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"Dragon Age 2" (2011) The Benefits of Killing Carver


Ash has been playing "Dragon Age" since the first game's release. She enjoys exploring and explaining the characters and the lore.

A screenshot of Carver.

A screenshot of Carver.

So. I've already written an article explaining why it's actually pretty great to make Carver a templar and rival him for the duration of the game. But I was playing Dragon Age 2 again for kicks, and I realized that letting Carver die in the Deep Roads (not during the prologue) actually makes for the best story.

"Best" is entirely subjective here, but it's my opinion that Carver's death actually makes Hawke's story more tragic and more interesting. To be honest, Carver doesn't add much to the story whether he's a templar or a Grey Warden.

But let's recap.

The Other Fates are Boring

The three fates of Carver.

The three fates of Carver.

When Carver is a templar, chances are you're rivaling him because he gains high rivalry when left behind during the Deep Roads expedition. I argued in my other article that this made for more drama and added to the tragedy of Hawke's story, given that Carver ultimately winds up like Gamlen (living his life looking after his sister) and will no doubt become a drooling lunatic and slaughter the grand cleric as a result of lyrium addiction (all credit to Alistair for the visual).

But to be honest, Carver as a templar doesn't add much to the story. Even during the DLC Legacy, he's a prick and all he does it annoy Hawke. You get the impression that he misses spending time with Hawke given his hesitance to leave the mansion at the end of the DLC, but that's it. Carver is largely just an ass who never grows up.

It isn't until the end of the game where Carver leaps in front of Hawke to protect her that he becomes remotely interesting, and even then, it feels too little, too late.

Meanwhile, Carver as a warden is boring. Warden Carver is likely on the friendship path with Hawke, so he loves her and worships her like everyone else.


In hindsight, neither of these fates seem interesting for Carver. It makes the most sense to "fridge" Carver for the sake of making Hawke more interesting. In fact, much like the Virmire Survivor in Mass Effect, Carver and Bethany were little more than plot devices meant to serve that exact purpose.

So why not let them?

The Deep Roads Expedition.

The Deep Roads Expedition.

Also, it hit me recently that leaving Carver behind when Hawke goes on the Deep Roads expedition is kind of a mean thing to do.

Hawke came up with an idea to get rich, and up until the point where she actually sets out, the implication was that Carver was her partner in the endeavor, just like Bartrand was partners with Varric. But at the last minute, Hawke tells Carver to go home?

And what makes it even worse? Carver is desperate to become an adult and forge his own way in the world, but it seems all the forces in Thedas are converging to keep him a child clutching Leandra's skirts.

Carver can't join the guard because Aveline keeps sabotaging him and admits it unapologetically in party banter. He has no other skills, and given that there's a wide prejudice against Fereldans in Kirkwall, finding a trade is near impossible. The expedition is Carver's one chance to make something of himself, and Hawke carelessly snatches it away and tells him to go home like a good little boy.

It's no wonder he becomes a templar. It's the only option he has a left, and it will also piss off Hawke.

Companions Feel Closer

Fanart of Hawke and Varric.

Fanart of Hawke and Varric.

I mentioned on other articles of mine that Carver's death actually draws Hawke closer to her friends.

If Bartrand and Carver both die, then Hawke and Varric both lose their brothers during the expedition and become closer as "chosen siblings" for that reason.

Varric forever feels terrible about Carver (he apologizes a few times profusely), and Hawke helps Varric resolve the situation with Bartrand. They both lose the only remaining family they had and so become each other's family.

It fits in nicely with the theme of chosen family in the game.

Fanart of Hawke and Isabela.

Fanart of Hawke and Isabela.

Isabela also has a different demeanor entirely when romancing Hawke while Carver is dead.

After Carver's death, Isabela takes off her mask in Act II to tell Hawke that she's sorry about her brother. She'll say this while traveling with Hawke in the party, as a party banter, if the player clicks on her.

And later, when Hawke's mother dies, Isabela is a lot more gentle in her dialogue. Hawke is now heavily wounded after having lost her father, both siblings, and now her mother, so Isabela is very gentle, telling Hawke that her mother was very proud and fumbling to say "I love you."

Some of that gentle dialogue you don't get if Carver is alive. Instead, Isabela is a lot more stern, trying to get Hawke to see how lucky she is and to be grateful.

Leandra's Death Hits Harder

Leandra's revelation as a walking corpse.

Leandra's revelation as a walking corpse.

The quest where Leandra dies is called All That Remains. It refers to the fact that Leandra is all that Hawke had left of her family and also to the fact that Hawke is now all that remains of her immediate family.

If both Carver and Bethany are dead, it makes things immensely more tragic for Hawke, who is now truly alone in the world. . . or rather, feels that way.

If Carver is still alive, Hawke is not all that remains, even if in a rivalry with him. Rivalry Path Carver still loves his sister, after all, and protects her from discovery by the templars, writes her letters, and protects her at the end of the game.

But if Carver is dead, then Hawke feels truly alone. She can even say as much to Isabela after Leandra's death. Isabela will answer that family isn't just who you're related to by blood, bringing the "chosen family" theme full-circle.

No Disappointments

Hawke in "Dragon Age: Inquisition."

Hawke in "Dragon Age: Inquisition."

Dragon Age: Inquisition made the templars and the Grey Wardens both go nuts. These are both factions that Carver could have joined, but instead of doing something interesting with that, BioWare decided to just . . . send Carver away somewhere "safe."

. . . Why?

It's completely out of character for Carver to hide instead of trying to put things right in whatever order he belongs to. Because Hawke was supposed to be the Inquisitor, it's likely that Carver would have been forced to fight her either as a Grey Warden or as a Red Templar. When Hawke was scraped, Carver's role was, too.

I know. It would make no sense for Carver to appear as a Grey Warden or a Red Templar when the Inquisitor doesn't know him and shouldn't care diddly about him. . . . but you could say that about a lot of characters that made cameos.

The Inquisitor should not know or care about Morrigan, Cullen, Leliana, Varric, Bann Teagan, Connor, Alistair, or any of the endless and ridiculous cameos this series is known for. And yet, these characters returned, even though they were originally meant for Hawke. So why did Carver get shafted?

The fact that they did nothing with his character is just . . . disappointing. The same way they did nothing with Anders after so much build up with the mage war.

This is all a symptom of the developers shattering the narrative by continuously having us play a new protagonist. The damage of this unfortunate decision has spread its fingers throughout the story far enough to reach even minor characters like Carver.

With Carver dead in Dragon Age 2, this disappointment can be avoided.

Carver Must Die

Carver dies in the Deep Roads.

Carver dies in the Deep Roads.

In the end, Carver's death in the Deep Roads just makes the story better overall. And what's more, it was supposed to be that way. Carver is little more than a plot device in his older sibling's story, and on some subconscious level, he knows that.

No wonder he hates Hawke.

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