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Headscratchers / John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum

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  • Winston's betrayal of Wick came right out of left field. This being the same Winston who's been friends with him for decades, has provided him with countless resources and even a one-hour headstart for violating Continental rules despite knowing it could land him in very hot water, which it did, and up until this very moment has proven consistently that he would not bow down to the High Table for anything.
    • Many signs point to all of this being part of a very elaborate scheme to parlay with the Adjudicator and halting the assault on the hotel. They both know open warfare with the High Table is suicide and will end in their deaths if it keeps going on, seeing how much of a threat their "first wave" had been. The Table have reserves, while they have three men.
    • Winston shot John in the torso, where his bulletproof suit could protect him, instead of going for an easy headshot. This is likely done so that John would fall over the ledge into the alley below where he could be scooped up by the Bowery King's men and taken to safety. This is lampshaded when Winston mentions "[his] allegiances extend far beyond the Continental", and that a certain "we" is "New York City". Up to this point, there really is only one other entity with that level of power and coverage in the Big Apple.
    • If this was indeed a betrayal, he would have done well to make sure that John doesn't get up, knowing full well how revenge is no foreign concept to him by this point.
    • Furthermore, Charon seems to be on board with this, if his comment on the act is any indication.
    • Alternatively, this could be part of a really convoluted plot on Winston's part where he plays both sides. For one, Winston did not expect the Adjudicator to go so far as to deconsecrate the building itself on top of removing him from power. But for two, he's also confident about his chances of standing against the High Table, as demonstrated by his "show of strength". Therefore, the parlay could have very possibly been solely in his interest, with him "killing" Wick to please the Adjudicator and getting the NYC Continental reconsecrated, while also deliberately not going for a quick headshot since Wick could still be of use. The fact that Wick found him standing behind a chessboard in the executive lounge is Foreshadowing enough that Winston might be up to something that he's not letting either party know of.
    • This is one hell of a Gambit Roulette, however, to think John will survive and be in good enough shape to further his scheme. If this is the case, his surprise that John is gone may very well be genuine, as the moment the Adjudicator left he mutters "Baba Yaga" as if he realized Wick is gonna be mad about this, if he actually survives.
    • Ultimately, it's clear that Winston has his own agenda that no one side is truly aware of. Only time will tell if the "betrayal" is a ploy or genuine.
    • The Bowery King knew what Winston was doing so it wasn't a spur-of-the-moment thing, as others pointed out Winston shot John in his torso where the protection on his suit would take the hit. Winston also didn't seem to hesitate shooting at John and he's always the first person to warn people about his abilities. So it's possible Winston orchestrated John's survival and made sure the Bowery King would have men there to save him.
    • Also Wick technically "incinerated" Winston's temple by asking for aid when he was expected to receive none. Wick inadvertently got Winston involved in the struggle and even nearly accepted an offer to stab Winston in the back. To take a note from Chapter 2, Wick nearly did both but chose to help Winston, but even then a transgression like this would be punished.


    Seven cuts 

  • Was the Bowery King supposed to die from the seven cuts or was it a way to disgrace him? It feels like they wanted him dead from it, in no small part due to his own seething contempt for the High Table, but the Adjudicator would have probably made sure like with Wick. Presumably, the intended punishment was physical in a similar vein to what happened to the Director, but he's meant to live on as a disgraced and powerless King. Despite this, they failed to account for the fact that the King's Soup Kitchen spans the entirety of New York itself, which he could still use to revolt against them. Even if they underestimate the Bowery King, it feels like they should make sure he can't cause any instead of little trouble.
    • The Adjudicator's calculus was probably simply that giving him seven cuts (by a master swordsman like Zero) was probably enough to either kill him or put him out of commission permanently, combined with the storming (and absolute annihilation) of his own headquarters. They had no interest in wiping out the King's entire kingdom, just getting him to fall in line.

    Cutting off finger 

  • Why did John go through with getting his finger severed if he was just gong to side with Winston?
    • It's pretty much the only real option he's got. The Elder gave him two choices: to refuse the offer and continue being hunted, or return to the fold by killing those who have stood against the table, starting with Winston, and be granted amnesty along with passage back to the United States. Needless to say, the second option is the only one he's got if he's to return to New York, so it's more along the lines of I Did What I Had to Do than by his free will.
    • Correct. Don't let the kind, reasonable attitude fool you. This was all planned - he didn't just pull a new suit out of thin air. If John refused, he was a dead man right then and there. He also didn't KNOW that Winston was getting tossed. The last he saw of him Winston gave him an hour to run before loosing the assassins on him. So he pledged back to the High Table and went to Winston, HOPING that he'd find some way to get out of it.

    Winston's authority 

  • Why would Winston become all concerned about the Table sending the Adjudicator to shut his authority down, when he had already made it clear to Santino D'Antonio that the Continental was his castle and he has the final say on everything?
    • Well clearly the High Table doesn't like Winston thinking the Continental is his castle, thus the Adjudicator was sent to remind him who's really in charge, as to them he is a servant.
      • Also, it was his kingdom under the High Table's rules. Santino could do nothing to change that, not directly, but the Adjudicator is another matter, since that's literally their job.
    • He was able to show more defiance toward Santino because while the Adjudicator not only has access to the best agents the criminal underworld has to offer, Winston didn't have John near him for most of the movie. When John is standing next to him he is the one making demands and even issues threats by saying that his power spread far more than the Continental and more or less states that New York City is his. Santino only had his Camorra family as enforcers and was hiding from John when he tried bullying Winston.
    • It's easy to forget, but Santino quickly retorts to Winston's "This kingdom is mine and mine alone!" with "Enjoy your kingdom while you still can, Winston". Winston could just ignore Santino's whining because (outside of the reasons outlined above) Santino was a singular member of the High Table and can't do shit to the Continental unless he has the backing of the remaining 11 members (hence Santino's "while you still can"). The Adjudicator wields exactly that authority of the High Table as a collective entity that can wreck Winston.
    • It's also possible that the Adjudicator answers directly to the Elder himself, and not the other Table members. From Wick's interactions with Berrada and The Director, their attitude on his situation seems to be something along the lines of "this ain't got nothing to do with me" than offended. Had it been the Table's collective decision to send in the Adjudicator, surely both of them would have grilled Wick for his transgression when given the opportunity, but neither of them really did.
    • And before one forgets, The Director herself receives punishment for giving aid to Wick, suggesting that the Adjudicator's authority exceeds that of the 12 Table members.


  • Does Gianna's murder not matter to the High Table? Sure, Santino was killed on consecrated grounds, but that really only affects John and Winston. The Adjudicator got involved because John killed a member of the High Table. Yet Gianna, a more established High Table member, who were supposedly murdered only days prior, goes completely unmentioned.
    • Gianna might have not been liked much by her peers, she threatened another member of the High Table's children and didn't want to take over New York. The High Table must have preferred Santino who was ready to muscle out New York for them and his failure makes the High Table look weaker than Gianna's death. With Gianna it's like nobility killing each other, with Santino it's commoners killing a noble. Not quite sure how Viggo fits in all this but it was probably before the High Table was a concept.
    • Gianna's death also gives less excuses for the High Table to target Wick's allies, which the Adjudicator targeted first with Zero. New York appears to be a bit more independent if Winston, Gianna and the Bowery King are to be believed so the High Table wanted an excuse to strike back.
    • The High Table holds their rules in high regard. Killing Gianna is a problem, but ultimately it's just a common hit and also a Marker being honored (and the High Table is very clear on how all Markers must be honored, so they may let it slide on that notion). Killing Santino not only didn't involve a Marker at all (so it doesn't have that excuse), it also broke the rules at the Continental, which is a way bigger sin.
    • There's also the fact that the very first thing Santino does, after John kills Gianna, is order John's death, under the pretext of avenging his sister, then put a bounty on John's head. Given the nature of the High Table's rules, it could be that Santino's power-play could have been seen as perfectly valid, and that Santino essentially checked all the necessary boxes for his ascension to be recognized, despite the paper-thin nature of his excuse.

    Ernest's knife 

  • Why does Ernest, the library hitman, bring a single small knife to his fight with John Wick? Ernest should know about how lethal Wick is, and it's not like he couldn't smuggle a pistol on his person.
    • Wick wears a bulletproof suit, so it's not like he could just stroll up to him and gun him down. Not with how Ernest gave away his element of surprise from the get-go.
      • A headshot would have done the trick. And a gun would have at least been more useful than one flimsy knife. Suppressors are a thing in-universe, and it's not like Ernest couldn't have shot him from across the aisle without giving away his location and allowing Wick to retaliate.
    • The more correct question should be why let him know Ernest was there at all. Had he kept his mouth shut, Ernest could have gotten the drop on Wick and nobody would have been the wiser. For all their theatrics and grandstanding, subtlety is the one thing that the assassins don't seem to grasp.
    • Ernest also seemed to be on somewhat friendly terms with John (as they both refer to one another by first name basis). He probably announced his presence to John as a form of professional courtesy. As for why he didn't have a gun, it's possible he didn't own one, or because he's simply one of those assassins who prefer blades over guns. Going by his "sh!" gesture to John, maybe he thought even silenced gunfire would be too loud for a library.
    • Judging by him specifically mentioning the bounty and his relatively informal attire, Ernest could have had been financially in the red and unable to afford higher-end gear. Seeing John exhausted and unarmed, Ernest thought he could get lucky with his knife, stab John to death and get a sweet $14 million to pull himself out of bankruptcy.
    • It's also possible that, for whatever reason, Ernest was already at the library. Seeing Wick, he may have decided to cash in on the bounty on a whim, counting on his incredible size and strength to bring John down.
    • In addition, while Ernest shushing John during their fight scene is funny, it also might be a genuine concern; a gunshot may have drawn unwanted attention to John being killed before the clock was up.
    • Another likelihood is that Ernest was being too confident about his huge height advantage against Wick. Especially when his target is a battered and unarmed man who's been all but excommunicated and thus couldn't secure proper defenses.
    • I'm surprised John didn't try to get the knife stuck in the book when shielding himself or is that impossible to do?
      • Probably wouldn't want to risk damaging the photo inside.


    Viggo and New York 

  • What sort of blackmail did Viggo have to get New York under his thumb? There are so many players now and he couldn't have been High Table since his death caused little commotion and he states his empire was founded on a mountain of bodies John killed, and that Impossible Task that Wick completed and used a Marker with Santino to accomplish. It's possible Serial Escalation was not part of the plan but it's getting odd how no one mentions the Tarasovs when the first film was about them becoming the kings of New York and losing it to Wick over a dead dog.
    • It's possible that Viggo was the king "below the table." Aside from the Bowery King's domain, Viggo may have had control over any criminal elements not associated with organized assassination.
    • When Viggo was introduced in the first movie, we saw that he got the news about Iosef's incident with Aurelio while in the midst of a meeting with another gang, with Avi telling him "Viggo, they've agreed to your terms. But it's not like you left them much of a choice anyway though, right? Congratulations. Sir?" Viggo may have muscled out a prior High Table player temporarily through blackmail.
    • Even in the first movie it was already implied that Winston was more powerful than Viggo. He was powerful, but never seen as the most powerful one around. Also, beside the leverage, Viggo was the one John Wick used to work for, and his status was held through blackmail, but came from the "impossible task". And while John was retired after that, his name was likely enough, people likely didn't want to risk being the one to bring John Wick out of retirement. Even Santino, after all, avoided calling in his Marker earlier for that reason.

    Winston's Marker 

  • What happened to the marker that Winston gave to John at the end of John Wick Chapter 2? In this movie, John recovers another used marker in his secret storage at the library to use it to enlist the help of Sofia, but that leaves the new marker that he received from Winston, which was not mentioned at all in this film, even by the Adjudicator who has demonstrated to know everything going on in the criminal underworld, even the pistol that the Bowery King gave to John Wick in his quest to kill Santino.
    • There was no real chance to use it, likely there might have been an idea that John makes another blood oath to be left alone but it wouldn't have worked in this movie since no one wants to be indebted to an excomunicado. Maybe we'll see some use for it later or never.
  • Another question would be why did Winston give John a marker at the end of Chapter 2 when this film establishes that all debts and markers are void if one party is excommunicado?
    • It also establishes that being excommunicado and de-consecrated can be reversed relatively easily, likely if that happens the markers stay valid.

    Armor piercing 

  • Given the concerns regarding the new armor for the High Table mooks, why did John bother starting the fight with a pistol-caliber carbine as his long gun? A regular M4 in 5.56 or even a P90 in 5.7X28mm would make far more sense for someone who believes they're going to need to penetrate armor. (Admittedly, it did allow for a cool action scene.)
    • Charon is arguably an even weirder example, as he and his men go into battle against the High Table with what appear to be bog-standard 9mm pistols.
      • Weirder they just stood in open area instead of seeking covers.
    • Charon and John were using combat master bullets, Charon even went into a long spiel about how they are basically shooting them with something that should go through armor. No reason to think the Continental soldiers didn't already have the same ammo as John in their pistols and got surprised by the upgrade. John hits harder because he is pinging their mask and body while less trained marksmen are hitting them center of mass so the Hight Table squad are braced to it.
      • They're using 9mm Major cartridges, stated to be 125 gr. projectiles at roughly 1400 feet per second, comparable in energy to a .357 Magnum Load. Fairly good for a pistol cartridge, but nowhere near the armor-piercing capability of a 5.56. So, giving John a Sig MPX in 9mm as his long gun rather than an M4 seems like a poor choice. Similarly, the extremely high pressure of the 9mm Major cartridge means that it can't typically be loaded in standard 9mm pistols, which appears to be what Charon's men are carrying (they are not the heavily-upgraded Combat Master that John has.)
      • I guess Charon didn't know the full extent of the High Table's "armor upgrades". He kind of implied to John that the 9mm "Major" would be enough to take them on, hence the choice of the 2011 and MPX. They probably just didn't have enough "Major"-capable weapons to equip the entire staff, and hoped regular rounds would suffice in big enough quantities. Their armory probably didn't have enough armor-piercing ammo to go all out at once. If they did, then Charon was just stupid.
  • As many gun blogs have and channels have groused, it was probably because Taran Butler wanted to advertise his custom MPXs for sale, just like the STI 2011 and the Benelli M4 and super-duper customized Glock 34 from the second movie.

    High Table and markers 

  • Previously, we know that the Markers are inescapable Blood Oaths that binds one person to another for one favour of any choosing, which was why Santino used it to force John into killing his sister Gianna who is guarded by Cassian and is a member of the High Table. In here, it's revealed that the authority of the High Table actually exceeds that of a Marker, most likely as to prevent such cases from happening in the first place. So was there a way out if John Wick reported to the Elder, as he is at the top of the High Table, about Santino's usage of the Marker? What would be the most likely scenario if he tried that?
    • Overriding a Marker if you're not sitting at the High Table when you ask, means selling your soul. Same reason why siding with Gianna was impossible in the past movie. John will just submit to someone else when all he wants is one and done.

    Sofia's lesson 

  • Really isn't worth scorching your relations with the higher-up when the dog was completely unaffected by the gunshot. What happened to consequences?
    • Same thing that happened with Wick, fuck consequences they hurt one of the few things they still have close. Her dogs are pretty much how she copes with never seeing her daughter again she is not gonna care about restraint. Also Berrada would make sure it's dead when he sees it survived.
      • Right. Thought I doubt he would be aiming for the jacket if he really wanted it dead, or would've atleast double tap.
      • Even then consequences work both ways, you can't just take or shoot someone's dog without consequence.


    The High Table's omniscience 

  • So how do they know everything which goes down in the underworld, right the world over? I could buy them having an agent watching Winston's debriefing of Wick in Central Park, and knowing therefore that he bent the rules. But are one of the hobos in the Bowery working for them too? I doubt it, given the ninjas go through basically all of them to reach the King (and the only ones left alive are with him in the ending). How are they to know that Wick didn't get the gun with seven bullets off of any number of other pseudo-allies (there have to be more than a few because at that point he wasn't excommunicado and had access to coins, which can have more pull than the bounty on his head. Some of these friends were even close to him), at any time during his foot trek through NYC to get to Santino (or hell, even before, either in Italy or during his journey back to the US. He could even still be using one of the pistols the Sommelier provided him with, or a gun he killed a mook for at any point in the aftermath of killing Gianna)? All this should create reasonable doubt, but no, somehow they know (or decide to consider even without evidence that) it was the King. And the Director doesn't look like the type to have spies in her midst, her operation has armed guards and it's a closed, discrete circle of Belorussians. Besides, if they have agents who can report breaches of protocol to the Table, why don't these agents act on behalf of them, instead of requiring the Adjudicator to do so? I could dream up any number of farfetched, clandestine, locked-down scenarios (John goes to a Continental which has a room which is totally unable to be bugged, watched or otherwise spied-on, kills a man (in fact the only other man) in the room and incinerates the evidence in the room then disposes of the ashes where nobody could see him e.g. deep in the Hudson off a part of a bank of the river where nobody goes and he can confirm that himself) and I would expect the High Table to be none the wiser. But this film would have us believe, no, in fact they can learn of any transgression on the face of the Earth.
    • They are the one supplying guns and gold currency, if anything the gun the Bowery King gave John is secretly registered in the High Table which would explain why the Adjudicator just take a look at the bullet holes and figure the model and who supplied it, their network is bigger than Winston who can have the whole Central Park filled with his man to scare John. As for the Director it's probably the easiest guess John is Belorussian, was spotted in Casablanca and she smuggles children everywhere. Who else would it be? Also your snitches won't be much useful if everyone knows who they are, so every informant or agent in the Continental or the Bowery must stay discreet to know what is happening under the Table. The doctor was alone in a room with John and demanded to be shot twice to cover his help, that scene was there to establish exactly what you question.
    • Ok, good justification for the Director (albeit I would expect both her and the King's judgement/background checks on their crews to be a little more stringent, but I'll let it slide). But I'm calling BS on the issue of the gun. As you say, yes it is uniquely identifiable to the High Table. However, what's to stop anyone with a grudge against the King (or special ties to John, like Marcus who sacrificed his life for him in the first film) framing him by taking the gun and giving it to John? Or crafting an exact replica of the gun unbeknownst to the King? Even if the spy inside the Bowery swears blind that it was in fact the King, for all anyone knows he could be lying. We know in reality it was indeed the King who gave it to John, but a framejob is easily conceivable, and the only thing which would justify it (whilst also breaking the Willing Suspension of Disbelief) is that the High Table are truly omniscient.
    • Let's say the biggest bullshit conpiracy defense is somehow conceivable, think the High Table is gonna give a shit that the guy that never liked the High Table's business might be framed up by some one-armed man? This is not without a doubt court of justice this is a bunch of thugs mutilating people into subservience the moment things don't go their way. Even if the Bowery King lies and they for some reason refuse to believe their spy for the job they send him to do and they don't know about the Bowery King's history with John or anyone who pretended not watching the hobo headshotting Santino's men in the second movie would have no desire to snitch to the High Table, they are still gonna cut him because they plain don't like the Bowery King. And in the movie the Bowery King doesn't even bother hiding that he helped John, it goes from "pigeons are cool" to "yes totally gave him the gun that's totally in the rules last time I checked" in seconds your disbelief is that the power that controls every criminal syndicates in the world for centuries somehow doesn't bother monitoring them.
    • Excuse me? They aren't a "without a doubt court of justice"? I think you may have missed their motto: "Rules… without them we live with the animals". Now that implies that their function is (at least in part) to enforce the laws within their underworld, and that those laws should be held to account. So your idea that they'd decide to fuck over the King no matter what doesn't hold water; if it did, why didn't they take him down years before? Therefore, the film (or a sequel) must present justification to disprove a framejob, else they live with the animals. All it would have taken was for the spy to step up and say "Yeah boss, I saw ya do it". The fact that the King took responsibility for doing it (as he actually did it) is immaterial, the problem for the Table is "but wait, how do we know are right though"? And that's before it comes to actually waving the gun in his face and accusing him beyond all doubt. If the enforcement of the laws (no matter how harsh) and justification of it doesn't make sense to the common criminal and figures like the King and Continental managers, then it's a wonder there hasn't been an uprising against the High Table long ago.
    • They are shooting dogs and mutilating people for their failures, they are animals, their motto is bullshit and everyone call them out on it when they try to pretend it's not (bounties are not mandatory, I have the right to give a mercy lead, he has a marker) all overruled because the rules only matter when they serve the High Table. Only reason they didn't attack the Bowery King before was because New York was ran by Viggo, Bowery King helped John precisely because the High Table leader was planning on killing him and taking over the Continental. You believe the criminals at face value when they say they follow laws you didn't pay attention to what they were doing at all.
    • Also, I (the OP) had a vision of a parody for the High Table's omniscience. John and an assassin are trapped inside a crowded elevator, and the assassin is trying to slowly, discretely wade through the crowd over to John to kill him. Collateral damage is forbidden. But someone pulls a silent but deadly fart, causing mass disgust and preventing the killer from safely getting to John before the door can open and John successfully makes his escape. Later, the High Table somehow track down the person who did the fart and kill them for their transgression. Now, I said that's a parody scenario, but I kinda wouldn't put it past them to play it seriously in this universe. Such is the level of the High Table's omniscience as portrayed in this movie. When serious fiction and satire are indistinguishable, the creator of the fiction has a little bit of a problem.
    • I mean you're kind of ignoring how blatant any of the people punished are when they are helping John Wick. Like in the second movie John is not subtle when he asks the hobo to protect him nor is the hobo when he headshots two assassins in a public space. They aren't behind closed door deals they have John walk the whole building short of asking them to shake his hands as they pass why are you acting like leaks are impossible. Bowery King was probably heard from the outside when he shouted GIVE THIS MAN A GUN. The Doctor is overplaying it but that's likely because he is that paranoid or because he knows the High Table will simply interrogate anyone in New York if need be.
    • The Adjudicator is extremely well-informed about the personalities and behaviors of everyone involved. They probably put the obvious pieces together: John paid a Bowery King lookout and vanished, meaning he hid out with the King. John shows up a few hours later with a specific type gun and no reloads. If they're aware of the King's personality, then they can put together his style and make the conclusion that he gave John a gun with only seven bullets. Everything else that Adjudicator hands out punishments for is something they could easily gather on their own.

    The Director's position 

Is the Director an actual member of the High Table or is she someone high up the hierarchy but without a seat?

  • It's possible that she either is currently a member, or was in the past and had since "retired." It's also possible, given that her dance studio is an apparent training center, that she may just be a high-level supplier for high table members in need of gunmen.
  • Not every mob boss is a member. For example, Gianna inherited membership from her father, and her equally powerful brother wasn't member. Like the real-world Mafia has underdons, most bosses before the introduction of Gianna were merely leaders of local organisations. It seems to me that there is one member of the Table for Italian Mafia/Camorra, one for the Mafiya, one for Yakuza and so on. Also, some groups seems to be not part of the leaderhip, but merely "associated" and bullied into submission to the High Table, like the Bowery King's group or the Romani.

    Why Let The Adjudicator Live? 

After John and Winston both refuse to follow the orders of the High Table, why doesn't Wick, who currently has a gun in his hands, just shoot the Adjudicator while her back is turned? Giving her access to her phone seems like a bad idea, and the three of them are the only ones in the Executive Lounge. No one would know, considering Winston has an entire cleaning service on his payroll.

  • If the Adjudicator fails to report in, that would likely result in the exact same thing, only this time, there wouldn't be anyone willing to parley with Winston.
    • Adding to this, the Adjudicator is a high ranking member (after all, they are the one who goes out to deliver the punishment), so, even if they thought nothing about her not reporting in, they would notice her disappearance and, if we go by the first two movies, word travels fast in the Underground.

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