My problem with Mother Giselle…

Ok when we met Mother Giselle, I thought cool, a Chantry mother that was going to see through all the bullshit and not protect the status quo, especially regarding the dialog you get when you pick mage/Dalish/Qunari specific answers when you first encounter her.

Then we get to Dorian’s quest…and it really bugs me that she shifts into this version of “black people are religious and homophobic”. Her motivations seem to stem from concern over who the Inquisitor’s association with Dorian will be perceived by those who come in contact with the Inquisition.

I also don’t buy that Dorian’s father/his agent contacted her. It just seems really out there, like why would someone from a country where the Divine in Orlais and the Chantry is held in disdain, contact a Mother in that same organization? Regardless of whether the Chantry has disavowed the Inquisition as heretical?

How would he even know she’s there and what level of access she has to the Inquisitor or to Dorian? Why would she even consider the request?

It’s from 3:00 – 6:00 in this clip (starts at 2:55) where we see Dorian confront her after the mission to see his father. It’s the whole BUT TEVINTER and the assumption they are involved (even if you aren’t trying to/have started a romance with Dorian) that gets me annoyed.

Also the refusal to repeat the rumors, it just…I don’t know it bugs me. Like she’s the walking archetype of nosy old black woman. I know, she’s supposedly doing things for the right reason, Dorian even says as much but why would she even stick her nose in the Inquisitor’s business like that?

It seems like Leliana, Cullen or even Josie might be better suited to address these rumors with the Inquisitor rather than a Chantry mother that doesn’t seem to do much after Haven but wander around the garden in Skyhold and give you updates.

There’s no real fall out from this action, and it just seems like it was stuck in because hey why not, rather than having an advisor be the one contacted since they are publicly known as part of the Inquisition.

So that’s why Mother Giselle bugs me in DA:I.

Your thoughts?

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4 thoughts on “My problem with Mother Giselle…

  1. Oddly enough (at least if I recall correctly), the confrontation with Mother Giselle doesn’t happen right after the Redcliffe scene if you are alread in a relationship with Dorian (due to FTB from the end of that scene which initiates the romance). So when I first saw the confrontation with Mother Giselle, it was my Inquisitor running up to the library and overhearing an argument between Dorian and Giselle (about an hour or two after the Redcliffe events for me because I love to faff about). In that way, the two scenes did not seem connected at all.

    As a result, I saw it as not so much homophobic as xenophobic (southern Chantry person not trusting guy from the Tevinter Imperium). And yes, Giselle’s refusal to recount the rumors struck me as just ‘bleh’, but that was it.

    Then I played an Inquisitor who didn’t romance Dorian, and… wow. It felt different, MUCH worse and uglier than it had (ironically) with the romance playthrough because it happened right away and because the undue influence bit felt even more like paranoia coming from her. It portrayed her character in a far worse light. Then the lack of willingness to repeat the rumors makes it much more heavily implied that she in fact originated them, and that is skeevy. Really badly skeevy.

    So yeah. If they’d just taken out that one scene, Giselle would have been, I think, a much better character. As it was, she becomes yet another reason to not like the Chantry, and as a character who was initially set up to do the exact opposite, it is troubling.

    As opposed to Roderick, who starts out skeevy as fuck and then redeems himself. Yes, not problematic AT ALL.

    I would have preferred Leliana or Josie to talk about the rumors. Framing it this way… yeaaaaah, problems.

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    • I disagree, and the lovely w4rgoddess put it quite well in her response to some reblogs; copied here since she’s better at wordsmithing than I am.

      I think Giselle’s silence on the rumors was meant to provoke thoughts of homophobia in players, not necessarily in the other game characters. Thedas isn’t Earth; clearly sexuality isn’t quite as circumscribed there as it is here. But the Bioware writers know full well they’re writing for an audience that’s got a lot of issues with homophobia — they get hate mail about it regularly — so I have no doubt they knew what that conspicuous silence would set off in players’ minds. Especially from the mouth of a black woman, given the recent media tendency to overstate black homophobia as I mentioned in my previous post.

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  2. I was just talking to my husband – also an avid BioWare player – about this scene this morning! To me, Mother Giselle is basically playing the same role that Wynne did in DAO, when Wynne cautions the Warden against entering into a romance. Neither women are aggressively arguing against the PC’s choices; they bring up a realistic, though painful, perspective.

    I’ve seen other posts where people think that Giselle is starting the rumors. And I don’t really understand why? I mean, they may be sexual and they’re certainly unpleasant so I can understand why she doesn’t want to blurt them out. Dorian is already angry with her at that point, and dredging up the nasty comments will only upset him further. So to me, the fact that she’d not throwing them in your face actually is a point in her favor.

    And regarding Dorian’s dad contacting Giselle rather than Josephine and Leliana, I just assumed he reached out to her because they are/were both in the Hinterlands. She was the Inquisition’s point of contact there, so clearly she was an influential and well known person in and around Redcliffe. If he went to Josephine, the matter would switch from personal/familial to political.

    (And I also wanted to say that I’m so happy I found this blog! It’s awesome!)

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  3. This scene read incredibly differently to me, in part because I was playing a female inquisitor. The “ugly rumors” implication came across as almost funny, since it clearly missed what any actual relationship was.

    To me it was a clear power play. Giselle is the only representative of the Chantry at Skyhold; you rely on her early for information and advice, but that quickly changes once everyone becomes entrenched. I saw it as her being angry at being “replaced” as an influence within the Inquisition. That talk would never come from one of the advisors because they’re still firmly in place.

    But it DID strike me as ridiculously out of character. It was sloppy writing, weakens her entire characterization, and mostly serves to highlight that they ditch what could have been a much more interesting character as soon as she’s led the pep rally after the fall of Haven.

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