Friday, July 12, 2019

Meaningful Banters: Cole and Bull after "Demands of the Qun"

COLE: I remember the little boy, too wise, eager to help. Words break in small secret spaces. He got away. He got away.

Since my Part 2 post on "Demands of the Qun" was already reaching critical mass, I decided to note some of the banters with Cole that occur afterward here, in a separate rundown below. They're revealing and, of course, often terribly sad.


No matter what choice was made, there are several conversations and banters with Bull and his companions later on, depending on the choices made during his loyalty quest, and most are fairly straightforward—sympathies for his loss if the Chargers were sacrified, or sympathy for his newfound status as Tal-Vashoth. 

However, some offer intriguing and real insights into Bull, like those with Cole.

"He Got Away..."

Cole has always known what the Chargers mean to Bull; he has talked often about Krem. But he also gives us a later "you are there" moment that's really vital:

IRON BULL: Hey, Cole. Quick! What number am I thinking of?
COLE: Raw and hot, trying to open it, but just darkness. How bad, how bad? No, done now, no sense worrying. The man they hurt coughs, shaking, but sits up. Eyes wide. No, not a man, a woman, clothes torn. "You're safe now. I'm Iron Bull. What do you want me to call you?"
IRON BULL (dryly): Twelve. The number I was thinking of was "twelve."

I love this, because it's putting us inside Bull's head in the moment he saved Krem... right as Bull realizes he's lost his left eye. In typical Bull fashion, as I've noted before, Bull assesses, then moves on. Can't be helped, no sense worrying. The first thing Bull says to Krem is his name. And I'm betting everything here that it's not the name of a "role." It is who he knows himself to be in that moment.

It's a beautiful symmetry, since we know that ever after, while Krem lives, he watches that blind spot for the man who saved him. It's why Krem is always to the left of Bull, in that corner of the Tavern, after all.

But Cole's not done. He subtly supports Bull again, later on, letting him know his Tama is happy for his escape:

COLE: "Tama, how will I follow the Qun?" Her hands, strong but gentle, ruffles stubs where the horns will be. "You are strong, and your mind is sharp. You will solve problems others cannot." She smiles, but sadly.
IRON BULL: Looks like my old Tamassran was wrong. Bet she's pissed one of her kids went Tal-Vashoth.
COLE: Agents with hushed tones. Eyes stinging, forms to fill out, course corrections, reduce risk of similar losses. I remember the little boy, too wise, eager to help. Words break in small secret spaces. He got away. He got away.
IRON BULL: How could you know that? You've never even met her.
COLE: Your hurt touches hers.
IRON BULL: Well, that's, uh, creepy. But... thanks.

In "Trespasser," Cole gives us one last glimpse into Bull's mind -- at his relief that his family still lives, by saying: "Salt-spray smell of Seheron. Lost in smoke from a burning ship. Guilt at not feeling guiltier."

It's one final reminder that Bull wanted to save the Chargers. He wanted to leave the Qun. He feels guilty... because he doesn't feel guilty, deep down. He is free. He got away.

"Horns Pointing Up..."

Meanwhile, if the dreadnought is saved and the Chargers are lost, Cole still tries to do his part, to show support, especially as he realizes Bull has been torturing himself with imagined recriminations, with the imagined anger of his men, and especially of Krem:

COLE: Blood, crash of metal, but silent underneath—the horn didn't blow! That one-eyed bastard, I knew he'd betray us!
IRON BULL: Oh good, you're doing your thing again.
COLE: They died fighting. In your mind, they hated you, but you're doing it wrong! That isn't what Krem thought!
IRON BULL (slowly, unwilling to admit he wants to know): Well, then... what did he think?
COLE: "Horns pointing up."

It's a really sad moment, because even though it's better than the rage Bull is envisioning... it's worse. Bull thinks of the song he could not finish quoting up on the battlements, and dies a little more inside. Cole is upset to realize he didn't help.

IRON BULL: Oh... yeah.
COLE: No, that didn't help—I tugged on the tangle and tore it—
IRON BULL: It's all right. I'm good.

Cole gives a further, and more complex revelation later on however, in "Trespasser," letting us know that Krem never ever gave up—never stopped waiting for Bull to come back to save them: "Copper on the lips. Dalish lies dead-eyed beside me. He'll come, he'll call, he won't leave us... Horns pointing up."

But Bull never came back. And now he's gone for good. Later on, after the terrible moment in "Trespasser" when Bull reveals to us that he did exactly what we told him to (to stay loyal to the Qun), and dies for it... Afterward (if we survived, mind you, since it's a fantastic fight), Cole reveals that there was no regret in Bull's mind at all. He was calm, cold, pithed. 

Of course he was. The dreadnought may have survived, but The Iron Bull died on a hilltop on The Storm Coast. Everything after that was just theatre.

Such are the demands of the Qun.


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