So I did one playthrough up to the completion of Episode 3. Now, I don’t have have anything really against Athena (despite my previous posts on her, I just think that she really didn’t make a good case for herself in front of Lilith and the others). However, after seeing her in action again in Episode 3, I really do have to question her integrity.
So here’s the rundown that I have so far:
- General Knoxx DLC: Athena is pissed at Atlas, and wants to sabotage their continuing occupation of Pandora. She cites their disingenuous lies and corrupt practices (isn’t that the case with all fictional mega-corporations?) as justification to kick them off the planet. Hers is a righteous call to action against the oppressors. She only mentions being duped to kill her sister once, and that was more of a random comment with little detail about the incident.
- The PreSequel: The details of her sister’s death, her defection from the Crimson Lance, and her relationship with General Knoxx are revealed. It seems that the main reason for leaving Atlas was the code 64 which resulted in her sister’s death. Throughout the game, we see Athena facing moral conflicts between her mission and her values, the same values that she pronounced to the original Vault Hunters in order to enlist their aid in stopping Atlas. In the end, Athena chooses to fulfill her mission, despite the clear evidence that Jack is just as bad, if not worse, than what Atlas was.
- Claptastic Voyage DLC: Despite knowing what a despot he is, Athena again works with Jack. Though she finds anything to do with Jack as distasteful, Athena nonetheless accepts the job because she needs the money (for herself and Janey). Again, there is no moral outrage that she had shown in the General Knoxx DLC. She just merely expresses regret and disgust with herself for what she “needs to do.”
- Tale from the Borderlands: It is some time after Handsome Jack’s death, and years after Athena’s last job with him. In Episode 1, we see Athena still slaughtering any remaining Atlas personnel on Pandora that didn’t become bandits or join Roland’s Crimson Raiders. The exact reasons are unknown, though it could be assumed it has something to do with the Gordys project. But in Episode 3, Athena is not aware of the Gordys project until she joins Rhys+Fiona & company. She apparently is only killing Atlas personnel because she still has a personal grudge about that Code 64 where she killed her own sister. She hasn’t shown any such genocidal tendencies to Jack or Hyperion, despite that Jack did prove to be worse than Atlas Corps.
So now, we have her in front of Lilith about to get shot to death. And a lot of this is because the Athena she knew from the General Knoxx DLC (where she first meets Roland, Lilith, Mordecai, and Brick) is not the same Athena in front of her. Now, she’s just a merc for hire, willing to work for whoever can pay the right price. Now, this doesn’t make her a bad guy. Hell, most of the Vault Hunters are little better than that, and she’s definitely a step above bandits (morally, that is). But it’s that ambivalent attitude toward Jack and Hyperion that raises red flags to Lilith.
Now some may disagree but Athena is very much like Lilith, because both are prone to emotional outbursts. Most of the time, Athena’s pretty chill and professional, but she still has a murderous hard-on for anything Atlas. Otherwise, as long as it doesn’t hurt her or her own (i.e. Janey Springs), she’ll let laying dogs lie. She didn’t cut Jack at any time, and she hasn’t gone out of her way to kick Hyperion off Pandora either. None of them have hurt her in a very personal manner, so she doesn’t care. Jack and Hyperion may be much worse than Atlas and the Crimson Lance were, but since they didn’t kill her sister, Athena doesn’t give a damn. And that’s where she’s different from Lilith.
Like Athena, Lilith has an object of disdain, namely Handsome Jack. And like Athena, Lilith wants to wipe out anything Hyperion off the map. Her hate is justified, though, because Jack murdered her boyfriend and tortured her for hours (in addition to all the horrific deeds he did in both TPS and BL2). Now Lilith did give Athena a chance to explain herself, hoping that she was just duped or blackmailed into working for Jack. But because Athena sucks at conversation, she never made a really good case why she worked for Jack and let him live despite her tendency to get “stabby” with Atlas personnel. Fortunately for her, the Eridian Watcher saved her ass and made Lilith reconsider Athena’s case.
In the end, Athena’s just human like the rest of everyone there, but she’s just so damn clueless about the human condition that she can’t see anything beyond her own experiences. Hopefully, Janey remains a good influence on her, and that she actually develops a conscience by Borderlands 3.