While there are a lot of important characters in the entire John Wick saga, one of the most important personalities in this movie series is Winston, who we know is the manager of the New York Continental Hotel. He served an important role in all four movies, but Winston seemingly changed his allegiance when he shot John Wick at the end of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. So, why did Winston betray John Wick?
Winston betrayed John Wick because he was placed in a position where shooting him was his only choice, especially because a representative of the High Table was there to see to it that he was still loyal to them. However, Winston never intended to kill John because he merely shot him in his bulletproof suit.
The fact that Winston shot John Wick is one of the things that allows us to understand his motives in the entire storyline. He and John may be friends, but the fact is that Winston has always been more loyal to his position as the manager of the New York Continental. Of course, John knows this and already understands what kind of a person his old friend is. Now, let’s look more into Winston’s motives.
Winston’s Motives Explained
We often see John Wick’s character as a one-man army capable of bringing down an entire band of well-trained assassins on his own. However, while he usually fights his own battles, he has had a lot of help in the form of allies that have been around since the very first movie. One such ally is Winston, the manager of the New York Continental Hotel and has always been one of the people that provided services to John Wick.
Of course, in John Wick: Chapter 2, Winston had no choice but to break his reluctant alliance with John. That’s because Wick killed Santino D’Antonio, who he chased the entire movie, inside the Continental, which has always been a place where hitmen and assassins aren’t allowed to conduct their “business” unless the High Table allows it. In that regard, Winston proclaimed John excomunicado and placed a bounty on his head before allowing him to have a grace period of one hour before the hit would be officially placed on him.
But in John Wick: Chapter 3, it was clear that the High Table wasn’t exactly fond of what Winston did when the Adjudicator was sent to the Continental to adjudge his actions. That was when the Adjudicator claimed that Winston was more loyal to John than he was to the High Table because he allowed him to have one hour to live instead of killing him right away the moment that he broke the rules of the High Table. As such, Winston was treading shallow waters throughout the entire events of Parabellum.
John Wick was sent by the Elder, the only man above the High Table, to kill Winston due to the defiant actions of the manager of the Continental. His excommunication was even lifted by the Elder so that he could kill Winston. Nevertheless, after meeting up with Winston, John is offered the chance to either kill him or join him in his war with the High Table.
When the Adjudicator came, Winston told her that he had no intentions of stepping down from his position as the manager of the Continental. That was when the High Table deconsecrated the New York Continental and allowed the business to be conducted inside the hotel. John joined forces with Winston and defeated Zero, the assassin hired by the High Table.
Wick met up with Winston and the Adjudicator on the roof of the Continental. The Adjudicator changed her mind by telling Winston that his defiance of the High Table symbolized his strength and that they were willing to take him back in as long as he stayed loyal to them. As a sign of his loyalty, Winston shot John Wick, who fell off the roof but still survived.
In the eyes of a lot of people, Winston betrayed John Wick by choosing to side with the High Table instead of defying them. Nevertheless, there was a really good reason why Winston shot John instead of siding with him.
As the manager of the Continental, Winston was always a man that placed his interests above any other person, even though he helped John many times during the four-part movie series. Nevertheless, throughout the four movies, he always respects John, who has known Winston for a very long time. In fact, had Winston not been there since the first movie, Wick wouldn’t have survived the army of assassins that his enemies sent after him.
But the fact that Winston changed his mind by shooting John instead of going to war with the High Table was a sign that he was more interested in holding on to his power. And he must have understood that this was the only way for him and John to continue living, knowing well enough that they wouldn’t have survived a war with the High Table.
Did Winston Really Betray John Wick?
While we do know that Winston shot John Wicked and put to an end an alliance that only lasted a single night, one of the things that fans believe is that he never intended to actually betray his old friend. In fact, this was proven in John Wick: Chapter 4 when they formed an alliance once more after Winston was declared excomunicado by the High Table for his actions in the past.
The truth is that Winston only shot John at that moment because it was the only way out for both of them. Despite defeating Zero and his assassins, Winston and John understood that the full might of the High Table would be thrown at them, which meant that they wouldn’t have been able to survive. As such, Winston decided to shoot John instead of killing him, as it was clear that he aimed for Wick’s bulletproof suit instead of his head, which was the only part of his body vulnerable to bullets.
Winston’s actions mirrored what he did at the end of Chapter 2 when he allowed John a grace period of one hour instead of killing him on the spot. Of course, John understood as much that Winston did the only thing that he could do as he also knew that his old friend had no obligation to give up his title, position, and life for the sake of his alliance with a person that the High Table deemed an enemy.
Because both of them understood that they wouldn’t have been able to kill and defeat the High Table with whatever resources they had, the only way out for them was for Winston to shoot John. And the fact that Wick never even tried to go after Winston to kill him proves that they both understood what needed to be done back in the events of Chapter 3.