I sure as hell didn’t anticipate writing a first part, let alone a second, but here I am anyway.
I’ve been mulling over the Epilogue for a while, mostly because I’ve seen a ton of positive reactions to the mission and the cutscene online. It’s on Reddit, it’s on Twitter, and I find myself wondering – am I expecting too much? Has Bungie really done a good job and can I simply not see it?
And then it occurred to me that I didn’t have an issue with how the stories in Season of the Hunt and Season of the Chosen played out. In fact, they were the first two seasons in which I actually felt legitimately invested in the seasonal plot – more so than Beyond Light’s plot – and in the characters, like Crow and Caiatl. So, what changed?
Or, more specifically, what did Bungie get right in those two seasons that they got wrong in Season of the Splicer?
The answer, to me, is Crow. He’s a fascinating character on multiple levels. All of our Guardians — player characters and NPCs alike — have no memory of who they were before they were reborn in the Light. And while Crow has that same problem, everyone else knows who he was, what he did, and how he wound up dead.
The questions that Crow forces us, as players, to ask ourselves are incredibly fascinating ones. Zavala asked that question himself, way back in his cinematic during the big Destiny 2 reveal: “What makes a Guardian, a Guardian?”
In life, as we learned in lore books from Forsaken and beyond, Crow — Uldren Sov, then — was a complicated person. He was manipulated by Riven and died a villain, rejected by his own people and hated by the Guardians of the Last City for taking the Vanguard away from them.
Forsaken was perhaps only the second time in the history of the franchise that we lost something that felt personal. (The first time being the loss of the Tower itself, which I continue to miss every now and then). Although Bungie reduced Cayde to essentially the village idiot of the franchise, I remembered him as being the first and only person to be willing to take action when Oryx showed up. He got me on the Dreadnaught. And that’s why his ending pinched, a little.
So when Uldren Sov came back — only he wasn’t Uldren Sov any more — I was vaguely uncomfortable. Sure, I wasn’t especially attached to Cayde when he died, but I’m also staring at the guy who shot him in the head. But also, am I really staring at the guy who shot Cayde in the head? Uldren is who he was. Crow is who he is. And Crow doesn’t really seem half-bad. Scared. Mistrustful. Isolated. Alone.
Something about Crow and his loneliness struck a chord in a way that I hadn’t really expected. In Forsaken, I had no particularly strong feelings about the Spider, except that his voice acting was great. When I learned how he was using Glint to manipulate Crow, I wanted to tie the Spider to his chair and burn his house down.
Being able to free Crow from Spider’s control was an incredibly powerful moment because I genuinely believed that he deserved that freedom. Unburdened by the weight of his past, I was eager to see who he would become. And, to my great surprise, he showed up again in Season of the Chosen. Front and center, in the City itself, actually getting along with people and everything. But masked.
That was important. He wasn’t walking freely in the City. He still had to hide who he was. He was allowed to help, to participate, to make himself useful, but only if no one saw him outright. He may have been resurrected, he may walk in the Light, but that wasn’t enough. There were far too many people who looked at him and saw Uldren Sov instead of the genuine, sincere, somewhat lost soul who seemed desperate to just find his place in the world.
Across two seasons, Bungie took a character that I legitimately believed they had forgotten about and did something amazing with him.
But then they sidelined him in Season of the Splicer which, now that I think about it, is probably Bungie’s biggest mistake.
One of the many ways in which Crow is unique is in his relationship with the Eliksni. He’s lived among them, understands their ways, even speaks their language. He has a perspective of them that no one in the Last City has and he would have been an incredible foil to Lakshmi.
Consider this, for a moment.
On one side, you have Lakshmi-2 esteemed member of the Consensus, prominent member of the Future War Cult, the equivalent of a respected elder and politician within the City. She disagrees with Ikora’s unilateral decision to house Fallen in the City so she’s riling up the people against them.
Then, on the other side, you have this relatively new, humble, soft-spoken Guardian. One who showed up in the City recently, but one whose reputation has grown because it’s known that he saved Commander Zavala’s life from a traitorous Psion. The mask on this soft-spoken Guardian’s face only adds to his charm and mystique. This chap goes around telling folks in the City that Eliksni aren’t the same as Fallen, that the House of Light is not the same as the Fallen Houses that came before them.
Over the season, there’s a good bit of back and forth between these key players. Lakshmi-2 and her growing, increasingly angry mob on one side and Crow, Mithrax, and Ikora on the other. For Lakshmi to win, she needs a crushing blow — something that will shatter the credibility of Ikora’s leadership and remove Mithrax and Crow from her path.
Instead of opening a Vex portal — which, let’s face it, is stupid as fuck — Lakshmi learns of an impending Vex attack on the Fallen and she simply allows it to happen. Somewhere along the way, she learns that Crow used to be Uldren Sov and unmasks him as he’s trying to defend the Eliksni from attack, besides Saint-14, Mithrax, Ikora, and Zavala.
And lo, suddenly, you have a very, very high stakes conflict.
Lakshmi-2 announces to the City that Crow is Uldren Sov. That Ikora has not only been harbouring Fallen but also the man who murdered one of the Vanguard. She rewrites history — as politicians do — painting Cayde’s death as a power grab by Ikora, a plot by the surviving members of the Vanguard to consolidate their power, and perhaps even increase it, in the City. She proclaims that their way of life and democracy itself is under attack and, by the Traveller, the Vanguard and the Fallen need to be stopped.
The season ends with the attack on the Fallen repelled; Crow forced to leave the City having learned of his past and unable to reconcile it with his present; Ikora and Zavala in a precarious position with their motives and integrity under attack; and Lakshmi triumphant.
Then, in the next, [REDACTED] season, Lakshmi then gets to wrap up her story; Crow gets a season away so Bungie doesn’t have to pay for more voice acting; and Ikora and Zavala try to redeem themselves in the eyes of the people they protect and try to remember what it means to be a Guardian.
When Bungie talks about interconnected narratives and such, this is what I want. This is what they need to do. Lakshmi and her rhetoric was a complicated problem that was concluded in a very simple way: bad person did bad thing and died and the other bad people left so only good people remain, huzzah.
I’m seeing a lot of talk online about what’s going to happen to the City now that the government is effectively gone and how that will be explored in future seasons. Realistically, I don’t think that’s going to happen. But it is what should happen.
Essentially, I’m saying if Bungie has a whole year to develop a narrative, they should use that year. Instead of starting a story in month 1 and finishing it in month 3, they should do what they did with Hunt and Chosen and give characters room to breathe and grow and actually affect the world around them.
They’ve kinda done it already. We have two seasons in which they’ve done it already. Now, if Bungie can just figure out how to do this consistently, we might find ourselves with a story experience the like of which Bungie has never been able to really give us before.
Time will tell, I suppose. Until then, all we can really do is cross our fingers and hope for the future.
- Destiny 2: Let’s talk about Season of the Splicer’s Epilogue some more - August 13, 2021
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- Destiny 2: Savathun is in the Tower, but who is she pretending to be? - June 15, 2021