Welcome to Magic Arcanum. I'm Ryan Gomez, here to talk about the Magic story.
Today we're on Chronicle of Bolas: Perspectives. That's the seventh of eight episodes eight episodes for Core Set 2019, available now.
Oh man. Oh man. Where do I even start with this one.
Okay, just in case you forgot where we are – Nicol Bolas just tore his way out of his disguise as a pregnant woman, like a snake shedding its skin. He's standing in front of Naiva, who is all alone at the bottom of the canyon that holds Ugin's body, and hidden about 10 feet away are her sister and grandmother, inside a hedron, unconscious.
What happens next is either completely unexpected or completely expected, depending on what you expect from a power-hungry Dragon. Bolas says he needs Naiva's help in finding and killing Ugin, because Ugin is a huge liar and everything he's told them has been untrue.
Now, Naiva doesn't really have a dog in this fight. She's never met Ugin, just heard stories, and so she has no reason to believe one side over the other. What she does have is sense enough to know the only way she gets out of this is stalling for time while she figures out a plan, so she lets Nicol Bolas give his version of everything, and if I may borrow a phrase I used back in episode one: it's a doozy!
Nicol claims he and Ugin are NOT twins. They were born at NEARLY the same time but he awoke first, flew first, breathed first, did everything first. Then out of the kindness of his own heart he reached over and tapped the still sleeping Ugin on the wing so he could wake up and do it all too.
He says they didn't touch the ground for years – flying together and exploring their birthplace, which he says he named Dominaria. Remember, Ugin's version of this is vastly different. He claimed they both hit the ground almost immediately and saw one of their siblings get killed, but Nicol says they stayed aloft with all of their healthy and very much alive brothers and sisters.
It only gets stranger from there.
Nicol Bolas says naturally, he had no choice but to try and control the humans on Dominaria, for their own good. He thought they were too violent and aggressive, and only by waging war against them could he teach them the error of their own ways. He says Ugin pledged to stand beside him, but ultimately didn't have the stomach for battle and fled – which must be the part where Ugin first planeswalked away.
Nicol admits he didn't understand this and created his own academies full of sorcerers, to study the magic that he thinks destroyed Ugin. He claims this act drove his brother and sister dragons to jealousy, and they started the Elder Dragon War.
Then his story aligns back up with Ugin's – he tells Naiva about Ugin returning to Dominaria as he's in the middle of fighting Arcades Sabboth, but in Nicol Bolas's version, it plays out differently.
He says Ugin mocked him and laughed at him, dismissed his efforts to domesticate the humans and failed to believe the Elder Dragon War was in self-defense. And then Ugin planeswalks away for the second time, after allegedly saying "you'll regret thinking you are better than me" to Nicol Bolas. As he tells it, this most supreme insult is the event that ignites his own spark. Nicol Bolas is so angry Ugin is able to come and go as he pleases, something in him just snaps and then he's flung off of Dominaria for his first time ever.
Remember we've talked before about what it takes to ignite a planeswalker spark. Usually it is intense personal trauma. For Nicol Bolas it was, again allegedly, Ugin saying "you can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man."
So Nicol Bolas spends a few years exploring different worlds, but eventually decides to come back home to Dominaria. He finds it different than when he left since so much time had passed, and the only surviving Dragons seem to be the other Elders – Chromium, Arcades, Palladia, and Vaevictis.
And this is where things get really interesting. Nicol Bolas goes and talks to Arcades Sabboth. Arcades says he hasn't seen Ugin "since the early days, when you two went off to fight the dragon hunting humans, and you told us he died."
"No, turns out he was just hiding and he came back in the middle of our big battle, remember?" asks Nicol.
"You mean that day you were acting really strange and abandoned your army in the middle of a fight? I didn't see anything." says Arcades.
Stop the music. Stop the animations with the cards. Stop everything, because we just entered some Fight Club level plot twists here.
Arcades says "hey I know you feel really bad about Ugin's death and you probably wish you could have done more to protect him, you probably felt really weak from your failure." And Nicol Bolas responds by using his mind control magic to make Arcades burn all of his loyal human friends to death. Then he planeswalks away and bumps right into Ugin, who, again allegedly, attacks him.
They're in a place called the Meditation Realm, and conveniently, there are no witnesses present. In fact, it seems nobody has seen Ugin alive for quite a while, if Arcades is to be believed. Nicol Bolas claims this is the fight in which he killed Ugin. It was in self-defense but at a location that wasn't Tarkir, and at a time that doesn't seem to line up with when Ugin died as we know it.
So, a ton of stuff is not making sense right now, but rather than clarify any of it, Nicol Bolas says to Naiva I know you're just trying to stall me but I'm done telling stories. Tell me where Ugin and Yasova are, right now.
Naiva answers back with "well Ugin is dead, you just said so yourself, you said you killed him," and Nicol says "I thought I did but he has somehow been plaguing me ever since, most recently by trying to get me trapped on Ixalan – which is a whole other story for another time.
Anyway, Nicol Bolas does start to use his mind control on Naiva. He gets her to admit Yasova is within the hedrons and goes inside to get her, but first she presses her knife against the throat of her sleeping twin sister – and that's where the story ends!
Will Naiva murder her twin? Will she give Yasova and Ugin over to Nicol Bolas? There is only one episode left!