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Javier Escuela is portrayed very differently between Red Dead Redemption 2 and the original game, but there are some subtle reasons why.

By Charlie Stewart

Published 5 days ago

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Javier Escuella is portrayed differently between Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption 2. In his first appearance, Javier is an unapologetic hitman working for the Mexican army, willing to do and say anything to survive another day. In the prequel game, Javier is calm, reliable,?loyal, and most?notably, idealistic.

Many fans were surprised to see Javier portrayed so differently in Red Dead Redemption 2. The character had?far more restraint and respect than the traitor and “creep” he’s described as having been in Red Dead Redemption. There are some interesting ways, however, that the changes in Javier’s personality?are woven into the themes of both games. Javier’s transformation isn’t a retcon, it’s a tragic downfall.

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While John claims that Abigail once thought Javier was a creep, that’s far from his portrayal in Red Dead Redemption 2. In the prequel, he’s shown as siding with Dutch Van der Linde?through good times and bad because of his unending loyalty to him. He?can even be seen going out of his way to be a good person, comforting Tilly and Karen at different points in the story. The Javier seen in Red Dead Redemption 2 seems like he genuinely believes in Dutch’s philosophy of freedom, while the Javier seen in Red Dead Redemption?works for the Mexican government against the revolutionaries solely because he believes it will benefit him.

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At the start of Red Dead Redemption 2, John is missing in the mountains, having been attacked by wolves as the Van der Linde gang searched for safety following their botched job in Blackwater. Javier and Arthur leave to find him, with Javier carrying John, and?both rescuers fighting off the remaining wolves that try to attack them. In a grim reversal,?John Marston has the option to hogtie Javier and deliver him to his execution in the first Red Dead Redemption.

To many fans, John’s description of Javier Escuella?in the first game seems to reflect his personality as seen in Red Dead Redemption, but not the actual events that transpire in Red Dead Redemption 2. Javier is part of the party that falsely declares John dead in Red Dead Redemption 2, but that party is lead by Dutch and Micah. Many players felt like Javier had been slightly retconned for the prequel, with his more sinister role in John Marston’s life being given to Micah instead in order to create a villain who could also be killed?within?Red Dead Redemption 2’s narrative.

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There’s likely some truth to this, but Rockstar still put in the effort to show why Javier goes through these changes over the course of Red Dead Redemption 1 and 2 in a way it’s easy to miss. In Red Dead Redemption 2, Javier starts out friendly to Arthur. However, after Arthur questions Dutch one too many times,?players can witness Micah Bell and Javier having a conversation in camp.

If the player tries to eavesdrop, Micah will say “Arthur, this is a private conversation.” When Javier and Micah are done talking, Arthur will ask “what was that all about?” Micah will respond, “Plans, Morgan. You’ll be the first to know.” Javier didn’t suddenly lose his principles ! it was his loyalty to Dutch that allowed him to be led down a dark path.

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Javier’s loyalty to Dutch, above all else, should come as no surprise to fans of the first game. In Red Dead Redemption, John Marston tells Mexican revolutionary Abraham Reyes that “when Dutch lost his mind, Javier took it harder than any of us. It’s like all he ever believed in turned out to be a fraud.”

Javier is the dependable man he is in Red Dead Redemption 2 because of his loyalty to Dutch. Regardless of whether they are right or wrong, it’s characters like Micah and Arthur who attempt to steer Dutch’s direction, and cause the most tension in the group. Javier, on the other hand, is content to be a follower of Dutch and his philosophy because he truly has faith in both. In 1911, the Javier that John Marston encounters is a man that, like John, has been forced to abandon his principles. “So now you do the government’s work?” asks Javier. “And what do you do? You just work for a different government,” replies John.

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Some of the changes made to Javier’s characterization in Red Dead Redemption 2 clearly aren’t just to help Micah Bell take on a more villainous role. Many of the details established about Javier’s early life, and how he came to be in the Van der Linde gang, directly contrast the way that the character is portrayed in the first game. Javier is explicitly described as a notorious former “Mexican revolutionary” in Red Dead Redemption 2. When John Marston finds him in the first game, he is actively working for the government he once fled to suppress a revolution he would have once fought for.

Javier’s character may have required some tweaking to tell Red Dead Redemption 2’s story. However,?instead of simply making Javier another background bad guy with a reduced role, Rockstar leant into Javier as one of the characters who undergoes some of the greatest changes of all between the?two games. Javier becomes everything he once fought against, and is delivered to his death by John Marston, a man whose life he once saved and who he once considered a “brother.” The man originally introduced as expedient and determined to put his own survival above all else is revealed in the prequel to have once been an ardent idealist.

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If John hogties Javier in Red Dead Redemption, John will say, “you know that life we lived is over. And when we was living it, it didn’t mean nothing anyway. It was just an excuse and we all knew.” The real tragedy of Javier’s life, however, is that John is wrong. The Javier seen in Red Dead Redemption 2 genuinely doesn’t believe that his ideals are an excuse for his lifestyle.

Javier fled Mexico and became a gunslinger in America because he had to flee the Mexican government. He was an outlaw because of the sacrifices he made for his ideals. It was Javier’s principles !? his belief in Dutch and freedom !? that led him to side with Dutch and Micah.

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Instead of simply retconning the character, Rockstar used him to show just how much someone can change no matter how principled they are, because?even consistent principles can’t stop people undergoing great change. Javier’s principles seemed validated when he was fighting for change because change is the one reliable constant?!? his principles fell apart when, like Dutch, he hoped?to use them to fight against change. It’s as Dutch says, “we can’t fight change. We can’t fight gravity. We can’t fight nothing.”

Red Dead Redemption 2?is available now on PC, PS4, Stadia, and Xbox One.

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