|Hold it right there, outlaw!|
This article is littered with spoilers, so I reckon you might ought'a mosey on down the road if you don't want to read any plot details.
Mr. Archer Fordham, the new generation of government agent, poised to take over the helm of federalism after an aging Edgar Ross calls it quits. Fordham shows few qualms when following Ross' lead in abducting Marston's family. He shows no hesitation to shoot and kill during the confrontation aboard the Wreck of the Serendipity and no fear when throwing himself onto the breach during the assault on Van Der Linde's stronghold.
Even when Ross is diving into a diatribe against the old west, condemning Marston for his increasingly anachronistic lifestyle, and advocating the miracles (nay bondage?) of technology; Archer humbly agrees and reinforces Ross' own pontifications. He is portrayed a pragmatic and intelligent man, but also with more humanity than Ross.
On that faithful day that Marston sees his long journey come to a close, in a final altruistic sacrifice, Mister Fordham is... nowhere to be found?
Maybe, just maybe, Fordham did not see Ross' betrayal as inevitable. Maybe, when Fordham was informed, he vehemently disagreed. Maybe he refused to participate. Maybe he saw some of John Marston in himself, and thought that Marston had earned the right to quietly live out the remainder of his life, with his family, on the steppes of Beecher's Hope.
Years later, when Jack moseys onto the streets of Blackwater with justice on his mind, he finds another faceless government agent, and not Agent Fordham. Indded, he could have onto bigger and better things. Or maybe Fordham saw the cost of silencing Marston; dozens of dead soldiers and lawmen killed only because of Ross' orders; a broken family, a devastated widow, and a young boy's father taken away for good. Maybe he hung up his bowler cap and decided that his days of killing were done as well.
I admit it; I might be over thinking it. But it's very much consistent with the thematic duality presented in the game's narrative. I find it a poignant footnote to the game, and was almost disappointing that R* didn't find some way to draw even just a little more attention to it.
- “You've done your country a service and it has been an honour to work with you.”
- — Archer Fordham, last words to Marston