This post contains *spoilers* for all Halo fiction released as of Sep. 2012 (up to and including Primordium), and possible spoilers for Halo 4. Read at your own risk.
Who or what is this Ancient Evil that 343 revealed to us at E3? I have read many posts and articles on this topic, and I still don’t have any concrete idea. I do have a few thoughts on it though. For me it really boils down to one of four “people”.The Master Builder, The Ur-Didact, The Timeless One or some other force we don’t know of yet.
I’ll start with the one I think is easiest to eliminate. Faber, the Master Builder, creator of the Halo array. Is he Ancient? Yes. Is he Evil? Yes. However, he is assumed to have died in the attack on the Forerunner Capitol. Also, why would Promethean constructs fight for the Master Builder? Knowing what we know from screen caps of scripts, I don’t think they would throw Faber in there as well. It would just be to coincidental and confusing to have both in the same place like that.
The Ur-Didact is a definite candidate for the ancient evil, but, like with the Master Builder, there are things that work against this conclusion. Is he ancient? Yes. Is he evil? No, not really. From the point of view of Forthencho, the ancient human general, he probably would be considered evil. However, the insights we gain into his personality in Cryptum really don’t scream evil to me. I would say that he hated the humans, but his hatred is justified, and tempered with his knowledge of why the humans started their expansion into Forerunner space-to escape the flood.The things we know about the Ur-Didact could change drastically however, depending on the events of Silentium. The upside down (or unbound, as Frankie said) Didact symbol in the E3 trailer, along with the evidence from the “A Hero Awakens” Vidoc strongly support the theory that the Didact is the big baddy.
These two clues are actually why I support the theory of something else being the ancient evil. These being the Timeless One (there is reason to think he could survive the events of Primordium, see this article), or some other equally mysterious creature we haven’t heard of yet. Is it Ancient? Very. Is it Evil. Yes. In the description for Silentium, there is a reference to ” a greater evil”. I believe that this will be the Ancient Evil that will awaken in Halo 4.
All the clues that 343 have given us to date seem to point to the Didact, but I think it is all a smoke screen. For instance, in the E3 trailer, the combination of the Unbound Didact symbol, the phrase “An Ancient Evil Awakens” and someone saying “I have long dreamt of this day Reclaimer” make it seem obvious that all three are connected, and the Didact has lost it. It could be however that these three things are actually separate. In Halo 4 an Ancient Evil Awakens. Someone has long awaited this day. The Didact is Unbound. To add to the idea that this is meant to mislead us is the deliberate addition (it couldn’t be anything else unless everyone at 343 are really, really, stupid. I don’t think they are) of the section of script in the “A Hero Awakens” Vidoc. Why show us this? There is nothing in here that is new. It has been theorized already. The only reason to include it would be to keep us on the Didact’s trail, and off the trail of the real evil.
Here is my theory then: The Ancient Evil is either the Timeless One or something yet unknown, sealed in Requiem, along with the Ur-Didact. The Master Chief awakens the Ur-Didact, who has long awaited the day of his awakening, or meeting the Reclaimer.The Didact, being (or believing he is) the only living Forerunner, is unbound from the Mantle, and free to do as he chooses. The actions of theForerunner cause conflict with the Master Chief. The Didact will assume a role perhaps like that of 343 GS in the earlier trilogy, in that we are reluctant allies. So the Ancient Evil is not the Didact, but that doesn’t mean we are buddy buddy with him either.
I hope this had made at least a tiny bit of sense. I freely admit that if I am totally wrong on any of this, I will not be shocked. 343 and Greg Bear have made this so confusing that it could be anything. Who do you think will be the Bad Guy in the new Halo Trilogy?