Part 72: Winona and WallacePokemon Adventures: Wallace and Winona
I'm doing these Gym Leaders together because of how they mesh and the themes of love, strength, and beauty in the RS chapters of Pokemon Adventures. Winona and Wallace are both Gym Leaders, although their relationship is rather Icy, Winona hates Wallace, over the fact that he slighted her in the past, what that slight is, is sort of a recurring element in RS, that is a decision made by one character in the pursuit of love, that wound up driving the other character away. Wallace loves Winona, he loves her so much that even after he defeated Steven to become the champion, it was all meaningless to him if he couldn't spend his new time and duties closer to her. So he gave up the title and became a Gym Leader. Winona was furious, furious he'd take a lesser position just for her, and furious at the idea of someone so much stronger than her, essentially smothering her with affection that she didn't feel was earned.
Again, a recurring theme. Ruby's initial actions to Sapphire is what drove them apart, Norman's actions towards Ruby drove them apart. Mimi, Ruby's Feebas, and her actions towards him drove them apart.
So Wallace is secretly the strongest dude on the continent, but mostly spends his times hitting the contest scene and being elegant and beautiful, no shocker then that he winds up becoming Ruby's mentor, in fact, the two are very similar, but while Ruby rejects his talent and hates his violent abilities, Wallace mixes the two and feels complacent, he's heartbroken, because even after all this time he loves Winona even if she wants nothing to do with him, but he expresses himself through contests. When the Gym Leaders initial decide who, of the two teams, they would side with, Wallace is very flat that he's backing Aqua because Water Types, though, again, nothing really comes of this discussion.
It's notable that Wallace only decided to mentor Ruby when he learns just how strong he is, he has no intentions of playing into his narcissistic attitude. Which goes along with the idea that Wallace is a more realized, though in his own ways, flawed, version of Ruby.
Winona on the other hand, is more like the Gym Leaders well... leader, she directs them and checks up on the derelicts (Like Norman) or the newbies who have no idea what it is they're doing (Like Flannery) When the crisis actually rocks Hoenn she's the one commanding the teams on the sidelines, which shows how well respected she is among the leaders but also reads to an issue she has... She's a warrior. And she knows she's a warrior at heart, and sitting on the sidelines and commanding the battle is not her place in the world, her place is fighting, it's what she loves and where she feels alive. That's why she's a good mentor for the Wild and brash Sapphire, because they are, as Ruby is to Norman, so close and alike. I would say Winona is more civilized and... neutered? Domesticated? In that she's been promoted upstairs to a job she doesn't really want a lot of the time.
That said she has great faith in Sapphire's power, being the only other gym leader (Along with Flannery) to vouch for her strength to be added to the Gym Leaders own against Magma and Aqua, and she is a welcome teacher to her, knowing how to pull her out of slumps and to push her to become stronger. It's clear there's a reason Winona is the first Gym Leader who causes Sapphire to stumble, in much the same way that Wallace defeated Ruby and forced him to be humbled. They represent realized versions of our protagonists.
That said, it's clear these two haven't found the time or managed to work up the effort to patch up their rocky relationship, it's been hinted at, at the future Wanda and Riley wedding in the Emerald Arc (as terrible as it is) that there's lingering flames. Still... these are examples of fully realized characters in the role of gym leaders and they're a treat to read about.
Next time, we'll be talking about Norman. And hoo boy...