Problem with Esharum and Atriox

They’re kind of just shouting at you and you ignore them. It’s not that interesting.

With Esharum they very much try to set up this antagonistic relationship where he’s calling the Chief out to fight. With Atriox he tries to kill the Chief to get at Cortana and physically beats the Chief which sets up round 2.

The problem with this is the Chief doesn’t lend himself well to that. He’s mostly silent protagonist and stoic. Yes that does contrast him to Esharum. But it means he’s not really challenging or pushing back on anything the villain is saying. I might be wrong but I don’t think Chief even speaks to Esharum in game. I know what I would say to Esharum and what my opinion is. So there’s no real conflict or drama to be had here.

This is going to be an issue with Atriox. Again, I have my own view on that character and can imagine the Chief wants to crack his skull open. But if they do the same here where it’s just us listening to him monologue about how “your AI destroyed my world”, “human imperialism”, “I broke my chains” etc. It would be like rain. There’s no drama to it, it’s just there and something to ignore until it goes away.

Now with Esharum I think very late on Chief does have a chat with the Weapon about how he’s dying and what that means. But that’s about it. With Atriox again Chief talks about how he got beat and that’s part of his biggest failure. So it’s not that there’s nothing to go off; but it’s not a result of the Hero playing off the villain.

Which is a problem when the villain is advocating a particular ideology and hurling serious accusations around. The Covenant got called out on it’s bull. I don’t see why the Banished shouldn’t.

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Maybe it’s the result of cutting the plot. In my opinion, the behavior of many characters is illogical.The limited information given by 343 makes it difficult to understand.

At least I can’t understand that Esharum asked Jega to follow Chief, but he was indifferent to the damage Chief caused along the way. He didn’t order Jega to bring Chief’s companion back alive until something irreparable happened. Then Esharum let his men die for nothing just to consume Chief’s physical strength so that he could have the honor of leaving a name in history when he was dying.

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Here are my tentative thoughts on Escharum as relates to this discussion. I could be wrong about any of this, but I hope to contribute something that could at least lead to a satisfying answer.

I think Escharum should be understood not as a rival to John, but as another warrior who had his home taken from him and only has the fight left, except unlike John, even that—the chance to do battle and acquire glory—will be taken from him by sickness. It doesn’t even matter what his illness is, it just matters that it’s going to kill him and he isn’t ready to die. At least, he’s not ready to lie down and pass away quietly.

All of the monologues that he gives to John are done at least partly for the sake of preserving his own dignity, and to give himself hope that he could go out on a high note. He had to play the part of the Master Chief’s rival, not only to try to intimidate John, but also to assuage his fears of becoming less and less important.

I probably don’t want to comment on Atriox until he’s actually featured in an Infinite campaign as an active element.

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Oh yeah I fully understood his view as a singular character; but there isn’t a dynamic with the Chief.

I’ll take an example of my issue. There’s concept art of a Banished Base where you have these Brutes standing on a cage full of emaciated human prisoners with heaps of human skulls and bones on the outside. Now, they imply it’s that grim but for the most part the game is heavily playing this down.

A man claiming he’s a victim and wants to die with honour isn’t sympathetic if that’s what his army is doing. By their own admission this is just so they can be more powerful. It crosses a red line.

By having a silent protagonist this basically goes unchallenged apart from some ambient dialogue with the marines.

But my main point is the lack of that interaction hurts. When two boxers are getting ready for a fight, you still have all those pre game meetings and conflict to set the stage. You can’t have that if the Chief basically ignores Esharum.

Well that’s my issue with Atriox. Chief has had his adoptive home-world destroyed and seen countless other humans worlds meet the same fate. All of which entirely unprovoked and in which his people are directly responsible for. For this scumbag to come and demand vengeance on humanity for Doisac, a single planet, is absurd. I don’t think that should mean the Chief empathises with the Brutes at all. Hatred and contempt would be the result; at best stoicism. I think people really play down how evil it was to kill the crew of the Infinity. It’s like murdering all the Avengers after Endgame.

I’ll take an example of my issue. There’s concept art of a Banished Base where you have these Brutes standing on a cage full of emaciated human prisoners with heaps of human skulls and bones on the outside. Now, they imply it’s that grim but for the most part the game is heavily playing this down.

Fair point. There’s a line of Marine dialogue that says the Marine was experiencing something like Stockholm Syndrome for the cage he was kept in; I thought that was weird. The only Marines the player comes across in cages are dead, if I’m not mistaken. All of the living Marines are rescued from those energy chains of which the Banished seem to be so fond. But that’s a tangent, heh.

A man claiming he’s a victim and wants to die with honour isn’t sympathetic if that’s what his army is doing. By their own admission this is just so they can be more powerful. It crosses a red line.

I think it’s important to remember that Escharum isn’t a man, he’s Jiralhanae. He doesn’t value empathy, compassion, or mercy. He’s a violent, bitter, and frightened warrior who only cares about his own organization’s wellbeing. The player can have sympathy for him anyway. I think of pitying Escharum as a kind of rebuttal to his own nature, and John’s response to his death not only reflects that refusal to become as cruel as he was, but it’s consistent with the Chief’s past characterization, and of Spartan-IIs generally.

By having a silent protagonist this basically goes unchallenged apart from some ambient dialogue with the marines.

I think that’s a valid criticism, but to be fair, it’s par for the course for Halo. I’ve been replaying Halo 3 lately, and I noticed that I feel like I’m influencing the world but not really a part of it when it comes to the story. Silent protagonists sometimes work, but I think they’re less effective in Halo than I’ve often seen claimed.

But my main point is the lack of that interaction hurts. When two boxers are getting ready for a fight, you still have all those pre game meetings and conflict to set the stage. You can’t have that if the Chief basically ignores Esharum.

I’m inclined to believe that this is the point. Escharum wants desperately to have this rivalry with a legendary opponent, but trying to become John’s rival is like trying to have a rivalry with a firearm or a vehicle. He has a job to do, and he’s not interested in personal vengeance at the expense of his mission. Like he said to the Warden Eternal,

“Worse than you have tried.”

At the moment, I can’t think of any villain with whom the Chief has had an actual rivalry. There may be one, but I think he sees his “rogues gallery” as obstacles to be overcome rather than people to hate.

Well that’s my issue with Atriox. Chief has had his adoptive home-world destroyed and seen countless other humans worlds meet the same fate. All of which entirely unprovoked and in which his people are directly responsible for. For this scumbag to come and demand vengeance on humanity for Doisac, a single planet, is absurd. I don’t think that should mean the Chief empathises with the Brutes at all. Hatred and contempt would be the result; at best stoicism.

There’s a passage in Shadows of Reach on page 171 that sheds some light on this:

"The Covenant had stolen [Linda’s] past. She wanted to put a 114mm HEAP round through the head of every alien she saw (yes, even the ones who were supposedly allies now, she realized with a sharp pang of guilt), to burn their homes and raze their cities and wipe even the memory of their malevolent empire from the galactic record.

And she despised herself for being so weak. Because hate was surrender.

Hate gave control of one’s thoughts and feelings to the enemy. It made a soldier predictable, and when a Spartan became predictable, the next thing she became was dead.

So a Spartan could not hate."

I believe that this is John’s attitude as well, more or less. He could easily allow himself to experience those feelings of contempt and hatred, but he knows that he would be the worse for it.

We have an example as early as Halo 2 to show this: John made the Prophet of Mercy’s suffering mercifully shorter than it would have been had he left him there to be consumed by the pod infector. He didn’t curbstomp the Prophet or kill him in some brutal way, either. He just removed the source of Mercy’s torment (and continued consciousness) and moved on.

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That’s leaning into the stoicism. However that’s the other side of contempt. Which doesn’t exactly work if you are aiming for “our battle will be legendary”. I think 343 wanted that to be a climactic moment in the story and do seem to be setting up a rematch with Atriox.

I don’t think 343 view the Brutes as that inhuman. They’re not quite Orks from 40k where you can’t reason with them and they’re barely sentient. So I think we have space to criticise the Banished like we would the Covenant or any real world historical organisation.

My worry is that they’re going to cast Atriox as some kind of victim and tell the audience to sympathise with him; whilst playing down what he’s done. Which I feel the hero should challenge and refute. Like when Doctor Strange tells Thanos that his plan is genocide. That sort of thing. If a villains not called out on their bull then it comes across as tacit consent. I mean he literally has propaganda towers where he spouts of his philosophy. In Halo 2 the Prophets had similar stuff and we had Cortana call them out on this a few times; I don’t see why here an exception should be made.

With Linda, I feel like that’s presented as too easy. I don’t think, if all your friends are being killed by an enemy that is that inhuman and unjustified you wouldn’t; make the occasional remark on how you don’t like them. Plus, the author is telling you how Linda feels which I don’t feel is implied by the Chiefs depiction in Infinite. I think they make him out as too indifferent towards the Banished, Escharum and Atriox.

I agree that it felt like there was a setup in some places with no payoff despite the opportunity being readily available.

When John said that “we’ve got a score to settle” in regard to the fallen Spartans, I was expecting some kind of comment toward or about Jega before, during, or after their fight. But Chief doesn’t say anything, despite having apparently settled the score. More than settled it, I’d say. Maybe that’s because Jega is going to return later on?

My reason for viewing the Brutes as fundamentally different to most of the other client (or founding) races of the various organizations in the Halo universe is that there hasn’t even been one major Jiralhanae character who is allied with or sympathetic to humanity where equality is in view. The Banished had human recruits, but they were expelled and certainly (I think) would never have been expected to rise to any kind of prominence anyway.

The closest we got was the Chieftain Lydus, who tried to create a relationship with the UNSC and SoS in the Escalation comics.

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I know people want it for some reason but: why would any human want to join the Banished?

  • It’s clearly a Brute Nationalist Organisation. To put it mildly.
  • You’re taking up arms against the UNSC
  • It has perpetrated massacres and the Brutes in general genocide against humanity
  • By Atriox own statement this isn’t an ideological movement. Not like Keepers of the Freedom who are okay with fellow believers even if human. No converts.
  • Its only attractive to those who want personal power. Because those who want to enhance human or elite power would oppose the Banished. Whilst anybody with a conscience would dismiss them as evil.
  • There’s a huge personal risk that they’ll just kill you because the Banished are at war with humanity

Given how much they threw Cortana under the bus with Doisac. I suspect the lack of good brutes is more accidental than intentional. The focus has really been on the Elites in the story. So we have a clear Good Guy Arbiter to point at. They just haven’t done the work for that with the Brutes.

But yes, as presented, they’re monsters and if Atriox is dumb enough to send what’s left of his people to their deaths in an insane “will to power” move then that’s on him. Like Esharum taunts you about how many Spartans are left. How many of you Brutes are left? :smile:

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I feel the same way. I don’t understand why some folks seemed to be so adamant that the Banished incorporate humans.

I don’t think we’re ever going to fight a faction with human enemies in a mainline Halo game. If there’s anything that’s not “Halo,” I would think it would be fighting humans as a Spartan.

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This is incorrect. Canon Fodder: Legendary Endings article stated that there are still Banished humans mercs on Earth. In addition, apparently cut dialogue revealed Atriox still welcomes humans even after what happened to Doisac.

There is no proof that the entire Banished got rid of their humans. All that’s been established is that the clans under Escharum specifically don’t have them, and the Long Shields clan specifically culled them out due to defections.

Humans clearly could rise to prominence in the Banished, as the faction is described as a meritocracy, even Grunts can rise to prominence evident of the Grunt High Value targets.

Because it’s dumb for the Banished Brutes to hate humans because one of their factions had a rogue AI that did genocide to their kind, while arbitrarily ignoring the fact that Elite factions have done and continue to do genocide to their kind as well.

It’s like pretending Halo 2 and the whole historical Elite-Brute feud never existed and they just to go back to Human Good/Alien Bad for no reason.

It’s been established in the lore that Atriox doesn’t care for revenge or feuds which is why Elites can sign up at all. It’s why the lore established he welcomes all species and hired humans. To retcon this would mean there’s no reasons Elites should have ever enlisted to the Banished. It also just ruins the Banished’s established lore, with Atriox forming the faction as a rebellion to the Covenant’s genocidal campaign against humanity, which he saw as a pointless cause to die for.

There are still Banished human mercs on Earth so he doesn’t hate the entirety of humanity. Also apparently cut dialogue shows him still welcoming humans after the Doisac incident. You can search it up on YouTube.

Atriox stated he was against vengeance toward entire species in the comics, if they retconned this vital aspect of his character then his story would be ruined.

Why would any Elite want to join the Banished?

  • It’s clearly a Brute Nationalist Organisation. To put it mildly.
  • You’re taking up arms against the Swords of Sanghelios and even religious Sangheili factions like the Servants of the Abiding Truth (who would see the Banished as heretics)
  • It has perpetrated massacres and the Brutes in general genocide against Elites
  • By Atriox own statement this isn’t an ideological movement. Not like Keepers of the Freedom who are okay with fellow believers even if Elites. No converts.
  • Its only attractive to those who want personal power. Because those who want to enhance human or elite power would oppose the Banished. Whilst anybody with a conscience would dismiss them as evil.
  • There’s a huge personal risk that they’ll just kill you because the Banished are at war with the any Covenant remnant that isn’t them (They have raided Elite bases, the Swords of Sanghelios have targets on Banished High Value Targets, and the Banished have even raided other Brutes on Doisac)

I’ve seen the video and Id say he’s a liar. For example in one of the propaganda towers he talks about how he wants to tear down the monuments of oppression built by humanity. How is that not hatred against a group? In the context of Halo that is an absurd lie. Look at his actions in murdering the crew of the Infinity who saved the galaxy. Coming from a Brute whose people have the blood of billions on their hands and unlike the Elites never stopped their criminal war against humanity. I don’t trust anything he says. He’s probably even lying to the Brutes and Banished as well just like the Prophets were.

A man who perpetrates massacres of innocent civilians, because he wants power and wants his people to have living space cannot be taken at his word. He uses them and any humans who follow as tools for his own personal power and glory.

My point is what kind of human would side with him? It’s like, sure, some British and Americans joined the SS in WW2.

Yeah, it makes no sense that Elites would join the Banished. To do that you’d need to be:

  • Immoral
  • Not be a nationalist
  • Be an atheist

That is a very small pool of Elites. :smile:

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By “human oppression” he probably mean the UNSC specifically. When he spoke about “taking the fight to the humans on the Ark” he also had Banished humans in his forces with him, which the Halo Divine Wind book revealed.

The same way he uses other species as tools, like Elites. Atriox is a greedy pirate leader.

A selfish dishonorable human who just wants quick cash. It’s the same personality type an Elite would require to become a Banished mercenary. Elite mercenaries are dishonored among their kin for this reason.

Absolutely! I respect your position. At least you’re consistent. Either both Elites and humans should be in the Banished, or neither should be in the Banished.

Trying to justify the Banished having Elites, but not humans, is just bad writing. Reverting back to strictly Human Good/Alien Bad is shallow, boring, and just makes the story of Halo 2 and Halo 3 meaningless.

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Yeah but the UNSC isn’t an Imperialist power trying to conquer the Brutes. That’s an extreme inversion of the facts. The Brutes, under the Covenant, aggressively pursued territorial expansion and a policy of genocide. Of which Atriox was a prominent member and participated directly. So if you claim that you’re freeing the Galaxy from Humanity; that’s a lie.

Yes, a very small number of humans might be:

  • Immoral
  • Not nationalist
  • Not religious

Why join a faction that might decide to glass Earth and murder your family. Why support a man who boasts about killing the Master Chief who saved the life of everybody in the Galaxy? These are not endearing traits. I’d question the integrity of a faction whose soldiers keep talking about how they like eating and killing humans. Not soldiers. Not UNSC. Humans, specifically.

There -Yoink!- be that many Elites in the Banished at all. It never made sense.

I mean, the Insurrectionists would have loved to have glassed Earth, killed Chief and all the ONI things he represents, and many seem to align with Forerunner worshipping religions, like the humans with the Keepers of the One Freedom. Not all humans are going to be on the side of other humans, and the same goes for any sentient species realistically depicted in a well-written fiction. Individual motivators are a big thing, and people can rationalize just about anything, even actions that are ultimately self destructive.

Alliances are never cut and dry, and neither are motivations for individuals. Not everybody weights and prioritizes things, or rationalizes things, the same way - so ultimately, humans and Sangheili in the Banished make enough sense - they’re just there for reasons that a normal-ish person wouldn’t be.

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Exactly. Atriox is more of a Ghengis Khan assimilating forces that surrender to him.

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Yeah, that’s a good analogy. He’s willing to bring people in, if they submit to his rule and obviously his real people are first among equals.

I hope they provide a bit more context about where the Banished were as a faction just before Halo 5. Was he basically the Great Khan of the Brutes at that point or was he still just one faction of many. I still can’t get why Cortana would destroy Doisac. Kill all the Banished. EMP and blockade the planet even. But it’s a little odd she does that here but not with Earth or Sanghelios.

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I think it makes sense to an extent - one, I’d expect she’s still going to be biased against the Banished, as she is a UNSC AI in origin, afterall. But two, the Banished are also generally causing trouble everywhere - they raid and kill and destroy. The idea that they would stop taking what they need when ordered by a human AI is laughable from Atriox’s perspective - his people, his empire has needs, and they will get/take what they need. This leads down a course of failing to bow to Cortana’s rule, and as such, they are punished.

With Earth, she did attack Sydney, and had Laconia station (potentially?) destroyed. (Laconia is interesting to see how it’ll shake out since Bad Blood says that Leonidas should have been disabled, so how did he still exist?). And the Sangheili, we don’t know yet (based on anything I’ve read) the extend of the Created’s involvement post Halo 5.

Well, it’s probably because the Logic Plague is compromising Cortanas judgement. She’s being far more violent than is required to get the outcome she wants. It’s in the Gravemind interest that the Galaxy be divided and weak.

Hopefully the Encyclopedia provides some context at least for pre Halo 5 stuff with the Banished. Maybe not a map. But, the scale and scope of the threat to the UNSC. How significant was Atriox. Is he the Great Khan? I can’t tell that from Infinite or Halo Wars 2.

Be nice if the Encyclopedia also explains how the Created work as a faction. I still don’t know whether they’re actively running every planet or if they’re just this superstructure overseeing various “protectorates”. There was some concept art of occupied Earth which, yes, very 1984. It amazes me that six years on from Halo 5 a random bit of cut concept art has more detail than the majority of post Halo 5 books.

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Yeah Cortana outright destroying Doisac was dumb. It woulda made for some great gameplay to play on a damaged or partially destroyed Doisac instead of turning Cortana into The Emperor with a Death Star, with the Guardians realistically not even having enough power to vaporize a planet given their scale

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