KOTOR II Companion Analysis: Mira
[The following article gives heavy spoilers for Knights of the Old Republic I and II.]
“There’s a lot of lost people out there scattered ever since the Mandalorian Wars. Sometimes it’s like you can almost hear them, like an echo calling out for each other. And maybe, just maybe by finding them I can start putting the galaxy back together.”
Mira as a companion does service to the atmosphere of KOTOR II’s story the most of all the companion characters, in her dialogue alluding to the nature of the galaxy in ‘present’ era, striving and aware of mass suffering due to a famine of resources, and the mystique of warriors and warlocks being less an emblem of heroism and more a primal kind of power that a person is wary of. Less heavy handed and overly talkative than many other characters, when Mira does speak her impression carries further, yet more so when any part of her story is both moral and physical. Of all the companions to be taught in the way of the Jedi, she is perhaps the most fitting as a ‘knight’.
It may not be so obvious due to the science fiction aesthetic, but among the companions her actions appear the most altruistic; likely a deliberate irony given her profession as a hired bounty hunter. The nature of what ‘breaks’ her is less visible, if present I would suggest hidden very deeply as with her spiritual predecessor Fall-from-Grace of Planescape: Torment. Mira’s tragedy is that her lusts, vices and hatreds are not damaging her from the inside, but the cruelty of the outside attacks her for virtues misinterpreted or seen as a thing to stamp out. She is hunted for the good she did, and while her admirable will is strong enough that she does not cede her compassion; it is a damning indictment of this setting that a character is throttled, intimidated, and baited by a sadist purely for her attempt at mercy in saving Hanharr.
Mira also works very well in her evocative imagery speaking of the group as a ‘pack’. Her mind runs in the vein of the animalistic, which makes sense given her most important relationship being with Hanharr, and her upbringing by martial fundamentalists with a might makes right worship of strength. He is for lack of a better word a predator; in the classic biological sense like a human lioness or hunting female. Her perspective of the world is inherently violent, yet into in a callous way but as part of her psychological self-defence mechanism.
Mira’s speech about hunting, and unknowingly about the Force makes a very interesting part of the Force as depicted purely within this game. That it has currents, echoes, and is tied to life in its most primal form. I wouldn’t know where to begin describing observations of that, but find it worth noting. Mira’s intuition and what she says grows slowly as the player considers her meaning. Of all the companions, while many possess dialogue pertinent to one moment, a mystery to be revealed or backstory, her general sense of emotions and empathy play a part in thickening the atmosphere within the ship, almost like mysticism when paired with the observations of Visas Marr, or the companions looking upon the shore of Telos.
I do like the flat rejection of romance. While Mira is peripheral in the cast, I believe intentional ‘choices’ such as that place her as a kind of elder sister figure -particularly towards a female Exile- and suits her huntress persona. There is no compromise. It’s good to have a character joke and speak quickly, but be less malleable as a character…which is what they are in their own right. It feels less artificial, or at least more clearly defined how one companion differs from another in their approach and outlook. While Mira and say, Visas are nothing alike save their gender, it balances out the dialogue and companion interactions when a woman is either very obsessed with the notion of devotion, and another practical and personally repulsed -though polite- at any notion of being romantically involved with an Exile who has seen too much.
I like the very rare depiction of a woman companion, non-romantic, not noticeably young nor old, experienced without needing some lecture or grandiose display of power. ‘Empowerment’ is an artificial and foolish demonstration, especially applied to this story. Because EU Star War features a lot of women of that nature, rather than a point being spoken, Mira suits the older creative style of demonstration. It must be admitted that Star Wars is certainly more a visual space opera than something thespian. The sight of a warrior woman evading a nine-foot-tall monster, or blasting foes aside gives the bounty hunter all the ability the audience needs to see.
Yet, Emily Berry’s voice acting is delivered rapidly and not without humour, less a defence mechanism than signifier of confidence. A shield. Mira is one of the few companion characters in any game I can think of who jokes for its own sake and as a demonstration of her able personality. It’s not a self-deprecation, intended to flatter or amuse the protagonist; but utilised in the way I see people joke in real life all the time. We find jokes funny, but in my experience part of showing humour is that ultimately a joke is told for the joker itself and because of the good feelings it provides, helping one feel human and connect with other humans in some way (even a negative joke creates an us-them dynamic and requires understanding of the target to make sense).
Mira is the everyday woman with a bit of light humour, a counterpart to Atton in this way. Where the revelations about him are far darker, Mira is a more straightforward case of something close to a more moral character, while growing among the Mandalorians all she appears to internalise is combat applied to worthy opponents, respecting and applying violence. In this case, while not wearing the armour derived from the original Fett characters, her profession is of the bounty hunter we see in the movies. As part of her character, what ‘breaks’ her (physically, interestingly not so much mentally or spiritually) are the predators of others.
It is not corruption or a betrayal, but in her being hounded, tortured, hunted for surviving as a child and persisting in the gift of mercy twisted and taken so badly in KOTOR II’s dark and cynical world. Mira’s story asks the question of ingratitude and blind compassion: her choice to save the wookie Hanharr being far from the game choice that usually yields Light Side points or a ‘morality’ bonus, but further infuriating an apoplectic maniac given another obsession to fixate upon and justify more sadism and violence.
Hunter and hunted preoccupies Mira and Hanharr, their personae mask them much like their Force sensitive counterparts, the Jedi and Sith. While the comparison is slight, the notion of two ends of a binary, dark and light very much is a constantly repeated theme of KOTOR II, in the script and gameplay mechanics. This is most apparent in the division between the two; you must choose between having Mira or Hanharr as a companion.
There is only so much room in writing a game, let alone one busted at launch and restored by mods, but Mira is probably the biggest missed opportunity, or rather, most lamentably lacking character in content. Her backstory, rebuffing romantic overtures outright, and giving an impression of ‘middle age’ (more experienced and seemingly older than some women, yet clearly younger than Kreia) make her memorable as a companion, not like any other SW video game character come to think of it. Her taking up the Force, as well as inevitably stated death, and one without regret is a shocking cut short to a rather kind-hearted woman who lived and apparently dies quite a brutal life. It runs counter to the clear future favour given to for example The Disciple, who will have authority regardless, and the frankly rather questionable ‘canon’ idea to have Artis live, let alone serve and go on to lecture Revan in the pre-TOR era. KOTOR II leaves many things unsaid, certain figures assured power or suggested to possess an inevitable kind of success, or at least power that could have been directed towards beneficence or malevolence in a reflection of The Exile’s moral compass.
But I will say that Mira, like all of the companions is an interesting and functional character. It’s only with an analytical eye that I wish there was more. It’s part of the paradox however. Mira is intentionally like a lot of real life figures; one that’s not easy or even possible to get close to. The hunters in life, and in fact individuals in general mostly choose to share exactly what they want of themselves in life. They understand, and know that it’s enough to be with someone when needed. That they share a purpose, fight enemies and obstacles together. A companion isn’t an encyclopaedia, but loyal and dependable. Like Bao-Dur and the Mandalorians he ironically despises, Mira represents the best of that militaristic personality but with perhaps a warmer heart than either. It’s not the most naïve, the youngest or the innocent character that shows the most compassion of the supporting companions. But a honed, hounded one. And it’s more memorable and commendable because like so many others she could have abandoned her compassion or taken up cynicism but didn’t. Of all the out of the way stories featuring a fascinating character, aware she is passing through a great current of people, Mira is a fascinating reinterpretation of both the hunter and the chivalric heroine in a story where she quietly hunts, and later lives a life with no regret.
Planescape: Torment. Black Isle Studios. 1999.
Knights of the Old Republic. BioWare. 2003.
Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. Obsidian Entertainment. 2004.
I would also recommend the Papito Qinn Youtube channel for the extensive KOTOR coverage to be found here.