A Light in a Sea of Greys: Analysing Atris and Knights of the Old Republic II (Pt 1: Basics)

Atris the Betrayer

Don’t judge a book by its colour.

The Sith Lords gets both a lot of praise and a lot of flak for its moral complexity, and its challenge to the stereotypical good/evil Star Wars conflict.1 One key part of this challenge, as well as its examining of the problems with the Jedi Order, was Atris, a relatively minor character in retrospect but nonetheless an important one. Initially trying to evoke an imagine of a pinnacle of goodness, of being true Jedi, it becomes clear almost immediately that she’s not really any of these things. At the end of the game, the idea’s practically kicked in the teeth. If she is true Jedi, she is every problem with the Order made manifest.

In a lot of ways, Atris is pretty similar to Trias the Betrayer from Planescape: Torment, a Deva (pretty much an angel) and theoretical being of Lawful Good — who ultimately proves himself a liar and, uh, a betrayer, “twisted by the Planes”. This is probably intentional: Kreia herself is a reinterpretation of sorts of Ravel Puzzlewell, if a noticeably different character.2 Also Atris is actually Trias with the letters rearranged and originally she could become Darth Traya. Darth Traya, lord of betrayal. Trias the Betrayer. Of course, I do love a good excuse to go on about Torment. If nothing else, it’s a exploration of a similar idea.

To start with, I’d like to look at how the promotion and her basic character design both re-enforce and in some cases subtly undermine this image, before getting into the events of the game proper (partly because getting all the screenshots and so on is going to take forever). Continue reading