Netflix just released a new trailer for Dragon Age: Absolution, which is a six-episode animated show about a magical heist made in collaboration with BioWare. I criticized the last trailer for being generically bland. The new trailer is a significant improvement over what Netflix had originally shown. If you’re a BioWare sicko like me, then you might have picked up on some clues about the plot of Absolution. They’re not hidden, but they require a bit of Dragon Age knowledge to parse.
The story is set in the Tevinter Imperium, a brutal nation where slavery is still legal and slave uprisings are frequent. Our band of heroes are hired to steal a powerful artifact to keep it out of the “wrong” hands. While I haven’t seen any references to in-game events, I noticed that Cassandra Pentaghast was giving some exposition to the main cast of Absolution. Cassandra is a Seeker of Truth (a sort of anti-magic secret police), and she helped the player save the world in Dragon Age Inquisition. Which means that the series likely takes place after the events of Inquisition. BioWare has previously included spin-off content into sidequests for Inquisition, so I wouldn’t be surprised if elements of the show made it into Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, the latest entry in BioWare’s action-RPG series. So even if you’re on the fence about watching Absolution, it might be worth it for the Dreadwolf lore crumbs.
The trailer mostly focuses on the protagonist Miriam, who is an elven slave in the Imperium. It shows her owner using humans as part of a painful ritual. This form of spellcasting is called blood magic, which often sacrifices lives in order to increase a mage’s power. It’s safe to say that Miriam has always lived with the knowledge that she can be killed by her “mother” at any time. So it feels a little unfair when her friend Hira accuses her of being a coward who won’t take a stand against injustice.
But that’s what I find fun about the Absolution trailer and Dragon Age as a franchise. Do-gooders and freedom fighters who are ostensibly on the same side will have disagreements based on their social class, experiences, and individual traumas. If Absolution can give me a ton of intra-factional conflict in six episodes, then I’m happy with it.
But I’m also a little apprehensive about one aspect of the story trailer—its antagonist. He eventually obtains the show’s MacGuffin,the Circulum Infinitus. The artifact uses blood magic as its power. Here’s how Cassandra describes his actions: “I cannot recall any good coming from something fueled by murder.” However, his quotes seem to suggest that he’s trying to improve the Imperium. In the Dragon Age world, that usually means ending slavery or breaking up the existing power structure of powerful mages. Both of these aims are noble, and I don’t want to see that cause tainted by an awful plot device. It feels that every well-intentioned revolutionary in fantasy media inevitably ends up being saddled with human rights violations in order to show why rebellion is wrong. I only hope that Absolution doesn’t end up falling into such a tired trope.
Dragon Age: Absolution will be coming to Netflix on December 9.