monk throughout his journey.
The rest of the scene is rather simple: snippets of Wukong’s life before becoming the Monkey King and what inevitably led to the war against Heaven.
“When he got his staff from the Dragon of the East!”
(In the original text there’s several versions as to how Wukong acquired his staff: one is that he entered the Dragon of the East’s palace and asked if he could gain a weapon from him after killing the demon king of confusion and Ao Guang, out of fear that the monkey would try to kill him, offered to let Wukong try out several weapons until the dragon king’s wife suggested the pillar used to measure the ocean’s depths, claiming that it started to glow on Wukong’s arrival. Satisfied with how heavy the staff was and how easily it was to change its shape, Wukong thanked the dragon for the weapon and the clothes gifted to him and promptly left. Another version involves Wukong simply taking the pillar without asking and leaving the dragons confused on why he didn’t choose any of the weapons they laid out for him. Later on Xiaotian and Pigsy both proceed to ask Wukong if he stole the staff, which is assuming that the story of how he obtained his staff is not reliable in a sense of “there’s so many retellings of this moment that it’s best to leave it vague”).
Two moments that aren’t narrated are the ones where Wukong is facing the main antagonists of the show: DBK, Princess Iron Fan, Yin and Jin, Spider Queen and Macaque; and the second is when he’s bowing down to Tripitaka, his old master.
What separates these two moments is the vagueness of it all: Why Wukong chose to fight against the antagonists show and whether or not his relationship with Tripitaka was one-sided in terms of care and affection. To show Wukong bowing down to someone with a stressed expression and then refuse to show his face when going on against the demons in the show is meant to leave the situation up for interpretation but it hurts more to think about how the narrative portrays Wukong as heroic without wanting to reveal the “ugly” side of how he got to become a hero. It parallels well into how much of his past Wukong keeps hidden whether it be by avoiding questions about it or saying “not to worry about it”.
Upon meeting Xiaotian, Sun Wukong admits that he’s been watching Xiaotian and we get glimpses of scenarios where he does: during the delivery scene as a bird, during the boat as a butterfly and a semi-second frame of himself as a ladybug while Xiaotian was sleeping. This implies he’s been watching over Xiaotian since before he acquired the staff. Although this could very well be not related to canon at all, it was briefly mentioned in the lego monkie kid profile for Wukong that “he’s been searching for the right successor time and time again for the past 500 years” implying Wukong has tried to look for someone to train but none of them were able to keep up or Wukong was unable to train them properly. It’s also stated that Wukong did not choose his successor in Xiaotian, the staff did which parallels well into how the pillar glowed for Wukong to wield it when no other weapon could match his strength.
Wukong then goes on to tell Xiaotian that he’s going to become his successor and proceeds to stress eat while telling him he has to go fight DBK on his own while stress eating (something he does repeatedly throughout the show).
“Consider it a test trial.”
Wukong choosing to allow Xiaotian to handle DBK on his own is a perfect start to see if he's capable of using his own self confidence to fight without needing someone to hold his hand but while also knowing that he has support if he ever needs it.
“If you can lift the staff, you can use it. […] Believe in yourself. Even a smidge makes all the difference.”
The quote has become one that Wukong repeats throughout the lowest points of Xiaotian’s moments throughout the show. Sun Wukong could very easily go to take care of DBK and seal him away and never interact with Xiaotian again because “the danger is gone” which would have made for a poor narrative decision, not to mention forcing Wukong to relive the same moment of which he lost his main weapon and was forced to go into hiding. He encourages Xiaotian to fight DBK and openly believes in him (a non-lie, seeing as how he’s openly honest about his desire to not fight DBK for Xiaotian) and even follows him as a precaution in his bird form to watch over the human during the fight.
He doesn't tell Xiaotian to leave and then proceeds to stay in Flower Fruit Mountain stuffing his face with food uncaring — Sun Wukong chooses to follow Xiaotian presumably from the moment he left the waterfall cave and kept an eye on him through his fight with DBK. Xiaotian then tries to fight like Wukong did in the opening sequence and failed, instead having to do his own personal set of attacks to counter DBK and wins. Wukong acknowledges this and sees first hand how Xiaotian fighting style works: he needs self confidence and needs to know that he's capable of doing great things on his own.
But after the fight is done and he’s no longer needed: he leaves.
The first episode that highlights Wukong (the pilot) is him not wanting to be involved when he knows that, the moment that he is, he won't be allowed to go back. (See: Season 3’s involvement with him having to actively pursue the rings and make sure that Xiaotian and the rest don’t get involved with his actions more than they should for fear of losing them or hurting them on purpose). Sun Wukong is seen as an icon and a legend and that’s dangerous, his involvement with DBK meant that he was the first one to be sought out to solve the problem, no one turning to think that perhaps Xiaotian could give a helping hand to the situation, not even Xiaotian himself, and it isn’t until Wukong encourages him that he gains that moment of self-confidence and is able to control his powers and the staff.
[SEASON 1 EP 1, 7 AND 9]
“And the only way to gain self confidence is [...] No! Practice! You think I took any shortcuts? [...] I had to fight so… many demons.”
The canon tie to Wukong in the books and to the show is the fact that he had to fight several tons of demons throughout his journey.. after acquiring his Monkey King title and becoming a pilgrim in Tripitaka’s journey to deliver the scriptures to the west. Meaning Wukong had trained approximately several hundred years before becoming the pilgrim to Tripitaka.
He canonically trained several years to get to his standing point and it's important to remember this as most people write his character off as lazy or uncaring when he's one of the most hard working ones in the show thus far, his dedication to becoming someone worth looking up to unmatched thus far by the cast of the show. He's no longer striving to be "the best" he just wants to be the one person who someone can trust to talk to when in need of assistance (which backfires as he is instead idolized to an unhealthy extent and put on a pedestal too high for him to climb down from).
(It's unsure if the show will tackle these years but if they do it's important to remember that Sun Wukong first master taught him the Daoist ways of learning immortality and proceeded to exile him when he started showing off his powers to the other students at the academy, forcing Wukong to go back to his kingdom and find it in disarray after the Demon King of Confusion threatened and hurt his monkey friends. It must also be remembered that Sun Wukong was, once again, exiled from Tripitaka's group and thrown into an emotionally stressful situation after Erlang burned down his mountain and poachers killed his beloved kingdom in his absence.
He was in an emotional unstable place when Pigsy, from the book, managed to talk Wukong into returning during his weakest point and he was back in the group of a family that easily blamed him when he was in the right for not trusting certain demons or encounters they had along the journey.
It was a rather toxic environment for Wukong and he endured all of it.)
Sun Wukong is not a perfect mentor by far but he is a good one. Throughout the course of the show he’s seen to truly care for Xiaotian and proceeds to do what it takes so the human is comfortable in terms of being able to control his skills and powers without hurting himself. The one moment that some fans bring up is the one during the first episode when Wukong removes some of Xiaotian’s powers and his invincibility.
But they forget that the act was consented to by Xiaotian.
“I know a way to limit your powers so you learn to control them [...] but you won’t be invincible anymore.”
"Ok. Let's do it."
"Alright! No turning back!"
Wukong warns him and even asks Xiaotian if he’s alright after removing both his invincibility (which is something that comes from Wukong’s own immortality times five) and Xiaotian doesn’t regret nor bring up this decision for the rest of the show.
Sun Wukong is also blatantly aware of his decision of having become immortal and is, canonically, stressed out by this but never brings it up in a serious conversation.
"[...] And the residence of my soul that contemplates the fact that I am an immortal being, who will never be able to die."
The moment is used as a gag and where the main HC that Wukong has a lawyer prompted from but it's also a subtle tell that Wukong regrets his decision from over 3000 years ago that he chose to become immortal in many ways that make him unable to die. The extent of his decision means: watching his friends die, being unable to form bonds with mortals for they, too, will eventually die and leave him some day, he's been isolated for over 3000 years and unable to keep up with times due to the fact that when he turns around to take a closer look to the city everything's changed and he's unable to full keep up with it.
Aside from that: Impossible Delivery shows us how Wukong trains Xiaotian. To summarize it: he does a good job. Sun Wukong allows for Xiaotian to keep up without overexerting himself, he lets the human set the pace and puts obstacles for him to overcome without pushing Xiaotian beyond his breaking point. He doesn’t use his fists during their training exercise and instead settles for blocking and pushing Xiaotian back, only grabbing him to slam him down against the mountain when Xiaotian loses focus on the fight and allows himself to be grabbed.
He even verbally encourages Xiaotian (something his other mentor lacks to do throughout his short time in training him).
“Better. Way, way better. You're totally getting the hang of this, bud!”
Wukong allows for Xiaotian to be comfortable in his training and vocally encourages him when most others put him down or simply show their distaste for his lack of attention or when he goofs around, Wukong chooses positive reinforcement and pretends to be cocky about it (“You are getting trained by me!”) when he’s genuinely proud of how far Xiaotian has come since the beginning of his journey.
(My sibling Knox does a good job in showing the different aspects of how Wukong handles touching Xiaotian and making sure he’s not harmed.)
During Impossible Delivery, Xiaotian’s main goal is to learn how to focus. The episode is seen as ironic for even Xiaotian points out that Wukong is unable to focus according to his legends when, in truth, that’s not all that happens in the book but it’s what the narrative chooses for us to believe when addressing Sun Wukong. Wukong even dismisses these claims with non-serious remarks and is, again, shown to be eating peach chips when discussing his past actions and livelihood before becoming the idolized hero he is now.
He tells Xiaotian to take everything and choose what he wants to do and then do it as advice for focusing and although the verbal explanation of how to use it does little to effect Xiaotian’s view on him, the hands-on experience makes it easier for Xiaotian to overcome the challenge of being unfocused for the last few minutes of the episode. The fact that Wukong has trouble verbally communicating with others, be it his own successor or the brief instances where he talks to others, it’s due to the fact that.. He’s been isolated for over 500 years up until this point. As the Intelligent Stone Monkey, yes, he’s capable of quickly adapting to new environments and taking in new knowledge but he’s trying to do this slowly. He changes into a more “mentor-like” personality as opposed to the pilot and first episode, seeing as it was a rather slow introduction to his character, one would think he’s arrogant and confident and then here he lets Xiaotian point out his faults and flaws and refuses to address them in full. Masking is a process by which an individual changes or "masks" their natural personality to conform to social pressures. Thus far, we haven’t seen Wukong be genuine and takes on multiple masks throughout the show.
Wukong doesn’t show disappointment nor does he care much that Xiaotian was late with his order, instead opts to go for a happier “you finally made it!” meaning he didn’t expect Xiaotian to deliver his meal in the expected time but wasn’t at all disproving of him and instead opted to hide it as a lesso (although it could be debatable whether he was intentionally using this to teach him a lesson or not, seeing as Wukong does canonically pretend to be stupid or dumb to lighten up the mood and Xiaotian was rather energetic when he approached him in this scenario). He continues to voice how proud he is of Xiaotian and only says “This isn’t my order” without hints of malice or disappointment in him — he doesn’t mind that Xiaotian got his order wrong and is rather patient with him throughout the course of the show.
Sun Wukong’s trauma begins at a partial way through this episode.
To summarize: Xiaotian is getting frustrated by Wukong’s teachings because he’s not going all out as he expected he was going to when training under Wukong’s guidance. After attempting to fight a Shadow Monster, Xiaotian meets Macaque and trains under him without Wukong knowing. Wukong confronts Xiaotian about using too much power that his body can’t handle which leads to Xiaotian going with Macaque to defeat the Shadow Monster only to get backstabbed by Macaque who then steals his powers and fights against Wukong. After Macaque is defeated by Xiaotian, Wukong and Xiaotian reconcile and the episode ends with Xiaotian “training” again under Wukong.
Wukong openly trusts Xiaotian by this point; Xiaotian is the one person Sun Wukong sees on a semi-daily basis due to training and allows for Xiaotian to get closer to him by establishing a bond of trust. He trusts Xiaotian to voice his concerns to him (such as being frustrated with how slow their training has been going and wanting to learn how to fight like Wukong) and is genuinely surprised when Xiaotian uses more force than Wukong has taught him to use after Macaque has trained him.
“[...] Using that much power, your body can’t handle it.”
Wukong’s concern for Xiaotian is also genuine, one of the few moments where he’s serious and he doesn’t think about chasing after Xiaotian until he sees Macaque’s symbol form on the back of his jacket. The realization that Xiaotian is in a toxic learning environment is what pushes Wukong to follow him from a far enough distance that he’s able to step in when Macaque ultimately betrays and hurts Xiaotian, badly enough that he cries when attempting to lift the staff again near the end of the episode. His anger towards Macaque resides in the fact that he’s hurt Xiaotian alongside the realization that it’s Macaque who hurt him — someone who he’s clearly had history with and thus the trust is further broken into pieces.
After this, Xiaotian and Wukong’s relationship seemingly goes back to normal — but the trauma that latches onto Wukong is the fact that Macaque was willing to kill or brutally harm Xiaotian during their fight. Shortly after pining Wukong down with his shadow clones, Macaque turns to attack Xiaotian (probably to further anger Wukong enough for him to go all out as he states he wants him to) and it’s clear in that instant that he’s not holding back.
When Macaque calls him out on being pathetic for not wanting to hurt Xiaotian, it indicates how much Wukong has grown to care for the human. Apart from the fact that Wukong’s been canonically isolated until the show’s present time, Wukong has also outlived most if not all of his friends and family. He’s lost dozens of people he’s cared for and those who hate him he’s shown to be familiar if only kept at a distance — when it comes to Xiaotian, Wukong treats him with extra care, he makes sure Xiaotian isn’t ever hurt in their training and actively makes sure not to push him past his breaking point. What brings forth Wukong to get angry at Xiaotian is not frustration over the fact he’s been mentored by someone else, it’s the fact that Xiaotian was hurt in the process and pushed past what his body could handle all at once.
Macaque continues to dangle Xiaotian’s safety over Wukong’s head like a treat to a dog throughout the show and doesn’t care for Xiaotian’s reaction for the possible the mentally of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and only backs away when a third party intervenes.
Xiaotian’s safety is, among other things, one of Wukong’s top priorities and he puts him above his own safety at times, shielding and protecting him and attempting to do whatever he can to keep him safe at all costs. Regardless of whether he’ll get caught in the crossfire Wukong always reaches out to try and catch Xiaotian when he falls and protects him to the best he can from whatever danger is out to get him.
The episode shows us that Wukong A) trusts Xiaotian to tell him everything only for the trust to be broken the moment Xiaotian begins training without telling Sun Wukong what he’s doing in his training and who he’s training with (along with Sun Wukong attempting to rekindle that trust in their bond), B) keeps Macaque at arm’s length even during their fight and doesn’t try to go all out on him even when preventing him from attacking Xiaotian, C) was not angry nor dismissive with Xiaotian after finding out he was training with someone else but was rather concerned and disappointed with the boy.
“You remember what I’ve taught you.”
Wukong’s words of advice and concern go undermined throughout the show and even in the context of JTTW, the fact that Xiaotian remembered his words of “step into the strike” mean deeply to him because he listened to Wukong something that even his own supposed family never did.
“Your heart’s in the right place, kid. We can work on the rest.”
(NEW YEARS SPECIAL)
To summarize Wukong's appearance in the Special: He is first seen training Xiaotian before the New Years celebration (this implies that he's been training Xiaotian for approximately a year now) and teaches him how to use "misdirection" an actual tactic he commonly uses in the book and series later on. Wukong sets up a small picnic for him and Xiaotian to enjoy while watching the fireworks and doesn't seem surprised when Xiaotian comments he was meant to go join his friends and indirectly declines Wukong's invitation.
(A point that often comes up in the show is the fact that he's used to being isolated and alone, the fact that he doesn't react much to Xiaotian's decline to his invitation means he expected him not to stay in the first place)
However after Xiaotian agrees to stay Wukong is visibly more energetic than he's been in previous episodes: His voice is clearer and reaches a higher pitch when he yells out "fireworks!" (Sean does a good job in acting excited during this scene) and it's the only scene throughout the show where he's openly excited to be watching something (not counting S3 with the bunnies on Chang'e's moon for a specific reason). It’s heavily implied that Wukong has watched the celebrations by himself up until Xiaotian joins him and it’s the first time in (possible) centuries that he’s had company to engage with him during said celebration. The small animation of him jumping in visible excitement before perching himself next to Xiaotian is a small burst of unmasked happiness, which is quickly put away when he creates more food out of strands of his hair to eat (note: Wukong is one of the only characters throughout the show that doesn’t eat and only does so when Xiaotian and others are in the same scene with him or when he’s stressed implying he doesn’t typically eat as a normal task).
After the fireworks are stopped and Xiaotian and Wukong realize it's due to Spider Queen (or Zhizhu in the mandarin dub) taking over the city. He jokingly points out the fireworks have stopped while Xiaotian worries over the city,
actively trying to lighten up the mood and shrugs it off before helping Xiaotian get to the other side of the mountain.
“[...] If you can’t handle a little spider, how are you meant to help me with that?”
Sun Wukong actively makes sure Xiaotian is comfortable; easily he could have forced or pushed Xiaotian to face Spider Queen and her spider-like mechs and possessed army to “get rid of that fear” but arachnophobia isn’t something that can be easily shaken off and can possibly lead to panic attacks and incredible amounts of stress for the person. Wukong instead tells Xiaotian to stay back and that he’ll handle it — this is the first time in the series where he does not want Xiaotian to get involved in fear of him getting hurt.
It’s interesting to see how this development happens post Episode 9 and how he seems to pay more attention to Xiaotian’s nervousness and stress than he did prior to Macaque's debut (Wukong’s character is known to respond to trauma by doing acts of service for the chance of making the victim (aside from himself) happy and comfortable).
“I’ll handle this one.”
Wukong doesn’t interfere with Xiaotian’s battles unless he’s certain the boy has lost confidence in himself or cannot pick himself back up (see: the difference between DBK and Macaque’s battles is the fact Xiaotian had a support system for him at the ready for DBK, he had Xiaojiao, Zhu, Tang and Sandy ready to catch him and support him all throughout the fight and he was capable of fighting in his own style after gaining self confidence — as opposed to Macaque’s fight where he was angry and stressed and manipulated to a point where he felt useless due to Macaque’s words, losing confidence in himself and believing he wasn’t worthy of picking up the staff anymore); and for the entirety of this scene Wukong makes sure to play along with Spider Queen and draws it out a bit, attempting to have fun with the battle (“you’re too easy to read”) and then there’s a split second of animation where we see this:
Wukong’s initial reaction in recognizing LBD is to back away in disgust and anger, he wants to get away from her as quickly as possible (a small hint that he’s aware of her being able to possess others if one lets their guard down) and then after getting captured we get another visual gag of Wukong mocking Zhizhu for trapping him in webs, stating that they wouldn’t be enough to hold him down only for him to scream in agony moments later. Seconds after this we get the visual of Wukong’s power spreading rapidly:
(his power easily seems to spread like gold, the same type of practice used to fix broken stone by melting down gold and using it as “glue” to hold the pieces together, which is rather fitting considering Wukong is a stone monkey celestial-demon)
Although the focus is shifted to Xiaotian and his friends, we get glimpses of Wukong actively being serious in his captive situation if only for a split moment before purposefully angering DBK in order to free them and the other captured demons from the webs.
Sun Wukong’s response to seeing how the webs react to DBK isn’t to inform him of the situation and saying “hey you need to overpower the webs so we can get freed” and instead resorts to angering him by being annoying—or trying to lighten up the mood again as he usually does in situations similar to this. Wukong knows better than to try to explain his plans as per prior reason: no one takes him seriously. His go-to reaction to being held at gunpoint is to make a scene and try to be the court jester of the group. In doing so he angers DBK and the two are freed, with the bull demon understanding what Wukong was trying to do with a huff.
After this he encounters LBD again and we get the infamous quote of the Season:
“You should have stayed buried.”
What makes it interesting is that Wukong has shown no distaste towards any of the characters of the series thus far: he doesn’t see DBK as a threat (possibly due to their past relationship), wasn’t bothered by Spider Queen’s appearance (in fact, he gave off a “took her long enough” quip before Xiaotian interrupted) and with Macaque he was only angry due to the fact that he hurt Xiaotian emotionally and physically enough for him to be unable to lift his staff. However it’s never stated what Lady Bone Demon had done to Sun Wukong to have him angered enough to wish for her downfall almost immediately after meeting her.
Lady Bone Demon toys with him and causes Wukong’s trauma to resurface, the flashes of Xiaotian burning alongside the world with LBD towering over them in her mech — this is what spurs Wukong’s PTSD to act up: he wants to take care of it immediately on his own.
After reuniting with Xiaotian, the human asks Wukong if he’s alright to which Wukong says “it’s deal with” and doesn’t push any further, instead directing the topic to Xiaotian’s friends. Shortly after he departs and the credits roll.
“Oh and then he abandoned Xiaotian!” No, he did not. To abandon someone is to leave with the intention of hurting someone else. It’s a way of saying “I’m going to leave you to hurt you and so you understand how much you hurt me” in a negative light. It’s a manipulation tactic to make the other party feel insecure and small. Sun Wukong states that he will try to keep contact with Xiaotian (something that he does within the next couple of episodes both via astral projection and a letter). He does not abandon Xiaotian despite the narrative wanting to think he did; he left with the intention of handling Lady Bone Demon on his own and proceeds to be fully stressed throughout the brief moments we get of him appearing throughout the season.
“Why didn’t he tell Xiaotian?” Because Sun Wukong is used to handling big threats on his own. He’s the tank and heavy hitter, he’s the strategist and commander, he’s the king and army all at once. He has to handle it on his own because that’s what everyone expects from him.
For the entirety of Season 2 Sun Wukong has been racing against the clock to try and prevent Lady Bone Demon from getting her hands on Xiaotian and that is why he did not want him nor any of his friends to join him in searching for the map or a possible weapon to defeat her.
Sun Wukong has:
Threatened Heavenly Guards (the very same from Heaven who tortured and mistreated him) into giving him information on Lady Bone Demon and her return
Nearly gotten crushed under stone while attempting to keep a happy profile for Xiaotian when he astral projects
Gotten physically and mentally drained from running place to place in search of a solution
Drained to the point of feeling physical pain by the time he reunites with Xiaotian and the others
Suffered from PTSD and flashes of LBD showing him “the future” which has heavily influenced his better judgment
One of the key moments in Season 2 that’s often overlooked is this sequence:
It’s a rather big moment that’s not brought up again.
Given how Wukong went to search for the Samadhi Fire map it could tie to the idea that Wukong witnessed what Lady Bone Demon was fully capable of in that moment; he entered a sacred ground and desecrated it in order to find information in how to defeat her — this was smart on his part, searching for her place of origin and taking everything in from the beginning and it’s only possible that whatever he saw was heavy enough for him to want to use the one weapon that’s capable of burning him alive.
When Pigsy (Chef Zhu) snaps at Sun Wukong for not being there for Xiaotian, Wukong’s reaction is to be genuinely hurt. He’s stressed at that moment, having just barely managed to get the map after months of searching and realizing he was too late to save ruyi juyi bang from falling into the hands of Lady Bone Demon — he was focused on making sure Xiaotian would never have to encounter her on his own and neither him nor the human voiced their encounters with her to anyone, instead rushing to get stronger and find a solution that’s not within reach yet.
Although Pigsy’s anger and frustration makes sense and is justified with the crisis they all just went through, the sole fact Wukong doesn’t bother trying to defend himself implies that he’s been in this situation before, staying silent and accepting harsh commentary is a heavy sign of self-doubt, lack of self-confidence, anxiety, etc. During the flashbacks and glimpses of Wukong’s past life we see that no one takes him seriously and if he tries to defend himself or voice a plan, he’s ignored and downright belittled for not having “a serious plan”.
He openly states he does not want Xiaotian or any of the others to join him when he voices how big of a deal fighting Lady Bone Demon will be.
Had Xiaojiao not voiced that Wukong was not in the best fighting condition, it’s subtly implied Wukong would have left on his own.
“So why didn’t he leave them?” The narrative wanted to continue with Xiaotian as he is the protagonist so why wouldn’t he go along with Sun Wukong? That’s his mentor and he, supposedly, has the solution to the problem and the audience wants to witness it in full, not just glimpses of it throughout the season like season 2 offered.
“He didn’t give Xiaotian his invincibility back!” Sun Wukong was under a lot of panic and stress, the option to give Qi Xiaotian his invincibility never comes up because he believes he can take care of it on his own. Neither him nor Xiaotian offer to put forth his invincibility and, once again, too much power could be too much for his mortal body to handle. This was already addressed in Season 1 Episode 1 and Episode 9.
“And he didn’t tell them about how he was struggling to find the map because..?” Because why would they believe him? Why would he want to make them worry? Why would the “Court Jester'' and “verbal punching bag” of the show and cast want to further stress out the others who are already in such a distraught and stressful state due to the fact Xiaotian lost his weapon and powers in one fall swoop? Sun Wukong is selfless in the sense that he does not want others to hurt because of him, he’d rather they all blame him for every little mistake without learning the truth about his actions.
He does not wish to be idolized nor put on such a high pedestal in the first place.
It’s why he can never be genuine with anyone.
Sun Wukong’s trauma spiked throughout this season.
From the very first episode Sun Wukong has shown that he was more than willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of finding a solution to defeating Lady Bone Demon.
“Wukong, that barrier is designed to protect that map at all costs. If you force your way through it, you'll destroy us both!”
“Yeah, I know. [...]”
(Again, Wukong uses a mask to show he’s, supposedly, that worried over the barrier destroying him and Nezha)
We all know that post-reuniting with Xiaotian, Sun Wukong voices his concern over the fact that he does not want to include him or his friends on his search for the Samadhi Fire. He’s heavily weakened after destroying the barrier and can barely fend off Macaque when he ambushes them on the ship. Wukong is still seen as the one who's "meant to fix everything" and is the one constantly targeted throughout the season:
Pigsy and Xiaotian both sigh over the fact he "took" the staff when Wukong claims "this is where I obtained my staff"
Called out as weak by Ao Guang when he tries to state he's still "the Monkey King"
"All he does is meditate" by Pigsy when Wukong is focused on restoring his powers during Amnesia Rules
"He'll throw you aside when he doesn't find a use for you" by Macaque when he confronts Tang despite the latter not being as close to Wukong as the other expects
One of the biggest conflicts throughout the Season is the fact that Sun Wukong did not express what his plan or strategy for fighting Lady Bone Demon was — that is until the ritual started earlier than he wanted and Xiaojiao was nearly consumed by the fire. He didn’t say he knew about Xiaojiao having the fourth ring inside her; Wukong always believes he has enough time to take these things apart carefully. He believed he had enough time to train Xiaotian before a major threat came along but then Lady Bone Demon was freed and he wanted to rush to handle things quickly before they escalated (and unfortunately they did). He believed he had enough time to get back to the cast before the ritual starts but Macaque intervened and forced Tang to start the ritual which is what caused Xiaojiao to almost die alongside Xiaotian with the intensity of the fire.
Everything Wukong has done thus far was overshadowed by the other cast having their major episodes (as expected as Wukong is not meant to be a part of the current cast, he’s the outcast as much as Macaque is, and the line that separates them is very clear) and we don’t know what Wukong had been doing with Xiaotian during the moments they were off screen together.
Throughout Amnesia Rules, it’s rather subtle that Sun Wukong pays attention to what Pigsy and Tang are discussing about “getting stuck with this one (Wukong)” and actively proceeds to try and “keep the peace” by engaging in light hearted arguments with Pigsy and attempting to protect Tang because this is the exact dynamic Sun Wukong had with the pilgrims and his master in the book. Wukong listens in to them when he’s picking up his “staff” and there’s a split second of his expression souring at the mention of his “state”. He then witnesses Tang get kidnapped because Wukong was busy arguing with Pigsy (something that might have resurfaced some old trauma); something that’s pointed out is the fact that Wukong worries he can’t be there when people are in trouble, when he isn’t paying attention, he’s the guardian and protector and the one who has everything on his shoulders.
When he loses his staff Wukong proceeds to act solemnly and gets visibly angry, something he doesn’t do in the current timeline of the show aside from when he faces Lady Bone Demon. He charges in to fight the Scorpion Demoness and is only stopped by Tang due to the fact he believes this is his master and the blast of energy given to him.
“Can you imagine what I’d be like without friends? I’d probably turn into a manipulative jerk or something!”
Wukong is, once again, using a joke to try and liven up the mood (although this is a jab at Macaque and his actions, it could also be a jab at himself from past actions or something he himself has done that he believed his master and brother would have found funny). It’s also rather amusing how much he puts on a positive front in this episode when in front of the others.
“Wukong seems genuinely happy in this episode!” He isn’t. To reiterate, the Journey was a rather traumatic experience for Wukong and although he did see the others as family and friends, they did not take Sun Wukong seriously. Sun Wukong is a court jester to say the least: he plays the character who’s silly and happy in an attempt to pacify and destress the others without addressing the severity of the situation. His vocal tone is somewhat forced when he says:
“Don’t worry master! Sun Wukong will handle this demon!”
a similar tone Sean uses when recording the lines for the video game version of Sun Wukong. It was false cheer and an active front.
Wukong is visibly more relaxed, yes. He somewhat eats and touches Pigsy and Tang more easily and the demeanor drops the moment he’s back to normal (“Why are you touching me?”) but he is not happy. For Sun Wukong to show happiness his smiles and vocal tone would be similar to his vocal tone during the fireworks scene with Xiaotian during the New Years special and even then it’s only for a couple of seconds before the mask is thrown back on top of him. Xiaotian must be safe and content for Wukong to even attempt to relax and let go of his stress, considering he is the only one Sun Wukong actively worries for so far in the series.
Even then it’s highly doubtful that Wukong will ever be able to climb down from the pedestal he’s been placed upon centuries ago. And considering the problems will keep piling on no matter how much Wukong tries to take care of them, it’s possible he’s not going to get a chance to breathe anytime soon.
During the Chang’e episode, Sun Wukong explains to Xiaotian he can change the van into a rocket ship (similar to how Wukong is capable of changing his staff to anything in the books and how Xiaotian can create mechs and hoverbikes easily thanks to SWK’s powers) and to do so he has to “believe in himself”, the same quote Wukong uses in the earlier episodes of the show.
“Believe in yourself, the way I believe in you.”
Wukong repeats this line not because it’s the only line he knows but because it works; repeatedly when Xiaotian hears this line in the show he always finds that spark of self-confidence that pushes him to try harder. Sun Wukong does not have anyone up until that point that believes in him in a genuine sense. Every single episode points out someone doubting Wukong (Pigsy, Xiaojiao), badmouthing his actions (Macaque, LBD), and constantly puts him down for thinking he’s not taking all of this seriously (Nezha, Xiaojiao) — but Xiaotian believes in Wukong because Wukong believes in him. Even when Xiaotian fails to correctly use his powers and transform the van into a rocket or when he fails to acquired a certain power, Wukong is genuinely supportive of him and acts again as the safety net for when Xiaotian trips and falls:
“Bah! Don’t worry about it, bud. I still believe in you. […] Here, let me handle this one.”
The only other time Wukong has told Xiaotian to let him handle an enemy or opponent was when his arachnophobia acted up during the New Years special. This time, Xiaotian is frustrated that he was unable to activate his other powers and Wukong again, instead of pushing or forcing Xiaotian to overexert himself, decides he can handle this and he does so easily. However he doesn’t mock Xiaotian or say “see? It’s easy!” instead, he continues to accompany Xiaotian and Pigsy to the moon.
“Oh, he must have been happy then! He said the bunnies were cute!” It’s another front. Again, Wukong’s pitch and vocal tone along with the fact that both Xiaotian and Pigsy were visibly stressed in that moment tie in with the fact he’s once again attempting to lighten up the mood. This makes it the twentieth or so time he’s done this:
“You want me to leave it, I want me to take it! Eh, it's a toughie.”
“But you gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelet.”
Laughing about the story he told the story involving him and Nezha when he’s visibly hurt and in pain
“And here I thought it was something important!”
It’s rather interesting to note that when Macaque says “Always the comedian”, he’s not wrong. Wukong is the one who actively jokes, teases and attempts to brighten up the rest of the cast’s mood throughout the entirety of the show. This implies he’s always done this considering how often Macaque brings up their past as a means when addressing Sun Wukong and his actions. He’s genuinely always been a comedian.
“You always had a side-kick kind of vibe.”
“Oh, right. Mortality.”
“Wake me up in the next.. Hundred years or so. Okay? Bye!”
“[...] Keep up dragon-pony girl!”
It’s very important to notice that Sun Wukong was not at his best performance mentally or physically throughout the season. Before Nezha attacks them, Wukong is seen leaning against the wall, seemingly “uncaring” when in fact he’s internally stressing and struggling to keep his composure and Pigsy asking about the fourth ring further causes him discomfort — despite this he continues to save and protect them, gathering up everyone from the side of the train and taking them to safety on the other side when Nezha cuts the train into pieces. He’s always keeping an eye out because he falls apart when something happens without him knowing (see: Xiaotian losing his staff, the ritual starting, Xiaojiao getting overwhelmed by the fire) and it’s also due to the fact that whenever he shows weakness (visibly tired, stressed or unsure of himself) everyone believes he’s slacking off or is uncaring. So he has to put up a front all the time.
Then we receive the infamous quote by Macaque:
“[...] What? Make things worse for MK?”
Sun Wukong was never actively aware that he was indirectly stressing or hurting Xiaotian in any shape or form but Macaque is also very biased in this situation for not fully understanding that Wukong has been actively attempting to ease the stress off of Xiaotian for the entirety of the season.
Wukong has encouraged and cheered Xiaotian on since the beginning of the Season. He’s given him positive reinforcement and even told him to “not worry about it, bud” and lets himself take on whatever task Xiaotian can’t handle by himself. Even when the alarm went off in Chang’e’s moon base, he just tells Xiaotian to use his golden vision and doesn’t push him any further than that. He praises him for being able to change the bunny mech into a smaller version and doesn’t ridicule or mock Xiaotian when he realizes he was trying to do something different. Sun Wukong has been a good mentor to Xiaotian — yes, he’s failed to communicate with him and indirectly caused him stress, but it’s important to note how much their dynamic has grown.
Xiaotian can easily sit on Wukong’s shoulders, he can act like himself around him, he drags Wukong on stage despite his stagefright (something I will cover in a moment), calls him by his name in the Mandarin dub, and even pokes fun at him during the talent show. He’s able to get along with him and doesn’t hold any fear for him. He reaches out to Sun Wukong and trusts and believes in him the same way Wukong does to him. When Xiaotian interacts with Macaque, he’s stressed and borderline anxious when the demon is close to him, even when he attempts to reach out and help him he always, always gets hurt physically and emotionally (Macaque threatening to kill his friends in the Winning Side, choking Xiaojiao and threatening Tang, slamming Xiaotian repeatedly against the floor with his mech hard enough for Xiaotian to stay down, etc.).
He hasn’t made things worse for Xiaotian. Not until Macaque activated the rings and forced the fire to activate early which is what drove Xiaojiao and Wukong away. When Sun Wukong left a second time with the known idea that he was going to sacrifice himself — that is what drove Xiaotian to a breaking point of crying after having lost his best friend as well.
And then Sun Wukong faces Lady Bone Demon on his own and he’s still holding back.
“He was going all out!” To restate something a certain monkey has said before: the old Sun Wukong would have leveled an entire mountain during a fight. Sun Wukong is more powerful than the audience realizes. He’s not going all out with Lady Bone Demon but he is attacking with the intent of hurting her enough that she’ll back down. It’s important to note this is one of the only fights where Wukong uses his hands and not his legs. When training Xiaotian he simply dodges and blocks with his legs and does not attempt to raise a fist against him; here he punches through LBD’s barriers, punches the Mayor hard enough to create a crater and holds LBD by the neck.
“Oh, right he was going to kill the child.” He was not. Wukong was well aware that Lady Bone Demon’s host would perish but he was also hesitating. Sun Wukong went through an entire journey that lasted years and suffered heavy punishments whenever he killed or slayed any demons or monsters that attempted to attack Tang Sanzang. Even if the monk was not there, the trauma is clearly present. Sun Wukong was not about to murder an innocent child just to safe the world. He was stalling for time.
“All this time and you haven’t changed a bit! [...] You should have stayed buried.”
Lady Bone Demon had enough time to then possess him.. If he was so adamant on murdering her there and then, why didn’t he just punch her? Wukong is not a violent person anymore, he tries not to be. He can’t be because it would ruin everyone’s expectations of him, it would cause him to get targeted again, it would destroy his relationship with Xiaotian and it would isolate him more than before.
Something the fandom often forgets is that Lady Bone Demon was actively inside Wukong’s mind and body along with the host while Macaque was corrupted and that the latter was not a fault of Wukong’s.
Everything that happened to Macaque happened due to his own actions and his blame shifting towards Wukong every single time is not justified. His obsession with him is what causes Lady Bone Demon to put a seal on him, it’s what pushes him to traumatize and manipulate Xiaotian, it’s what drives him to choke out Xiaojiao and threaten Tang — he even tries to flee up until Wukong grabs him back out and makes him stay to witness the fall of his actions.
Sun Wukong, on the other hand, has done nothing to prompt Macaque’s pain throughout the season. He has been solely focused on defeating Lady Bone Demon, nothing more.
“What about the stagefright bit?” I’ll summarize it in one quote:
“You crave the applause yet hate the attention
Then miss it, your act is a ruse.”
Sun Wukong wants and needs positive feedback the same way he gives it to Xiaotian but he will never receive it; he hates being on stage because it makes him the sole focus of the show when he doesn’t want to be. Sun Wukong is the legend and the hero and the one who’s always supposed to win and the one who cannot fall no matter how much he’s in pain. He’s on a pedestal, time after time after time. Pigsy calls him out, Xiaojiao calls him out but it does nothing to remove him from that pedestal. He can’t even be himself around them because he has so many masks and fronts when dealing with each and everyone of them:
He’s playful with Xiaojiao
He’s distant with Tang
He’s casual with Sandy
He’s distrusting of Macaque
He’s closed off with Pigsy
He’s gentle with Xiaotian
He’s cocky with Nezha
All of these are masks and fronts.
He wants them to notice him but he does not want them to know that he’s broken and tired and stressed out and that he was one verbal fight away from snapping and possibly hurting himself and others in his distress (see: The Prince, the King and the Shadow)
Wukong’s possession was an additional traumatic event.
He was aware during every moment and fight he had.
“You wouldn’t be using every bit of power you have to keep him controlled!”
Xiaotian knows that Sun Wukong is a powerful being — he does not know how powerful, however. Sun Wukong was actively attempting to break free from LBD’s control. He was constantly holding back even when he attacked Nezha (both, their fight in the previous episodes and when he got possessed), when he fought Macaque (his eyes dim then flicker back during their fight and he allows for Macaque to punch back instead of punching him in one blow, etc.) and when he approached Xiaotian when he was confronting LBD.
“But, wait, if he was holding back then how did Macaque fail?” Because even when Wukong is holding back he’s capable of destroying mountains. Sun Wukong is canonically omnipotent and death cannot claim him by any means due to being immortal from the peaches, wine, pills, removing his name from the book of life, consuming several other immortal fruit and the fact he gained immortality from practice of the old Patriarch (his former father figure). Macaque failed because he is not on Sun Wukong’s level. He is not meant to be and never will be. The only one with a mere chance of getting to Sun Wukong’s level is Xiaotian, as he is inheriting all of his abilities at a slow pace. (Another notable moment is, when he and Macaque are transferring Xiaotian’s mech power, Macaque struggles to force some of his magic out of his body (implying that he is running on empty at this point) while Wukong doesn’t bat an eye and releases a strong beam of magic towards Xiaotian).
After he is almost fully freed from possession he says this:
“Thanks for not giving up on me bud.”
His vocal cues give off that he’s stressed and shaken by the experience, it waves and falters and his smile is forced much like the others one.
Sun Wukong also continues to allow Xiaotian to take care of problems on his own devotion; when Xiaotian faces off Lady Bone Demon on his own (once Xiaojiao regains control of the fire), Wukong stops Pigsy, Tang and Sandy from interfering while also being ready to step in if necessary, but he does not have to since Xiaotian blocks her attack. He’s confident in Xiaotian’s ability to the very end. He actively believes in him and has stated so before.
After the fight, we get this quote:
“[...] Still the same Wukong, doing whatever he wants with no regard for others.”
Some of the fandom jumped at this and agreed with Macaque.
Sun Wukong does what he thinks is the right choice and tries his best not to get others involved no matter what the cost.
He attempts to discourage the others from joining him on his journey
He attempts to keep them destressed and calm despite the growing threat
He did not want Xiaojiao to get caught in the crossfire when activating the ritual and was going to try and remove the ring from inside her without killing her so he could possess the fire and sacrifice himself to save everyone
He does not let Xiaotian handle the bigger threats and attempts to keep him safe
He only ever gets angry with Macaque for hurting Xiaotian, disrupting his plans, siding with LBD, and for said quote about him (implied)
Sun Wukong again does not defend himself and instead chooses to create another front: a rival to Macaque. This was not a recurring thing: Wukong has always dismissed or ignored Macaque’s quotes when addressed to him and him alone, he only quipped back at him during the airship fight because it’s a trauma response and he was heavily injured already, he did not want to engage with Macaque nor was in the right state to do so. He only proceeds to say he “hates” him since it’s what fits the scene at the moment (see: court jester, heavy actor).
He then apologizes to Xiaotian.
“I know I can never make it up to you. I never thought I’d live as long as I have let alone be someone’s mentor. Turns out I’m not very good at it. Guess what I’m trying to say is: I’m sorry MK. For all of it.”
Sun Wukong is self aware of the fact he was not there for Xiaotian in his absence, he knows he was not the best mentor, he now knows that Xiotian strongly cares for him too. He was acutely aware of this and tried to rush to fix all of these problems until Macaque and Xiaojiao slapped the repeating statement in his face again and caused him to panic and become more and more self aware than he needed to be. It’s the same example as telling someone who’s failing a class that they’re still going to fail and will get kicked out of the class if they don’t improve and that everyone has been supporting them despite them not knowing. It causes more disarray and panic than it helps.
And then we get this exchange:
“[...] Sometimes I just play dumb to lighten the mood.”
“Ha! Me too, bud. Me too.”
Every single moment where Sun Wukong has made a poorly timed joke, comment, quip or statement it was with the intention to lighten up the mood.
Sun Wukong is aware that he’s not the best mentor but he is trying to be
Sun Wukong’s father figures have both traumatized and hurt him by not giving him the positive reinforcement he needs and instead of repeating that to Xiaotian, he gives him positive feedback
He belies and trusts in Xiaotian’s abilities
He is placed on a high pedestal, idolized and turned to when forcing the blame onto someone for not finding the immediate solution to every problem
He is only happy once throughout the entire series and it was for a split second
He actively puts others above himself and does not care if he gets hurt along the way
He repeats to himself that he is the best and greatest and knows that that’s how the public will always see him and it stresses him out
He is unknowingly self-destructive
He has PTSD and heavy amounts of trauma
He does not try to defend him and that is a trauma response
He is still not healing by the end of the show
He has multiple masks and fronts for every character
Sun Wukong is a highly complicated character who loves wholeheartedly, he is the pillar and one who keeps holding everything together despite him not wanting to, despite the fact he's yelled at for not having every solution. He's the one who comes up with a plan and then is criticized without anyone taking in the severity of his words. He's the one who'd sacrifice everything possible for the sake of protecting Xiaotian. He's the one who screamed out Xiaojiao's name and didn't want her to get hurt with the idea of protecting and helping her at all means possible.
It's heavily implied that Sun Wukong did not know the fourth ring was inside of Xiaojiao (he never touched her nor did he get a "vision" like Ao Guang and Red Son) meaning Ao Lie must have told him himself. He entrusted Wukong with this information and Wukong remembered this and it's quite possible he never wanted the others to join him in searching for the fire for this additional reason.
Sun Wukong cares.
He's a heavily layered and complicated character who's very morally grey and who has a lot of trauma. This is inevitable — even if you do not know the context of JTTW, you must see that Wukong suffers from heavy trauma of:
being forced through the Samadhi Fire
watching Xiaojiao get corrupted by the fire
watching Xiaotian run into said fire
not being "worthy"
not being "perfect"
of accidentally hurting Xiaotian
of not being there when he was needed
In Conclusion: this monkey can fit so much trauma and has so many hidden layers and does a fantastic job of not allowing others to see it and does not know who he is without any of his masks or fronts.
some songs that fit Sun Wukong for your consideration:
X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X
I can't forgive the whole feeding people sineaters thing.... Like his whole system was neat y'know...without the drugging and murder. And having the poor sell themselves into indentured servitude....
Vauthry has a lot of potential though to be sympathetic but much like Zenos I just enjoy detesting him more. Although Zenos is on the top of my hate list. Gross little stalker man if only we only you stayed dead
Vauthry is the most sympathetic if shb antagonist as he had the least autonomy in his fate.
Least I don't hate Vauthry. I hate Zenos and Elidbus and Emhet -did everything wrong- Selch is just an entertaining asshole for me.
Think my lack of sympathy towards Vauthry mostly came from people simping for him after the innocence transformation. With looked horrifically painful. And like - the man feeds people their sick friends corpses to essentially roofie them into such a docile state they literally do not know how to take care of themselves. Please don't switch your tune because you think the uncomfortably child like monster is hot. Like please at least he was still a person beforehand
New nonnie, yeah? Again, you do you. I’m not here to say you can’t “detest” characters. 乁(ツ゚)ㄏ I’m here to point out some of the reasons people give for “detesting” this particular character don’t line up with what we are told directly in the game, or the game logic doesn’t hold up. Like “the poor selling themselves into indentured servitude". That is directly contradicted by the game dialogues, and our own WoL's experience alongside Alphinaud. I got thoughts on the “drugging and murder” thing too, but first things first: Gate Town.
Poor as in poor decision making? Yes. Poor as in, the poor of the Brume, with absolutely nowhere else to go, nothing to their name, completely at the mercy of the nobility who sit snug in their warm manors with all the Ishgardian muffins? Nnnnnnnnnnnnnno. Nonnie, how is any of the dialogue above Vauthry’s fault? I know the narrative wanted very much to push the “rich terrorizing the poor” trope again, but how does this line up with that?
Alphinaud himself said he offered the denizens of Gate Town/The Derelicts alternatives--likely working for the Crystarium, or literally anywhere else instead--and they refused all of it. Even Kai-Shirr, allegedly a "matter of life or death", refused. But keep in mind, The Crystarium also required you work, if you wanted to stay.
Does that make their arrangement "indentured servitude" also?
Eulmore was looking for workers skilled in certain jobs. It wasn't some rando lottery for the amusement of the upper crust. When the jongleurs were sent out, they were looking for particular specialties, like painting, on behalf of a patron. Only the rich were required to give up their wealth and holdings for a place in Eulmore, to maintain everything as free for all living in there. Yep, including free for the workers, who outnumber the formerly rich by a lot.
It's implied that in addition to all the freebies, workers were also paid well, and later in the story, they were loudly dissatisfied about Vauthry-- or, at least, his way of running the city--being gone.
While Vauthry was still there, it was the city's official stance that they be recognized and respected for all their efforts.
Cruel patrons did exist in those twenty years, to be sure. Amity is full of workers who fled them. But cruelty was clearly not sanctioned nor encouraged by the city proper. Does the fanbase blame any other allied city-state leader for the heinous things their bad eggs do, or as ruthlessly? Not in my experience. (In fact, they often seem very forgiving of far, far worse.)
Also, remember how Amity was afraid that Vauthry would send the Eulmoran Army after them? He never did, in all 20 years of his position as Mayor. Why do you think that is, Nonnie? If his default was tyrant, why this? Why wasn’t he in control of all that was left of Norvrandt, not just serving as Mayor of Eulmore? He apparently offered his leadership to The Crystarium, who declined. He didn’t go raze the city, which he could have, especially considering the WoL was not on The First back then. All he did was clearly hold a dislike for the Exarch, who he calls insincere, and do things like....hire a bouncer for the Beehive, to make sure the patrons kept a hands-off approach with the dancers, a.k.a. the workers.
Sick burn, your Lordship.
Until the events of ShB--which made it very clear Vauthry was becoming increasingly unstable--even workers who committed crimes were only exiled, not ordered to yeet themselves out a window.
Why did it change?
But, TL;DR: "The hopefuls" left a reliable life for a gambler's chance in Vegas, and that in turn left their former neighbors in Wright and Stilltide struggling to maintain the workload that “the hopefuls" left vacant. But Stilltide and Wright were still selling their foodstuffs to Eulmore, so unless gil was more important to them than actual food, they were doing well, aside from the absence of "the hopefuls".
Onwards to “drugging and murder”! ( ᐛ )b
Gonna assume you mean meol when you say “drugging”, Nonnie. They never explain meol--instead, they seem to rely entirely on the shitty implication that this fat character eats people. I don’t know about you, Nonnie, but for me that trope was old long before Austin Powers. Anyhow, what we do know about meol:
- It’s “made of sin eater”, even though sin eaters have no bones, blood, or meat--they explode into sparklies upon death. The narrative actually really emphasized the sparklies thing, sparklies are totally dangerous and will turn you. But the writers never even tried to explain how or why sin eater was made into bread.
- In case you also meant meol when you said “murder”--and you probably did, you said “corpses”--it was never directly confirmed that meol was made out of sin eaters that were once people.
Nonnie, Vauthry was Mayor of Eulmore for twenty years, and Kholusia as a whole had a small and seemingly stagnant population. If sin eater was people, how could that have been maintained? Enough people disappearing to feed Eulmore for twenty years? The math doesn’t make any sense. There would be no one left. There would be a panic, rumors, at least whispers, not people circling the city like feral cats.
But only one unreliable narrator--Thoarich in the Derelicts--implied ~people don’t leave the city, ooooooo~.
Except people do leave the city. Like, all the time. Lue-Reeq does it to show up on my WoL’s doorstep at ungodly hours; someone in the Derelicts has a sweetie on the inside that comes out every day with delicacies; the guy waiting in Wright was sent out from Eulmore for booze; hunters getting their weekly marks; my WoL was bidden to “be free to roam to my heart’s content” by Dulia, etc.
- Meol was an entirely optional dish. No one was forced to eat it. Not even in Gate Town/the Derelicts, because a.) Eulmore also gave out produce that was snubbed by fussy free citizens, and b.) there was all the meat and fish and Lemonettes in the field right there for the taking. No, I’m not talking about Bonefish, and their sad little description about how terrible they are to eat. You go twenty yalms to the left and you’re fishing up Kholusian King Crabs.
Meol couldn’t have been part of some master plan, because there was no guarantee everyone would eat it, or eat it in the quantities needed to do....something. Mind control? Mind control that just makes the person stagger around and mutter incoherently? Makes total sense, very useful, that.
- Meol seemed to be a powerup or something for the Lightwarden, as consuming a lot of it caused the flesh of Vauthry’s back to rip off into tiny little meatwings near the end, leading to the Gulg dungeon and the Crown trial. But it couldn’t have been due to “living aether”, Sin Eaters eat that, they don’t have any of their own. Was it maybe the stagnant Sin Eater light aether completely tilting what was left of Vauthry’s living aether into Warden Time? But wouldn’t just being around all those Sin Eaters all that time have done that, without the middleman of bread?
- Alphinaud directly stated the citizens of Eulmore were in total control of themselves until the “mind control” incident. Nonnie, they weren’t helpless. The workers still knew their work, and most of them left to seek opportunities elsewhere after Vauthry was gone. Dulia was an accountant for Stoneworks. The nobleman who had no idea how to lace his shoes without a manservant was an exception, not the rule, and even that was not because of Vauthry.
Eulmore was the primary line of defense against the Sin Eaters for eighty years. All the loss from fighting that futile war broke their spirits. All the loss is why Ran’jit willingly followed in the lies Vauthry was raised on. They just wanted to live without fear before what they had every reason to believe was the end of their world, in a more lowkey parallel to XIII’s Yusnaan.
Tl;dr, again: Nonnie, meol is bad writing.
Maybe you meant Ascension, too. Yes, I know, Alphinaud dramatically declared Eulmore was built on “the bones of the poor”. But since Ascension--a thing that Vauthry legit believed was real, Immaculate was the passion of his Ascension--since Ascension was only guaranteed to the (formerly) rich, if anything it was the bones of the (formerly) rich that built Eulmore. But why put logic in a stale trope, amirite?
I doubt that any bones built Eulmore, though, since Ascension was implied to be every bit as optional as meol. Otherwise, why couldn’t the nice old man join the Weeping Warbler in hers, as he said he wished he could? He wouldn’t have been bullshitting us, would he? That’s sarcasm. Of course he probably would. But the fact remains no one was getting Ascended without asking.
And what do you know, as it turns out it was the Ascians who pushed Ascension as a (good) thing, and thanks to Ascians Gaia became an unattended child roaming Eulmore. Then there’s Cylva, who said it was the Ascians who convinced Vauthry to bring about the Virtues.
It still boils down blaming the victim instead of, or harsher than, those that brought it all about. Nonnie, you say Vauthry had the least autonomy in his fate? He didn’t have any.