Knights of the Old Republic EP52: Bastila Would Never Fall to the Dark Side!

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Feb 24, 2016

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 79 comments

Link (YouTube)

So I wanted to contrast Bastila’s fall to the dark side with someone else to show how her story doesn’t work, but then I realized we have yet to see a proper character-driven fall to the dark side. Maybe there was one in the EU novelsMaybe. But I wouldn’t take that bet. but we don’t see one in the movies or games.

Depending on how you interpret the scattershot story of the prequel trilogy, Anakin was either dark side from the beginning, or he was tricked into it. Dooku, Maul, and Palpatine were all evil when we met them, and we don’t see anything of who they might have been before that.

I guess I’m assuming that a fall to the dark side ought to take the form of a Shakespearean tragedy, where an otherwise good person is undone by a single character flaw. I imagine something like a slippery slope of actions and consequences where the victim thinks that each new malicious deed will let them achieve their goal. “This time is the last time,” they tell themselves at every step.

What’s strange here is the Bastila has the makings of a really amazing fall to the dark side. Her arc had a better setup than anyone in the movies. She serves good, but she’s also arrogant regarding her abilities and her pride is easily wounded. Her fall should have been, “I can use the Star Forge for good. Malak was weak, but I know what I’m doing and I won’t suffer the same fate.” If we want Malak to turn her, then his dialog should have focused on the idea that they need the Star Forge to save the galaxy from (say) the Mandalorians or whatever.

You don’t want all those innocent people to die, do you? Wouldn’t that be evil to let that happen? You need to keep the Star Forge, and only “we” have the wisdom to use it responsibly. We can protect not just against the Mandalorians, but against any future threats. We just need to control this massive doomsday weapon that feeds on pure evil, and we can eventually accomplish good things.

But “was tortured by Darth Malak” is not a character flaw, and even his dialog doesn’t really play off of her weaknesses. We’re told by Yoda that the dark side isn’t stronger, it’s just quicker, easier, more seductive. I’d love to see that reflected in an actual story at some point.

This doesn’t ruin the game or anything. Her fall is still a better arc than Anakin’s, but I think there’s room to make something a lot more interesting.



[1] Maybe. But I wouldn’t take that bet.

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79 thoughts on “Knights of the Old Republic EP52: Bastila Would Never Fall to the Dark Side!

  1. Wide And Nerdy says:

    You did hear the “Chii Koon wa dunga” line. It was one of the weeks Rutskarn wasn’t here. I remember Shamus commenting on it.

    1. Rutskarn says:

      You know what I have to say to that?

      Go on.


      _____________________ I never asked for this.

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        You want to use my character as an NPC in a DnD game?

        *Checks spoiler*

        Oh . . .

      2. James says:

        Chiii dooo dowaa a donga

  2. Rutskarn says:

    Quick storytime:

    I was asked to run an Empire-era Star Wars game for a few sessions. My villain was a Dark Jedi who had survived the fall of the Empire and yearned to destroy it once and for all.

    She’d learned of an ancient covered-up Jedi experiment, a force-sensitive parasite that could breed insanely quickly and eventually destroy planetary populations, to be used if an entire planet fell to the dark side and “couldn’t be saved.” Since the fall of the Jedi, she sought out holocrons hinting at its location so that she could turn it on Coruscant.

    The twist that came up a few sessions in was that, unsurprisingly, the “experiment” is bogus. It’s a trap to draw out any Jedi who start to think they can save the galaxy by killing indiscriminately; there’s no parasites, just a beacon that would have summoned the Jedi Council if they were still around. But in the process of hunting for it, the Dark Jedi draws out a lot of really ugly Empire and criminal players and kicks off a nasty brouhaha.

  3. Wide And Nerdy says:

    On paper I think Anakin’s fall had some good ideas. The biggest problem I could see is that they started with that perky kid.

    Anakin was being twisted by Palpatine. Palpatine would keep twisting Anakin’s perception of the Jedi by suggesting ulterior motives to their actions. It helped that they were reacting to Palpatine and Palpatine can kind of see the future, so it was easy for him to craft theories of ulterior motives that would predict future behavior.

    After all, he already needed to discredit the Jedi anyway so he could justify destroying them. So he goaded them into attacking them and then spun it as the Jedi trying to grab power.

    He knew this was coming and he knew what Anakin’s fears and insecurities were, so it was easy for him to come up with a scenario that played on all of that. The Jedi had kept him from his mom, they kept him off the Council, and now they were going to kill Palpatine who could save Padme. And in doing so they were trying to overthrow the Republic (or it would have been easy for Anakin to tell himself that.)

    Again, on paper. Lucas doesn’t know how to show stuff. Red Letter Media said so.

    I love Rutskarn’s idea about how Bastila would fall.

    1. Chuck says:

      His Fall is handled a lot better in the novelization of the film (as mentioned further down.)

      Actually the novelization of the film is better in general. For all the prequels, really.

    2. Well, started with the perky kid and ending with Wooden Face No Chemistry Boy. It was also basically impossible to take the Jedi Council’s theoretical disapproval of his relationship with Padme seriously because it was never established why he would even CARE what the Council thought. I mean, Obi-wan largely bucked the Council already by training him in the FIRST place.

      The characterization and acting was terrible, which destroyed the plausibility of the various characters motivations, which in turn made the conflict that was *supposed* to exist absurd, which then made the response to the conflict (the fall) stupid.

      To have an effective “fall from grace” plot, the key is a powerful internal conflict between two opposed but very strong motivations. And you can’t have that without doing a really good job of characterizing what MOTIVATES a character.

      Kylo Ren in Force Awakens actually wasn’t half bad–granted his real “fall from grace” took place 99% off-screen and was just hinted at, but the motivations and the conflict were actually THERE in the movie.

      1. Although, to be fair, Kylo Ren did do a fair amount of chewing the scenery (literally). But I’d rather have scenery-chewing than “I have roughly the emotional range of a wooden post”.

      2. The Rocketeer says:

        I think to have a “fall from grace” plot, you also need a position of grace to fall from. Anakin didn’t fall to villainy from nobility, he was readily grown into villainy from the moment the Jedi noticed him.

        1. Well, the assumption is that Anakin was fairly innocent when Qui-Gonn picked him up. And, no, they don’t have to be some kind of paragon.

          Javert in Les Miserables is actually a really fascinating version of the Fall from Grace plot archetype, because Javert starts out as a villain from the plot standpoint but from HIS standpoint he’s doing his job honorably and honestly and his fall comes when he realizes that he’s actually been viciously tormenting a good man.

      3. INH5 says:

        Personally, I think that Hayden Christensen is a better actor than he often gets credit for. I’ve watched a few fan-edits of the prequels, and it’s clear that he did do some good work there, even if it is hard to notice during the theatrical versions due to all of the awful dialogue and awkward moments that even the best actors would have a hard time selling. One fan-edit that I watched took out ~80% of the dialogue from the scene in AotC where Anakin admits to Padme that he killed the Tusken Raiders, and the result was genuinely moving, though still not anywhere near Oscar-worthy. He’s also done better work in other movies (check out Shattered Glass, made at the same time as the prequels, for a pretty good example).

        I think the source of the problem is a poor script combined with poor direction. I don’t think George Lucas has ever been particularly good at directing people, as even during the first Star Wars there are several moments where the characters seem noticeably “off” (did you ever really believe that Leia was watching the destruction of her home?). It probably says something that the movie that is often considered to be Lucas’s best work, TXH 1138, is a movie where the characters are supposed to act like emotionless drones for most of the running time.

        There’s no justifying Jake Lloyd as Anakin in TPM, though. Even the best fan-edits that I’ve seen have only managed to make him tolerable. Somebody involved in the production really should have put their foot down and told Lucas to make Anakin older so there would be at least a possibility of them finding a qualified actor. It’s not like it would have required any significant changes to the story.

        1. ehlijen says:

          I agree on Hayden Christensen. He has demonstrated significantly more acting range in other movies and even in star wars, if you compare his performance to Mark Hamill’s in Episode IV, it’s a reasonable impression. It probably shouldn’t have been, as their characters’ situations rarely compared, but it was.

          I’m on board in believing that Anakin suffered primarily from poor directing and an atrocious script.

          1. Considering they managed to make Liam Neeson a dreadful bore in the first prequel, you’re probably right.

            IMO Ewen Macgregor was probably the only person who managed to have a personality in those movies.

            1. INH5 says:

              There was also Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine, especially during RotS when he was given free reign to chew the scenery to bits.

  4. Alex McKenzie says:

    Bastila would never steal a car!

      1. Alex McKenzie says:

        You joke, but now I really want to grab the KoToR character models and animate them to this. Oh wait, I have no computer graphics or animation experience.
        Now I really want someone else to do this.

  5. ehlijen says:

    They tried the longer winded fall to the dark side in the EU with Jacen Solo. It started with ‘I’m just keeping order, it’s the dissidents fault I have to enact tougher laws’ and ended with ‘Why won’t everyone just shut up and let me run the galaxy my, superior way? How many planets do I have to burn to the ground to make them shut up?’.

    Of course it was dragged out over a very mixed series of books, rather than being the focus of one well written one. So no, Shakespeare it is not (easier to read, though).

    More on topic: I’m kinda worried what the rakkatans are going to do to the show’s crew. You guys seem already fed up with the game and most of this planet is an annoyingly drawn out, in my opinion uncalled for delay in the action. I wouldn’t call it padding because the rakkatans have been a theme throughout the game and this is the payoff for that, but seriously, it killed the pacing.

    1. Mondroid says:

      I think the start to his fall was crucial step for the Star Wars EU at the time, talking about what it means to be a Sith, Jedi, or someone in between. The question of whether he was a bad person very rarely came into question later into the saga (rightfully so), but in the early stages when he is musing on the idea of being the universe’s gardener it felt so much like KOTOR II and it’s moments with Kreia.
      It was established incredibly early in the EU that he saw the flow of nature and the requirements to tend to it, and then they tried to make a leap through the corruption of the Sith into perverting the idea of life’s gardener into a maniacal tyrant. You can see the beats of the plotting stage and how everything is a result of the next thing, but it was severely hindered by the pulp novel method of the EU and a weak follow up to the comic book cross over mess that was the Yuuzhan Vong Wars.

    2. guy says:

      Jania sort of dabbled with it after the Voxyn hunt, but once the strike team broke the mental link and she stopped influencing her teammates they were able to snap her out of it. Honestly, I think “one sibling dead, other missing presumed dead, wants revenge” is a pretty solid motivation.

      Then she started impersonating a goddess of deception. That plot arc was pretty fun. Best part was that the Vong leadership basically said “It seems implausible, but on the other hand this is exactly something she would do.”

  6. Fists says:

    They deal with better characterised dark side conversion fairly frequently in the animated clone wars stuff, pretty tropey and not an awful lot of depth but it’s there.

  7. wswordsmen says:

    If you want to play the turret section done right, the first bonus mission of Rogue Squadron 2 nails it. And that came out 2 years earlier.

  8. AdamS says:

    Anakin’s fall is portrayed far more effectively in the RotS novelization by Matt Stover. It really is a Greek tragedy, where Anakin’s fatal flaws are his altruism, empathy, and pride. He wants to help everyone, especially Padme, whom he loves; and his premonitions of her death make him fearful, which is exactly what the Jedi code says will happen. So when none of the Jedi masters have any advice other than “learn to let go” Anakin gets desperate, and Palpatine makes his move. He tempts Anakin repeatedly over the course of the novel, and whereas in the film all of Anakin’s dark acts are shocking swerves, in the novel his breakdown is more drawn-out and detailed, making his final darkness far more earned.

    1. Matt Downie says:

      The problem with RotS as a fall from grace is that he already murdered a bunch of children in AotC.

      1. Atarlost says:

        If sandpeople were really meant to be people in the film canon they would have discovered brothels in the thousands of years galactic civilization has been around and stable and wouldn’t go around kidnapping middle aged women. A “culture” like that should be dealt with as you’d deal with any pack of monsters that prey on humanity.

    2. ? says:

      If only he could speak directly and not with half truths “I knocked up a girl and I’m getting visions of her death in labour” “To hospital take her you will, hrmm, real medical opinion you get”. Damn you Obi-Wan, it’s all your fault… from a certain point of view.

    3. Dev Null says:

      I just read that one. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the Star Wars books, but that one was decently well-written.

      The problem with it is that it’s a novelisation of such a bad story to begin with. The book does a much better job of explaining some of his motivations (and explaining away some of the Benny Hill action scenes) but that just makes it even more broken when he suddenly, apropos of nothing in particular, decides to start murdering children. Because that’s what he did in the movie, and the author isn’t allowed to change that. They try to sell “loyalty” as his tragic flaw, and then have his fall from grace being to go against nearly everything he was ever loyal to. He’s loyal to Palpatine as a father figure – though that relationship is never really _shown_ to us, just described – so he turns against all of the many many people he has been shown fighting alongside and sharing camaraderie with.

      By explaining some of the things the movie left out, the book also makes it quite clear that the entire story arc is just Palpatine playing solitaire. Palpatine controls the Separatists with an iron fist, tricking the wily Dooku to his death and using the robot general dude as his personal hand-puppet. He also controls a super-majority in the Senate and can make them do pretty much whatever he wants, including grant him the power to order the Jedi about at will. Throughout, he has everyone on both sides completely hoodwinked into believing he’s on their side, to the point where there’s public panic when it looks like he’s been kidnapped. There is no conflict; he’s already won by the opening credits, and is just torturing his victims because he thinks it’s fun.

      1. guy says:

        Honestly even from the movie it was extremely blatant that Palpatine was the only player on the board. There’s a reason the Jedi went for a coup.

        1. Dev Null says:

          True. It’s one of the core reasons, I think, that nothing in the prequels works beyond the level of “action movie in space.” Every. Single. Character. Has been conned into believing that the – to us, self-evidently bad – badguy is really good. So we have trouble relating to any of the characters. Even if we handwave it away with “Force mindcontrol” instead of just “they’re all idiots” it’s still quite difficult to empathize with characters whose understanding is so diametrically opposite to ours. If they had actually tried to pretend to the audience that he was good and had him turn as a twist (which would have necessitated making the prequels first, so we didn’t all know how this works out before it even begins…) then it might possibly have worked. Otherwise we need at least one rebel character who knew he was bad all along, so we can empathize with them.

      2. Metal C0Mmander says:

        Yeah Palpatine was the one in control of both sides but he wasn’t just toying with people. He was upping his position from “one fuck up and I end up stabbed by a lot of lightsabers” to “everyone is virtually unable to stop me whatever I do”.

  9. Gruhunchously says:

    I thought Atris’ fall in KOTOR 2 (yeah) was decent enough. She had conflicting feelings about the Jedi Order while still being fanatically devoted to preserving it through difficult times, because – dammit at least it was better than the Sith. Then she got all obsessive about destroying the Sith, but completely underestimated their power. She accidentally got all her friends and fellow Jedi killed with her fantastic idea of using them as bait to draw the Sith into a trap that she couldn’t spring. So she became even more obsessed while also spiraling into paranoid isolation. And finally, in a last desperate effort to understand her enemy, she had her followers collect Sith artifacts that whispered secrets in her ears, and that was that.

    By the time the Exile shows up, she’s insane enough that she’s trying to pull off a grand sequel to her catastrophic plan, using the Exile themselves to draw the Sith into another trap that she has no chance of closing.

    1. Mondroid says:

      I think KOTOR 2 exists more in the realm of ‘trying to be good in a world that makes it increasingly hard to do so.’
      Everything from the twist to the little interactions with the cast makes that idea a little stronger.

      1. Gruhunchously says:

        Hard, but not impossible. Virtually all of the charecters who fall can be redeemed in some way or another (Darth Nihilus being the exception for obvious reasons), and a Light Sided Exile can do lasting good to the places they visit, even with the various agenda-mongers heckling them.

    2. Grudgeal says:

      I was going to mention Atris as well, because of what Shamus said in the episode — what he suggested about Bastila and her relation to Revan mirrors Atris’ relation to the Exile, since it’s suggested (ok, pretty much spelled outright) that part of her self-righteousness and what led to her fall is because of her inner conflict about not following the Exile in the Mandalorian wars.

  10. “I guess I'm assuming that a fall to the dark side ought to take the form of a Shakespearean tragedy, where an otherwise good person is undone by a single character flaw.”

    This is not Shakesperean tragedy. This is Greek tragedy. Shakespeare’s tragic characters are not “otherwise good people” who have a “single character flaw” because the vast majority of Shakespeare’s characters have one *and only one* character TRAIT. In his comedies, that trait creates the conflict, in his tragedies, it leads to their downfall. They are never “otherwise” anything, because they literally don’t have ANY other characterization.

    1. “Otherwise good person with a single flaw that brings them down” is also actually rather Dickensian, which is why I detest most of his works because his “heroes” (if you can call them that, considering how incredibly passive most of them are) are exemplars of such disgustingly trite and goody-two-shoes behavior that they almost make me barf. All of his interesting characters usually have horrible stuff happen to them (which “redeems” them), the prime example of this being poor Sydney Carton whose only apparent flaw was BEING SARCASTIC.

      1. Phill says:

        If you’re that familiar with Dickens and can’t stand him then a) congratulations on your good taste, and b) you’d probably appreciate the BBC radio spoof “Bleak Expectations” if you have access to it where you are (it’s repeated on BBC radio reasonably often and can be listened to via t’internet on BBC iPlayer, but that’s not available outside the UK unless you can work around the region locking).

  11. Viktor says:

    The sad thing is, Anakin’s fall to the dark side could have been done so well with simple better planning. Assume the main events of the movies still play out roughly similarly except where I change things:

    Episode 1, we have gangsters and corporations running amok, the Republic incapable of stopping them, and the Jedi, though helpful, taking a very cautious “minimum force” approach to the problems. In the middle of this we meet Anakin, a slave who’s getting stepped on by the gangsters and who the Jedi save, but as someone points out, the Jedi can’t save every slave. Palpentine gets elected clearly because he’s promising to cut through the red tape and make the Republic mean something again.

    Episode 2, we have Obi-Wan and Anakin arguing over how best to help people, with Obi-Wan wanting to focus on the root causes of problems through social change and Anakin prioritizing helping those in trouble NOW, often via force. This is mirrored in their investigative/bodyguard missions, and both are in contrast to the “Will of the Force will become known” approach of the Council. Lose a lot of the romance scenes, subtler is better, and replace the whole Tattooine sequence with nameless settlers near where Anakin/Padme are hiding, so that Anakin wiping out the raiders isn’t revenge, it’s “so they can’t hurt anyone else”. Also, set up Palpentine tempting Anakin by promising a more active Republic that will put a stop to all the evils of the galaxy.

    Episode 3, we end the war much earlier, so that we get the Jedi and Obi-Wan growing disillusioned with Palpentine as he continues to expand his power following the official cease-fire, with Anakin supporting Palp’s use of Clone Battallions against Hutt cartels. That way, when it comes to violence it seems like it was inevitable, and Palpentine can then sell Anakin on “The Jedi have rebelled against OUR righteous cause, we clearly have to kill them all to save the galaxy.” Make Padme one of the founders of the rebellion, and her death when clones break into a secret rebel meeting is the final nail in the coffin, as Anakin confirms when he’s told of it that “No resistance can be allowed to survive.”

    Make it so that everyone seems reasonable every step of the way, and end it with clear evidence that no, none of this is reasonable. That sets up how easy it is to fall, and why the Jedi are so paranoid of acting, but could be done so that the Jedi being so very passive isn’t right either. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than what we got.

    1. Dev Null says:

      Along those lines, I really wanted to see more temptation from Palpatine along the lines of _getting things done_ that the Jedi couldn’t do. So the Jedi say “sure we saved him, but we can’t save all the slaves because slavery is legal.” And then Palpatine stands up and leads a crusade to get slavery made illegal, and sends Annakin in to enforce it. Annakin finds his mother already dead and goes “Argh; murder spree!” And Palpatine says “I’m sorry Annakin; I tried. If only the Jedi had been willing to act on what they knew was right…”

      And then the next time, instead of someone obviously evil, like slavers, it’s enemy soldiers that need to die to save lives. Or enemy noncombatants to save guys on his side. And sometimes he disobeys the rules and saves someone – so he learns to trust his own will to act – and sometimes he is prevented from doing what he “knows” is necessary, and people he cares for die. _Now_ I buy him cracking and saying “Screw this; I’m just going to do what I need to – no matter how horrible – to make everyone safe.” And then all you need is for Palpatine to trick him convincingly into believing that the Jedi need to be destroyed to keep everyone safe, and presto: hellloooo Vader.

  12. My entire reaction to Bastila’s “fall” was basically . . . “uh, okay then”.

    But her personal plot bugged out and failed to trigger in my game, so her sole characterization wound up being “turbo nagpants lady” and I pretty much forgot she was there, so the impact of her turn was about equivalent to being told that the grumpy lady at the dry cleaners had become evil. “Okay, and I care about this why?”

    1. Grudgeal says:

      “Now, I will never have to see you mix coloured and white items… Ever again!!!”

    2. Kalil says:

      I think what annoyed me most was that she was a precisely identical character, personality and plot-wise, to Aribeth from NeverWinter Nights, a character I found immensely annoying for a number of reasons, from her silly boob-armor to her violation of racial class restrictions (fantasy racism may be stupid, but it’s also the foundation of Forgotten Realms, and ignoring it just so you can have a sexy elf-girl in skimpy paladin paraphenalia is dumb) and her over-telegraphed Fall To The Dark Side plot. I think it took me about three lines of dialogue to predict Bastila’s entire character arc, because I’d played it about two months before.

      1. John says:

        I have never understood the charge that Bastila is just Aribeth 2.0. Aside from the fact that they are both women who turned from good to evil, they have very little in common. Bastila’s personality is drastically different from Aribeth’s. Bastila has a personality, for one thing. Her turn to the Dark Side is fairly understandable if you bothered to talk to her regularly and do her side quest. Aribeth, on the other hand, is just a script that periodically says “Good job, player!” until it’s time for her to be evil.

        1. lurkey says:

          Her turn might be understandable; the way she was turned, however, is brain-liquefyingly idiotic. Aribeth at least had a legit reason to turn bitter and disappointed in people she served.

          1. John says:

            Yeah, that’s fair.

            I think Bastila’s turn would seem less . . . um, forced if her behavior afterward bore some relation to her character before hand. Bastila has a lot of reasons to be angry: she never wanted to be a Jedi in the first place, she resents the burdens and responsibilities thrust upon her because of her Battle Meditation, etc. If any of that had been evident in her words or actions after going evil I think I could have forgiven the little torture cutscene.

      2. krellen says:

        3rd edition DnD did away with racial class restrictions. NWN was 3rd edition. Of the many reasons to hate Aribeth, her being an elven paladin isn’t really a valid one.

        1. Grudgeal says:

          Elves are a bad choice for paladins anyway.

          …Or fighters in general.

          Or, really, any character who has a use for HP and fortitude saves, which is all of them.

          Seriously, who thought it was good game design to make constitution and intelligence affects your stats linearly instead of statically (i.e. the bonuses increase with each level instead of staying flat forever), since that literally makes them 20 times better than the other 4?

          1. ehlijen says:

            I’m not sure what you mean? INT and CON are some of the weaker stats in DnD, unless you play a wizard (in which case the primary benefit of INT does not increase linearly each level either).

            Skill points are nice, for rogues and social characters. But this is a dungeon crawler game system, and skill points barely help in combat at all. And there is a spell for almost anything a skill can do.

            HP are nice, sure, but like in most tactical games, the ability to down the foe in fewer turns is almost certainly worth more than the ability to last one or two additional turns, especially once the game turns into save or die mode.
            CON doesn’t help you win fights. It just extends the timer by when you need to have won it or you’re dead. STR helps you smack down your foes quicker, DEX let’s you shoot better and makes you harder to hit (thus serving some of CON’s function as well) and for spellcasters INT/WIS/CHA are the meat stat because of spells, regardless of what else they do.

            Stats that help you achieve things are inherently worth more than stats that let you passively endure the actions of others.

            Yes, there is the role of the meatshield, but meatshields don’t just want CON, either: They need DEX to not be hit occasionally, WIS for will saves to not be simply mind controlled and *something* to make them an actual threat or the enemy will just walk around them. Modern games tend to give them taunt abilities for that latter part, but that’s a really dumb clutch. It reinforces that you’re playing against an AI, a game. It simply shouldn’t work on intelligent foes.
            *Hm, the guy in the robes is throwing fireballs at me, but the guy in the heavy plate with the really big shield is saying mean things and impotently flailing a sword. Which one should I shoot?*

  13. Eric says:

    My suspicion is the writing team (or perhaps others on the team not directly related to the writing side) thought average audiences might not “get” why Bastila fell to the dark side through character flaws alone.

    Remember, the crit path doesn’t really expose a lot of the subtleties of her character and you might not pick up on her insecurities and pride. If you are just gallivanting through the game, you might feel blindsided when she turns against you.

    It’s also (very) possible something got cut along the way, and they had to rework things to make it so that the capture and torture was responsible for her turning to the dark side.

    Last, I think it’s also pretty cheap and easy motivation for getting the player to want to enter the endgame. “Save the pretty lady!” is pretty hard to misunderstand and is probably going to work for most players.

    Either way, it strikes me as less a logical story move and more of a narrative compromise.

    1. John says:

      You can skip most of the character conversations in KotOR without adversely affecting your understanding or enjoyment of the main plot, but I think Bastila is an exception. If you make a point to do all Bastila’s conversations, her fall to the Dark Side makes a lot more sense. If you’re good, she’ll ask you if it’s possible to use the Dark Side to do good–before freaking out because she knows that’s not a thought that Jedi are supposed to have. If you’re evil, she’ll ask you what it feels like, in a way that shows how tempted she is.

      No, the problem with Bastila is not that she falls to the Dark Side; it’s that her behavior after she falls is generic, mustache-twirling evil and no longer seems particularly informed by her history or personality.

  14. Weimer says:

    Malak is a memorable villain, but he never seems to be actually menacing or intimidating, Even when we get a scene where we could mold him into a real bastard, Bioware doesn’t seem to want to commit.

    Imagine the torture scene without Malak laughing like a cartoon villain, for example. You could have him completely silent or make creepy comments, but the laugh is a bit too hammy.

    I don’t know, maybe they tried something else for that scene, and it came across as too rapey or something.

    1. Zekiel says:

      Malak fully irritates me because I don’t think he’s memorable at all. Bioware in general are capable of writing great villains – e.g. Irenicus and Saren. Loghain is pretty good; Sarevok has hints of greatness (but doesn’t get enough screen-time to make a big impression). Even the Illusive Man (for all his stupid flaws) has got a nice character design. By contrast I couldn’t ever take Malak seriously, because he’s basically a Darth Vader knock-off who is nothing more than a thug. I just found him SOOO boring.

      1. lurkey says:

        I don’t quite remember Darth Vader ever laughing like a Saturday morning cartoon reject (reason of rejection: too silly) , so it’s unfair of you to use him in the same sentence with this scarecrow. Even Dr Claw would be offended by comparison, methinks.

        1. Gruhunchously says:

          “I’ll get you next time, Revan, next time…”

  15. WILL says:

    Every fall to the dark side in KotOR 2, from the villains to the side characters being corruptible, is as far as I’m concerned well written.

    Kreia wanted to explore all aspects of the force, including its dark side.
    Nihilus gave in to a curse, essentially hunger, so it’s not even his fault.
    Sion simply refused to die, refusing to become one with the force and thus turning to darker abilities.

    Atton gave in to his hate due to past relationships with Jedi (including romantic relationships) and how it was forbidden, or political disagreements.
    Atris was stuck with guilt due to not acting during the Mandalorian wars and wanting to, refusing to aknowledge romantic feelings, repressing calls to action and desperately trying to save Jedi knowledge.
    Hanharr gave in to his beast-genetics as a wookie.
    Handmaiden already had combat/power-focused philosophies (Echani) and a troubled family past including Jedi, so pushing her towards the more violent part of Echani philosophy is logical.
    Visas is a strange character and doesn’t really fit in with Light/Dark side narrative.
    Mira… ok Mira didn’t go anywhere.
    Disciple does not exist as far as I know.
    Bao-Dur suffered from a lot of cut content.

    Even your main character has a good dark side story arc – basically you’re just dumb, completely blinded by hunger, power and mostly revenge. Not dumb as in Anakin-dumb, actually blinded. He/She isn’t tricked into the dark side and wasn’t always dark side, only refusing to go either way.

    1. lurkey says:

      You forgot G0-T0: gets tasked with saving the Republic, does so through becoming the crime lord of interplanetary criminal organization. That’s some fall!

  16. Confanity says:

    “Her fall is still a better arc than Anakin's”

    Star Wars Universe’s version of “Still a better love story than Twilight. :p

  17. Joe Informatico says:

    For a good take on the fall of a noble warrior due to pride, there’s the paladin Miko Miyazaki from the D&D-based webcomic The Order of the Stick. She’s probably less likable than Bastila, since she was created to skewer the “awful good” unbending paladin stereotype and contrast her with all the other much-less uptight paladins of her order.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I much more prefer red cloaks fall in the start of darkness.Way more emotional.It also contains my favorite line in the entire work:

      “Thats the difference between bonafide true Evil with a capital “E” and your whiny,”evil,but for a good cause,” crap.One gets to be the butch,and one gets to be the bitch –
      – Bitch.”

      1. Grudgeal says:

        I don’t really see Redcloak’s as a ‘fall’, so much as ‘never bothering to pickyourself off the ground in the first place’.

        “Brother, you may have had a lifetime, but you haven’t had a life ever since you put on that cloak. Life is about growing — growing older, growing wiser, growing closer to your loved ones. But you? You’re frozen in time. You’re the same angry kid who took that artifact off your master’s corpse.”

      2. djw says:

        I’d be inclined to say that both of those character arcs were extremely well done and interesting.

        The real payoff for Miko’s story happens long after it is over, when O-Chul shows how a real paladin acts during his captivity.

  18. Xeorm says:

    I used to think too that the dark side conversion story with Bastila didn’t make much sense, and while it sorta doesn’t in comparison to your fall to the dark side, it does make sense with the Star Wars universe. Also, looking at in from when it hit helps, as it’s an old game. Odd thinking about it, but it is quite old, and popular culture’s exploration of the Star Wars mythos has tended to change our thoughts.

    But anyway, Star Wars has two rough ways to the dark side: There’s the wanting to make things better, and the torture method. The good intentions method is a common one and well understood, given that it’s used in all sorts of other media. But the torture method? That’s relatively unique for a popular bit like Star Wars.

    It’s in the films too, and really gives a unique insight into the way the dark side works. It’s a palpable thing for the jedi to worry about. Luke being hit by the force lightning hurts, and that urge to pull from the dark side is always present. All they need is for the jedi to pull from it at times of anger enough times and the jedi is dark side. Their person warped and changed to something different then they once were.

    1. Matt Downie says:

      Leia got tortured and showed no signs of turning. Not that she was a ‘real’ Jedi…

      I always wanted to write an alternative universe Star Wars story where the idiots from the start of New Hope don’t just ignore the escape pod with no life signs on board, R2 & C3PO are recaptured, Luke meets and trains slowly with Obi-Wan, and Leia is left in Vader’s clutches until her force powers manifest and she becomes his apprentice.

    2. Zekiel says:

      Where does the “torture can lead to the Dark Side” come from? I don’t recall that in any of movies. Palpatine force lightninging Luke was just him trying to kill Luke when he refused to turn – I never got any sense that Palpatine was expecting it to cause him to fall, just to kill him.

  19. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The problem with this,and many other games,is that while fun to play,its not that fun to watch.You should pick a game thats fun to watch next.So heartstone.Or goat simulator.

  20. Daemian Lucifer says:

    It turns out the chief scientist was professor farnsworth.

  21. Tonich says:

    I agree, Bastila’s turn never worked for me either. Made me sigh too, because up to that point I thought the story was doing great, and the main twist managed to actually surprise me… umm, what? No, I didn’t start playing games yesterday, why do you ask? :)
    Anyway, what really bugs me about both Anakin’s and Bastilas (and even Malak and Revan’s, as apparently their minds were coorupted by the Star Forge) turns to Dark Side is that it worked as a kind of “on/off” tumbler. I think it’s still a long way between an overzealous and short-tempered (I guess?) youth we saw Anakin as up to his turn, and a mass murderer who butchers children in cold blood in the Jedi temple. Same with Bastila, one moment she is a hero in the service of the good, taking on the villain to cover her friends’ escape and stoically enduring torture, next one she’s all commited to the Dark Side, willing to fight her former comrades and wreak havok upon the galaxy. Dark Jedi being shown as irredeemably evil seems too binary to me. Why is that a good Jedi can make mistakes and not turn to dark, while all a dark Jedi does is so cartoonishly evil?
    Actually, I thought that KOTOR had potential to handle the fall to Dark Side exceptionally well, and it lay not in the story but in the game’s mechanics. Let me explain. I was playing as a Soldier/Defender build, so my persuasion skills were shit. And I was following the Light-Side path, helping strangers and not asking anything in return. Then I suddenly found that my wallet was too thin to buy good equipment, and I had to decide whether to gain Light Side points or receive money for the solved quest. That awesome-looking exoskeleton armor and other expensive stuff became the temptation to stray from the Light Side for me.
    Also, there is a matter of gaining Dark Side points for using Force Persuasion – I think it’s a brilliant mechanic for showing how the Force can be abused. Even when I thought I was doing it for a good cause (like getting info from the witnesses in the Sunry Trial quest) I was still manipulating people’s minds to get what I wanted from them.
    So all Bioware had to do was to actually hide the stupid Light/Dark bar and drive the player into making choices between selflessly helping everyone and doing it for personal gain, thinking that they’re helping others while actually helping themselves…
    Sorry if that explanation was overly complex, I hope I could get my point across in the end. :)

    1. Jakale says:

      The Star Forge itself could be a pretty good culmination of this without the whole “it gives off evil vibes” thing. It’s a spaceship builder than runs on force energy.
      “Think of all the worlds we could protect with the sheer resources this can give us.” But more ships means more people needed to command the ships and more energy needed to make them. Eventually you may run out of people willing to join up normally by the sheer number of craft you have.
      Even if you don’t, then you still need more energy. “If we find Sith and Dark Jedi who can’t be brought be brought back to the Light, they can still help us by powering the Forge. We’d be removing threats to the Galaxy while gaining more power to protect the worlds.”
      And if it gets used enough that you’ve got a massive fleet and no threats, then you’ve got probably got people using up resources without giving back and you start having to turn into an empire that conquers to fuel itself because “where are we going to put all these ships if we don’t use them? Plus, all the crewman who would suddenly be thrust into the job market could become criminals. Really, this is the best option we have to help them.”

  22. Killbuzz says:

    Another thing the sequel does so much better. Characters in Kotor 2 don’t so much ‘fall’ as they have a philosophy they are willing to fight for, even die for. Kreia genuinely sees the Force as an oppressive tyrant, not a benevolant guiding hand but a choke hold that strips everyone of their free will, and a source of endless conflict and planet-destroying wars, and makes it her goal to destroy it to ‘free’ the galaxy. Atris surrounded herself with Sith holocrons so she could study them to find a weakness in their enemy, but in doing that, she paradoxically started accomplishing her quest for good with the same method as the Sith (by leaking the location of Jedi in order to draw out Nihilus so that he could be defeated).

    By contrast, Bastila’s depiction is really, really bad. She goes from being a good-hearted, brave person who risks her life to save others to being a complete psychopath who wants to basically eat babies (‘Kill her! Rend her flesh!’ is actually one of her dialogue lines later, when you encounter her on the Rakata planet).

    What’s remarkable is that Obsidian had a fraction of Bioware’s development time to write the story and characters (1 year vs 3 years, if I recall correctly).

  23. Smiley_Face says:

    I’m really wondering why KotOR got so old, so fast – it’s still one of my favourite games, I was really looking forward to this, but it’s just felt so stale. I suspect that for whatever reason, something (or multiple things) about it doesn’t gel with the Let’s Play format.

    There’s SO much dead time that’s just spent running between people to talk to – engaging if you’re invested in the story and playing, but not fun to watch. Games today can put you on rails, give you fast travel, put little enemy mobs here and there, whatever, but there’s rarely this much time spent running from A to B to C with nothing in between.

    Moreover, a lot of the strength of this game, and most of Bioware’s games, is the interaction with your party members, but where with later games they force you to space it out, and have them approach you to talk about their quest, here we go for a whole planet or two without ever talking to them, then go and just click through all their dialogue options. The modular nature of the story can really kill pacing when it’s done like this.

  24. SlothfulCobra says:

    I like the little Ebon Hawk quests. They give the ship more character than T3 or Zaalbar.

  25. Kylroy says:

    For me, one of the best fallen hero stories in video gaming is Arthas in Warcraft 3. The fact that people actually debate which moment constitutes his point of no return tells me that the story effectively nails the repeated compromises that can turn a good person evil.

  26. We're told by Yoda that the dark side isn't stronger, it's just quicker, easier, more seductive

    He may say so, but there’s a lot of places where the dark side is stronger outside the films yet none in which the light side is stronger.

    I was also disappointed in Bastila’s conversion. At least when you meet her again she says something that makes sense on the council using the jedis as tools and so, but it’d been so much better if that had been elaborated into her conversion by Malak. I guess one reason is they thought for that to work the custscene would have to be too long.

    I also hated her, aside from what I said, for being Aribeth. Almost everything in Kotor is taken from Neverwinter Nights, rearranged and polished. In so, Bastila is clearly Aribeth from NWN, just polished and developed, you could say Bastila is what Aribeth would have been if they had given her more screen time.

    1. Metal C0Mmander says:

      Well the light side is “stronger” if you consider most people don’t become huge assholes for following it.

    2. ehlijen says:

      Where is Bastila’s unjustly executed lover then? That was a big part in who Aribeth was, possibly the only trait to her character, honestly.

      Aribeth was a true believer who fell because she stopped being able to see any good in the world once her lover was sacrificed to appease a mob. She lost her faith and decided revenge was all she had left.

      Bastila fell because she never learned the true jedi faith. She always saw power as the means to achievement. She wasn’t opposing the sith because they were Wrong, but because she had the power to do so. The actual turn was badly fluffed by the writers, but she didn’t turn because of a loss of faith, she just stopped accepting orders because she could. And without Jedi orders to follow, she was a sith the whole time: using her powers to get what she thought she wanted. Malak just made her stop wanting the republic to win.

  27. baseless_research says:

    So blue and orange was A THING already in 2003?

  28. Atarlost says:

    As to the missing fighters, they always appear when leaving Taris and Doomgiver and approaching Totally not Virmire and with those two exceptions never appear under certain circumstances I’m not entirely sure of but that are satisfied if you never go to any location more than once.

    Er, not Doomgiver. That was the ship from Jedi Outcast. Damnit, all these Star Wars villain ships sound alike to me. Leviathan? No, that was from Mass Effect, wasn’t it? Ah, who am I kidding. If I think it sounds like it’s from Mass Effect they probably reused it just like they reused Virmire.

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