Who is Savathûn?
Savathûn is not the Hive god of lies; Savathûn is the Hive god of cunning. Lying and cunning are two similar yet very different ideas. Whereas “lying” is nothing more than to deceit, “cunning” is to achieve one’s end through deceit and/or craftiness or guile. Savathûn lies, directly or through omission, and gaslights, but she doesn’t only and always lie. She can and most certainly will tell the truth, even if she is doing so to her own benefit. Players who just picked up Season of the Lost can still witness a moment of Savathûn telling the truth during the seasonal story quest:
You don’t have to say. We’ve all heard it before: “the line between Light and Dark is so very thin.” As if you were incapable of lifting your eyes from a scrawl of a chalk on the ground… The Traveler and the Light on one foot, your old enemies and the Darkness at the other. Let me tell you a secret. If you ever want to see what’s been watching you since the very beginning, just stand on that line, and look… up.”
Savathûn is right. A force, one much older and even more power than any of this game’s characters, exists called The Nothing. Lore pages tangentially mention The Nothing, and players only know so much about it. All we know is that it is Dark in nature and may actually be controlling the Taken. Additionally, players know that the Light and Dark morality is more or less incoherent. In Beyond Light, Players wielded Darkness powers without becoming corrupted, and The Witch Queen demonstrates how merely being able to harness the Light does not automatically make the wielder “good.” By understanding Savathûn’s nature, we can make sense of some of the lore pages surrounding her.
Savathûn’s Evolution and Machinations
Savathûn is not a single note, one-dimensional, keikaku doori evil villain with a single yet simple motivation for her dastardly plans. She is a conniving and calculating character with plans that are potentially millions of years in the making. Between Season 12 and Season 14, players are able to witness a shift in her character through three important lore tabs, the Traveler’s Chosen, Hawkmoon, and Retrofuturist weapon lore tabs. Starting off with the Traveler’s Chosen, we see Savathûn observing Zavala and the imminent loss of Io, Mercury, Mars, and Titan as well as the allies still on those locations:
I push into my ossific den and he is there.
I see him looking over the side, toward his Traveler, head bent. He is speaking softly, but I can hear him. Anyone who was listening could.
He waits for a response and I do as well, tense, curious. He stands attentively, this loyal dog of a man. It is no time at all for me, but for him, the hours creep by in silence.
I am ready to choke the voice of his Traveler if it answers him, but there is nothing. He tightens his grip on the railing.
I feel something shift inside him and a new possibility presents itself.
Again, I press against the sockets. The net creaks softly with my eagerness.
Someone approaches and he turns his back to his Traveler. There is an exchange, obscured by the rubicund thrash.
He is given reports. Hope bleeds from him. He gives the messenger a token of his faith. They accept it without understanding its meaning.
He watches as they leave. There is a hollow place in his center. It is beautiful.
I return warily.
I do not see him, but I hear him. He speaks to all with a voice thick with grief.
I must learn how far I have been set back. I reach to him tentatively. Strength. I push—and feel only sweet, soft rot.
I am delirious with pleasure. It gave them no answers; it was a reflex, the spasm of dumb muscle.
A song of joy rises within me.
In this passage, Savathûn finds overwhelming joy in humanity’s set back at the hands of the Black Fleet. Not only is humanity in a vulnerable position where those disenfranchised by the Light are now more susceptible to the Darkness’ influence, but they are also vulnerable to whatever Savathûn has planned. Despite their loss, humans and especially Guardians still celebrate whatever small victory they make and their continued existence in the face of impending doom. Savathûn is confused as seen in the Hawkmoon lore tab:
What is this feeling?
I did not ask for it. I do not understand it. I do not want it.
The Crow is so carefree in his ignorance. The bonfire’s glow lights up his pale features and I am drawn to the hope in his gold eyes. Where is the despairing child I anticipated?
He drinks from an open bottle of wine against the recommendation of his Ghost. The Guardian encourages him and they are laughing. This celebration is maddening; neither have reason to be so jubilant. Their world is ending and they thrash like dying creatures in the final light of collapsing stars. They do not seem to acknowledge the futility of their existence, the impermanence of it in the face of cosmic annihilation.
Now the Guardian is drinking, standing close to the fire. Their Ghost, too, encourages them not to partake. They poison themselves for the enjoyment of it.
I am reminded of my sisters. Of moments spent by lapping shores, gazing up at infinite stars full of possibilities and wonder. I am left yearning.
What is this feeling?
I do not understand it. I do not want it.
They are celebrating their victory over the Taken. The Crow is making a gun shape with his hand, swinging the nearly empty bottle of wine around in the other like a Sword. The Guardian looks pensive, sitting on a rock by the fire, contemplating the secret they are keeping. The Crow notices, but tries not to show it. He wants the Guardian’s spirits to be lifted. He wants to be supportive, so that they may share in their triumphs together.
I am reminded of my home. I am reminded of the warmth of the sun and the embrace of my family. I am reminded of my father’s face. I am reminded of everyone I betrayed. All the blood spilled in the name of immortality. The warmth of the sun burns me with its memory.
What is this feeling?
I do not want it.
The fire has nearly died. The Crow fell over and cannot stand, though he insists he is fine. The Guardian is turning the embers with the tip of their Sword. The Ghosts are talking to one another in quiet conspiracy. The celebration has ended, but I can sense their emotions are mixed: complex and myriad things, when a simple, singular focus would suffice.
There is a growing kinship here. Against better judgment.
What is this feeling?
For context, the player helps Crow take out Savathûn’s forces in the dam of the EDZ in the Harbinger mission. To say Savathûn is bewildered is an understatement. Savathûn watches in astonishment and absolute perplexity. Humanity had just lost so much, yet they are still celebrating what little existence they have left?
A massive take away here is, for the first time in a long time, she reminisces of a time of peace and tranquility, a time where she had her family. An era where her family ruled over what would become the Hive. An age where she did not make a pact with the Worm gods. An instance where she did not have to kill in order to satisfy a ravenous worm inside her. Savathûn, in this moment, longs for a world without her worm and the looming war between the Light and Dark. Thus, she begins to orientate herself on the gravity of her situation: she and all the Hive are about to meet their end.
The Hive adopted their philosophy from the Dark. In short, the Dark’s philosophy is that existence is the struggle to exist, and those who cannot maintain their existence deserve to not exist. This philosophy is why necromancy is an act of treason to the Hive. If one of them dies, then, according to their logic, one deserved that death. The problem with Savathûn in particular is that her worm feeds off the essence of those she and the Hive kill. Consequentially, she and the Hive that kill and tithe their essence to her will eventually kill every single living being in the universe. The result? Savathûn will no longer be able to feed her worm, and she will die. The Dark wants the end of existence. Period. What can she do to avoid her demise? Well, we must look at the Retrofuturist lore tab:
I watch them frolic blithely beneath their oblivious god.
I am among those assembled to witness their training. They wish to become stronger than the Cabal. Than Xivu Arath. Than the Hive.
Their ignorance of their true enemy is overwhelming—they cannot even put a name to it. I am choked with rancid ambrosia.
Two men now remain in the artificial battleground. Their movements are simplistic: one charges blindly ahead. The other rolls to the side, fires a shotgun, and his opponent falls.
The victor turns to the crowd and removes his helmet. Oily fluids bead on the flesh of his face. He bears teeth that squirm with microbial life. He throws his arms upward in jubilation and the masses cheer.
I do not join them—this form affords me some dignities.
Behind the creature reveling in minor triumph, sacrilege: A perfect being materializes. It gathers meat and offal from the ground and reassembles it. An unfathomable gift is given.
The crowd has seen this miracle countless times. It has lost all meaning to them. They see it as a resource.
I look up into the blank white face. I feel its Light on my cheeks. It no longer burns me.
Each revival is a choice.
I know what to do.
While watching a crucible match disguised as Osiris, Savathûn begins to understand the power that the guardians’ ghosts possess. The power to come back to life at any time is incredibly versatile and frightening. Savathûn understands the potentiality of resurrections. Meanwhile, Humanity forgot the meaning of death since since they’ve “seen this miracle countless times.” Why be concerned with death when a ghost can bring you back at any moment indefinitely? If Savathûn had her own ghost, then she would unbind herself from her worm and the Darkness. Whereas the Dark’s philosophy is about taking, the Light’s philosophy is about creating complex, harmonious systems. The power the Light offers can achieve just that. Thus, she will have the power to sustain both herself and the Hive and protect themselves from the Darkness. How will she go about acquiring the Light though? Well, the Crow is key here.
How the Crow fits into Savathûn’s Plan
Considering that Savathûn has been Crow’s mentor, he shares a connection with her, something dangerous. Not only does Mara Sov, his sister, know about his past life and how he died, so does Savathûn. At this point, Crow doesn’t know a single bit about his former self, Uldren Sov, Prince of the Awoken. Furthermore, in his past life, Crow obsessed over Mara. In fact, Crow’s devotion to his sister was nothing short of suicidal. Queen Mara and Crow were in a rather toxic co-dependent relationship with Crow always doing what he can in order to win over his sister’s validation. Despite all of his attempts, Mara always dismissed him but not out of an act of malice or disinterest.
Mara purposefully kept Crow a distance. Not so far that he’d give up on her but not so close that his devotion fades away. Mara only treated him that way because she was lonely. Being a queen of a race she made while being alive for millions of years (time works differently on the Awoken home world)? Mara has no one, so she needs someone who will give his or her undying love for her. These actions are inexcusable, but they put the current situation into context. Mara and Crow need each other because they are both broken, lonely people in a world Mara thrusted everyone onto. Now that the Crow is no longer in that relationship, he is now vulnerable to Savathûn. After all, Whatever she told him came from her own heart, genuine or not.
Savathûn feels more personal toward Crow since, like Mara Sov, she’s alone too. She did say she wanted to reveal to the Crow about his former self herself (how no one told him in the two years since his death is beyond everyone but oh well). Savathûn lost her brother, her other sister, Xivu Arath, is hunting her, and she has no family. Crow is the closest thing to family to her, and Crow only ever had three people love him. Those people were Saint-14 (to an extent), the player, and Savathûn. Imagine learning that the only people whoever loved you is your killer (the player) and a literal god of lies and deceit.
If the lore tab for Hawkmoon is indeed true and Savathûn does care for Crow, then it’s possible that no one would believe her. Mara losing her brother in spite of her treatment of him is a tragedy, but Savathûn losing Crow simply because of her nature is a bigger tragedy. That tragedy would put Mara in the position to take accountability for manipulating and emotionally abusing Crow in addition to her trying to play god with the Awoken race. If a Hive god can change who she is, then why can’t the Queen of the Awoken do the same? What if she refuses? Mara must face this inevitability. Someone will reveal the truth, and she will have to take a long look at her reflection.
Savathûn has reasons to use Crow for studying the Light. In fact, she is already using him. Back in Season of the Hunt, Crow accidentally gave her ghost shells to study. Of course, he did not know Savathûn was Osiris at that point. One aspect of the Light to point out is that the Traveler chooses to turn the dead into guardians and only the dead. If Savathûn is to take the Light, then she undoubtedly has to die get it. However, she would lose her memory in doing so, but that’s why studying Crow is important: she can learn how to get her memories back. This quandary makes Crow the perfect subject to see if guardians can fully regain their memory.
Stealing the Light outright is not an option because when Ghaul tried to, he committed an act of Darkness, corrupting the Light which ultimately killed him. Since Savathûn is the god of cunning, nothing is stopping her from tricking the Traveler into rebirthing her in the Light. We even see a Pyramid ship in her own throne world, indicating that he is smart and powerful enough to take on one of the strongest entities in the universe. Can she die to gain access to the Light? Yes, she very well can.
Wow, that’s a lot of information. These elements are important since this season’s story hinges on how well Bungie tells it. Many of you are probably still processing all of this info or are just wanting a quick rundown of the theory. Here’s a quick summary:
Savathûn understands that her death is inevitable and even on the horizon. In addition to yearning for a more blissful time like her days of old, she realizes that the key to her survival is to cheat her way out of her pact with the Worm gods. To do so, Savathûn must learn how the Light works in order to take it and wield it, using Crow as her subject. Since stealing the Light is impossible, she must die, have the Traveler resurrect her, and retrieve her memories. This method would also rid of her worm, solving her mortality problem. Lastly, she will then use her Light to create her own army of guardians.
Now this article has a many references to lore not found through cutscenes or gameplay. Most of this lore comes from various lore books in the game to read. Thankfully, fans around the world created databases containing all the pages of the lore ever released. Some good sources to look into are Destinypedia and the Ishtar Collective. These databases are very good and resourceful for anyone interested in the Destiny universe.
What do you think Savathûn’s plan is? How do you think Crow will react when he learns the truth about his past? Leave a comment below and share what you think! Remember to check out our YouTube channel and Twitter for more if you like what you read. Until next time, thank you for reading. Take care!
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