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Emily Palmieri

Community Content:The Seeker’s Greatest Weakness

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In 2012, Oxybot, the producer of Appleseed and Vexille, released Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker, a CGI movie based on BioWare’s Dragon Age. The film follows Cassandra, a fierce and loyal member of the Seekers and a talented dragon hunter. The loss of her brother, who was killed by mages when she was a child, has made her bitter, angry, and prone to violence and recklessness. Her mentor, Byron, believes that her fury blinds her and will get her or someone else killed. Her behavior frequently endangers her and her companions. Contrary to his warnings, Cassandra demonstrates inhuman strength and an imperviousness to damage, leading one to wonder what she or her companions have to fear by her thoughtlessness. Indeed, her need for revenge for what happened to her as a child seems to fuel her uncanny strength more than it hinders her. The only attack in the movie that seriously damages Cassandra reveals her true weakness. Blind fury doesn’t make Cassandra vulnerable. Her unfortunate choice to not wear pants leaves her true vulnerability fully exposed: Her “Achilles heel,” her left thigh.

Cassandra, born into a family of talented dragon hunters, serves the Chantry as a Seeker to avenge her older brother’s murder. As a member of the Seekers, the most loyal of the Templar knights, Cassandra maintains balance and order between knights and mages. When she catches her fellow Seeker Byron kidnapping Avexis, an elf girl with the power to control beasts, however, she begins to question her loyalties. Byron believes that the High Seeker is conspiring with mages and holding Avexis hostage as part of their plans. When Byron dies protecting her and Avexis, Cassandra continues his mission to discover the truth. To do this, she must disobey the Chantry and trust an allied mage named Galyan.

Cassandra’s anger frequently puts herself and others into dangerous situations, which makes it easy to assume that she must learn to control it to achieve victory. Her uncontrolled temper shows from the first fight scene of the movie when Byron finds Cassandra hacking angrily away at the corpse of a mage in a fit of rage, leaving her unaware of her surroundings and open to attack. Byron demonstrates Cassandra’s weakness again when he defeats her in a sparring match by using his shield as a weapon. He explains that she has blinded herself with vengeance and can’t see all the possibilities available to her.

The consequences of Cassandra’s behavior escalate when her recklessness kills Byron. During their escape from the Chantry with Avexis, a large group of mages ambush Cassandra and Byron. Byron recommends that they retreat, but Cassandra takes the opportunity to kill more mages. Fearing that they will kill her, Byron stays and fights, too. He dies while protecting her, and the mages recapture Avexis. Cassandra laments that this wouldn’t have happened if she had retreated.

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In the scope of the entire movie, however, Cassandra’s mindless rage never really puts her in danger, causes her grief, or proves to be an obstacle. She demonstrates superhuman strength and damage resistance, which suggests that nothing poses a threat to her even when rage consumes her. In the course of a few days, she murders dozens of people and monsters. She can kill dragons with a knife, fist fight armed and armored knights into unconsciousness, and swing a sword hard enough to cut through armor and chains. Among other damage she receives, she survives a massacre as a little girl, jumps off three cliffs, stands on top of a flaming monster and doesn’t burn, and smashes into walls and the ground multiple times. The characters around Cassandra also recognize her abilities as exceptional. The Clerics express amazement when they hear that she killed a dragon by herself. Byron says that he knows no man better with a sword than her. Galyan sees her as the bravest person he’s ever met. The leader of the enemy mages retreats only when he recognizes Cassandra among the knights surrounding him at the end of the first fight scene. Cassandra and others refer to her as a member of a legendary dragon hunting family.

Byron’s death, the most devastating consequence of Cassandra’s blind fury and the most likely to convince her to change, ultimately doesn’t affect her. She even stops believing that she caused it. Less than thirty seconds after Byron passes away, Cassandra attempts to kill his friend Galyan, and her thoughtlessness continues for the rest of the movie. As soon as she discovers the person truly behind the conspiracy within the Chantry, she blames him for killing Byron instead of herself. After she defeats the conspirator, she briefly takes Byron’s last words to heart: “Hate can only breed more hate.” In Byron’s memory, she shows the traitor mercy by allowing him to live… but then beheads him anyway.

Despite Byron’s and Galyan’s insistence that Cassandra’s anger impedes her, Cassandra uses her pent up rage and impulsiveness to their advantage at every opportunity. She kills dragons and monsters at least fifty times her size and dozens of mages who would have killed her or members of the Chantry if she hadn’t. She intimidates an elf to gain valuable information. She saves herself and Galyan when she decides to jump off a cliff to escape the Templar knights. Despite everyone except Cassandra thinking that her rash decision would kill them, she and Galyan survive the fall. Instead of learning to control herself throughout the story, she instead convinces Galyan that her fury helps rather than hinders her. Originally a pacifist who dislikes Cassandra’s foolishness and need for revenge, Galyan tosses Cassandra the sword that she uses to execute the conspirator and admits that he should have let her kill him sooner. He also seems to reinterpret her recklessness as bravery. Perhaps if Byron had more trust that she could protect herself while he escaped with Avexis, he would have survived.

Cassandra does have a weakness, however. This can be observed when Cassandra receives an attack that damages her left thigh. During a fight with 100 giant monsters, one of the beasts backhands Cassandra, which knocks her unconscious and cuts open her leg. This deep but small cut leaves her debilitated and vulnerable for two days. She can’t even defeat a single person when before she could cut down fifteen in minutes. Her reaction to this injury can’t be explained by the fact that a monster brutally smashed her out of the air. A similar attack later in the movie, where a large creature swats Cassandra into a brick wall, doesn’t damage Cassandra’s leg or incapacitate her.

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If Cassandra has a character flaw, her apparent preference for running around without pants on would be a better candidate. This choice leaves her thighs, and thus her weak point, fully exposed. Byron and Cassandra escape the Chantry with Avexis late at night when both of them wear light armor as opposed to full armored suits. Cassandra happens to not be wearing pants and must continue without them for the rest of the film. Sure, she and Byron had to make a quick escape, but why would she casually wear light armor with no pants in the first place?

While Cassandra stubbornly refuses to change her personality, she does more than put clothes on to conceal her Achilles heel at the end of the movie. In the first fight scene, Cassandra wears a suit of armor that defends Cassandra so well that even magic bounces off of it throughout the battle. When she returns to the Chantry as a hero for exposing the conspiracy, she wears that miraculous suit of armor once again. Perhaps if she wore it through the whole adventure, she would be invincible and have nothing to worry about regardless of who or what she decided to swing a sword at.

Dawn of the Seeker leads the audience to believe that in order to fulfill her goals, Cassandra must learn to solve problems with means other than recklessness and violence. The hopes that Byron and Galyan had for her becoming a more tactful and forgiving person, however, go mostly unfulfilled. Aside from befriending a mage, Galyan, Cassandra shamelessly chooses the path of rage and revenge from the beginning of the movie to the end. She not only survives, but also shows that her personality doesn’t make her weak. Her childhood trauma haunts her, but it has also made her strong. She doesn’t need to change her temperament to protect herself. When an attack to her left thigh can nearly kill her while everything else has no effect, putting on pants appears to be the more reasonable course of action.

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