Destiny 2’s ‘The Crow’, and the value of new beginnings

All screenshots, including the featured image, were taken by me. Contains spoilers for 2018’s Destiny 2: Forsaken if you haven’t completed it, and spoilers for current story content.

The Destiny franchise is, in part, about new beginnings. 

A terrible event known as the Collapse wiped out nearly all of humanity following its Golden Age. The Darkness attacked Earth, and extinction was prevented only by the Traveller, a moon-like machine that follows and sometimes protects various civilisations, driving back the Darkness. What was left of the entire human race started again in the shadow of where the Traveller chose to rest over Earth, the Last City. 

Ghosts, tiny flying robots created by the Traveller in its final moments before it was rendered inert by the Collapse, seek out those who have died but are capable of wielding the Light, or the power granted by the Traveller, and bring them back to life as Lightbearers, later known as Guardians — they are also immortal, unless their Ghost is destroyed, because upon death they can be brought back, exactly as they were moments before. 

Commander Zavala, an Awoken, with his Ghost on the right. Osiris, a Human, is in the background

These resurrected beings, whether they are Exo, Awoken or Human, have no innate memory of who they were before their original death. The life granted by their Ghost is an entirely unique one: they are a blank slate. Who you were before has no bearing on what you do next. It is a new beginning.

It is pretty rare in the Destiny universe to have any detailed knowledge at all about who a Guardian was before they were brought back. We know Ana Bray was in her pre-Guardian life one of the granddaughters of the megalomaniacal scientist Clovis Bray, and after being resurrected by her Ghost, Jinju, she deliberately sought out information about who she was, and retook that identity. And for all we know, our own Guardian, the character we play as, could have been anyone, or done anything, before they were resurrected by the Light. But that’s another story. 

Uldren Sov, however, is an entirely different kettle of fish. He was the Prince of the Awoken people, a society created after a colony ship carrying tens of thousands of people was influenced by the battle between the Traveller and the Darkness, changing those people into an entirely new, humanoid race. His twin, Queen Mara, was seemingly killed during a battle during the first game’s Taken King expansion, an event that drove him to madness as he searched for her fruitlessly. Riven, an Ahamkara (or ‘wish dragon’, a creature capable of granting anything the wisher wants, but for a price), herself under a form of possession, caused him to hallucinate Mara and hear her talking to him, setting off a chain of events that are frankly too complicated to explain in any detail here. In any case, Uldren murdered a beloved character, Cayde-6, and because Cayde’s Ghost had been destroyed not long before, he couldn’t come back. Eventually, Uldren himself was killed by either our Guardian or the Queen’s Wrath (essentially Mara’s regent) Petra Venj at the end of 2018’s Forsaken campaign.

The death of Cayde, an Exo and the Hunter Vanguard

You may be wondering where Uldren’s story fits in with the whole new beginnings thing. What happened at the end of Forsaken sounds pretty final, doesn’t it? 

And yes, you would be right. Most people were not sad to see him go: even if you ascribe his horrific actions during Forsaken to Riven’s influence, he had always been cocky, rude, and inconsiderate, caring only about gaining the approval of his sister.  What’s more, Mara, who was in fact not dead but in a sort of separate realm, knew about what happened to her brother. And it was during a visit to this place a while ago that we could access this cutscene, depicting a Ghost then-known as Pulled Pork. 

He happens across a corpse covered by a silk shroud, and I don’t think you need incredible powers of foresight to figure out the identity of this body. 

Yes, Pulled Pork brought the body of Uldren Sov back as a Guardian — but like every resurrected Guardian, he was a blank slate, so he had absolutely no idea who Uldren even was. You might initially think that this would be a new beginning, but really, there was no way that could have been the case. People still looked at him and saw the man who had killed their Hunter Vanguard, who had cursed the Awoken people. This new Lightbearer was still tied to his old identity, and he didn’t know why nearly everyone he encountered either wanted to, or managed to, kill him (only to be brought back by his Ghost and have the same thing happen not long afterwards). Pretty tragic stuff.

Crow as he appeared during Season of the Hunt

We didn’t hear much about him for a long time, but then Season of the Hunt came in November last year, and we discovered a whole lot about what had happened to him. He was now known as The Crow, and the wonderfully earnest and encouraging Pulled Pork was renamed by Crow to Glint. The lore tells us that he unsuccessfully tried to flee the Sol system (due to, you know, the constant threat of being murdered) and ended up being ‘rescued’ by the associates of The Spider, an Eliksni who made absolutely certain Crow would not be able to flee his employ by planting an explosive in Glint’s shell. Throughout the season, we came to see that he was not the same as Uldren, not even close, and our Guardian helped him out with Wrathborn Hunts and sympathised with his plight. 

Crow was trapped until our Guardian used Spider’s word against him and took Crow as their prize for defeating the High Celebrant. With Glint also saved, was this finally Crow’s new beginning? 

Freeing Crow from the Spider

Well… not really. Unfortunately, despite his newfound freedom, not much could be done about Crow’s face.

As a result, when the next season rolled around (the current Season of the Chosen), Osiris brought Crow to the H.E.L.M., a new area for strategy and planning, with a new outfit —  and a mask. (No, not that kind of mask.) 

The mask both ties Crow to Uldren, because if he doesn’t wear it that’s who people understand him to be, and offers him a fresh start, because wearing it means people see him for who he is now. With the mask on, he can construct an identity that’s entirely his own, without Uldren’s actions weighing him down: actions that Crow simply did not do. 

The growth we’ve seen from Crow is also testament to the talent of his voice actor, Brandon O’Neill. The difference between Crow before he left Spider and Crow at H.E.L.M. is night and day, never mind the difference between Uldren and Crow. He went from being reserved and sometimes moody to being confident and determined (and occasionally flippant), partly through the intervention of our Guardian, who, through a quest where the Traveller communicated with Crow, helped prove to him that he was worthy of being called a Guardian. And while I won’t spoil the most recent story elements in Season of the Chosen, things are getting even more interesting. Obviously, Crow is not perfect — he’s got a bit of an attitude and has been rubbing certain characters up the wrong way — but he is growing more and more into his personality, which is absolutely great to see (and sometimes hilarious).

Of course we like having you around. (Crow as he appears during Season of the Chosen)

Crow’s new beginning was never going to be so clear-cut as it is for other Guardians: his past life was marked by reprehensible stuff, things people cannot forgive, and his appearance keeps him connected to that. But in forging a new life for himself, his new beginning instead continues to develop. One day we will hopefully see Crow accepted, maskless, by his fellow Guardians for who he is, not who Uldren was. 

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