I recently finished the companion side-quest, Revelations, which involves finding out that your Grey Warden companion is actually an ex-Orlesian captain in Empress Celene’s army named Thom Rainier.
These are my general impressions based on my first playthrough (and just finishing the quest, I have not yet finished DA:I at this point… somehow) in which I always used Blackwall in my party, and saw him like Duncan. In fact, there were a few occasions I convinced myself he was Duncan because of the wise advice he would give and his gruff teddy-bear-mentor manner. For some reason, I missed any indication that he could be lying about his identity! This is my first (although, really personal) criticism of this quest line, because it felt extremely random and fake. I didn’t see it coming and I almost cried when I realized he was gone.
Then, Blackwall publicly confesses to his crime at the scheduled execution of one of his men, Mornay, which involved giving the order to murder of an insignificant character named Callier, and his family (and their guards I think? I was too blinded by my tears to care). I think if, at some instance, the Inquisitor had come across clues of this family, perhaps even captured Mornay ourselves, players would have been much more prepared for this questline. This whole part of Blackwall’s narrative seems very out-of-nowhere, and it’s one of those things that I’m just going to pretend didn’t happen because it makes me feel bad about my play experience. For a companion quest, the writing should have been better. This isn’t one of those random “deliver this item to my loved-ones grave” quest’s that are scattered throughout the game. This is Gordon Blackwall!!!
The whole time, I’m only thinking about getting Blackwall back as he is dragged off to the Val Royeaux prison cells. The Inquisitor gets to speak to him briefly, before a mission from the war table operation opens to get him back. Of course I did this as quick as I could, but war table operations take time! So, I ran around doing random things until those were over. I would have gone to any lengths to rescue Blackwall from prison myself!!! In addition, having these operations only available from the war table makes them easily forgettable with all the other missions scattered about. Players need to be at least somewhere on the completionist spectrum to keep up with that aspect of the game… which is a different point entirely.
Anyway, finally, Blackwall is brought back to Skyhold and the Inquisitor has to Sit in Judgement on his case. Blackwall can be pardoned and seek atonement for his help, given to the Grey Warden’s after the Inquisition, or be forced to serve the Inquisition. Honestly, these choices all suck because only the middle one is clear about whether or not Blackwall actually stays in your party, and I wanted to be able to forgive Blackwall for what he did wrong. I knew the “right” thing to do would be to be angry at him and kick him out forever, but I liked him too much. We had too much history. I weighted my options for 10 minutes before choosing the Grey Warden option, hoping Blackwall would be able to forgive himself eventually, even if I didn’t say it.
The only reconciling aspect of this questline is when the Inquisitor speaks to Blackwall after. Unsure of what to address him as now, they decide “Blackwall” should be his title, a position for him to aspire to, since he always tried to be like Blackwall anyway. I’m satisfied with this ending, but I know that when I play the game I second time, Blackwall’s random deception is going to hurt just as bad.