The six-episode-long Dragon Age Absolution season 1 is ready to offer Dragon Age fans a fun action-filled time that is also queer as heck!
Spoiler Warning: This review of Dragon Age Absolution season one contains spoilers. You have been warned!
While the first season of DA Absolution left me wishing it had more episodes, I still think the writing team was able to tell an interesting story with a bunch of new characters in the limited time that they had. The primary narrative was about family. Being able to strengthen or weaken relationships between the characters on your team is a big part of the Dragon Age games. So, it made sense for the writers to focus on relationships instead of going for something grander during the first season.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The outcome of the main quest will impact the entire world. But I liked the more “contained” storytelling that occurred in the debut season. The relationship dynamics helped me understand the characters better and got me excited for what was to come next as our heroic team ventured into the larger world of Dragon Age lore during the finale.
Set around the Dragon Age 3: Inquisition video game timeline, an elf slave named Miriam (Kimberly Brooks), who ran away from Tevinter, served as the main lead. She’s made a life for herself as a thief. She’s does things her own way, though, which causes some friction between herself and her group’s actual boss. Accompanying Miriam is a human warrior mercenary named Roland (Phil LaMarr).
Both Miriam and Roland get caught in a mission to steal a magical artifact called the Circulum Infinitus when Miriam’s ex-girlfriend, a human mage named Hira (Sumalee Montano), decided to reach out. Turns out, Hira’s mission required Miriam because she’s familiar with the palace in the city of Nessum where the artifact was being kept.
I liked how the writers revealed Miriam and Hira’s relationship ASAP. While the two still loved each other, there was drama between them because Hira left Miriam to go and join the Inquisition. Hira wanted to change the world for the better. And stealing the Circulum Infinitus was another shot at that. The artifact had the power to properly resurrect the dead, and it needed to be kept away from evil hands.
You could tell that Miriam didn’t want to return to the palace. And I liked how the writing team revealed her reasons as the story progressed. Miriam and her twin brother Neb were raised as slaves in the palace. They were trained to be mere tools for their owner’s son Rezaren (Josh Keaton). However, during a tragic event, an older Miriam had no choice but to run away.
With Miriam becoming an assassin/thief, Rezaren had grown up to become a Tevinter Magistrate who wanted to find a way to use the Circulum Infinitus to properly resurrect the dead without needing to use Blood Magic.
I appreciated the layers the writers gave Rezaren as a character. I do think many of you, like me, hoped that he decided to come over to the good side after meeting Miriam. But nopes. He’s stuck in his ways and it’s very fun to see him continue to fall deeper into the darkness all in the name of wanting to do the right thing.
Both Rezaren and Miriam were trying to deal with trauma in their own way ever since the day Miriam was forced to run from the palace. It’s just that Rezaren took the highly problematic route to make things go back to the way they used to be between him, Miriam, and Neb. Accepting mortality and learning how to let things go were major narrtaive themes and the writing team did well exploring them through Rezaren and Miriam’s troubled relationship.
Another major theme dealt with slavery and freedom. Miriam had been treated as a tool all her life. And the fact that Rezaren still wanted her to accept his deal was a clear indicator of how he was unable to empathize with what she had been through, even though they both grew up together. Even though he kept saying that she was his sister, it was made obvious that Rezaren always saw Miriam and Neb as his property.
The narrative also talked about betrayal and revenge, with both themes being highlighted through Hira’s character arc. Hira’s motivation to steal the artifact as well as her definition of revenge was quite different compared to Miriam, who had also gone through a lot. I really hope Netflix decides to renew Dragon Age Absolution for a season 2 because I’m very interested in seeing where Hira and Miriam’s relationship will go after the finale.
There’s still love there, but Hira’s insistence on seeking revenge and seeing the bigger picture served as major obstacles for Miriam in her quest to help make Hira change her ways. Rezaran’s stubbornness cost him greatly, including his relationship with the human Knight-Commander Tassia (Zehra Fazal).
Talking about queer relationships, we also got to see Roland flirt with the dwarven fighter Lacklon (Keston John). Their friendly banter growing into the two finally sharing their feelings for each other made for some nice relationship moments across the seasons. I’m rooting for them!
A whole lot of comedic relief was delivered by a Qunari mage named Qwyndion (Ashly Burch). She quickly became my favorite character and I was very worried about her well-being as the action and danger amped up. I just want her to keep on being happy.
With me talking so much about relationships, don’t think that Dragon Age Absolution failed to deliver on the action. Because it didn’t. The show’s rated TV-MA so expect to see a good amount of blood and death during fight sequences that involve traditional weapons and magic. I really enjoyed the fight that had Roland and Lacklon team up against Tassia. She’s a very formidable foe to face.
And for those wondering, surprisingly there wasn’t any nudity, even though nudity and sexually intimate moments are present in the Dragon Age games.
As for the gripes, I would have liked the season to be at least 8 episodes long. Even though I liked what the writers are able to deliver, I do feel that the relationships could have benefited from more breathing space. At least, the writers actually gave us flashbacks to explain certain relationships instead of just telling and not showing. So, points for that.
Another gripe would be how the show’s not easily accessible to someone not very familiar with Dragon Age lore. In contrast to recent popular shows adapting video games, such as Arcane, I can see a casual viewers being very confused about what they are watching because DA Absolution doesn’t really spend time on worldbuilding. The cameos from a couple of video game characters will mean nothing to casual viewers. And the reveal in the finale concerning Meredith Stannard will definitely not have the same impact on casual viewers compared to how I was like “Wait! What?!!!” during that particular scene.
I get that Dragon Age Absolution season 1 is for DA fans. But I don’t want the inaccessibility of the storytelling to limit the audience. I want this show to come back! And let’s see if and how the events in this show link to the upcoming Dragon Age: Dreadwolf video game.
Released on December 9, 2022, you can go ahead and watch all six episodes (around 30 minutes each) from Dragon Age Absolution season one right now on Netflix.
Have you watched it already? What did you think?
Let us know.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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