Feature Article

For Savathun, Destiny 2's Endless Night Was An Experiment In Forgiveness

We know Savathun was behind the Season of the Splicer's Endless Night, but the events of the epilogue give us more clues as to why she orchestrated it.

Note: This article contains spoilers for the epilogue of the Season of the Splicer. You might want to finish the mission "As Prophesied" before reading on.

This piece also builds on a previous look at Savathun's motivations, which you can read here: Destiny 2's Looming Villain Is Just Trying To Trick Us Into Being Her Friend

The epilogue for the Season of the Splicer brought an official end to the Endless Night and Savathun's plot. It also left a few major questions that have been building throughout the season. In the final cutscene, we saw Osiris, who's been suspect as hell all season, acting even more suspect. And with Savathun's attack on the City finally wrapped up, we're still wondering what she hoped to gain through all this.

When it comes to Savathun, the Hive god of trickery and deceit, nothing is certain. But we've gotten a whole lot of clues over the last season about what she might have been up to and how she was executing on her goals. Last time we looked at the story of the season, I suggested Savathun's end goal is to eventually make friends with us Guardians, in order to ally with us against the Darkness and break her pact with the worm gods. If we take that as a given (which is also pretty speculative, granted), then the actions of Savathun and other characters through the course of the Season of the Splicer make a little more sense.

First, let's go with the long-running fan speculation that Osiris is actually Savathun in some kind of shape-shifted disguise, something suggested by lore entries in this season and in the past, but still far from certain. Our man Osiris didn't dispel that notion in any way with his actions during the Endless Night epilogue event. According to Lakshmi-2, Osiris helped with opening the Vex portal in the Eliksni district. During the battle to save the Eliksni from the Vex, we saw that he watched the chaos without participating. Sure, Osiris is supposedly no longer a Guardian--his Ghost, Sagira, was killed a couple of seasons ago--so he'd be at risk of dying if he jumped into the fight, but that didn't stop Amanda Holliday or Mithrax from taking on the Vex.

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Osiris has since disappeared, adding more fuel to the speculation that he's actually Savathun. If that is the case, a lot of Osiris's weird actions throughout the season make a little more sense as works of obfuscation and misdirection. But what is it that Savathun was trying to accomplish with the Endless Night? Was she just trying to knock out the Last City with what seemed like a fairly weak plan? Was she hoping to generate unrest in the populace and distrust in the Vanguard (which, it must be said, are outcomes the Endless Night successfully brought about)? Did she think Lakshmi might have been successful in her coup, undermining Guardian authority and plunging the Last City into chaos?

All that seems doubtful. If we're being honest, the Endless Night never seemed like an especially dangerous threat. Sure, it was a problem, but it was mostly a creator of domestic issues within the City population, creating cracks in the unification of humanity that could make a lot of situations a lot worse over the long term. It never seemed like the Vex were poised to annihilate humanity or that Savathun was going to strike a devastating blow against the Guardians. The Endless Night could have been a lot worse for us, but it was never going to be a knockout.

So why execute this attack on the City and the Guardians, showing Savathun's hand and sacrificing resources and minions, if it never seemed like the Endless Night was capable of truly destroying the Guardian forces? Simple: Savathun was testing us, in a number of ways, for a number of reasons. Osiris was her means to do that, and his suspect dialogue makes a lot more sense throughout the season if you assume that he's observing and learning about us.

First, we've got our battle with the Vex and their network itself. After banging around in the network for a while, we discovered that Quria, a Taken Vex mind, was behind the whole thing, apparently at Savathun's direction. In the Expunge: Delphi mission, players venture into the Vex network, fight, and destroy Quria--or so it seems. That puts an end to the Endless Night, but as we asked before, why would Savathun put one of her most valuable assets in danger by letting us get to Quria in the first place? This battle is a big deal, because Quria is the only remaining entity (we think) that's able to "take" other life forms. Taking is the magic ability Oryx, the Taken King, used to control the minds of various creatures in order to build himself an army, and the power to turn enemies into allies seems way more useful to Savathun than trying to mess up the Last City with the Endless Night.

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But the sacrifice of Quria (if that's even what it was--I'm of the belief that Quria's death was a fakeout) makes way more sense if that battle was actually a test for Savathun to gauge the capabilities of Guardians. Osiris has interesting dialogue throughout the Expunge missions about the Guardians' ability to invade the Vex network, a strange computer space specific to the Vex that he's surprised we're able to penetrate, and mentions underestimating our abilities. There's also a Taken enemy present during the fight with Quria called the "Evaluator of Savathun." Osiris's comments about gauging our abilities and the presence of an enemy called "Evaluator" both make this feel like we're being observed for the purpose of gathering data. The Vex loving tests, experiments, and simulations, after all.

Previously, I speculated that Savathun's aim with all of this is an attempt to gain Guardians' help to fight and defeat the Hive's worm gods, who themselves are allies with the evil force called the Darkness. In the Destiny lore, eons ago, the Hive made pacts with these parasitic worms to gain their incredible power, with the caveat that the Hive would have to constantly feed those worms through murder and conquest. Recent lore suggests that Savathun wants out of that pact, since the worms' hunger never subsides--the more you feed them, the hungrier they become, and if the Hive ever stops feeding their worms, those worms will consume them.

If Savathun is considering teaming up with us against the worms and the Darkness, she would probably want to get a sense of whether we might actually be capable of winning before casting her lot with us. Hence, the presence of the Evaluator--and Osiris's comments.

You can expand that "testing" theory to the rest of the season, too. Osiris has a few moments where he seems to open a path for Lakshmi to continue her machinations, which include attempting a coup against Commander Zavala and the Vanguard. In one lore entry, Osiris counsels Lord Saladin to steer clear of Zavala, rather than give the commander his support. At another point, he turns down Mithrax's help to amplify the power of the device Lakshmi and the Future War Cult use to see into potential futures, which might have given Mithrax some new information about what Lakshmi had planned, or shown Lakshmi a different potential future that could have convinced her to change her actions. Over and over again, it seems that Osiris, if not purposely helping Lakshmi, is purposely avoiding hindering her. And during the epilogue, Lakshmi claims it was Osiris who helped her open her portal, and we see him watching the aftermath of the situation.

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On their face, all of those moves seem like Savathun-as-Osiris was just trying to sow chaos in the City and create problems for the Vanguard and the Eliksni, but Savathun's whole deal is plans within plans. Again, if we're assuming that the Endless Night wasn't the master stroke she thought would fully defeat humanity, then we have to ask what she would gain from all these machinations.

And specifically, she gained a whole lot of very specific information. With the Endless Night, Savathun created a situation in which the Guardians relied on Eliksni aid to save the City, and the Eliksni relied on the Guardians for a place to live safely. And then she started heating things toward a boil, staying out of Lakshmi's way as she generated anger about the Eliksni refugees. She learned how humanity would grapple with the possibility of turning hated enemies into equal allies.

As Savathun-as-Osiris watched the epilogue battle from the rooftops, she learned that Guardians could change; that a man who crusaded against the Eliksni, who they had once considered a monster, could become their protector; that humans would risk their own lives to save their new allies.

If Savathun is considering whether it would be possible for her to ally with humanity against the Darkness, she would need to know two things: first, whether the alliance had a chance of actually defeating the enemy, and second, whether humanity could be trusted to honor an alliance at all. While some, like Lakshmi, might not ever accept their former enemies as friends, many did. Savathun learned that Guardians would fight to save Eliksni lives--and that means they might fight to save Hive lives, too.

We're getting a better look at what to expect in the future of Destiny 2 later this month with a showcase on August 24, but there's already plenty of evidence about where the story is going. Since the release of Beyond Light, Destiny 2 has explored themes of peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness. Savathun's Endless Night wasn't an attack on the home of humanity, but a test of our humanity. From what the story beats and lore entries of the season suggest, I think Savathun has been surprised about what answers she's uncovered.


philhornshaw

Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw has worked as a journalist for newspapers and websites for more than a decade and has covered video games, technology, and entertainment for nearly that long. A freelancer before he joined the GameSpot team as an editor out of Los Angeles, his work appeared at Playboy, IGN, Kotaku, Complex, Polygon, TheWrap, Digital Trends, The Escapist, GameFront, and The Huffington Post. Outside the realm of games, he's the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler's Guide to Time Travel and The Space Hero's Guide to Glory. If he's not writing about video games, he's probably doing a deep dive into game lore.

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