Red Dead Redemption 2 has retconned many things about the RDR lore, such as the year John got his farm, John's daughter, details about the Blackwater Massacre, Macfarlane's barn, Dutch being presumed dead, ect. However, if there is one detail that many people incorrectly regard as a retcon, it's the infamous robbery John got shot on and left for dead by his gang. This event was referenced a couple times in the first game, but was never shown. It wasn't until eight years later until we finally saw that it was a train heist he got shot on and… It was confusing. Didn't John say it was a Bank Robbery he got shot on? Or was it that Ferry Raid the Strange Man mentioned? OR maybe he did mention it was a train robbery and I just didn't pay attention?
These were thoughts I kept having when I got to the epilogue. It wasn't until I did research that I realize that R* actually stuck to the lore. What was the prove that it was a train heist? It was in the game of the year guide for RDR1.
Our hero is a failed apostle. He is a man who fell in with Dutch van der Linde's vision, until he saw it became insane. Thus, he gave up his former life up to become a farmer and family man. John grew up in a rough orphanage and started stealing and killing when he was young. Dutch saved him from a hanging and educated the illiterate Marston. He taught him ethics and a love of nature, a belief in things other than violence, other than power. John never really believed he could escape his past, especially after the killing on the train, but has spent three years trying. Now his past has returned in the form of a government agency that his hell bent on solving these murders and is prepared to use his family to do so. He is man who understands that human beings change and that the world cannot be held up by one man's dreams. He is both Van der Linde's greatest success, and his ultimate undoing.
R* actually got something right about the lore and we got something wrong about it for once.
Now, let's talk about why so many people thought that the robbery was either a bank job or the Ferry Raid.
There were many people who thought it was a bank robbery because apparently John said it was. No, John never once stated it to specifically be a bank robbery that made him leave the gang. Not once. zilch. So if John never said it was a bank robbery that made him leave the gang, why do some many people believe it was? I have a theory. Throughout the first game, John mentioned that he and his gang used to steal from banks and give to the poor. Later, John mentions that he got shot during a robbery (notice he never specifies what type of robbery it was) to Landon Ricketts. When people think of robberies, they either think of store or bank robberies. So what i'm trying to say is, this whole thing is a case of subconscious inductive thinking. "John and his gang used to rob banks – He got shot in a robbery – John got shot in a bank robbery". It's the same reason why people believe Ross was fishing instead of duck hunting. "Jack was fishing when he met Ross – Ross tells Jacks to enjoy his fishing while he still can – Jack was by a river when he first met Ross – Jack was by a river when he last met Ross – Ross was fishing". And just like with the fishing/duck hunting misconception, the bank robbery "retcon" was unfortunately popularized by youtuber Dartigan in his video "Everything wrong with Red Dead Redemption 2", were he incorrectly stated that it was a bank job that made John leave the gang. It also doesn't help that several sources, such as IGN, GamesRadar, Giantbomb, and even the official Red Dead wiki, state that it was a bank robbery before RDR2 release.
Now for the Ferry Raid. Many people believed that this was the robbery John got shot on because, well, the Strange Man says it was.
She (Heidi McCourt) was a girl Dutch van der Linde shot in the head on that raid on the ferry a few years back, same one you got shot on.
But notice how he doesn't state he was left behind, just shot. In the RDR 2 mission, "Enter, pursed by a memory" Javier states that John was shot during the heist and if you look closely at John's arm when Arthur is saving him, you can see the bandaged bullet hole.
So it isn't a retcon and R* wrote it to being a robbery John got shot on, but not THE robbery John got shot and left behind on? Well, it's complicated. At the time of writing in RDR 1, the ferry robbery was intended to be the infamous bungled robbery of 1906. Dutch shooting Heidi McCourt was, in context of the first game, because he was insane, rather than what the second game implies, it being some moment were he had bottled up anger and shot a woman in cold blood, much to the horror of his fellow gang members. However, around the time of writing of the second game, presumably 2011, it was changed to being a train robbery for whatever reason. They could easily retcon the botched ferry heist of 1906 to be the botched ferry heist of 1899, and make the robbery John got shot on a different heist, all because the Strange Man only specified he was shot, not left behind.
There is something interesting I noticed when I was researching the lore and replaying RDR 2. And it's the fact that something bad happened to John in three heists:
– John got shot during the Ferry Robbery
– John got left behind and arrested during a bank heist
– John got shot and left for dead during a train heist
So R* made it so something bad happened to John in a Ferry heist, Bank heist, and a Train heist. I doubt that that was a coincidence. They made it so all three types of heists are canon, so when someone asks "Didn't John/Ross/Insert character here say that he was left behind during a Ferry/Bank/Train heist?", to which someone else can retort "No, he was probably referring to x heist".
So there you go, R* didn't technically retcon anything, since all three heists are canon!
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