Destiny 2 delivers compelling lore with each narrative beat. The world is vibrant with paracausal gods and interesting characters. Additionally, Destiny has incredible villains to conquer. “A hero is only as good as their villain.” This phrase is especially true for the Guardian and Uldren Sov, or as we now know as the Crow.
Prince of the Reef
Uldren is the brother of Mara Sov, Queen of the Awoken and the reef. He served as her right hand and spymaster for their people. Throughout this time, Uldren desperately wanted to escape the towering shadow of his sister and prove his worth.
This obsession with Mara and his own reputation would continue to plague Uldren throughout the years. Uldren would overstep his bounds with attempts to guard the reef’s secrets against outsiders (including guardians) time and time again. With Mara Sov’s disappearance after the battle with Oryx, it comes to no surprise her absence left a hole in Uldren’s heart. The prince of the reef soon grew mad.
Additionally, he seemed to have become infected with taken energy from the previous battle, as evident with his clouding eyes. This would lead the awoken down a dark path of madness and destruction against the very people he swore to protect.
After his imprisonment in the Prison of Elders, Uldren and his newly made scorn crew bided their time for freedom. Months after the red war, their time had come. Uldren manipulated the Warden Variks into releasing all of the inmates for the prison. Cayde-6 and Petra Venj attempted to stop the chaos from developing further. However, this would lead to the death of Cayde-6 at the hands of the Awoken prince. The Guardian would arrive too late to stop the tragedy. This spurs the Guardian on to a path of vengeance against the Scorn and their leader: Uldren Sov.
Uldren was haunted by the whispers of Mara. He chased these threads born from his mind, believing she was still alive. While Uldren chased down the light in hopes to combine it with his own darkness to further this goal, his Scorned Barons terrorized the Reef.
The Guardian took out each Baron until only the Fanatic and Uldren remained. The Guardian dispatched the Fanatic; however, Uldren achieved his goal. Using a shard of the Traveller and his own inner darkness, Uldren opened a gateway at the Watchtower in hopes of freeing his sister. Ultimately, this would be the doom of Uldren Sov.
Beyond the gateway lied a monster known as the Voice of Riven instead. It revealed that the Ahamkara Riven was the one masquerading as Mara inside Uldren’s head. To Uldren’s dismay, he was then swallowed whole by the creature.
The Guardian fought their way to the Voice of Riven. Ending its life and freeing Uldren in the process. Petra Venj along with the Guardian held the fallen prince at gunpoint. The very gun he used to end Cayde-6’s life was now staring him in the face, the Ace of Spades. Uldren claimed everything he did was for Mara, then was forever silenced from this plane.
Rise of the Crow
A short amount of time passed. Then the light graced the cold corpse of the Awoken Prince. A ghost by the name of Glint revived him. However, Uldren Sov was still dead. This new guardian, had no memories of the terror inflicted. Instead, this guardian would go by the name of Crow.
Crow wandered the reef aimlessly until the Spider (an Eliksni Kingpin of the Tangled Shore) found him. He slyly manipulated Crow into his service. Crow was then held hostage in his service as Glint was rigged with an explosive by Spider. If Crow stepped out of line, it would be the end of his ghost and his light. The Guardian came to Spider’s lair to work with him in stopping Xivu Arath (War god of the Hive). There they came face to face with an old enemy.
Osiris rendezvoused with them to help the Guardian see the fallen prince was now a guardian, and therefore had no memories of Uldren. The animosity and scorn were gone from Crow’s face, only the innocence and slight confusion similar to a newborn babe.
The Guardian would work with Crow and Osiris to stop Xivu Arath’s corruption of other races. Once the Wrathborn (those corrupted by Xivu Arath) threat was defeated, the Guardian and Crow had grown into a good team. So much, in fact, the Guardian would demand Spider release Crow as compensation for their services. Bewildered, the new light left his next with Osiris and the Guardian to his new home in the tower.
Guardians of a Feather
Osiris would transition into a mentorship role with Crow. As Lord Saladin and the vanguard battle Caitl’s forces, Osiris continue to counsel Crow on caution. To avoid a panic, Crow donned a mask and new attire gifted to him by Osiris. This would help mask his true identity. Crow continued to prove a competent ally to popular pillars of the tower such as Amanda Holliday, Zavala, and more. He even saved Zavala from death, twice.
Zavala brought Crow and the Guardian to Caitl’s peace treaty. There a coup was staged by a rebel faction of Psions. They attempted to disable Zavala’s ghost and grant the Vanguard leader a final death. Crow intervened, losing his mask in the process. This finally revealed his identity to Zavala. However, instead of the barrel of a gun, Crow was greeted with a hand of friendship. This helped solidify his path of redemption. No longer in the shadows, this Awoken has spread his wings in the light. A stark contrast to the self-serving and crazed Uldren Sov.
Two beings that are different yet the same. When one is revived as a Guardian, they lose their memories. As a Guardian of the tower, Crow only has a vague idea of his past but knows it was dark and horrific. Is Crow worthy of forgiveness or should he still bear the wait of Uldren’s sins? An interesting theory in metaphysics may help provide the answer.
Ship of Theseus
The paradox of Uldren Sov and Crow is a great representation of the “ship of Theseus.” This thought experiment is one of the in philosophy. The premise is relatively simple. If the subject in question has all of its sum parts replaced, is it still the same subject?
Bungie (the studio behind the Destiny franchise) even has a nod to this with the “Radiant Accipiter” ship found within the Harbinger mission. The ship was originally rundown and barely holding together when Crow first flew it to the EDZ. However, a wave of paracausal (physics breaking) energy transformed the ship into something new and extraordinary. Crow tells the Guardian he still recognizes it as the same ship but it is now in a class of its own.
Now apply the theory back to Crow. He was originally Uldren Sov. Besides dying, the only key differences are a lack of memory and newfound powers thanks to the Traveller (paracausal being of light). Despite his past misdoings, the Traveller saw fit to grant the awoken the mantle of guardian. This would progress even further with Crow telling the guardian of dreams he’s experienced where the Traveller has spoken to him. An act reserved for the speaker and a select few. However, the past can not be erased.
A Way Forward
Lives were ruined at the hands of Uldren Sov. Crow has gleaned this much with his research. There may never be enough goodwill to outweigh the evil committed. Yet, Crow has chosen to persevere as an agent of the light, even going as far as to play “Robin Hood” for displaced war refugees of the Eliksni people.
Zavala took the information of Crow’s identity to Ikora Rey, a woman who was probably the closest to Cayde-6. She of course already knew about Crow’s secret, being a leader of espionage of course. I believe her response to be most apt on putting the matter to rest. Uldren Sov is Dead.
Loose Thy Talons
Questions still circulate on whether Crow eventually takes up the mantle of Hunter Vanguard. The narrative continues to draw parallels between him and Cayde-6. Crow himself probably would decline if asked now. He is still getting his feet wet as a Guardian after all and focused on his path of redemption. On the other hand, he has the Traveller’s favor and demonstrates the virtues of a true guardian.
Bungie has created something truly special. This villain redemption arc truly sits among the best in fiction. The creative use of the ship of Theseus allowed it to be a unique story that could only be told within the Destiny universe. A fallen prince lost to darkness only to be found again within the light as a guardian. Stories like these are truly ones of legend and worthy of this vast mythos Bungie holds dear.