The Ending Of Red Dead Redemption 2 Explained


Red Dead Redemption 2 is ultimately a story
about people. Even though most Red Dead vets knew what was
going to happen to the Van der Linde gang from the events of the previous game, Rockstar
still threw plenty of surprising curveballs our way. Here’s a look at the ending of Red Dead Redemption
2. In an early mission, loan-shark Leopold Strauss
tasks protagonist Arthur Morgan with collecting a debt from Thomas Downes, a poor farmer with
a bad cough. The short exchange between Arthur and Thomas
seems minuscule in the context of Red Dead Redemption 2’s escapades — or even the other
debt collection missions — but it’s integral to the main plot. Thomas’ single cough in Arthur’s face would
ultimately result in Arthur getting diagnosed with tuberculosis in Chapter 5. Basically, a single cough sentences our anti-hero
to death. After the TB diagnosis, Arthur changes. He’s no longer the rough-n-tumble outlaw keen
on leaving everybody to their own fate, and his interactions become much more… well,
pleasant. Instead of being driven by money, he just
tries to do the right thing for the people around him. He encourages John Marston to take his wife
and son and run away from the gang for their safety. He also lets Strauss’ last debtors go. He even kicks the insatiable loan-shark out
of camp. This is arguably one of the biggest changes
ever seen in a Rockstar character — and one that could act as a strong template for
the developers’ future protagonists. As Arthur’s personality changes throughout
the game, so does Dutch’s — just… not in the same way. Both John and Arthur initially described Dutch
as an idealist: a cunning Robin Hood-like frontman who wanted to maintain the freedoms
of the Wild West and hold off America’s greed-fueled, industrialized taming. Dutch spent his entire life trying to be a
philosophical outlaw with a plan, but both history and the game prove his crusade was
futile. In the end, the world had changed, and it
had changed him with it — he just didn’t realize it. With all of this happening, you would think
that Dutch would be empathetic to the plight of the Wapiti Tribe of Native Americans, who
are being systematically pushed off their land. Nope — Dutch simply treats them as pawns
for another heist. The leader who cared about the poor and disenfranchised
sheds another layer of his identity, revealing himself to be a money-obsessed man of power,
which puts him in the same lot as Leviticus Cornwall and Angelo Bronte as influential
people who exploit those beneath them in order to get rich. Even worse is how Dutch treats the Marstons,
who are supposed to be like family to him. Both Abigail and John are captured during
the Saint Denis bank heist, but Dutch refuses to stage a rescue, knowing they’d likely hang. When Sadie Adler and Arthur rescue John, Dutch
rebukes them, despite wanting Arthur to free both Micah Bell and Sean MacGuire earlier
in the game. Arthur’s rescue of Abigail resulted in the
revelation that Micah was the Pinkertons’ informant, who all the while was buzzing around
in Dutch’s ear. Right after Arthur accuses Micah and the Pinkertons
arrive, the game gives the player a choice: help John get back to his family or head back
to camp to retrieve the heist money. Sadly, Arthur never walks away from either
choice. If you go back for the money, Micah will knife-fight
Arthur in the camp’s burning remains. If you help John get away, Micah will fistfight
Arthur on a mountain top. Both of these fights with Micah have different
outcomes depending on your honor. If you go back for the money with low honor,
Micah stabs Arthur to death. With high honor, Micah runs away after losing
an eye, and Arthur dies in peace. If you help John escape while having low honor,
Micah will shoot Arthur in the head. Having high honor at this part results in
a similar ending of Micah running away, but with Arthur seeing one serene final sunrise
in peace during his dying breath. Also depending on your honor, you’ll get an
ending of Arthur’s recurring dream sequences featuring either a deer getting enveloped
in light or a wolf in a storm fading into the dark. Similar to the first Red Dead Redemption making
a grown-up, super gloomy, revenge-driven Jack Marston the playable character after John’s
death, this game’s epilogue puts you in the boots of John, who is trying to make an honest
living with his wife and son years after Arthur’s passing. Unfortunately, John keeps resorting to guns
for various reasons — because, y’know, the Wild West — resulting in Abigail leaving
with Jack since she believes the outlaw gunman in her husband will never die. To
try and win his family back, John eventually buys land at Beecher’s Hope and with help
from remaining gang members Charles Smith and Uncle, they build the house the Marstons
owned in the first game. As John Marston’s story suggests, living as
a farmhand/rancher during this time was full of low-paying, tough work. Honest, hard-working Americans were mostly
unable to prosper during this time. John’s turn towards bounty hunting with Sadie
to pay off his loans is a grim reminder that the gunslinger inside him is who he truly
is, despite his attempts to suppress it for a more wholesome way of life. This is a major theme of both games: spreading
“civilization” and gaining prosperity in the Wild West usually involved the deaths of many,
many people — the good, the bad, and everyone in between. Dutch’s gang might have broken up, but its
members can still be found throughout the map — if you know where to look. Simon Pearson can be found running the general
store in Rhodes. Tilly Jackson can be found in Saint Denis,
married to a lawyer and visibly pregnant. Mary-Beth Gaskill became a successful novelist,
and can be found at the Valentine train station. Reverend Orville Swanson, who sobered himself
up from both alcohol and drug addiction and quietly left the gang during Chapter Six,
is mentioned in a newspaper article, detailing his rise to ranks as a highly successful minister
in New York. Unfortunately, the whereabouts of Karen Jones,
who descended into alcoholism near the end, are unknown — though, in a letter to John,
Tilly suggests that it was this very vice that did the young woman in. There are also nine graves to be found for
the deceased members of the Van der Linde gang. While not part of the gang, Eagle Flies’ grave
can be also be found. He lies at Donner Falls — not far from Arthur’s
own final resting place. The ending of the Red Dead Redemption 2’s
epilogue culminates in a final standoff with Dutch emerging from Micah’s shack on Mount
Hagen, having recently partnered up with him for the first time since Arthur’s death. With everyone engaged in a Mexican standoff,
and with Sadie gravely wounded, John pleads with Dutch to say something in regards to
Arthur, Micah’s betrayal, and the whole mess at hand. Dutch, the man known for his words, confesses
he has nothing to say — but he sticks around just long enough to help John kill Micah before
wandering off into the wilderness. After checking the shack, John finds the gang’s
collected heist score that Dutch knowingly left for John and Sadie, the remaining members
of his gang. The game’s credits depict what happens after
the epilogue, showing Pinkerton Agent-turned-Bureau of Investigation Director Edgar Ross and Agent
Fordham in various locations. They find Micah’s corpse and even track the
Marstons to Beecher’s Hope. This sets up the events leading into the first
game, where the two kidnap Jack and Abigail and force John to hunt down the remaining
gang members at large. By the end of the game, Dutch has lost many
of the key characteristics he proudly boasted during the first half — y’know, before he
was doing things like blatantly leaving members of his posse to die. His transformation is similar to that of Kurtz
in Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness and its film reimagining, Apocalypse Now. Dutch was a leader known for his philosophy,
charisma, and words, but he has multiple layers to him and the savage within him emerges over
and over again, like during the instance when he needlessly killed an innocent woman during
the Blackwater robbery. His multiple failures and setbacks combined
with years of recluse in the mountains results in the broken man we met near the end of the
first game. He commits suicide, refusing to hand himself
over to John and Edgar Ross, because he wanted to die on his own terms and not
the establishment’s. “My whole life. All I ever did was fight.” “Then give up, Dutch!” “But I can’t give up neither.” His final words to John reveal his paradoxical
core, having failed to suppress both the changes in the world and his own savage nature. Of course, his last words also foreshadow
Ross’ betrayal and, ultimately, John’s death. “Our time’s passed, John.” An easily-missed conversation option with
Rains Fall reveals a startling revelation: Arthur had a son. As Arthur’s TB worsens, he tells Rain Falls
about Eliza, a waitress Arthur was involved with in his younger days. Admitting he genuinely liked their son, Isaac,
Arthur would visit and give them money sporadically throughout the years, despite the outlaw life
he was already living. He found out they were both killed for just
$10, which made Arthur embrace his sinister and savage side even more. Similar to the good deeds he does near the
end of his life, telling this story provides a sense of catharsis and helps him find his
true self beneath the scumbag he was for all those years. “I had a son once. Years ago. Don’t talk about him much.” Arthur’s tendency to shy away from talking
about the deaths of his loved ones is reminiscent of John Marston’s refusal to talk about Arthur’s
sacrifice with his family during a later conversation. While John has had problems expressing himself,
especially during the awkward exchanges with his son, this is yet another RDR protagonist
suppressing his sorrowful emotions. John’s reluctance to talk about Arthur could
explain why he was never mentioned in the first game, despite the enormous sacrifice
he made for the Marstons. Throughout Red Dead Redemption 2, watching
little Jack interact with the rowdy members of Dutch’s gang is a highlight in a game full
of ’em. As a little boy, Jack witnessed people dying,
endured all kinds of hardships, and lived throughout numerous attacks on Dutch’s camp
by the O’Driscolls and Pinkertons. He was even kidnapped by the Braithwaite family. All of this, combined with John’s pretty crappy
parenting skills, results in Jack being a bit of a bookish recluse during his teenage
years. Jack’s upbringing with the gang in the second
game — and his father’s death in the first — manifest in the lone cowboy we meet in
Red Dead Redemption’s epilogue. The fact that Jack first met Ross while fishing
at a river with Arthur is an excellent callback to where Jack kills him years later. While America did tame the West, Jack became
a gunman just for the sake of getting revenge on Ross — this is proof that the Wild West’s
spirit endured in a few remaining people. It all calls back to the tagline of both games
that Dutch would also occasionally mention at camp: “Outlaws to the End.’

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