This is part four in our series exploring the life of Gideon Jura. Part one. Part two. Part three.

After swearing their oaths and saving both Zendikar and Innistrad, the newly formed Gatewatch regroups at Jace’s compound on Ravnica. Joining the Gatewatch was a big leap for everyone, and that’s no less true of Gideon. For the first time since the death of his Irregulars, Gideon is allowing people to get close to him. He’s getting to know the others as individuals, learning their quirks and traits, and allowing for the possibility that someday, they too may die on his watch. And though Gideon will learn from and influence Jace, Nissa, and even Liliana, there’s just something about Chandra Nalaar. For one reason or another, the indestructible man has no defense against her.

Gideon and Chandra’s reunion takes place on Regatha, in Offers to the Fire. Gideon has just drafted Jace to help save Zendikar, and the two of them are stopping by to try and recruit Chandra as well. She’s not happy to see them:

“So you’re bouncing around from world to world, looking for people to uproot? Is that it?”


Gideon opened his mouth and closed it. In that silent moment, Chandra seemed to hear whispers of a world of tortures he had endured.


Chandra felt a streak of empathy for him fighting with her stubbornness. “Gideon, you know my history here. You of all people should know that I’ve made sacrifices for this world.”


The pyre of the distant volcano glinted in Gideon’s armor. “It’s not the only world that needs a sacrifice.”

Gideon is doing what he does best: making sacrifices for the greater good, then asking others to follow his lead. Chandra will tell Gideon and Jace to leave, but his words will stay with her. Sure enough, she will arrive when the need is dire. But take this moment in Zendikar Resurgent, after the Eldrazi have been defeated and the dust has settled:

Gideon’s eyebrows twitched unevenly for an instant, a gesture he couldn’t entirely hide. The man wore concern like an undergarment, hidden under layers of strength and steel.


“If you hadn’t come…” he started. He shook his head.


“Well, if you hadn’t asked,” Chandra said. And she punched him in the arm.


Gideon just stood straight, trying to find something on the horizon to look at.


“Hey,” Chandra said. “We helped people. And we’ll do it again.”


“You stick to those minor spells for a while,” he said, squeezing her shoulder. “Don’t strain yourself. I’m off to…” He looked around. “I’ll do another sweep.” He walked off.

Have we ever seen Gideon Jura flustered before? The idea seems laughable, but there it is! These two encounters exemplify the constant push and pull of Gideon and Chandra’s relationship, White and Red clashing and rebounding until they soften and start to bleed into one another. Gideon tries to get Chandra to accept the responsibility he thinks comes with her power, while Chandra’s confidence and warmth starts pulling at parts of Gideon that are raw, hidden, and have never been allowed to heal. Together, Chandra and the rest of the Gatewatch begin to draw out Gideon’s Red side more and more, until it collides with his White side in a fatal clash on Kaladesh.

The Kaladesh arc begins when Liliana convinces Chandra to visit Chandra’s home plane after years away. In a chance encounter, the two discover that Chandra’s mother, Pia Nalaar, is alive and leading a rebellion against the ruling Consulate. And an old enemy of Liliana and Jace, the planeswalker Tezzeret, has been given a high rank in the Consulate and is determined to stamp out Pia’s renegades. Both Chandra and Liliana respond predictably; and when the rest of the Gatewatch arrive, they are dragged overnight into a bloody civil war.

Gideon’s arc on Kaladesh forms a layered and complex tragedy. After Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch, it seemed like Gideon was finally learning to accept himself as a Red/White individual. But the fighting and inter-personal conflict here will take a terrible toll on him.Throughout the war, he will struggle and fight to maintain that fragile harmony between Red and White, but the cruelties of fate will eventually force him to choose one and forsake the other.

Gideon was swept up in the whirlwind on Kaladesh, and it shows: the storyline is more than halfway-over by the time we finally get his take on the situation. Quiet Moments is the second short story that is required to understand Gideon Jura because it shows him most clearly wrestling with his warring halves.

It starts with Gideon sipping the local version of coffee in one of the few breaks between battles, catching his breath and trying to figure out how the heck he ended up here. The answer is obvious, even to him: Chandra.

Yes, Tezzeret was now why the Gatewatch was here. But Chandra was the original reason why they all came—and Pia was the reason Chandra had stayed. They were why the Gatewatch now battled on the side of the renegade forces. The enemies of my enemies are my allies—but should the Gatewatch be taking sides in this local conflict? Should the Gatewatch be empowering local rebel forces, or should they have tried to work with Kaladeshi authorities, tried to work with Baan and the Consulate to illuminate the danger and threat of Tezzeret from within—a threat that Gideon still had no solid answers or definition for?


Yet at the same time, how could he have possibly worked with Baan, knowing now what he did about what the Consulate did to Chandra’s parents? How could he have abandoned Pia and betrayed Chandra’s trust?

Gideons’ conflict is clear: his White side is alarmed at how quickly things have escalated, unhappy with Gideon’s choice of allies, and not at all sure he’s doing the right thing. It was forced into this conflict by his Red loyalty, and is extremely uncomfortable with the situation. His Red side has no such doubts and is perfectly willing to fight for his friend. Unable to lay his White doubts to rest and unwilling to abandon his Red friendships, Gideon is a half-hearted and reluctant warrior for the renegade cause.

This hesitation drives Chandra berserk. Her instincts are keen and perceptive, and she smells out his conflicted feelings like a bloodhound. With her usual grace and composure, she confronts him about it the first minute they are alone:

“And why were you so quiet in that meeting back there? Just letting my mom talk and plan the renegades’ next attacks, not once offering our help.” Chandra turned and glared at Gideon. “Your silence was loud as hell, Gids. We’re here to take down the Consulate and you—”


“No, we’re not.” Gideon hesitated, just for a moment. Hedge his words, or speak the truth?


His eyes locked with Chandra. Her gaze burned away his doubts. Speak directly. Always.


“We came for you.”

Chandra takes exception to that, and pushes him to justify his presence on Kaladesh. Gideon’s attempt is pretty weak:

“We’re here because we care about you, Chandra.” Gideon smiled. Soft. Gentle. “We each took an oath to keep watch. That watch also means watching out for each other. We’ve got each other’s backs.” He frowned. “Even Liliana’s. I think.”

That is a very creative interpretation of a very White oath. Trying to twist “for justice and peace, I will keep watch” into an oath of personal loyalty is one hell of a stretch; Gideon is obviously trying to make these two sides of himself align, but it’s not working. Chandra is highly emotionally intuitive, and calls him out on it:

Chandra turned on Gideon, anger sparking behind her eyes. “You say you have my back, Gids. But are you here as Gideon of the Gatewatch, or are you here as Gideon, my friend?”


Gideon sighed. “I… I don’t know. I had hoped they could be the same thing.”

A brutal question, framed in the starkest of terms. Gideon is still hoping he can recover the balance he found on Zendikar, but to fully be at peace with himself, there’s something he has to do first. Gideon’s struggle with the war on Kaladesh is a mere symptom of a far older pain, one he needs to set down. There on that roof, before a gorgeous Kaladeshi sunset, Gideon looks into Chandra’s eyes and considers taking that next step:

Questions lingered behind Chandra’s eyes. Gideon took a deep breath and tried to speak, to share the story he has told no one—but his past remained a weight, heavy and unmovable, in the pit of his stomach. The two sat, the silence stretching taut while the sun slid behind the horizon. As the last rays of light disappeared, he felt her hand fall on his shoulder. He smiled at her borrowing his familiar gesture.

He can’t do it. Gideon’s Red side killed his Irregulars, but it would also allow him to process their deaths. The companionship he has found in the Gatewatch is pushing him to remember his past and let go of his guilt. He needs to give himself permission to move on from his mistake and find happiness, perhaps with someone else. Or he could spend the rest of his life reliving the moment he hurled a spear at a death god. Gideon has been wavering back and forth, but he’ll soon need to make a choice and commit to it.

The moment of truth arrives in the short story Burn. Gideon once again finds Chandra by a railing, and Chandra confesses that she feels like a complete failure. As he’s walking away, she realizes there is one thing she needs from him: a hug. We see it from Chandra’s perspective first, and it’s strictly platonic; a moment of physical reassurance in a time of extreme stress. Then everything goes wrong.

The Consulate sets a trap for Chandra, drawing her away from the all-important Aether Hub while their forces move to attack. Chandra takes the bait and charges into danger at the same time the crux of the rebellion comes under siege. This entire arc, the conflict has been looming. Now, Gideon must make a choice: Red or White?

“Jura!” a voice from above, faint on the wind. “The Gearhulks are advancing on our lines!”


“I—” He was going after her. Wasn’t he?


He squeezed his eyes shut and pulled the hot midday air in through his nose, slowly, focusing on the scents of oil and smoke. The tinny bleating of the man on the loudspeaker fell away. A tremor passed up from his feet, as a hollow boom sounded in the distance.


There comes a time, boy, Hixus’ voice echoed forth from years long gone, when you must choose between what you want to protect, and what you need to.


He opened his eyes, fixed them on Nissa’s endless ones, and exhaled through his mouth, forcing the air into words that tasted like ash; “Keep her safe.” She nodded and disappeared.


He bolted up the stairs, and tried not to think about the fleeting heartbeats when he’d been privileged to hold a tiny, maddening, precious sun against his chest.

Because of the decision he made, Gideon Jura held the Aether Hub that day. He allowed the woman he loved to risk her life while he stayed behind to command the defense. He threw himself into the literal teeth of a Consulate Gearhulk, almost killing himself to bring it down. He saved the Aether Hub, and kept the dream of revolution alive. It was an act of legendary heroism, which did little to distinguish it from all his other acts of legendary heroism. That’s just the man Gideon was: someone for whom the mythical was routine and the sacrifice was automatic. It’s the life he chose.

But what did that choice cost him?

Chandra and Gideon will barely survive their ordeals after parting. Chandra made a mess of the attack, and Gideon is physically carrying her as her mother approaches.

“I screwed up,” she whispered. “I always do. She’s mad and she’s got every right. I’m the worst, Gids. I don’t know why you’re even holding me off the floor.”


Three unfair, uncertain, unforgivable words resonated in Gideon’s mind. Words that, once loosed, couldn’t be taken back.


“Talk to her,” he said instead.

Unfair. White must always ensure fairness for everyone. Uncertain. White must always be certain of the outcome of any action, to make sure no harm is done. Unforgivable. To White, selfishness is the only sin for which there is no redemption. These are the reasons Gideon Jura couldn’t say “I love you” to Chandra Nalaar, the one person who looked at him and saw only “Gids.” A very restrained reaction, very considerate.

Damn you, Gideon. Would it really have been so bad?

In that moment on the roof, Gideon could have opened up to Chandra and began to come to terms with his past. He could have started to integrate his two halves and develop as a person. He did not, and because of that, the choice between the two colors was inevitable. And though he chose White, the fact he had to choose at all was the real tragedy.

At the end of the Kaladesh arc, one of the Gatewatch’s allies is dying, and the entire Renegade movement gathers together to witness her passing. In a quiet moment, easily missed, we see the full consequences of Gideon’s decision:

It didn’t seem like the time for smiling. Nonetheless, even here where no one but his friends could see him, Gideon smiled.


When a comrade falls, you carry their armor home. And if, with their dying breath (or equivalent), they ask you to smile while you’re doing it?


You smile. Set an example for the others. Don’t fake it—feel it, whether you want to or not.


When you grieve, you’re not leaving someone behind, Hixus had told Gideon once. You’re carrying them with you. And one person can only bear so much.

Years ago, Hixus taught Kytheon how to bind his enemies in chains of pure will. Now, his words keep Gideon bound in a cell of his own design. Don’t be yourself: be the man your obligations demand you to be. Don’t feel your feelings: manufacture within yourself whichever feeling is most conducive to the greater good. Submit your emotions—what Red believes is the soul of who you are—to the needs of the majority.

Gideon came so close, but he turned away at the last moment. He has backslid completely into his guilt-fuelled hero persona, returning his Red heart to the grave once more. As we have already seen, there is a price to be paid for that, and Gideon will pay it again on Amonkhet.

David Walley is only a recent fan of Magic: The Gathering, but a lifelong spectator to stories. After discovering the Magic Story earlier this year, he was greatly impressed by both its strength and subtlety. In his articles, he endeavors to expand the Vorthos community by showcasing the story’s excellence to the average Magic fan.

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