Monday, December 17, 2012

Diary of an Assassin - Eighth Entry

Note: As I have now moved into the recently released Assassin’s Creed 3, these diary entries will contain spoilers about gameplay and story. Please read cautiously. If you do not want these things spoiled, please read after finishing the game.

Assassin’s Creed 3 may weave a story of the end of the world and its, although shaky, resolution with the history and founding of America, but it actually wields an intriguing and familiar tale about fatherhood. That may sound like a reference to the time and place of Assassin’s Creed 3 during the American Revolution and the interaction with America’s forefathers, but it actually has more to do with Williams Miles and Haythem Kenway, the fathers of the protagonists.

Set nearly 250 years apart, Williams and Haythem share similar qualities and attitudes as a farther. Both figuratively sacrificed their children for their own beliefs and goals. Haythem may well be Connor’s father, but he is more concerned about furthering the Templar cause in the colonies than taking an interest in his son. The writing doesn’t explain it well enough, but Haythem does know Connor is his son. He just doesn’t seem to care, at least until later in the game. In Williams’s case, he focused so much on following the order and protecting his family from Templars he lost sight of what was important to him, driving his son Desmond to run away and establish his own life in New York City as a bartender.

Besides their struggles balancing their goals and families, both men spent time away from their children, through either their own choices, or the choices they forced onto their children, before reuniting with them under uncertain circumstances. Haythem assumingly abandoned Connor, leaving him in the hands of his mother where he grew up in the Mohawk tribe. When he became an assassin, Connor did he meet with his father again, if only briefly, as part of his goal to eliminate the Templar influence in the colonies. Desmond, on the other hand, willingly left his father and family. After waking up from his coma in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, he reunited with his father along with Rebecca and Shaun, spending time in the modern day reconciling with Williams on much happier terms than Connor did with Haythem.

I call the themes of fatherhood in Assassin’s Creed 3 familiar because the back half of the narrative oddly follows the steps of Return of the Jedi nearly exact. Connor, after encountering his father, tells Achilles, whom Connor refers to as the old man, he thinks he can convince his father to agree to a truce between the assassin order and the Templars. Achilles warns Connor despite his feelings of misplaced sentiment, he must find and kills his father. Connor eventually does kill his father, only to chase down and kill Charles Lee, the last threat behind the Templar’s influence in America.

In Return of the Jedi, Luke, after encountering his father Darth Vader, tells Yoda he thinks he can redeem his father back to the Light side and end the fight between the Jedi and the Sith. Yoda warns Luke he must find and defeat Vader regardless. Luke eventually does defeat his father, who in turn kills the Emperor, the last threat behind the Sith in the galaxy.

There are obvious comparisons to draw between the two. Connor is Luke, Haythem is Darth Vader, Achilles is Yoda, and Charles Lee is the Emperor. There are slight differences, but it’s astonishing how close they come. I’m not sure if it was intentional or just a coincidence by the Assassin’s Creed writing staff, but it’s interesting to see the parallels between the two. Regardless, the similarities between Williams and Haythem seem conscious and redeeming, even if the end of Assassin’s Creed 3 is a bit rocky and hokey.

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