Why Dutch's Betrayal STILL Hurts The Worst

Few characters in video game history have been so universally revered and despised as Dutch Van der Linde from the Red Dead Redemption series. Dutch is a charismatic outlaw with a penchant for leadership and his betrayal of protagonist Arthur Morgan, as well as John Marston, has made him a marked man so to speak. We are going to go through the reasons why Dutch‘s betrayal still stings to this very day.

A Man of Many Words

Many fans will remember Dutch Van der Linde by his more glaring qualities, such as his prolific speaking ability and his ruthless need for vengeance. While Dutch does show intelligence and a certain skill for making plans, these schemes often end in failure or unnecessarily high body counts.

Most people will also recall Van der Linde’s hold over his gang as particularly interesting. Dutch is an avid reader and semi-philosopher who took pride in teaching his young protégés how to read, rob, and kill. This places his two “sons”, as he calls them, John and Arthur, under his influence for many years.

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The Red Baron

Many of Rockstar Games’ main characters have a special kind of aesthetic built-in. Few will forget Tommy Vercetti’s blue Hawaiian shirt or CJ’s white tank top. Dutch has a certain fashion sense compared to others in Red Dead Redemption 2. He shows a fondness for all things red, which can signify both royalty and blood.

Dutch thinks highly of himself and his opulent vest shows that well. His classic red-patterned bandana is used in the commission of many crimes throughout the story, and you can be sure that Dutch is up to no good when he pulls this mask on. He certainly would have fit in well in our modern COVID-19 timeline.

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Armed to the Teeth

Dutch Van der Linde has some memorable equipment in Red Dead Redemption 2. His white horse, the only Arabian that a gang member possesses, ironically named The Count, is the mount he always rides. He dual-wields Schofield Revolvers with pearl hand grips. This reflects Dutch’s high opinion of himself.

Dutch uses these weapons in the robbing of a bank, a shootout with a mafia kingpin, as well as on his own protege, Micah Bell. He is a slippery guy and is not to be trusted. Once he pulls these guns out, you can be sure you won’t have long to go now. He pulls out said revolvers and aims them at John and Arthur, and then proceeds to betray them with Micah.

 

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The King’s Bloodlust

There are multiple moments in story mode where Dutch reveals his lack of empathy and his disrespect for human life. When Angelo Bronte is at his mercy and begging for his life, Dutch takes said life into his own hands and drowns him in the Saint Denis swamp, leaving him for the gators to devour. On a separate occasion, this time in Guarma, Dutch callously strangles an old woman who demanded more money for her efforts to hide the gang from Alberto Fussar. Again, showing his dedication to murder, Dutch shows his appetite for destruction when he shoots down a defenseless woman during the Blackwater Raid, a young Heidi McCourt.

There are also numerous occasions where Dutch’s victims are simply unnamed lawmen, bounty hunters, and militiamen. It’s safe to say that Dutch has a long history of murdering folk, and this makes him callous and unforgiving. It is perhaps, one of the reasons why he is so quick to betray Arthur Morgan.

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The Prodigal Son

The relationship between Dutch and Arthur is one of the focal points of Red Dead Redemption 2. Dutch leads the gang with his wisdom and authority, while Arthur is the willing soldier who carries out the plans devised by his father-figure. In many ways, fans would expect Dutch to be thankful for Arthur’s constant companionship and loyalty to the Van der Linde Gang.

Arthur proves himself indispensable on many occasions while following Dutch’s orders. Arthur pulls the trigger on Colm O’Driscoll in Saint Denis in order to serve Dutch’s appetite for revenge. In New Hanover, Arthur rides by Dutch's side even though he has made a foolish decision to attack the US Army.  Arthur is also personally selected by Dutch to run point on the bank robbery in Saint Denis.  No matter what Arthur is asked to do, he completes it for Dutch in the best way possible.

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A Revelation 

After Dutch hurts his head in the Saint Denis trolley station robbery, Arthur finally notices that Dutch has become more erratic, and Arthur begins to doubt his leader.  This revelation is accompanied by the fact that Arthur realizes he has only a short time to live because of his fresh diagnosis of tuberculosis.  Arthur then makes the decision that Dutch needs to be stopped before he buries the entire gang six feet deep.

This is when Arthur starts talking to John about an exit strategy.  He realizes it is too late for him to get out this alive, but he starts to make preparations for John, Abigail and Jack to leave this lifestyle safely.  Dutch sides with Micah over Arthur and Dutch draws down on both of his former "sons". This is one of the more tragic moments of the story, and Dutch's betrayal has left many fans with a sour taste in their mouth.

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The Backstab

Outside of Beaver Hollow, at the end of chapter 6, a showdown takes place between two distinct factions of that gang, and a betrayal is about to occur.  John and Arthur side together, shortly after Dutch left John to die, and on the other side you have Dutch, Micah, and a few others.  The stage is set for an epic showdown, and Micah is in Dutch's ear the entire time, prompting him to believe that Arthur is the informant.  This is, of course, not true, but because of the troubles of the last few weeks, with the Pinkertons as well as local law enforcement, Dutch is too stressed out to see straight.

What happens next is well-known to fans of Red Dead Redemption 2.  Micah shoots Mrs. Grimshaw, and John and Arthur are forced to run from the heavily armed Pinkertons, as well as Dutch and Arthur.  Dutch's attack on Arthur and John is a terrible betrayal, like a parent harming their offspring.  This leads to Arthur's death as well, as Micah is able to find him in a weakened position following his battle with the Pinkertons.  Dutch betrays the men closest to him, the ones he brought up in the ways of being a criminal, as well as life in general.

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The Motivation of Madness

Many people fail to understand why exactly Dutch chose to betray Arthur.  As far as anyone can tell, it seems that there are three reasons why.  First of all, Dutch had come into constant strife with Arthur and had chosen to make dangerous decisions that Arthur didn't approve of.  This was exacerbated by the injury Dutch sustained in the trolley accident, and later on when they are in Guarma, Dutch shows that he is not stable when he strangles an old woman.  The second reason is Dutch's increased lack of control, as shown in Blackwater, when he shoots innocent Heidi McCourt.  Finally, the last reason that is most obvious is the influence of Micah Bell on Dutch's mind.

Micah was a very effective agent of the Pinkertons, and he helps tear the gang down from the inside.  Since so many fans love Arthur and hate Micah, it only makes sense that Dutch is also a controversial character.  Dutch's betrayal of Arthur still stings to this day, but many fans liked him for the other ninety percent of this game when he showcased his intellect and humor.  Some fans believe Dutch redeemed himself by assassinating Micah on the top of Mount Hagen.

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Red Dead Redemption?

The title of this great game signifies the redemption of several separate men.  Arthur seeks to redeem himself by helping John and trying to undo some of the hurt he has caused other people in this world. John tries to escape the gang life and live a legitimate life without crime.  Dutch also attempts to seek absolution when he surprisingly shows up in the epilogue to save John and Sadie, with a well-timed gunshot to Micah.  Many fans still cannot decide if this is enough to clean his slate.

Micah is the main reason Arthur died, as well as Arthur's involvement in various crimes, especially loansharking on the behalf of Strauss.  This does give him tuberculosis after all.  But if it weren't for Dutch's betrayal, there is hope that Arthur may have survived.  If it weren't for the violent confrontation at the end of chapter 6, perhaps Arthur could have escaped with Mary Linton and lived out the rest of his life in some coastal climate, resting his poor lungs.  Unfortunately, Dutch's betrayal made this impossible.

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Building A Legend

Dutch was portrayed by Benjamin Byron Davis, who did an amazing job with this role.  Using performance capture and his skill as an actor on various television shows, including Gilmore Girls and Six Feet Under, Benjamin made Dutch an extremely memorable character.  He reprised his role from the first game in 2009.  Dutch is many people's favorite character from that original game.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is full of memorable performances, but few possess the energy or strength of Davis' role as Dutch Van der Linde.  Dutch is a character that most fans will never be able to forget.  

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All Is Not Forgiven

Regardless of how you feel about Dutch Van der Linde, everyone can agree that his betrayal of Arthur is both tragic and deeply unfortunate.  It makes the end of the game leave you with a stomachache, and many fans have cried at the end of Red Dead Redemption, the final mission before the epilogue.  Though Dutch does eventually exact revenge on Micah, his double-crossing of Arthur is still the most unforgivable action of the man.

While many fans appreciate Dutch's style, his gift of speaking and thinking, as well as his ambitious effort to plot the downfall of his enemies, no one can forget that fateful day when Dutch chose to throw Arthur Morgan under the bus, effectively condemning him to death.  What makes it still hurt the worst? Perhaps, Arthur's loyalty and love for Dutch is what makes this betrayal still sting to this day.

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