Katherine Marlowe: Early Analysis and Speculation

Katherine Marlowe -- the new villaioness behind Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Written by Bryony Stewart-Seume
Published on Mar 10th, 2011

Bryony is the Senior Editor for All Things UNCHARTED and contributor for ThisIsMyJoystick.com. She owns WeAreTheLastOfUs.com

Thanks to my co-contributor, Steven, we all know now that the antagonist of UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception is a woman named Katherine “Kate” Marlowe. I would like to now have a stab at analysing what we might be able to figure out about her and her part in Nathan Drake’s life, now that the dust has settled on the news of her reveal.

Katherine is a woman at the top of an as yet unnamed secret society that was set up by Queen Elizabeth I of England. Instantly we can make the link between the society and Sir Francis Drake, as Drake was a privateer/pirate/agent of our former monarch. What I find also interesting (and I admit that I might be wide of the mark here) is that if you can only name four contemporaries of Elizabeth I you will probably name a Drake and a Marlowe. I haven’t yet been able to establish a link between Christopher Marlowe and Sir Francis Drake but my feeling is that as the name ‘Marlowe’ isn’t especially common in modern-day England it is a little too significant to be a coincidence.

Whether she is related to the playwright or not does not change the fact that she is obviously a bit nasty. For some reason the society to which she belongs believes it can claim ownership of the ring that Nathan “sort of inherited” and wears around his neck. It is not without thought that I quoted the line that Nathan ever so slightly bashfully utters to Elena during Drake’s Fortune. You could interpret it purely as a way to say “this was passed down through the generations of my family and now belongs to me” or you could (as I do) read it as “I believe I am descended from Sir Francis Drake; this belonged to him, so I took/stole/bought it as it is rightfully mine as an heirloom.” Whatever the case may be, two people believe they own it (and strictly speaking I doubt that legally either do) and both want to have it in their possession. But why? It seems clear why Nathan wants it; it is a symbol of his perceived identity. We are told, however, that it is also the key to a historical mystery, and this is why Katherine Marlowe wants it.

It is because of this that she is seen in the recently released cutscene removing the ring from around Nathan’s neck at knifepoint, while he is slumped over some cardboard boxes in a grotty alley having been roughed up by Marlowe’s advance guard. Now, forgive me for this next observation but I couldn’t help but notice that our already handsome hero is wearing… a SUIT. And man, does he scrub up well!? Even with a black eye lying in the filth of a back alley he. Looks. GOOD. C’mon, you noticed it too, didn’t you? Stepping aside, briefly, from my professional journalist persona, I have to say I was somewhat amused by the discussions both on Twitter and Naughty Dog’s forums following the release of the video. People were initially far less interested in the villain, and were talking instead about Nathan Drake (and Victor Sullivan) in posh gear. Why they were dressed this way remains to be seen, but to be honest; I don’t really care. Nathan Drake wears a suit. And looks possibly hotter than he ever has before.

Right; back into professional mode. Ahem. Katherine Marlowe emerges from a car (a very nice car it is, too) looking every inch the English aristocrat and greets (the now de-moustachioed (yes really, he has shaved)) Victor Sullivan with a cursory “Hello Victor.” His reply is merely “Kate.” So we have a past between the two, but of course we do not know the extent of that past; but they are on first (and shortened) name terms. It is conceivable that Victor and Kate were once intimate, but for Sully’s sake I hope not as I like him a lot and I already detest her. Of course we know that he isn’t “the best judge of character, especially when it comes to women” but can anyone be that bad a judge?

Katherine’s next line is somewhat ambiguous; [still addressing Sully] “Still wallowing in the gutter with your protégé?” She could mean “You and your protégé are still wallowing in the gutter?” On the other hand she could mean “You are still wallowing in the gutter, and now you have been joined by your protégé?” The difference being that she either knows Nathan or she only knows of him. My feeling is that they have met before, as Nate makes a typical witty and scathing remark about her, and she responds that he is still a “cocky little shit.” But the significance here is not in whether she and Nate are old time chums or not, but in the fact that she refers to Nate as Sully’s protégé. She must be using the term to make a point, but as someone who has paid a fair amount of attention to the details in Uncharted narrative, I have never gotten the impression that Nathan is a Victor Sullivan in training, and this is what the word ‘protégé’ implies. I also doubt that Nathan considers himself a protégé; I see him as too independent for that. The word also implies an imbalance of power; an inequality; between the two. This imbalance is later hammered home by Marlowe as she calls Nate Sully’s “precious boy.” When Sully calls Nate “kid” it sounds affectionate. When Katherine calls him a “boy” it seems both patronising and insulting. Which I guess is her intention.

How much damage can a woman, probably in her 60s, do to a man apparently in his 30s who is no stranger to hand to hand combat.. or shooting people in the head… or climbing like a mountain goat? Well, Katherine’s strength appears to be in her psychological trickery. I have already demonstrated how she might take a word of affection and turn it against someone in an attempt to undermine a friendship, but she also, in the video, questions Nathan’s greatest fears. Fans of the series know that Nathan claims that clowns are the scariest things to him, but the mood in this scene is very different to the one in that mountain village in Tibet when he made the ‘clowns’ statement. I can imagine that realistically there is something that Nate would rather keep private, and by the look on his face he worries that whatever it is, it is no longer that way.

If we think back to the original interviews with Naughty Dog following the announcement of Drake’s Deception we will remember that Amy Hennig, Creative Director, alluded to the fact some of the theme of deception revolves around Nate’s actual identity. Knowing how much Sir Francis means to him, I can well believe that this could really be Nathan’s biggest fear; finding out that he is, in fact, not descended from Sir Francis.

We have so far seen three snippets from this game; a burning chateau, a filthy alley and an expanse of desert. How they fit together chronologically is anyone’s guess (the presence or absence of the ring is a red herring as we do not know how long before our hero retrieves it, or whether he does at all). It is also open for debate as to how they fit together to make a coherent narrative. But they do and in time all will be revealed.

I want to leave you with an observation I made following the revelation of the villain’s identity (after I made that one about Nate’s fancy get-up) and that is that yet again Naughty Dog have far exceeded our expectations, and yet at the same time given us what we wanted. We asked for desert, and they gave us not the clichéd Egypt, but a lesser known lost city on the Arabian Peninsular. We asked for a female villain, and we got, not a clichéd sexy woman for Nate to sleep with and Elena to have a bitch fight with, but a posh, creepy, manipulative contemporary of Victor Sullivan. This is testament to the creativity harboured at Naughty Dog. They continually do awesome things, but always manage to out-awesome even what I believe them capable of. And long may it last.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 comments
boomerangmouth
boomerangmouth like.author.displayName 1 Like

If you take the co-ordinates for Panama (I don't know the exact ones that were on Drake's ring, so it's an approximation) and reverse them (i.e. replace the East of Greenwich Reading with West and North with South) you get a location just north of the Rub' al Khali desert...

boomerangmouth
boomerangmouth

Err... Never mind that. I can't seem to replicate it!

Astharis
Astharis like.author.displayName 1 Like

Extremely well written article. :)

I think you hit the nail on the head with the speculation about Nate's real fears and his true identity. I think that there is the real possibility that he knows that he might not actually be related to Sir Francis, but that is something he feels is so vital to his character that he'll cling to the illusion. Obviously, the title "Drake's Deception" is going to be multi-faceted on all fronts, so we can't tell how far back these misconceptions might go. I think this game is going to have a lot more soul searching than we've seen in any previous installments of the series.

Not only is Nate being pushed emotionally (more so than anything that's come before), I am so glad that Naughty Dog are also pushing the boundaries in every way they can. The use of 3D to even improve the 2D graphics is great, and the sheer attention to detail that they've got going on is just amazing. And this is coming from a series that I think many people would still enjoy/love, even if it still looked like Drake's Fortune, which is getting on for 4 years old.

I just can't wait to see more, in all honesty!

StevenBodner
StevenBodner

While reading this article, I was thinking about how awesome and proud I am of Naughty Dog's cinematography and ability to turn a video game into such a real, emotional work of art. In few other games would you be able to take home THIS much information on a character, let alone from only a small bit of an FMV. In addition, there are few game characters who one can say's tactics revolve around "psychological torture" as opposed to your run of the mill "I'mma beat you in the face with the end of this gun and leave you for my men", you know? Not to mention that this observation was made based on only about thirty seconds of footage.

Great work!