Cordial greetings @chordialy - Tumblr Blog | Tumlook (2024)

i don’t think ive seen this in any of your analysis posts so i have a question that is commonly used to defend mystra and state that she didn’t groom him

gale admits mystra set clear boundaries to him and he sought to cross them. mystra had reason to set those boundaries, Right? like isnt it fair that she didnt want gale to access magic that had almost killed jer once and he did it in the end anyways?

i personally dont agree with this argument and think its not set up very well but i wanna see how you respond to it

I’m happy to answer this! However, this piece of meta I wrote - Gale, Mystra, and Abuse as Mentorship- is a prerequisite. It does the important work of defining context in their relationship (the power imbalance, the grooming/coercion) as well as defining how “boundaries” work (or rather don’t) in a relationship that is abusive.

IMPORTANT NOTE: if you are not at the conclusion that that relationship is inherently abusive and you are unwilling to process that piece and the rest of this and reconsider, you should go away. I am happy to have discussions but I will not trigger myself or entertain folks who trigger the many people with religious trauma/history of general abuse/neglect to dunk on you or entertain you in any way.

Firstly, let’s look at Gale’s statement, “I sought to cross her boundaries,” in the context in which he says it. Not plucked up and out of it to be chewed up and spit out by someone who has never used the word boundary outside of pop psychology / therapy speak.

If you want the full scene, here is one I found on youtube (I am not going that deep in my harddrive tbqh), but I’m going to share captures of that chunk of convo.

Here are the important pieces that are discarded to support a variety of arguments that Gale crossing Mystra’s boundaries is anything from mutual “mistakes,” Gale is the real abuser and Mystra is absolved, even the implication that Gale SA’d Mystra. I'm going to babystep it as best as I can.

A line by line breakdown/analysis below the cut.

A. He states teacher, muse, lover. Even if you remove her status as his deity and the controller/embodiment of the uncorrupted Weave, the acknowledgement that she was first his teacher is a power imbalance. That being said, don’t feel you can argue that she was teaching him night classes in the adult learning program and so they were equals everywhere else. Like… in any situation where a teacher might end up dating a student and it not be weird and imbalanced, psychosexual religious magic ain’t it.

B. They enjoyed each other’s company- body, mind, and soul. Gale is an unreliable narrator here. Mystra doesn’t have a physical form for him. She is not corporeal when they are together. Whatever “body” they shared did not have the risk for Mystra of physical connection, vulnerability, harm, and Mystra DOES NOT AGE, which becomes important in a moment…

C. “Mystra keeps us in check. There are boundaries she doesn’t let us cross.” This is not about a boundary in sex, which I’ve seen people get… so weird about in implying Gale is some secret deviant. Gale says “he stood on the precipice, gazing into the wonders that lay beyond.” The other time in this game that Gale says he stood on a precipice is after the Act II romance scene and the precipice he refers to is accepting that he has no choice but to kill himself. For Gale, the precipice is literal and metaphorical. The precipice is always about leaving his humanity behind. When he is WITH Mystra, he gazes into her world, the world of his lover who he thinks has given him body, mind, and soul, but will not let him leave the formal living room and enter the den. This is the magical equivalent of being married to someone who has an open relationship but only for them and also they won’t let you stay over. Gale’s drive, anguish, ambition is all stained by feeling he’s not truly Mystra’s equal (he’s right, he’s f*cking right, that gnawing feeling is actually correct, y’all).

D. THIS is what “I sought to cross her boundaries” is referring to directly. He isn’t pushing her in regards to sexual acts, he isn’t trying to dominate her, he isn’t trying to control her, he is trying to be equal to a god that handpicked him not only to serve her but to have interplanar psychospiritual magic sex with.

E. Gale admits that he couldn’t let it go. He begs- “pouted” “pleaded” “swore my ambition was only to serve her better”- so Mystra knows this is a great pain for him. Be it an insecurity, a grievance, whatever, MYSTRA KNOWS. She tells Gale to be “contented.” Later, when Gale speaks to her in Act III, she tells him he was already “worthy” but that he lacked “patience.” When Gale is meaner with her, she calls him self-pitying. When Gale explains he researched the Crown of Karsus because he doesn’t want to die, she brushes that off. Mystra knows that Gale is not only mortal, but human, holding one of the shortest life spans in this world. She knows Gale could be trusted to be more equal to her, not in an ascension to Godhood way, but as a partner who could be trusted with the Weave and so herself. Mystra simply DOES NOT CARE. Going back to point B, when I said “which becomes important in a moment…” Gale is aging. Gale is an adult man. His frontal lobe is done. He was an archmage. He had done essentially everything a wizard can do to be a Good WizardTM. He’s at the age where where all of his peers might already be married or otherwise settled. If Gale has a child right now, he might be one of the older dads at school pick up. If Mystra won’t offer him partnership now, the path left to him will soon be… well, Elminster. Becoming old as balls and being endlessly a sexual servant and errand runner for Mystra.

F. He states his motivation plainly - he wanted to do something big enough that Mystra would believe him. That Mystra would choose him not just to be a servant, but would acknowledge his personhood and treat him like a person and a partner. Gale is in that space where you beg your groomer/abuser/generally toxic partner to give you a reason to stay because your body, your mind, are all having a very big response to the feeling that this is a f*cking dead end for you.

Now rounding all of this out...

Gale is, of course, a red herring. When he first appears to you, he’s suspicious. He needs to be pulled out of some unstable magic. He’s overly charming and meets anything from general suspicion to a threat to kill him with cheerful acquiescence. He has what looks to be the world’s most suspicious tattoo sending seemingly smoky tendrils from his heart to his eye. He has that slu*tty little earring. It’s fine narratively to still be a little suspicious of Gale at this moment...

But the context of the entire rest of the game proves that these are all just coping mechanisms for Gale and that the corrupted orb inside of him is not corrupted because of him but is in fact an echo of another person trying desperately to not be entirely controlled by Mystra, for better or worse. Gale is not doomed to be Karsus. His bad ending is in thinking he could be more than Karsus and that that would empower him. It is a direct narrative echo of Shadowheart and Lae’zel thinking they can serve their leader/god good enough that they will no longer be abused. It is even more directly a parallel pathway to Astarion ascending and losing his humanity, his soul, because of the false idea that claiming your abuser’s power means you are safe, whole, and that you’ve “won” the abuse in some way.

If you don’t engage with Gale, which I imagine Team Twitter Psychology Degree don’t because they decided Gale was an irredeemable sex pest or something, you might miss these things. Gale is unpacking his abuse far better than anyone of the other origin characters throughout the bigger narrative moments of the game. These sentiments can turn to bitterness and corrupted ambition, yes, but for me, they were not.

He sees the parallels, watches as varying degrees of godhood hurt people.

The Big Bad Three are Chosens. They’re an echo of himself, too. What devotion, ambition, wanting to prove yourself worthy can lead you to. Even so, Gale has this strange sort of empathy for Orin.

And throughout the game, Gale is sensitive to these ideas of childhood, as above with Orin, but also in protecting them from manipulative adults. A large part of why it’s “easy” to get Gale’s approval in act one is because so much of act one is about choosing to protect those tiefling kids. Gale’s little fatherhood joke, that he isn’t father material, that he’s not in a place to have kids… to me that is a level of awareness that I see reflected in myself and many of my friends who survived childhoods of neglect, abuse, grooming, etc. Gale resonates with many people who have experienced religious trauma or the trauma of worship in a more generalized sense for a reason.

You have to throw ALL OF THIS AWAY to paint Gale as someone vile and selfish who doesn’t respect his partner’s boundaries. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no way to make it make sense because you can’t pull any evidence because pulling literally any other thing about Gale in the entirety of the narrative immediately destroys that argument.

I could pull more from Gale romance scenes, but as I said, the people holding these ideas about him I sincerely doubt engaged with Gale's story on that level since they took one surface level thing they could twist and ran with it.

I hope this is helpful, re-assuring to anyone who has seen weird takes and felt like maybe they accidentally enjoyed someone sinister (you did not). And if you were on the fence, confused, overwhelmed, etc, hey, I hope it helped you, too! Even if we don't agree 100% on interpretation, I hope it gave you a lot to think about and enriches the game for you.

As always, if you found this valuable, please consider supporting me on ko-fi with a one-off latte or monthly support. The less I'm terrified of losing housing and scavenging for groceries, the more I can write great big meta pieces, god-tier sh*tposts, and just generally vibe. <3

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