The latest in Overwatch’s holiday celebrations is “Reflections,” a comic that captures the game’s cast at some quieter, more intimate moments. While the heroes spend quality time with new and familiar faces, Overwatch fans are in mourning, as the short read appears to do away with many of their favorite, unofficial romantic pairings.
The most obvious relationship that figures into “Reflections” is that of Tracer, Overwatch’s de facto mascot, and the new character Emily. It’s our first confirmation of a queer character in the game’s cast, following developer Blizzard Entertainment’s repeated promises that it’d reveal one soon enough.
It’s huge news for fans that Tracer is interested in women, but many who’d hoped that she would be are disappointed that it’s Emily, not fellow playable character Widowmaker that Tracer is hooking up with. Players have paired off Widowmaker and Tracer since a pre-release animated short cast them as close rivals.
“Don't let this sink Widowtracer!” wrote a member of the “Widowtracer” Reddit forum, named after the portmanteau given to the Tracer and Widowmaker relationship. “It's still a fantastic pairing, so while I know seeing the comic can feel a bit rough, there's still a lot of love to be had from the ship.”
On Twitter, Widowtracer fans are upset about what seems to be the end of their “ship,” as fan-created romantic pairings are commonly called. Others are trying to stay optimistic about the pair’s future.
omg wow Tracer confirmed to have a girlfriend thats cute— Matt @Reaper76 (@TheWildWolfy) December 20, 2016
im glad tracers canon gay now i want emily and lena to break up off screen so widowtracer can happen— phd in filth (@sympharmercy) December 20, 2016
Elsewhere on social media, Overwatch fans see “Reflections” as heralding the death of another beloved, non-canonical romance.
Blizz confirmed Tracer is gay but killed Pharmercy, RIP in pieces— purple mii (@yuriscience) December 20, 2016
It sure looks like Pharmercy — that’s “Pharah” and “Mercy” — won’t be happening any time soon, based off what both characters are seen doing in the comic. Pharah is having dinner with a man who may be her husband, if not her boyfriend or other romantic partner; Mercy is smiling as she reads a letter that was very possibly penned by fellow hero Genji earlier in the comic, as they’re both seen holding feather quills while grasping the similar stationery.
The latter pair is known as Gency, and fans have long pointed to their compatibility. Mercy helped care for Genji at his time of need by rebuilding the cybernetic ninja, according to the game’s lore. The Gency-allegiant are excited about the couple’s canonical potential, thanks to the wordless comic panel. Its haters? Well, take a look:
if gency is confirmedt im uninstalling suing bliazzrs— le(sbian)na oxton (@neerpharmercy) December 20, 2016
ill be in denial abt gency until i die tbh— mistlejo ⛄️ (@potajos) December 20, 2016
GENCY IS SO BAD STOP IT BLIZZARD— phd in filth (@sympharmercy) December 20, 2016
Meanwhile, Pharmercy fans are beside themselves.
“I am dead inside now,” said KingAciDGoat on the Pharmercy subreddit. “The last pair i shipped this hard was Robin and Barney from HIMYM and we know how it ended up... I have a fucking bad luck in ships.”
Much of the rest of that community appears to be in denial, insisting that the man Pharah is dining with is her father or platonic acquaintance. There’s plenty of doubt when it comes to who he is — or whether the letter Mercy is reading does come from Genji — but as one user said, denial is the first stage of grief.
Also mired in mystery: the relationship between old man Reinhardt and all those kids he’s seeng reading to at the comic’s end. Some players would love for the character to shack up with Ana, Pharah’s mother and the game’s coolest, oldest sniper, but the chance that those blonde-haired kids are Reinhardt’s grandchildren — meaning he’s not related to Ana or Pharah — throws this pairing into question.
WAIT DOES THAT MEAN ANA/REINHART ISNT REAL NO— Delta 7 DAYS (@DeltaFixerRC) December 20, 2016
The Overwatch Twitter account later confirmed that the kids are related to the short and hairy hero Torbjorn, who’s also seen in the frame. Still, if Pharah is eating holiday dinner with a man who is, indeed, her father, that also suggests to fans that Reinhardt may not be in a relationship with her mother, after all.
The reason Overwatch fans hold a torch for the Ana and Reinhardt ship is that the game itself teases it in several ways. First, there’s the flirty voice lines that the two share; an illustration released earlier this year shows a younger Reinhardt and Ana together, Reinhardt’s hand on Ana.
There’s also the matter of Ana and Reinhardt’s skins, which are jewel-based and metallic, respectively. Pharah’s set of skins is made up half of jewels, half metals, a design choice many have seen as intentional on Blizzard’s part. And most recently, Blizzard gave Reinhardt and Pharah new holiday sprays that look to be mirror images of one another, showing the pair fishing in the ice.
The holiday comic doesn’t negate any of these seeming tell-tale signs, and in fact, there’s still some hope yet, as spotted by one eagle-eyed Overwatch fanatic. Polygon’s product manager Jake Lear created the handy graphic below that may give hope to anyone who wants to see Ana and Reinhardt end up together.
It looks like Ana’s pensive stare is directed right at Reinhardt. They’re not seated in the same location, but Ana’s affection may just be strong enough to transcend physical boundaries.
On the topic of Torbjorn, his copious grandkids introduced another set of mixed emotions within the Overwatch community:
half the tl: tracer is gay!!! yay!!!— TRACER IS GAY 10 (@umbrastaff) December 20, 2016
other half: torbjorn gets MAD P*SSY
torbjorn having ANY children personally offends me— RKS (@knarkse) December 20, 2016
Aside from Tracer and Emily, all of these pairings exist only in fans’ imaginations for now. That’s the nice thing about pairings: No matter what happens, no one can ever take away how someone feels about their imagined romantic couple.
Here’s a good takeaway from everything that’s happened in the lively and love-filled world of Overwatch fandom today:
I don't care if you ship Pharmercy or Gency but all I have to say is be a decent person and don't send hate to ppl over what they ship!!!!!!— wednesday wedding (@kirakiraharumi) December 20, 2016