the short answer??? i think cole would show anders a great deal of empathy, since he is after all a spirit of compassion. there are some great posts that depict their meeting here, here, and here . i’ve seen a lot of people argue that cole wouldn’t forgive anders and i completely disagree. i gave you the short answer just now, but i’m going to further examine anders as a character and his life events and argue that cole would show anders a great deal of compassion.
we know cole, a spirit of compassion, is especially empathetic towards those that have lived a hard life but try to do the right thing or try to redeem themselves. so i’m going to run through anders’s life for a moment to illustrate the point i’m going to make.
anders has led a difficult life spent mostly in the circle. first he was torn from his family as a child and away from his own country in the anderfels all the way to ferelden. he doesn’t even have his own name anymore, ‘anders’ is just a nickname because of where he’s from. so now he’s this child spending time in a place where he’s supervised constantly, privacy is nearly non-existent under the templar’s watch, he has no contact with the outside world, and he’s constantly being told he’s a sin in the eyes of the maker. stressful for a child, no?
there’s also fact that mages can be lobotomized for heaven forbid, thinking on their own, or hell even failing a harrowing that they go into blind with no idea what to expect from it. and that’s a common thing anders has seen growing up, plus the multiple accounts of rape and suicide anders has mentioned in conversations with hawke. it’s really no wonder he tried to escape so many times. so now anders is this “troublemaker” the templars decie to put in solitary confinement for a year. obviously that is really fucking terrible for his mental health, and here are some of the side effects of extended solitary confinement:
- visual and auditory hallucinations
- hypersensitivity to noise and touch
- insomnia and paranoia
- uncontrollable feelings of rage and fear
- distortions of time and perception
- increased risk of suicide
now imagine that for a year. we know that cole was a originally a human mage that got left imprisoned in the circle tower, forgotten about, and left to starve. that alone would make cole extremely compassionate towards anders and want to help him as much as he could. but i’m going to continue to examine anders’s life after the circle.
in awakening he spent time among the wardens, and that means some time in the deep roads. we know from idle banter that anders is extremely claustrophobic (i suspect because of his time in solitary confinement) so going down there could be triggering for him. eventually anders quit for unknown reasons, and at some point merged with justice. this did neither of them any favors, since justice is a spirit of absolutism and sees things in black and white, and anders was already harboring a lot of anger towards his oppressors. their merging further amplified anders’s rage and justice’s absolutism, which as you can imagine, isn’t good for someone who suffers from post-traumatic effects and mental illness. in conclusion for this point, anders’s long term stress and trauma would be another reason cole would show him compassion.
now let’s move on to his life in kirkwall, where anders performed quite a number of good deeds, which obviously cole would appreciate anders helping people. count that as another reason cole would show him a great deal of compassion.
for one he ran a free health clinic in darktown. we know from npc banter that the chantry (located in the richest part of kirkwall suspicious hmmmmmm???) did nothing to help these people. essentially anders was powering through helping them on his own. therefore i think it’s safe to say he did not get a lot of sleep and he wasn’t exactly making a steady income that would allow him to eat properly. lack of sleep and proper nutrition can be absolutely detrimental to a person’s physical and mental health, and we know that anders has suffered traumatic events so the effects would be exacerbated by this.
he also helped the mage underground, assisting countless mages out of the kirkwall circle. all the while he was also trying to peacefully protest, pass out his manifesto, and petition elthina to do something about the poor treatment of the mages in kirkwall. and elthina did nothing. not really surprising since she didn’t even lift a finger to help the poor in darktown.
so now we have anders seeing his peaceful approach to things essentially do nothing, and finds his efforts are meaningless. we see by act 2 on the dissent quest he’s constantly second guessing himself, asking hawke if it’s “another one of his delusions” when he thinks alrik is making mages tranquil for his sadistic pleasures. we know for a fact alrik is doing these things, but it’s important to note anders’s choice of words here, and we can conclude he’s been told he’s delusional, crazy, and really just experienced a lot of gaslighting over the course of his entire life. if it’s not obvious by this point, anders is an abuse survivor. yet another reason cole would show him compassion.
by the time act 3 rolls around anders has been backed into a corner. meredith is cracking down on the mages, orsino is pretty much powerless, and elthina is indifferent and lets this oppressive and abusive power dynamic continue. so when an animal is backed into a corner, it’s obviously at its most dangerous. after years—-centuries even—-of this systematic oppression, it’s no wonder anders decides to blow up the chantry even at the cost of his own life. anders does not believe he’s worth anything, but if he can give the mages the fighting chance they need, then perhaps his death would be worth something.
what we know is that despite the crudeness of his actions (there were a lot of casualties in the wake of the explosion), the mages did get their fighting chance. meredith had called for the right of annulment long before anders had blown up the chantry. what anders did helped the mages pick themselves up and rebel against their oppressors before meredith got the jump on them and slaughtered them all. his actions long term caused fiona to declare war against the templars, and through the actions of inquisition regardless who becomes divine—-the mages are either entirely free (under leliana’s rule) or get better living conditions (under vivienne or cassandra’s rule). we know cole is sympathetic towards the plight of the mages, so i would go ahead and count this as another reason cole would show him a great deal of compassion.
now the biggest argument against cole showing anders compassion is that anders killed a lot of innocents. ironically people conveniently forget the fact cole killed a lot of mages in asunder—-thinking he was helping them—-and throughout inquisition wants to redeem himself for the pain he caused. cole would understand anders wanting to redeem himself, and would AGAIN, show him a great deal of compassion.
let’s reflect back on the cast of inquisition, specifically the ones who need redemption and forgiveness the most. there’s blackwall, who stole the identity of a grey warden and caused the death of many innocents for petty political reasons. what does cole do? show him compassion. there’s solas, who essentially caused the downfall of his own people and allowed corypheus to rampage throughout thedas, thus causing the death of thousands. what does cole do? show him compassion.
i’m sorry but if you’re trying to tell me that anders—-who saved hundreds of poor kirkwall citizens’ lives by offering them free healthcare, who helped mages escape the god awful kirkwall circle, who gave the mages a fighting chance and eventually helped free them later, who lived a damn hard life and did all these good deeds anyway—-would not be shown compassion by cole, then i’m going to have to ask you to replay the series because you were not paying attention.