Hollywood has always tried to adapt video games into live-action films. With the exception of “Detective Pikachu,” the two “Sonic the Hedgehog” films, and “Werewolves Within,” all of them have ranged from bad to horrible. On the flip side, animated and anime adaptations of games have fared significantly well, and that too in a consistent fashion. Some of the recent releases, like “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners,” “Tekken: Bloodline,” “Arcane,” “Castlevania,” “The Cuphead Show,” and “Dota: Dragon’s Blood,” have proven that the change in the medium can be done without losing any of the IP’s gravitas. “Dragon Age: Absolution,” which is set in the world created by Davider Gaider and BioWare in the “Dragon Age” games but follows a group of original characters, is no different. The animation (produced by Red Dog Culture House) is kinetic, gory, and fun. The voice acting by Ashly Burch, Matthew Mercer, Phil LaMarr, Josh Keaton, Sumalee Montano, Kimberly Brooks, Keston John, and Zehra Fazal is excellent. The story is twisted and is unfolded brilliantly by showrunner Mairghread Scott and her team. So, let’s talk about it.
What Is The Reason Behind Miriam And Rezaren’s Rivalry?
Like the games, “Dragon Age: Absolution” takes place in Thedas, which is populated by humans, dwarves, elves, and the Qunari. The one region that the show focuses on is the Tevinter Imperium. The people living over there practice slavery. Since elves are considered second-class citizens in this realm, they are the ones who are enslaved by the Tevinter society. This world has mages who are born with the ability to wield magic. The mages have access to a parallel dimension called the Fade. It is home to various spirits. Sapient beings (with the exception of dwarves) can enter it when they dream. Mages can enter it directly, and those who live in the Fade can link up with the aforementioned individuals too. Since there are spirits and sentient beings involved, people can be possessed by them if the spirits are evil. Lyrium is important for magic (blue is good, red is bad), and “blood magic” (which involves murder) is forbidden. The Chantry trains these mages. They follow a god known as the Maker, respect the prophet Andraste, and are led by the Divine. But let’s get back to the slavery part.
So, Rezaren is a mage and has been brought up to master every kind of magic. As a child, he used to live with two slave elves, Miriam and Neb (FYI, they are twins). Rezaren used to be friendly to them, while his mother used to treat them incredibly poorly. When the three of them grew up, Rezaren was supposed to go through a magical process called the Harrowing, where he had to dip his hands into the Lyrium. But something went wrong, and Rezaren started to suffer seizures. So, Rezaren’s mother bound Neb to her son with magic so that Neb’s life force could be used to help Rezaren complete the process. Miriam, seeing her brother in that state, attacked and killed Rezaren’s mother. Neb wasn’t himself anymore due to the magic, and he attacked Miriam. Therefore, Miriam had to kill him too. To “help” Miriam avoid the death penalty, Rezaren allowed her to escape. Since that day, Rezaren has kept an undead Neb as his bodyguard by installing an evil spirit inside him. As a fully experienced mage who is capable of conducting blood magic, he now wants to use the Circulum Infinitus to permanently resurrect Neb. For that, he needs Miriam’s blood too. However, Miriam doesn’t want to magically resurrect Neb, especially when the end result will be her unending service to Rezaren. Hence, the rivalry.
Does Rezaren Get To Use The Circulum Infinitus?
Under the orders of Cassandra Pentaghast, Fairbanks, Qwydion, Roland, Hira, Miriam, and Lacklon are tasked with getting the Circulum Infinitus from an old summer palace in the city of Nessum and delivering it to Orlais. Meanwhile, Rezaren tries to summon a spirit called Memory to learn more about the Circulum Infinitus. His love interest and Knight Commander, Tassia, advises against it. But he continues to tinker with the thing in an attempt to wield it without using blood magic. When Memory reveals that there’s another person who seeks to use the Circulum but doesn’t name that person, Rezaren gets angry and forces Memory to answer him. Things get out of hand, and he realizes he is not going to understand the artifact so easily. His mission is hindered by the heroes as they steal the Circulum after a pitched battle with the sentries, demons, and a dragon deployed inside the castle. Why are there sentries, demons, and a dragon in there? Well, the sentries and the dragon are there for protection. However, the demons are unleashed by Hira. Why is that? Well, because of an apparent betrayal by Fairbanks.
Fairbanks was tasked with getting the Circulum along with Hira. But as soon as Hira broke the seal around the artifact (which was put up there by Rezaren), Fairbanks stabbed Hira, stole the Circulum, and made a run for it. Hira attacked him and launched the protocol in the castle, which would allow all kinds of demons and the dragon to attack its residents, thereby ensuring that no one could escape with the Circulum. But Fairbanks succumbs to his wounds, and Miriam gets to the artifact and escapes with it. Rezaren holds Hira hostage and uses a combination of blood magic and psychological torture via the Fade to force Miriam to not just bring back the Circulum but also give her blood to bring the undead Neb to life. Miriam tricks Rezaren into thinking that she is going to do exactly that. However, she and her team of misfits free Hira, who goes to the safe house to make sure that the Circulum is safe. Rezaren uses the re-unleashed dragon (Qwydion’s doing) to track Hira down and then uses the Circulum to resurrect Neb (using his own, Neb’s, Miriam’s, and the dragon’s blood). That plan backfires on Rezaren as Neb’s spirit refuses to go into his puppeteered body while also vanquishing the dark spirit inside it.
‘Dragon Age: Absolution’ Season 1: Ending Explained – Why Does Hira Betray Miriam?
So, a massive aspect of the show is the relationship between Hira and Miriam. After running away from Tevinter, Miriam found Hira. Both of them fell in love, and they were in a relationship. There’s a lot of talk about the Inquisition and the “Breach,” which is a mysterious tear in the sky that allowed demons to enter Thedas. This part of the overarching plot of the franchise happens in the 2014 installment, “Dragon Age: Inquisition.” All you need to know, though, is that Hira apparently fought during this battle and left Miriam. That’s why they broke up. Since Cassandra Pentaghast fought in the same battle, it makes sense that Hira got in touch with her and was given the task of acquiring the Circulum. But there’s more to her than that. We get a hint when Miriam tries to rescue Hira from her magical imprisonment, where she insinuates that she’s in that situation because of Fairbanks. However, we know that Fairbanks didn’t imprison her in any way. This means Hira is lying to Miriam so she can stay back at the castle.
When Tassia interrogates Hira, we not only get to know that the latter is from the northern section of Tevinter but that her father was burned alive by a dragon on the Venatori’s (a cult or a paramilitary group that is corrupted by dark magic) orders because her family helped those who were enslaved. So, she is clearly seeking revenge for that. But her whole plan to get the Circulum and then start her retaliation is weird and reeks of naivety. When the Inquisition refused to take down Tevinter with the help of the Circulum (because the Inquisition probably only wanted to get it away from the Mages of Tevinter), Hira turned to someone called The Crimson Knight. This mysterious character promised to turn the Templars (the Chantry’s military wing) against Tevinter and bring it to its knees. She says that she made a deal with Rezaren to make it look like the Circulum had been stolen from the palace. Hira, Fairbanks, Miriam, Lacklon, Roland, and Qwydion were supposed to be caught in the act. And, as per Hira, Rezaren would’ve just handed it over to her after performing his ritual involving himself, Neb, Hira, and a massive dragon.
Where did things go wrong, then? Well, Fairbanks was evidently aware of Hira’s eventual betrayal. So, he tried to nip things in the bud by killing Hira after she unlocked the Circulum. Sadly, he wasn’t talented enough to get away from her before she hurled a bunch of rocks at him and unleashed hell. After that, Hira tried to do two things simultaneously. She told Miriam to take the Circulum (that she had acquired after Fairbanks’s death) to Kirkwall to meet her contact at a place called The Hanged Man, and she faked her imprisonment to get an audience with Rezaren about the failure of their exchange. Both of those decisions backfired on her because Miriam didn’t go to Kirkwall, and Rezaren was in no mood to listen to her. That’s why, when she escaped from the palace, the first thing that she did was secure the Circulum. As soon as the heroes defeated Rezaren, she ran away with the Circulum again to get it to the Crimson Knight (this is the person Memory was referring to while talking about someone who is after the Circulum). Miriam realizes that Hira’s feelings for her have been overpowered by her need for revenge. That’s why she fails to understand that, without a dragon, she and the Knight will probably need to commit genocide to acquire all that blood to activate the Circulum. Which is something that the heroes can’t allow.
The mission for “Dragon Age: Absolution” Season 2 is pretty clear. Miriam, Lacklon, Roland, and Qwydion need to get to Hira and destroy the Circulum before it reaches the Knight. Hira has already revealed where she is going, i.e., Kirkwall. So, that’s where the heroes need to intercept her. Then we get a glimpse of the Crimson Knight’s castle. The Knight is informed that Hira is bringing the Circulum to her while being pursued by our heroes. The Knight states that nobody should hinder their crusade against the Imperium and orders her guards to kill the heroes and bring the Circulum. That makes it clear that this Knight will be a big issue for Miriam and her friends. But who is it? Well, rumor has it that that’s actually Meredith Stannard, the Knight Commander of the Templar Order in Kirkwall. Stannard was apparently an orphaned native of that place, and she eventually grew up to be a badass warrior. She was given the position of the Knight Commander after she attacked the Viscount’s Keep to exact justice for hanging her predecessor. She then proceeded to run the Templar Order in a strict fashion. And going by that conclusion, it looks like she still believes in the fact that her army is the most powerful in the world and everyone should bow before them. In addition to all that, it’s clear that Tassia is going to hit the heroes pretty hard, especially Miriam, for killing Rezaren. I am assuming that this will leave Tevinter unguarded, thereby allowing the Crimson Knight to destroy it easily.
“Dragon Age: Absolution” is a 2022 Animated Action series streaming on Netflix.