Destiny 2’s Best Character Has Taken Center Stage Once Again

Since the conclusion of the campaign of Destiny 2’s 2022 expansion, The Witch Queen, it’s been obvious that we haven’t seen the last of Savathun, the Hive God of Cunning. The villain’s messages and machinations have been left around The Witch Queen’s signature location, the Throne World, and while players brought down Savathun at the end of the expansion, she’s still been a looming presence, capable of returning at any time.

With the Season of the Witch, Destiny 2 finally brought Savathun back to the main story, albeit through more messages and machinations. In order to take on Savathun’s sister, Xivu Arath, the Hive God of War, the protagonists of Destiny 2 had to ally themselves with Savathun’s lieutenant and enact an elaborate plan she left for them. Even in death, Savathun has been pulling the Guardians’ strings.

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The conclusion of the Season of the Witch created some serious repercussions in Destiny 2’s story, and has likely set up the major circumstances for the final showdown with the Witness in the game’s next expansion, The Final Shape. But especially in the story’s last few moments, all the ins and outs of what happened this season, as well as what it means for Destiny’s characters and the plot going forward, can be a little hard to follow.

The most important thing you need to know, however, is that Savathun’s plans are finally coming to full fruition.

Spoilers for the conclusion of the Season of the Witch’s story follow.

The goal of Season of the Witch has always been to bring back Savathun. As we learned in the Season of the Deep, Savathun has the knowledge necessary to follow the Witness through the portal it created in the Traveler back in the Lightfall expansion. Savathun apparently planned for the eventualities that occurred in Lightfall, and knowing her help would be required, she left behind some instructions. She’d help the Guardians after being resurrected, but only if they ensured her safety by eliminating Xivu Arath, who has been hell-bent on destroying the turncoat Savathun for quite a while now.

Here’s a lengthier and more detailed rundown of Destiny 2’s recent story, including The Witch Queen and Lightfall, if you need a refresher.

Dealing with Xivu Arath is no mean feat. The Hive God of War draws power from all warfare, not just those battles she wins. This was the problem back in the Season of the Seraph, before Lightfall was released. In that season, players worked with Rasputin, the AI in control of all of Earth’s ancient orbital defenses, to try to fight against Xivu Arath. Rasputin realized that even if Xivu Arath’s forces lost the battle, she’d gain so much power from the destruction itself that she’d still win the war. His solution was to sacrifice himself and destroy his weapons to prevent that from happening.

So dealing with Xivu Arath means amassing a huge amount of power. Eris Morn, the eponymous witch of Season of the Witch, came up with a solution. Eris has centuries of animosity built up with Destiny’s most evil aliens, and she’s been working on getting her revenge since all the way back in the first Destiny 1 expansion, The Dark Below. Through the use of Hive magic this season, Eris was able to turn her thirst for the Hive’s destruction into strength, transforming herself into a Hive god: the God of Vengeance.

So just as Xivu Arath gains power from warfare, Eris gained strength from taking vengeance on the Hive. Players have spent all season killing enemies in order to “tithe” their power to Eris, helping her build the strength necessary to beat Xivu Arath. The whole endeavor has also required teaming up with Immaru, Savathun’s floating jerk of a Ghost and one of the primary antagonists of The Witch Queen expansion.

This isn’t without its risks. Everyone is a little reticent about Eris embracing her dark side and sucking up a bunch of Hive power, to say nothing of the fact that whenever she takes tithes, Eris physically transforms into a Hive monster. There has been some fear among the other Destiny 2 characters that this power could corrupt Eris and she might turn into a Hive permanently.

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There’s actually some precedent for that fear, too. Back in Beyond Light, we learned a whole lot about Elsie Bray, otherwise known as the Exo Stranger. Elsie is a time traveler who has seen the future where humanity loses the war with the Witness and has been doing her best to prevent that from coming to pass. In the Dark Futures lore book, which details what Elsie saw in other timelines, we learn that Darkness corrupted Eris Morn and she became even more frightening and formidable than Savathun. In that future, it was Eris who destroyed the Vanguard and the last chances of Earth.

Other characters have trusted Eris all along, though, and in the finale of the Season of the Witch’s story, we saw that that trust was well-placed. After players defeated the Leviathan-Eater, one of Xivu Arath’s top, longest-lived lieutenants, Eris finally had basically all the power she thought she was going to get. It still wasn’t enough to take on Xivu Arath, however, so in a desperate play for more strength, Eris executed a plan with Ikora.

Savathun’s body was transmatted to Savathun’s Spire for the final tithe, where Eris told Immaru to revive her. Resurrected, Savathun had about three seconds to say something pithy before Eris sliced her throat, killing her again. That final act of vengeance against such a powerful being provided an enormous final tithe to push Eris over the edge.

But Eris didn’t try to kill Xivu Arath; as it turns out, that would have been next to impossible. Xivu Arath is just too strong for Eris to go toe-to-toe with her. So instead, Eris spent her massive amount of power in a different way. She used the Hive ritual to sever Xivu Arath’s connection with the God of War’s Throne World. That has the effect of cutting Xivu Arath off from her immortality; she’s still super powerful, but now she’s mortal. She can’t rely on gaining strength from battles no matter if she wins or loses, because if she dies, she stays dead.

So the Season of the Witch ended with Xivu Arath suffering a major defeat, even if Eris and the Guardians never actually had to face her. In the aftermath of the confrontation, Xivu Arath has apparently gone into hiding, and it seems likely we won’t see her again until after The Final Shape. There are a whole lot of other repercussions from these events, though, and they’re not all immediately apparent from the cutscene that caps off the story.

Eris doesn’t go dark

Despite everyone’s fears, Eris didn’t succumb to the dark power of her role as the Hive God of Vengeance–but as she says a number of times, she was definitely tempted. Her move to sever Xivu Arath’s connection to her Throne World was actually an act by Eris to avoid a much darker outcome.

As mentioned in this season’s lore book, Rites of Passage, Savathun speculated privately to Immaru in one of her recordings that Eris might realize along the way that she wouldn’t be strong enough to defeat Xivu Arath. Savathun said that Eris would then discover the one way she could get the power she needs to take her revenge is to kill the Guardians, who have a bunch of pent-up strength under the Hive’s Sword Logic, thanks to all the super-strong creatures and Hive gods they’ve killed. Eris could beat Xivu Arath, but she’d have to enact Elsie Bray’s Dark Future in order to do so. The draw of that power and of the chance for vengeance would be incredibly hard to resist.

Eris did resist, though. Her choice to go after Xivu Arath’s Throne World was a deliberate one, much like Rasputin’s sacrifice. Eris avoided succumbing to the influences of power and destroying her friends, and she avoided succumbing to pain and fear and sacrificing herself. She dumped all her tithed power and gave up her godhood in order to injure, but not destroy, Xivu Arath. But in a real way, it came at the cost of her vengeance, at least for the time being, and the whole experience has changed Eris in ways that aren’t immediately clear by forcing her to face the darkness within her.

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Savathun’s ultimate plan: make friends

Since The Witch Queen, Immaru has been loose in Savathun’s Throne World, commanding her forces and fighting the Guardians who go there. But after she was killed at the end of The Witch Queen, Savathun’s body has been under lock and key in the Tower, captured by the Vanguard. The whole idea of this was to stop Immaru from being able to resurrect Savathun. When Eris used Savathun for her final tithe, Immaru was able to resurrect her again. Savathun, the Hive God of Cunning, is alive and loose in the world.

You can get a sense of this if you play the Savathun’s Spire and Altars of Summoning events after completing the seasonal story, where Savathun has some new dialogue. But more details are available in Rites of Passage. The entry “A Deal’s a Deal” extends the length of the scene we saw at the end of the story, picking up seconds after the cutscene that played during that mission.

In the lore book, Savathun “holds up” her end of the bargain to help with the portal by saying that the Guardians already have what they need to traverse the portal. What that means isn’t exactly clear, but Savathun can’t resist a riddle. Still, she offers the Vanguard a sign of good faith that she’ll help when the Guardians are ready to try to cross the portal. That olive branch is a hostage: Immaru. Savathun’s Ghost is committed to the care of Eris Morn, and if Savathun doesn’t play nice, Eris is free to destroy Immaru, robbing Savathun of her immortality.

By offering Immaru as a hostage, Savathun has created a more solid alliance with the Guardians. This is something it has seemed like Savathun has been angling to achieve for years, because she knows she can’t take the Witness down on her own. But she also knew that the Guardians would never trust her outright because of all the heinously evil stuff she’s done, so she engineered a number of situations where they had no choice but to seek her aid and rely on her. Offering Immaru is Savathun giving a sign of trust in return.

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An alliance with the Guardians is seemingly the culmination of Savathun’s machinations going as far back as the Season of Arrivals, before the release of Beyond Light. Though Savathun has appeared to be an enemy, she’s maneuvered various characters around not just to her benefit, but to the benefit of the Guardians as well. It was because of Savathun using the Vex to create the Endless Night that humanity ended up sheltering Mithrax and his Eliksni compatriots in the Last City, bridging the gap between the two peoples. It was because Savathun helped Xivu Arath attack Torobatl that Empress Caiatl was forced to ally with the Vanguard, which has proved an incredibly beneficial military partnership. And it was with Savathun’s help that Guardians unlocked the secrets of the Enclave and took down Rhulk.

Savathun has been trying to make friends with the Guardians, in her own way, for years. And with the Hive of Savathun’s Lucent Brood potentially joining forces with Guardians, that creates an alliance of (nearly) every race in Destiny against the Witness. Xivu Arath is apparently off the field, further weakening the Witness’s position. There’s now nothing standing between us and entering the Traveler portal–we just need to figure out how to keep it from mangling anyone who tries to cross through it.

As usual, though, nobody came through Season of the Witch unscathed, and an alliance with Savathun has basically every character in the game suffering from some trauma because of what she’s done. What’s pretty apparent in Season of the Witch is that even if Savathun is ostensibly an ally, she is not a reformed character looking for forgiveness–she’s still pretty horrible. It’s great to have one of Destiny 2’s all-time great villains back in the game, and it’s even better that, clearly, she cannot really be trusted.

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