***Spoiler Warning: This article contains possible spoilers for the Destiny 2 story, as well as the upcoming Lightfall expansion. If you aren’t caught up on the current canon, be warned.***
With the release of Destiny 2’s Season of the Plunder, Guardians have been loving the swashbuckling action and morally questionable piracy in Destiny’s latest content offering. Over the first three weeks, the story has been lighthearted, with the Drifter cracking jokes and even flirting with the aloof Eris Morn, as well as Spider, getting the short end of the stick from practically everyone.
The only hints of drama seem to be focusing on the past of Mithrax (or Misraaks, as the Eliksni call him) and his reluctance to open up about it to his daughter. In comparison to the dire circumstances and oppressive tone of Season of the Haunted, which reached into three characters’ inner trauma, as well as foreshadowing the encroaching darkness in Destiny’s future, Season of the Plunder is a breath of fresh air. But does it feel so different right now, and how does the tone tie into Destiny 2’s grander narrative?
Never has a Destiny season been so jovial, especially this close to the release of a major expansion. In fact, most Destiny seasons have been fairly serious affairs, with some having a more hopeful tone than others.
In pretty much every previous instance, there always tends to be some world-ending threat of some kind that needs dealing with, character growth to be had, and some shift in the Destiny status quo. In the Season of the Splicer, the Last City was cast under perpetual night by the Vex, and it was only through learning to work with our new Eliksni allies and acknowledge how Guardians have treated them that we could save the Last City and discover that Osiris (possessed by the Hive Queen Savathun) had been sabotaging it in the background.
In the Season of the Worthy, the Cabal superweapon the Almighty was being hurled at the Last City, and in order to overcome this grave threat Commander Zavala had to overcome his doubts about the AI Warmind Rasputin to stop the Last City from being destroyed. The season ended with us learning about the impending arrival of the Black Fleet in the following season.
While Season of the Plunder is following some of the same patterns, the stakes feel surprisingly low. Eramis the Shipstealer, having been revived, has been sent to plunder artifacts of Darkness from Eliksni past, but Guardians have successfully beat her at obtaining these artifacts with relative ease while also having fun with Destiny’s sillier characters. Not knowing what is in these artifacts, the stakes remain rather low, as it seems no one is in any particular danger at the moment, and Eramis has yet to prove that she’s an actual threat.
To discover why the tone of the season is light, we must look back to Season of the Risen and the prophecy foretold by the dark Psions in the Vox Obscura mission. In the exotic quest, we learn from psionic propaganda of a potential future for the following reasons:
“The Leviathan reborn. The Shipstealer revived. The city besieged; your Traveler infected by darkness.”
At the time, it was hard to tell if this warning was something to listen to or ignore, given its nature as propaganda. Just as much as there was a chance of it happening, there was an equal chance of it being proven wrong. However, as the seasons have continued to progress, it has become clearer that the prophecy is coming to pass.
In the previous season, Season of the Haunted, the Leviathan had been reborn, drowned in egregore and the nightmares of the moon. This lines up with the order of events outlined in the prophecy, seeing as Ermais’ revival occurred this season. What that leaves us is the final piece of the prophecy: A siege on the Last City and the Traveler infected by darkness.
The last time the Last City was properly under siege was all the way back at Destiny 2’s launch in the Red War campaign. While the campaign itself was on the easier side of things, the Last City almost fell by the hand of the Red Legion. While the Cabal are strong in their own right, their power is dwarfed by that of the Witness and the Black Fleet. If the Black Fleet is to invade, even with the help of our Cabal and Eliksni allies, our loss is all guaranteed.
Looking at the seasonal storyline as a whole, this fits with traditional storytelling structures. When covering a heavy storytelling beat, such as the Season of the Haunted’s deep dive into past trauma and emotional scarring, it is good to let those consuming the story take a breather before things get worse. A direct example of this is in Destiny 2’s Forsaken campaign.
In the opening mission, after a long fight, Cayde-6 dies in a dramatic cutscene, followed by the rest of Destiny’s Vanguard mourning his loss. The mission that follows is a mix of exploration and light combat, with some worldbuilding mixed in for good measure.
The story slows down and lets players process what has happened and its potential consequences while still moving forward. The same thing has occurred with the transition from Season of the Haunted and Season of the Plunder. The reason the tone is light is that Bungie is giving us a moment of peace before things escalate dramatically.
From there, we can also predict what might occur during the next season by taking a look at what follows Rising Tension: Rising Action. During the part of the story known as Rising Action, the stakes become dire, or even at their worst, and the heroes wind up losing something. Whether that be a battle, or a person or object important to them, this loss spurs the heroes on to find further victory in the narrative’s Climax.
If the next season is to be the seasonal storyline’s Rising Action, then what is to be lost? What will spur Guardians forward into Lightfall? The answer ties directly back to the psionic prophecy: the loss of the Last City and the Traveller.
It is important when building up to a villain that you show their strength and solidify their threat to the heroes. The worst thing that happened to the Last City was its short occupation by the Red Legion, which was dealt with in a rather short amount of time. To make the Witness and its Black Fleet seem threatening, they will need to do something that one-ups that.
The direct conclusion to draw is that rather than merely being pushed out of the Last City, it will be lost. And considering the line the Witness said to the Traveller at the end of the Witch Queen campaign, where it says that ‘your pale heart holds the key,’ we’ll be losing the Traveler as well.
With that being said, using lore clues as well as an understanding of how Destiny 2’s seasonal storytelling model works, we can pretty easily determine who will be the ones conquering the Last City. Starting off with the lore evidence, the Last City has been lost in an alternate timeline known as the Dark Future. In it, we learn that in an event known as the Bombardment that the forces of the Witness, comprised of the Cabal, Savathun’s Hive, Eramis’s House Salvation, and the Dark Guardians.
In it, they besieged the city for an undetermined amount of time, leaving it in ruins and the Guardians scattered. In our current timeline, some of the key players of the event are either missing or weakened by our own efforts. The Loyalist Cabal, being led by Calus, have been shown to be the primary antagonists of Lightfall and thus would more than likely be able and willing to participate in the siege.
In this timeline, Savathun turned to the light along with her brood, which means it is likely that the Hive Goddess of War Xivu Arath will take her place. Eramis has been revived this season, although her House has been dramatically weakened and thus are not likely to play the biggest role in the Bombardment.
While the Vex did not participate in the Bombardment, considering they invaded the Last City during the Endless Night in the Season of the Splicer, they may be coerced into participating by the Witness. The Taken will most likely appear, being Destiny’s direct tie to the Darkness since the Taken King expansion seven years ago. Finally, the Dark Guardians do not exist in this timeline and thus will most likely not be a concern.
The idea of a long-term siege also lines up with the seasonal storytelling model, which is designed to be spread across the course of three months. The siege will more than likely last the entirety of the season, with the Last City evacuating during its final hours.
The Last City has a fleet in waiting, as does the missing Dead Orbit faction that might come to assist. It would explain why the helm is a spaceship, as it might wind up being our permanent Tower-like base of operations in the long run with the Last City gone.
The previous pre-Expansion seasons have also had a big loss occur at the end of their cycle, with half of the solar system disappearing in the Season of Arrivals and Savathun escaping in the Season of the Lost. This would additionally explain why Lightfall takes place on Neomuna, rather than the Last City: because unbeknownst to us, we will be losing the Traveler next season, and we may be going to Neomuna to try and find something to help fight the Witness.
That being said, all of this is speculation. Bungie may have entirely different plans for the story that we do not yet have the full context for, and this should all be taken with a grain of salt. If the Last City were to fall, Bungie would have to spend time and resources on replacing the Tower with a new social hub, whether that be the Helm or something else, and that may not be something they want to put development time in at the moment. What we do know is that something big is on the horizon and that with Bungie’s recent track record that it’s going to be a compelling conclusion to the seasonal narrative.
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