KOTOR II Companion Analysis: The Disciple
[The following article gives heavy spoilers for Knights of the Old Republic I and II.]
Of all the KOTOR II companions, this one is cloistered and aberrant in quite a bookish and straightforward environment. His stolid, expository tone and affable demeanour seems out of place given how much it contrasts the other males, how he seems out of place among all the group. One needs the vanilla to highlight further the zany, psychotic, or more explorational individuals crowded together constantly within the protagonist’s base of operations. And, true to form, The Disciple is both obviously not as mundane as his demeanour (and obviously impressive combat prowess) suggest.
I say his purpose as an expository source is a somewhat ‘normal’ one fitting the setting, but an interesting item of note are the deconstructive themes of the KOTOR II story being the lore and subject of inquiry the scholar discusses. It’s reminiscent of the plain looking, happy archivist of the strange, the librarian with a keen insight into the darker aspects of history or challenging psychology. This mixture of temperament with dark lore and speculative curiosity would be used to effect later with certain The Old Republic companions, but here admittedly The Disciple is clearly one of the companions who either interested the writing staff less, or stood up on his own more as a plot vehicle and means to inspire the audience’s imagination.
I honestly feel the Dark Side ending of the two to be the more interesting possibility, although it’s pretty obvious, like Jolee Bindo that The Disciple’s geared towards the light. The past and his attributes I find more interesting than the character himself, mostly due to execution of a trilogy plot that never arrived. Being told this ‘clean marine’ type will be Grandmaster is too obvious, too much a tonal clash with a story gearing up virtually to have the Dark Side ending of calling something to Malachor V be the ‘canon’ choice.
But, there is an interesting nature of The Disciple as a concept, that one figure is intelligent enough to unravel Kreia’s thread, openly admired by the arrogant and powerful woman to a degree she arguably thinks of no other individual in the galaxy. His fear, open and acknowledged fear lends strength to the character; because his subtle but evident ‘breaking’ is no exacerbated by repression or bravado. An individual of intellect, The Disciple’s breaking is something as obvious as the lack of purpose and institutions to guide his life. And while this is something many within society will frown at, just as we have engineers, knights, politicians of the world, the scholar without a means to fuel the muscle of their mind feels loss. There was really no choice but for The Disciple to be made into a spy, to be made into a combatant. His story is ripe for what could truly be hidden resentments, youth and fortune granting enough direction to not have been embittered like Atton Rand, his military code not as idealistic and zealous as Mandalore. What little we have does not offer much to delve into save the natural personality and facts of his life, and much of this is due to The Disciple having less to quarrel about, less to resent.
In a story where the automata crave deceit and destruction, with a purpose already fulfilled with his presence, The Disciple continues to learn from his greatest teacher (the hostile environment, first, last, and always), the protagonist delivering him to various environments and sharing philosophical discourse, and is somewhat warded and walled off from his peers. The darker characters shun him or share no written dialogue, and those most like him are also enigmatic.
I would argue, surely Mira and The Disciple have the most conjoined futures in a ‘Light Side’ ending, but as we have already discussed; Mira is a guarded character, as brisk in her optimistic approach as The Disciple, and dismissive of bickering or small talk. ‘Mical’ is an apropos real name for him, the archangel Michael similarly being a titular example of the warrior of light, standing at the right side of his hierarchy, uncompromising in the destruction of darkness around him. The introduction of Mical is an understated statement of his character; in the ruined world overrun by monsters and armies of mercenaries, Dantooine’s beasts and mercenaries have been obliterated for him to serenely obtain enlightenment. A small echo of the angelic in repose, after hurling demons to the dirt.
The Disciple is simultaneously ‘squeaky clean’, yet the ideal operative for the Republic. He represents the later Jedi’s habit to interestingly subvert the rule of law in the interests of patriotism. He is a deceiver, lying arguably more convincingly than mass murderers and criminals, who at least bear their open-handed proclivities and eccentricities out in the open. The Disciple is a figure defined by his prodigious intellect, while having no credentials as ‘finishing’ his training officially. I do think he is clearly less interesting than the binary option of Brianna, but as with Hanharr, his unique scenes are vital for the fascinating questions they answer.
While very much ‘typical’ as a servant of the Jedi Order/Republic affiliation, Mical is a seed of the best of such idealism, namely not being a naïve individual or possessed of any arrogance. No Jedi, Mical is not a hypocrite, nor a coward either as is the case of the Masters. His questioning doctrine, citing the fall of prodigal knights such as Exar Kun and Revan suggests an individual wishing to keep the spirit of a teaching, rather than abiding by typical Jedi hierarchy (sad given his arbitrary ‘Light’ ending, though what explains Jedi being around in TOR). I honestly find his name derogatory much like ‘alien’ and ‘slave’, because this man hides his autonomy and choosing a firm staple. He does not choose the cliché of finding ‘freedom’ in the tyrannic nightmare regimes of the Sith, blindly seeing a Master to follow.
Where the Order is dead and mentors are lost, The Disciple is literally a figure among the ruins calmly grasping the spirit of civilisation and utility from what remains. In a series concerned with the ruins of starships, broken masks and shattered fraternities, this image does point to a larger cycle within the series’ universe. His predilection for the knowledge, for attachment to a female Exile without the trite truisms against sexual or romantic attachment makes The Disciple stand out in wider context, and helps the audience appreciate how KOTOR II didn’t even sketch its ‘simplistic’ characters as clearly copied or heavily inspired from other writing.
Knights of the Old Republic. BioWare. 2003.
Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. Obsidian Entertainment. 2004.