God of War: Ragnarok Spiel on Huldra Brothers

Have you finished latest GOTY contender God of War: Ragnarok? Because if you didn’t this might be a good time to pause for a moment and come back with visions of freshly destroyed family feuds. God of War franchise, in its Norse sequels, is shifting the focus from pure hack-and-slash fun to family drama. Huldra brothers, or just Brok and Sindri, probably the only family they have to each other, are the latest soap opera material we have.

Case in point: Is Sindri Insane All Along?

I won’t beat around the bushes and get to the point. Consider this: is Sindri insane all along? Sinri’s outburst after Brok’s death, —not immediately after, mind you, this becomes important later— It hit me that Sindri may be written as a closeted-crazy brother, while brazen and out-spoken Brok is trying to cover for his younger brother who is an outcast, who is ‘different’ in his eyes.

Sindri’s anger toward Atreus and Kratos, or just Atreus to be specific, is explained in his own language, roughly as ‘I gave everything, but gets family member killed in return’. His resentment rubbed me the wrong way the first time I heard it. His version of the events totally contradicts what we have seen so far. Then something clicked that it might just be the slip of the tongue on his part. Atreus and his father didn’t coerce the brothers into serving them nor did they force them to join the opposition against Odin. But Atreus, being the son of Faye, and Kratos, now bearer of Leviathan Axe, may have been the invisible pressure him to do so. And that pressure seems to originate mostly from Brok.

Sindri’s position in the war predates meeting God-killer duo. It’s likely decided when the Huldra brothers had witnessed Mjölnir, their best creation yet, wiping out most of the giants. The brothers had gone separate ways after they tried make amends for Mjölnir with equally powerful weapon, the Leviathan Axe, and its future owner, Faye. Brok and Sindri did not see eye to eye on the events following the Mjölnir, the moment that inevitably decided their future allies. Brok blamed Sindri for creating such a powerful weapon only to impress Odin, while Sindri argued they will create yet another powerful weapon. It appears Brok was the one turned off by Aesirs and their atrocities, while Sindri did not have any problem supplying more weapons to either side of the war to “balance” it out. If anything, he’s literally adding fuel to the fire.

During the course of God of War (2018), Brok and Sindri reunite as Huldra brothers after young Atreus’ arrogant, if not just derogatory, comment on their family feud: little people’s, little problem. This explosive remark magically leads Sindri to reunite with his brother in somewhat unexpected manner. There are three unusual qualities to how Sindri reacted. First, he chose not to confront Atreus or Kratos about it. Second, he took the insult at face value and go find his brother, without acknowledging, but knowing, Atreus’ intention. Third, he doesn’t actually credit Atreus for neither the insult nor the advice in the future. Had he missed any one of those three actions, my suspicion on his supposed grief would have wavered. But he hit all the hallmarks of being a manipulative narcissist. That’s why his “rage” looks so alien then of Freya’s.

Freya is a character who followed similar footsteps with her son and chose to antagonize Kratos. She was torn between Kratos as a friend, who saved her from her murderous son, and a murderer, who literally killed Baldur, her son. The key difference is credit. Kratos, in the scene following the murder of Baldur, explains his choice to Atreus, possibly in audible range from Freya, that they must be better, possibly implying Freya and Baldur were not. Needlessly to say, Freya stares back at the father-son duo, disgusted. After she swallows the past and made allies again for the purpose of fighting Odin, her path is mostly about acknowledging, not abandoning, memories of her past. She came to terms with her son’s death. She embraced her once married life as Aesir goddess. She doesn’t go ballistic and say ‘you gods only take everything away from me, us the Vanir’ and disappear. Her expression is one of a grieving mother, who is also torn as a friend who understands their decisions. Compared to hers, Sindri may be grieving, but his tone is definitely not torn between friendship and family. He’s the one who said he “gave” friendship, as if it is a status only he can bestow.

The death of Brok and his preparations leading up to that moment is unusual as well. Only moments before his death he speaks of Sindri’s secret. Remember, Sindri brought Brok back from the Lake of the Souls, an act of reanimation which Mimir called what a mother wouldn’t do to his own son. Sindri is literally the one who denied Brok afterlife, his rightful eternal resting place, and a soul for a master craftsman. Brok not confronting Sindri much earlier on, especially not right after Brok has met the Lady of the Lake firsthand, suggests he is avoiding confrontation. Brok was already aware Sindri had tendency to go to extremity with his relationship, even so far as to reanimate his dead brother; he had already suspected as much before without hard evidence. The obsession he has for his brother seems to be out in the open for close friends. After all, his last words were ‘let it go’. To be specific, I believe what he meant was letting go of his obsessive behaviors in relationships. Once his target of obsession died, Sindri quickly recessed back into his own world, crafting weapons of mass destructions willy nilly. Either at Brok’s discretion or Brok’s possible lover, Lunda’s, Lunda herself manned the shops across the realms that were, unsurprisingly, vacant and abandoned.

The war on Asgard brought out Sindri’s dark side. He decided to deceive his allies about army of Dwarves. Seeing as Mimir has bad reputation amongst Dwarves for collaborating with Aesirs, it wouldn’t be surprised if Sindri is shunned by his people. He has neither the charisma nor status to enlist the help of Dwarves, yet he plays the “diplomat” of Dwarf to Kratos and his allies. On top of that, he has now crafted a weapon that comes at significant collateral damage to civilians, repeating the cycle of Mjölnir itself. Except this time, Brok isn’t there to put a stop to his brother’s civilian massacring war machine. He doesn’t forget to reaffirm his belief that he is innocent in all this, how Dwarves are cleaning up after Giant’s mess. The pure irony would be how Atreus’ family was literally mutilated in the hands of Aesir with the hammer made by Sindri and Brok, not the other way around. It’s clear he is incapable of empathy. His creation of Mjölnir and Leviathan Axe is what brought the father-son duo into the war, led them to the Huldra brothers, not the other way around. Though his psychopathic behaviors brazenly continue, he hasn’t lost manipulative antics and calculative threats. He makes those comments until his objective worth to the Kratos’ army, the one-man Dwarf army, only craftsman to bring down the wall, runs out. And when his value is depreciated, he chooses to stay hidden during the final battle to kill steal Odin, while Kratos and his army were yet to decide now neutralized Odin’s fate. Not only he doesn’t try his chances during the battle, —in other words, not completely blinded by grief and revenge— he waits until the dust quite literally settles, when everyone is exhausted, he takes away the choice from everyone who actually fought and leave them to die in the hands of Surtr.

Conclusions and some After-thoughts

Managing grief is a central theme in God of War: Ragnarok. Kratos is still not over his wife. Freya is not over her son. Thor, as drunk as he is, still remembers his dead sons and cares for remaining family. Odin, though he may have seen others only as his tools, manages to put in his two cents about his dead son as well. Same can be said for Angrboda and Gryla, perhaps the only living Giants aside from Atreus. Adding Sindri to the mix is simply overpowering. It’s overdone.

As for whether or not I am serious about Sindri’s ASPD angle, I am begrudgingly admitting this may fall under the poor writing on the developer’s part. Grief is expressed to each own, but Sindri’s manipulative demeanor is not what I would normally associate that of grieving family member. Take, for example, Two Face from Dark Knight, another grief-fueled villain who entered the scene late. He was practically drowning himself in grief to a point both his actions, to take vengeance on unharmed colleagues, and reactions, feeling little to no pain from severe burns, aligned with what we normally call insanity. If Two Face is called mad in his behavior, I don’t see what would excuse Sindri’s.

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