Grand Theft Auto protagonists always gets betrayed by another character, and it can occur right off the introduction cinematic or just as the last mission begins, none of the protagonist seems to evade this trope of being backstabbed by a close friend.
Same occurs midway in the Lost and Damned, unsurprisingly.
The scene where Billy Grey gets arrested is supposedly an unexpected turning point to the story, but Rockstar deemed it fit nonetheless to have no less than Three screenshots depicting the scene:
Adding to that a non-hidden achievement/trophy description of how Johnny takes leadership of the gang, and shown in a scene in the PS3/PC trailer of Episodes from Liberty City –where it adds a bit of humor by making a montage of Billy first saying to Johnny how he is his “brother, Always” before the eventual “You’re Dead!” while Johnny stands by the side, looking rather proudly with his hands on his hips, which i still find a bit odd, as unintentionally suggests Johnny was glad to see it happen.
But playing through the Lost and Damned alone does not yield any concrete answer as to what really occurred behind the scenes in Chinatown. That is until Ballad of Gay Tony unceremoniously dropped a scene showing Billy making a deal with the Triads.
It doesn’t explain just how Billy crashed his bike however, and we’re left to assume he slipped in the rain while attempting to flee –note that in the above mentionned trailer the scene is depicted under the bright sun, whereas in-game it is impossible, even with cheat codes, to remove the rain effect, which is an obligatory compound to the mission it seems-.
But then looking at the way Brian fiercely accuses Johnny of being the rat who has been talking to the police ... well , it left me wondering : what if , Johnny Did sold Billy out in order to be the chapter president again ? ...
Now i’m not saying that it is a possibility in the game itself , in that case it would have been a blatant ‘no’ , there’s nothing that points to Johnny being guilty of what happens to Billy , except maybe for backfiring Billy’s own plans ...
Rather i’m asking , hypothetically , imagine if Johnny Klebitz was the first Grand Theft Auto protagonist who deliberately sets out to betray others rather than being the usual type of mass murderer with a conscience and a taste for friendship that alwyas gets to eliminate people a lot worse than him.
Imagine if Johnny Klebitz really was a selfish drug dealer, that he orchestrated Billy’s ‘removal’, perhaps at first wanting to kill him but fails, leading to the secondary option that of letting the police to arrest him, but Billy instead decides to keep his mouth shut about the matter because ‘He’ is the one who is the ‘true brother’ of the Lost and the subsequent anti-hero of the story, though still antagonist in the face of our villain-hero. And that Billy Grey only decided to go on the witness stand once he got wind that Johnny had already ruined all that the club stood for and thought that there’s no point in having a fair fight any longer.
Yes, i’m asking of imagining this role-reversal essentially.
And what if Brian, in this alternative scenario, was Right in accusing Johnny of selling Billy out; the player has to take him down nonetheless but this time for different reasons : not just because he is the kiss-ass of the defacto crazy antagonist that is a danger to your organization , rather because he is a living threat in attempting to expose your player character’s wrong dealings. Essentially killing Brian wouldn’t have been to defend Johnny’s position as leader, but for personal reasons to ‘keep’ the crown for himself?
Imagine also Johnny with his ‘original’ costume and character mannerism.
When we first met Johnny in Grand Theft Auto IV, at Elizabeta’s party, he introduces himself by walking around as if he has a slight hunchback, not walking straight and bumbling about, and notably shouting “Yo!” as his first line, and with a deep grave tone of voice that truly bears no resemblance to the same Johnny depicted in Lost and Damned.
It’s even more noticeable when going through the same mission in L&D, where we are treated to newly recorded cutscenes before and after Johnny is introduced to Niko. To me, there is still this huge shift in tone of voice and body language, and it goes on for all the cutscenes that were originally featured in GTA IV.
It might not seem much, but to me, this still is a sign that Johnny was originally depicted differently, one that embodies a more ruthless and even disgusting character than the mere mass murderer with a clear perspective of his life that we have today.
And just look at his original character design. He really looks no better than the drug dealing street hoodlooms you shoot your way through most of the time. There’s none of that ‘sophistication’ if you might put it in his appearance in Lost and Damned , it’s not like this is just Johnny in a different costume , no , to me these are two different characters.
It reminds me how surprised i was to see Johnny’s new look during the Lost and Damned’s reveal screenshots and trailers. Not in the sence that i didn’t knew who Johnny the biker was in GTA IV , but that it didn’t looked like the same person , at all.
So , picture Johnny from his character model in GTA IV , and hypothetically imagine Johnny was a protagonist with more selfish goals and more destructive manneurism and behaviors , apart from becoming the first GTA protagonist that inspires more villainy than the rest of the cast , wouldn’t you agree that it may have sounded as an even more interesting potential that what we have now ? ...
Johnny as we know him from the Lost and Damned was no saint, but he was empathic enough that to some of us he stroke more subtle nuance than the hypocrite serbian contract killer or the self-righteous and goal-less dominican Rockstar had created alongside him, which is fine, really ... but the prospect of being an absolute no-nonsense character, without being a cliché of the ‘pure psychopath’ trope either , rather instead an unscrupulous money-maker going on about at the height of the economical breakdown ...
I think there may have actually been some interest in it.
What do you think?
I could also argue that Johnny’s ‘clone’ , John Marston from Red Dead Redemption , should have also been a more threatening and hideous character than this flawed noble thief/muderer with a heart of chivalry character that screams too loudly for his own good. But that’s another story.