Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s support character Dag eventually feels like a contrived pain in Eivor’s butt, behaving the way a viking does shortly before he gets an axe in the face.
Minor spoilers ahead if you care.
Early in the game, like the first time you meet him, he openly questions your plans and mocks you depending on how you want to handle the rescue and escape of your group. Once on the long boat, he gives you more crap about it.
When I first played, at this point I thought maaaaaybe it was good-natured viking ribbing. Eivor didn’t seem bothered by it, so I rolled.
But then Sigurd leaves on a personal quest with Basim and puts the clan in the care of Eivor, which Dag is openly displeased with.
It’s not clear if it’s more because Dag feels it should’ve been him in charge, or if it’s because he was hoping to go with Sigurd and is pouty that he can’t.
Either way, I couldn’t help thinking that if he were really Sigurd’s man, he’d respect the order he was given and stop crying about it.
I kind of wanted to put an axe in Dag’s face by the end of the prologue. Man did I have no idea how much greater of a whiner and borderline traitor he’d become.
Why Dag Is Annoying, Part 2: He Openly Disobeys Orders… Repeatedly
There’s a point where a spy sneaks into the camp and Eivor catches him. If Eivor decides to let him live to deliver a message back to the bad guys, Dag tells Eivor it’s a stupid idea. Eivor basically says, “Oh well, this is what’s happening. Get on board.”
And Dag? He’s like “f-that,” and throws his axe into the spy’s skull, explaining after the fact with a weak, “This is what Sigurd would’ve wanted; I know it. And since his authority exceeds yours, I was within my rights to do it.”
No, Dag. Sigurd left Eivor in charge and you told Eivor to screw himself, and not for the first time. In front of the whole village, mind you.
I’m no historian, but I’m pretty sure with any power structure that relies on strength and respect to the degree that Viking culture does, that kind of openly flouting Eivor’s authority is probably something that can’t stand.
I mean, what message does it send the clan if Dag openly tells Eivor he sucks, disobeys orders, and runs things his own way? If Eivor does nothing (which is what happens) he completely loses credibility.
Eivor may not necessarily have to kill Dag at this point, but he/she would definitely have to do something. Maybe say something like, “If you feel so strongly about it, maybe you should do something.”
Then Dag would either have to challenge Eivor there, with the whole clan watching, or back down and let the whole clan see him fall in line. Maybe that would shut him up.
But nothing happens, because the game is saving that for later whether it’s realistic or not.
Why Dag Is Annoying, Part 3: He Calls Eivor Out, and Then Refuses To Do His Job At All
After a few story campaigns, after Sigurd is kidnapped, Dag confronts Eivor to accost him or her for not doing enough to rescue Sigurd.
Basically, he sarcastically sneers, “Wow, so after all this time messing about it FINALLY occurs to you to rescue our Jarl?”
Eivor says it’s time to go find Sigurd and to head to the long boat, and Dag outright refuses. “The clan needs me here since you’re always gone,” he says.
Except that Sigurd’s wife already has the “run stuff in Eivor’s absence” bit down.
AGAIN, Dag, this is how Sigurd wanted it when he left. He put her in charge. Stop acting like you’re honoring Sigurd when you’re going against Sigurd’s setup to seize your own power, all while you continuously accuse Eivor of doing the same.
Eivor asks, “Do you doubt me so completely that you’d refuse to raise an axe to go rescue Sigurd?”
Dag replies, “That’s a great way of putting it.”
Fuck you, Dag.
If you supposedly care so much about rescuing Sigurd, to the point that you hate Eivor for not doing it faster, WHY when given the chance to finally do it would you refuse to go?
Let’s unpack Dag’s logic: he doubts Eivor’s abilities so much that he acts like he doesn’t actually believe Eivor will pull off the rescue.
Isn’t that exactly the reason to go along, Dag? If you’re so damned amazing, wouldn’t your divine presence ensure success? Don’t you owe that to Sigurd?
And if you don’t believe Eivor can pull it off without you, what are you accomplishing by staying at camp while Eivor goes off and dies? Letting Sigurd rot wherever he is while no one rescues him and you make yourself Jarl? All while you still claim this is how you honor Sigurd?
Dag, you’re completely full of shit.
Dag has either been plotting his own takeover from the beginning, in which case he’s an insufferable traitor, or he honestly believes all the garbage coming out of his mouth. In which case, he’s an insufferable idiot.
By the time Dag formally challenges Eivor’s leadership of the clan in an official way — to a duel — it feels so far removed from when it should’ve happened it’s not as satisfying as it should have been.
And why does it take Dag challenging Eivor to a duel? Why couldn’t it have been Eivor’s decision because he or she had had enough of Dag’s shit?
The game seems like it wants Eivor to feel like he or she is in charge of the clan as the game progresses, particularly once Sigurd is gone. Yet things like this send completely the opposite signal.
That Eivor has no autonomy or command. Eivor can only respond to a challenge for single combat, one there is no backing out of. He or she cannot take initiative beforehand and remove a dangerous member of the clan.
Dag is exactly the kind of dissenting voice that tears apart communities. And if he’s willing to call Eivor out in front of everyone repeatedly, he’s exactly the sort of guy who’s probably talking trash and sowing doubt every time Eivor goes out on a mission and is gone for awhile.
If Eivor were truly a weak leader maybe we could see this as a man fighting to save his clan. But since, as the player, we know this isn’t true of Eivor, then we also know that Dag is a cancer to the clan.