While the original Gears of War trilogy primarily revolves around the post E-Day war with the Locust, there is a lot of in-depth character development and interaction. Dom Santiago always comes to mind when I think about these games. His is the story of a tragic hero. He endured losing his children on E-Day, his wife’s disappearance and eventual death, and finally gave his own life as an act of sacrifice to save his friends.
Before we dive into Dom’s final scene, let’s go over some events leading up to it (parts of Dom’s backstory are from outside the games). His children died during the emergence of the locust. His wife, Maria, spiraled into depression and lost touch with reality. Maria would often go out looking for their kids, thinking they were still alive. Four years later, Maria disappeared – Dom lost his wife for the first time.
Ten years pass, and during Gears of War 2, Dom finds out Maria is in one of the Locust slave camps. He finds her, but she’s already been “processed” by the Locust. Processing is a form of torture that ends with the victim being lobotomized. Maria is a shell of a person and doesn’t recognize Dom. Rather than let her live like that, Dom kills her, and loses his wife for a second time.
Moving on to Gears of War 3, Dom has clearly been traumatized by the events. However, that doesn’t stop him from helping Marcus and his squad. During one of the firefights with the Locust and Lambent, the squad is severely outnumbered and outmatched. Dom, seeing a way to save everyone else but knowing it would cost his life, chooses the path of sacrifice.
I can’t do the scene justice by trying to describe it, so it’s better to watch it (warning – it’s Gears of War, so there’s some language involved):
Dom saw the one and only way out. He could sacrifice his own life to save his friends or he could watch as they all die at the hands of the enemy. Let that sink in for a moment.
In John 15:13, Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” The Bible talks much of humility and sacrifice. It also talks about how we were trapped in darkness with only one way out. And much like Dom giving his own life to save others, so too did Jesus, who also saw the one and only way out.
Dom had a choice. He could keep going on the path the squad was on, fighting the enemy against impossible odds, eventually leading to death for the entire squad. Or he could give his own life to save the rest of the squad.
In the same way, Jesus had a choice, as evident in the garden at Gethsemane. Jesus’ prayer of “if it is possible, let the cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” points to both the choice he had and the choice he made. His mission, so to speak, was to be the final sacrifice for humanity, to reconcile us back to God. Despite his divinity, Jesus was still human and had to make a choice. Even knowing his whole life was leading to the cross, in the end, he still chose to sacrifice himself for humanity.
Though it was painful in the moment, both for Dom and for his squad, Dom foresaw the other side of his sacrifice. The enemy was defeated and Dom’s squad lived to continue the fight. Jesus also knew this pain and foresight. Though the pain of the cross was excruciating, he foresaw the other side of his sacrifice and the freedom and hope we were given by it. And like Dom giving life to his friends by his death, Jesus gives life to us by his.
Sacrifice is never easy, otherwise it would be a simple gift. It may cost a life, as portrayed by Dom and Jesus. Other times, it doesn’t cost a life, but requires something beyond what we think we can do or give. Sacrifice is painful, but no matter the cost, it is the greatest act of love anyone can do.