As Cayde explains in the Destiny 2 launch trailer, there’s someone proudly pushing into the fray of our universe. He goes by Gary.. or Gil, or Glen? Something with a G. However, playing through Destiny 2 got me thinking a lot about the game’s intricacies to Ghaul, the villain from the title who you defeat should you finish the campaign. Let’s get into it.
If you’re curious about the lore that starts in on how we got to this epic battle against Ghaul and his Red Legion, Destiny Guides actually compiles it and helped me understand even more. Check it out and then we’ll break down Ghaul into a more humane level.
So, we’ve already dealt with the Cabal on Mars and just how desperately these soldiers were attempting to save themselves. The most human-like of the enemies in Destiny, we knew that they were making a strong push to deal with their numbers and save themselves from us, the Guardians. The Vanguard had no clue that the Cabal would touch down on Earth and certainly that they wanted to encroach upon the denizens. Ghaul shows a deep obsession with harnessing the power of the Traveler, which houses the power of the Guardians. In fact, it’s the destruction of the Traveler that rips powers away from the Guardians that you desperately need to regain in order to handle Ghaul and his Red Legion. Now, why does Ghaul want this? Why is he obsessive? Does his Red Legion know his true intentions?
Breaking Down Ghaul:
To understand this is to actually dip into Ghaul’s origins. Dominus Ghaul was an orphaned albino runt within the Cabal and The Consul (the drippy faced Cabal who plays as the secondary antagonist in Destiny 2) took him under his wing in order to use those abandonment issues to his own end. The Consul desperately wanted to raise up Ghaul to overthrow Emperor Calus but didn’t expect that Calus would take Ghaul in basically as a son. Calus wanted Ghaul to push away from The Consul because he felt he would only be a terrible influence on Ghaul who showed such promise within the Cabal ranks.
This was only proven by the fact that The Consul whispered devious thoughts to Ghaul, to make him second-guess his relation to Emperor Calus, thus pushing the now highly-ranked and beloved Ghaul to want to make a move. This move was to gather up all Red Legion that would side with him, gather up The Consul and have Calus arrested and imprisoned within the Leviathan. That was when The Consul decided now was a good time to point out what Dominus Ghaul could focus on: ridding the Earth of the Vanguard. Snatching up The Speaker, he wanted nothing more than to understand just what Guardians had that he didn’t. While The Consul thought that he could focus Ghaul on killing the Guardians and removing their power, Ghaul’s preoccupation was about being worthy enough to harness the light the Guardians had, for himself. He would try without force if only The Traveler would consider him worthy to give the Light to him. If not, well, he’d take it himself. We could easily look back on Ghaul’s upbringing where he was orphaned and left behind and taught that there was something always to seek: validation through any means necessary.
I felt a pity for Ghaul throughout the entire campaign of Destiny 2. A pity that came from wanting to understand how he got from there to, well, here. The Traveler speaks to everything Ghaul wanted for himself: to be worthy. While his intentions are selfish, he has been fed a non-stop diet of egoism and self-importance by The Consul. The Consul knew what he was promoting until he found that Ghaul was well past his whispers and was onto his ultimate goal of harnessing the Light. The Light would mean that The Traveler found him worthy of such power, a power he had never had without his Cabal-created armor and his fighting gifts. He wanted more. Acceptance and being something that an otherworldly power finds him worthy of obtaining would be the ultimate win for someone like Dominus Ghaul. The Consul couldn’t break through his obsession and regain his power over Ghaul and with that, you see that his is single-minded in his goals. It is no longer about the Cabal and no longer regarding the Red Legion but purely a fixation on acceptance.
Can we hate him? Should we? Are we all so different from Dominus Ghaul in that we desperately want to prove ourselves to be worthy of the good things in this world? That we point ourselves in directions that aren’t necessarily the best, at any given time, in order to feel validated? We are sometimes guided and pushed by echo-chambers much like The Consul and propped up to be told our thoughts and feelings are the best and we should go further with them. The Emperor Calus’ of our lives can try desperately to bring us back down to Earth and humble us but the trick to it is to never believe your own hype. Don’t let your insecurities fester into a blind ambition to find acceptance and love through misguided idols.
The moral of Ghaul’s story? Stay humble or meet your own destruction.