Cut for spoilers and pictures for Dragon Age: Inquisition.
I put it off as long as I could.
Which is to say, as long as it took me to get Blackwall’s shit together and finally see his personal quest stuff. Then off to the Arbor Wilds. Because I’m not made of stone!
“The Inquisition Marches” : one of the best scores in the game, and a cutscene montage right up there behind Journey to Skyhold. Obviously the similarity in those two tracks makes me biased, but look at Cullen all leaderly up there! How can you nitpick that.
A little badassery.
Oh, I did do the Temple of Dirthamen–had never been there before. Solas is so good at keeping his mouth shut. Since he probably felt like crap this entire time. Because…
…my Solas theories run rampant as ever. Consider this banter, which, having not historically kept a Solas-Cole team going before, I’d never heard:
Cole: You don’t need to envy me, Solas. You can find happiness in your own way.
Solas: I apologize for disturbing you, Cole. I am not a spirit, and sometimes it is hard to remember such simple truths.
Cole: They are not gone so long as you remember them.
Solas: I know.
Cole: You didn’t do it to be right. You did it to save them.
Me: Solas, what is Cole talking about?
Solas: A mistake. One of many made by a much younger elf who was certain he knew everything.
Cole: You weren’t wrong, though.
Solas: Thank you, Cole.
Oh the spluttering that ensued at my desk following that one.
So, because I have already harangued my DA:I-playing friends today with my theories, let us summarize in brief my Solas speculations:
1.) Solas, like Doctor Who, caused bad shit to happen to his people without entirely intending to. But by “his people” here, I mean not only ancient elves, but more broadly, gods. Both the Old Gods and the Elven ones. He locked them up–the Old Gods below, and the Elven ones above–as a brash young fool who thought it was the only way to save them.
2.) Based on his early discussions about ancient elves in Haven, he is probably also responsible for the mortality of elves. He says that immortality was a side effect of the magic they practiced. Magic which they have since lost. How did they lose it exactly? By their gods abandoning them? And who exactly is responsible for that? Yeahhhhh. Solas probably feels like crap 90% of the time here. Ouch.
3.) When he receives that Old God soul from Mythal, we aren’t to interpret it as an “oh snap now he’s gonna be some evil Lord of the Blight” situation. Because he posits–with a degree more reliability than any other of our sources, I might add–that the blight does not stem from the Old Gods. That is why he is so frustrated with the Grey Wardens. At Adamant he says they just go around killing Old Gods to stop the Blight, but if they kill all the Old Gods and the Blight persists, what then? What Grey Wardens are good at is killing Old Gods, not at actually stopping the Blight. If the two aren’t connected, not only is the world still doomed, and still bereft of the Old Gods (which, remember, Solas probably still feels pretty bad about, since he as Fen’Harel locked them up in the first place), but Grey Wardens are rendered pointless. All they did was rob the world of powers that were already made vulnerable by Solas’ actions. Which brings us to…
4.) …his name. It means pride, but I now think he took that name as a kind of self-mockery / penance. He references himself, after all, as having been “a much younger elf who was certain he knew everything.” So he took the name Solas when taking this form–“a solid form is both a shackle and a strength; it affects more than you can imagine,” he tells the spirit in Crestwood–as a little knife-twist to himself. “Oh, good job you proud jackass, look at what you’ve done.” That sort of thing. Because:
5.) What Pride Had Wrought. That “pride” can be read as Pride–as Solas. Yes, I know, technically it’s supposed to be a quote from the Chant of Light. But where would be the fun in singular meanings? Canticle quote it may be, but Solas took the name that meant pride and he royally fucked things up for the gods. Which means:
6.) Either he will perish trying to set things aright, or he will successfully manage it and they’ll kill him for what he has done. Maybe in this game’s next DLC, maybe in the next one (this seems more likely; it would be odd to address what is essentially the big mind-blowing epilogue to this entire game in one DLC). If he explains things first that would be cool, but I would also be okay with ambiguity if the explanation is replaced by some sort of heartrending leavetaking. Massively underplayed of course, because Solas. But still. If we could basically have this feels of the Doctor Who episode where this plays:
…I would be a happy woman. Well, okay, I’d be sobbing, but that’s kind of the point.* I adored Dorian because he was a good man. I adored Cullen because he was fractured but you could help fix him. Solas, you cannot help. He is so beyond you. And there is no forgiveness for what he has done. I love that. It’s not your call–maybe you can spare Blackwall, sure, and maybe you found it in your heart to forgive Anders, even. But Solas is not going to be up to you. Your character will not decide the fate of gods. He is boned. He will be taken from you. The best you can do is try and understand why. The sprawling gameworld that stands between you and that much-coveted knowledge is tantalizing to me. It’s one reason why I enjoy these replays so much.
Cole (describing his fellow party members, when you ask him to): “Solas, bright and sad, reminding me how to fly free, forgive, forgiven, forget.”
Solas doles out that ability from a place of knowledge: from knowing that these things–freedom, forgiveness, forgetting–are things that will be forever denied him. But he still finds the compassion and decency to be concerned that Cole be able to find these things for himself. God damn, Solas. Melt.
* For reals, people. Do you not see the interspersed furious sadness over my mother’s illness and what it has done to my family, in between gaming posts here? I am perpetually on the edge of a sob. So please, game, make me cry. It’s for the best.