Episode 2 of Guild War 2’s Season 2 (that’s a lot of 2’s) feels like rising action, a flashback, and also foreshadowing. Episode 1 was an easily-digestible story in the desert as we figured out who sabotaged the Zephyrites. Episode 2 starts adding a bit more complexity to the story. There’s good and bad, but it’s clear (especially from the teaser for Episode 3) that the picture frame is expanding. Spoilers herein.
Entanglement starts off where Episode 1 left off: with Scarlet. Or rather, with Scarlet’s memory and effects. At the end of Episode 1 we left Taimi in Scarlet’s old holdout to catalogue and research Scarlet’s early workings. Episode 2 sends us scrambling back at the request of Braham because Mordremoth’s (the plant dragon’s) vines have overtaken the town of Prosperity killing virtually everybody off but the bartender. Drooburt couldn’t get away in time because he was overladen with “donations” (read: death weights) of the players.
We learn a bit more about Scarlet from Taimi, and then Mordremoth vine rumbles open up a secret passage to a new area in Dry Top. This area leads a bit through the desert and even jungle before ending up at a leyline cave, the Cavern of the Shining Lights, where Scarlet began exploring leyline energies. Leylines seem to have been a pretty key feature to one of the lore secrets of Guild Wars 2. For example, asuran waypoints were unknowingly placed along leylines because the waypoints then worked better.
Scarlet’s mark is found throughout Dry Top with denizens having either seen her or her steam machines, and of course she took control of the Cavern at one point. The first ‘main’ instance involves setting up Scarlet’s defenses to deter the Inquest seeking to claim Scarlet’s wealth for their own evil purposes. Finally, we find that the machine that awoke Scarlet to corruption / enlightenment is in this cavern. That’s okay, we’ll just leave Taimi alone for a second time with the machine while the other 4 biconics split up to head to two leyline hotspots where Mordremoth will attack.
I personally am enjoying Scarlet’s legacy, but feedback has been mixed. For me, she’s dead. I don’t feel she’s going to be an Atomic Robo Helsingard – who has gained immortality through cloning his brain in to battle robots. I feel that she is dead, dead. So it is interesting that her movements through life are still causing ripples in the living world. I find it is hitting my lore delver itch, but I also feel it is reasonable to those that want her dead from the entire story.
It’s interesting what a tightrope ArenaNet walks in the story. Through interviews, forum discussion, Twitch streams, and blog stories they’ve covered a lot of ground. Mordremoth has been known for quite some time, but it’s not been introduced in game. Massively questioned ArenaNet hard on the sudden naming of the creature. Mrs. Ravious too asked “what are Mordrem, and why are we fighting them?”
I think Episode 2 covers this up, eventually at the end, but I do agree that more emphasis was necessary in introducing the currently active Elder Dragon. I know ArenaNet did not intend for a Scarlet introduction the way the Big Bad was introduced in Season 1, and I would guess those that paid attention understood that an Elder Dragon was awakened at the end of Season 1. Still there was that one weak dot connection in naming that Elder Dragon… who did name it, for instance? ArenaNet acknowledge it could have been better handled, and given how they strive to learn from their mistakes, I would guess this would be a rare happening next time.
Episode 2 then heads to Timberline Falls and Kessex Hills where two forts have come under attack by Mordremoth. The first of these two instances is The Concordia Incident where Mordremoth is attacking an artifact-delivering caravan. Much like Zhaitan it seems that the Elder Dragons love magical artifacts like Skittles.
The second of the two instances, Trouble at Fort Salma, is the more interesting of the two. Again Mordremoth is going after an artifact (and possibly defenses), but the apparent red shirt character Belinda, sister of our favorite biconic Marjory, gets in the way. She gets Drooburted at the end with a vine taking her life.
Again, I’ve seen reasonable feedback on both sides of the fence. ArenaNet has added Belinda in a number of scenes to introduce her as somewhat meaningful to the story. I am still wondering at her purpose. Marjory didn’t really need humanizing, which Belinda seems to provide, especially with Kasmeer demanding more family time. Anyway, that’s what happens. Belinda dies, and Marjory breaks down. Marjory also rejects Kasmeer’s consolations. Instead Marjory insists that Kasmeer head back off with the rest of the biconics. Their reactions to Belinda’s death and Marjory’s actions were really well done, and I feel some of the best writing of Episode 2.
I tend to agree that players really never had the chance to put stock in to Belinda. However, there is plenty of story to have put stock into Marjory, and now Marjory is devastated and acting apart from her krewe.
It’s another facet of the theme of Episode 2. Mordremoth’s actions are affecting the world. Prosperity and a few forts have been destroyed. Drooburt and Belinda are dead. Marjory is in mourning. Even if you brush of Belinda’s death putting it in the same vein as a dead Zephyrite littering Dry Top, you should be able to notice this theme.
It seems that this theme will grow and continue with affecting the entire continent of Tyria in Episode 3.
The final instance is a story instance where you accidentally step in to Scarlet’s Machine to see the Great Alchemy, or a view of some supernal reality. In the cinematic there is “the world” surrounded by 6 moons, which represent the Elder Dragons, and possibly the gods or something else too. I will note that there are indeed 6 sphere, which seem active, so even if we killed the Elder Dragon Zhaitan, I don’t think we killed the entity that Zhaitan represented.
Anyway, Mordremoth’s sphere attacks the worldsphere. I wonder if only one Elder Dragon can make its move. We know they aren’t allies with one another. Perhaps they are playing a game of chess with the world. The winning Elder Dragon gains the most magic, and possibly it has a great effect on the next cycle of the world. Zhaitain already made its move and lost. Now, it’s Mordremoth’s turn to play.
The Second Episode
I recently learned that in a new show, the second episode is the episode because it is the one that counts. In the first episode there are the early adopters. Those people go out and spread the word, and then people beyond the early adopters come back to check it out during the second episode.
I think that except for the Mordremoth-naming misstep, the story has been going forward very well. It’s pretty clear what is going on. There are many facets of the story, and while every facet may not be to everybody’s liking (this is an MMO, right), I feel ArenaNet has definitely covered enough bases that there will be pleasing facets to most players.