I finished replaying Defiance yesterday, after playing through Soul Reaver and Soul Reaver 2, pretty much just looking for all the signs of things that were planned for the series but didn't come, like I was talking about in my other topic, and I've just been wondering about the Elder God after watching all the scenes again.
He again and again claims to be the engine of life, the still center of the turning Wheel of Fate, to exist "Here and everywhere. Now and always." He seems to be having conversations with Raziel across time, to know who he is when Raziel goes back to the time of Ariel's death, seeming to already know Raziel and have instructed him before.
Yet the problem with all this of course comes with the end of Defiance. Moebius thinks Kain is dead, and while I can understand why (after closely examining everything said and with speculation), the idea that the Elder God could be surprised by Kain, and still be the "Still center of the wheel" and "Outside of time" (as he says in cut dialogue from Soul Reaver) seems impossible. The thing that makes sense is that he's faking it, that he goes along with time like everyone else, or else how could be possibly have been tricked by Kain? He should already know that Kain survives and beats him up.
He has to be faking this, but looking at Soul Reaver 2, it does seem that he really does know about Raziel. People like to talk about Raziel's "free will", but a major flaw in the story is that this "free will" is never explained properly. What does it mean? Kain talks quite a lot about how everyone just plays out their parts in history in Soul Reaver 2.
"You must understand, our presence here doesn’t alter history. You and I meet here because we are compelled to – we have always met here."
So Kain and Raziel are also just playing out the parts fate has written for them. Raziel can't just choose to change things whenever he wants. Both Raziel and Kain change history at various points in the story. First Kain changes history by killing William, then Raziel changes history by sparing Kain, and finally Kain pulls the Reaver out of Raziel, and it's hard to say just who was changing history there, maybe both of them.
Yet all of this seems to be thrown away in Defiance. Kain and Moebius both talk about Raziel having a choice.
"Because of your re-making, you are the one unbound creature, the one among us all that truly has free will. You have a choice, Raziel -- "
Raziel has a choice? How can he possibly choose differently than what's happened? Kain has already lived through this timeline as his younger self, fighting the Hylden when they try to conquer Nosgoth with their new age Sarafan. Why does Kain try to convince Raziel not to revive Janos when he knows already that Janos will come back? History is what it is.
"History is irredeemable.
Drop a stone into a rushing river – the current simply courses around it and flows on as if the obstruction were never there. You and I are pebbles, Raziel, and have even less hope of disrupting the time-stream.
The continuum of history is simply too strong, too resilient."
How can these pebbles possibly change history in this way? Kain bet everything on those paradox moments in Soul Reaver 2, but now he thinks that Raziel can change history when he wants?
Raziel: "So this has all been arranged, every step of the way. And Kain thought I truly had free will."
Moebius: "Oh, but you do. And there's the greatest triumph of all, to have compelled the one player who could choose into doing exactly what we required."
The one player who can choose? How? Raziel is just playing out his role in history like anyone else. Raziel wanted to change history and save Janos, but instead ended up leading his former self and the other Sarafan Inquisitors to Janos. It's because of Raziel heading to Janos and trying to save him that Janos was killed in the first place.
And all this is a problem I noticed while playing Defiance. Raziel's free will, Turel being Hash'ak'gik, Vorador supposedly being the last Vampire besides Kain, even though there were other Vampires being executed as Kain headed to Vorador's execution: "As I wandered about more, the shrieking and cheering became more apparent and defined. There was some sort of gathering to the south; for with each cheer I smelled an outpour of blood." and finally the plan for Kain to travel to Avernus Cathedral and leave the Soul Reaver for his younger self to find, even though Moebius had to get it before him, and the sword was supposed to be legendary before Kain found it. It seems as if they were forgetting just what they had established before. I know it's unrealistic to expect a series that goes on and on to be totally consistent, but it's strange how much they seemed to lose connection to previously established plot elements from the past games.
I can understand mistakes like saying that Vorador and Kain were the last Vampires, and even the mistake with Mortanius saying his "Come to be my undead son" line at the wrong time, but things like the plan with Kain leaving the Soul Reaver at Avernus Cathedral are pretty glaring. Also, I still am bothered by how Turl being Hash'ak'gik doesn't really work when you start to closely examine the information from Blood Omen.
I am of course a fan, but playing through the games again, I just notice all these things. I guess I kind of got off the subject of the Elder God, but whatever. I just wish this all made more sense, and that they actually explained what the hell was up with Raziel's "free will" and that they actually explained how Moebius could have been tricked by Kain. I think I know what they were going for, but they could have dropped some more clues there. But then again, with Moebius, they pretty much made the most unstoppable enemy ever, so maybe they wrote themselves into a corner with him.