One of the more head-scratching moments of the Diablo IV reveals was when none other than the Maiden of Anguish popped up on screen. I say head-scratching because despite the decades-long gap timeline-wise between games, it feels a little redundant to return to the story of the Lesser Evils–but for Lillith’s return, Andariel feels moreso strange, and perhaps revealing.
But first, I want to play a fun exercise: why?
- Andariel was an iconic boss in Diablo II. In a way, she was really the first step into the greater lore of the Lesser/Prime Evil dichotomy central to the rest of the franchise, as much of this was unwritten or rarely placed in front of the player in Diablo I or early Act I in Diablo II.
- Andariel was once controversial artistically, and may be again. Certainly one of the big themes that players have harped on with Diablo III, and developers are using as a marketing slogan for Diablo IV, is the quibble over artistic style. It is no secret that in the early days of Diablo II, Andariel’s nudity was a point of contention between the two Blizzard studios. Her concept art is definitely more modest this go-round, but the echo of the power of artistic themes is interesting to think about now, even if for different reasons.
- Andariel was once written as the daughter of Lillith–this has been retconned, but still. Despite being retconned in the Book of Cain, you could be forgiven for not dusting off the Arreat Summit and remembering that Andariel was once the daughter of Lillith. But it does seem interesting that the game that is founded on the return of Lillith to the world also highlights a character that was once her daughter.
Lillith and Andariel
Also interesting to consider–there are a multitude of thematic questions at play in Diablo IV. We don’t yet know what Lillith’s goals are, or what the cultists had in mind, except that for some reason, decades after Diablo III, humanity needs “saving.”
My initial guess is that since it has been confirmed the Prime and Lesser Evils returned to the universe after Maltheal was defeated, it is foreseeable that some mortals believe Lillith is the only one that can save Sanctuary from the Evils’ retribution. After all, the Nephalem defeated the Prime, but were still unable to destroy it utterly.
If this is the case, it would be unlikely that there is any comradery between Lillith and Andariel, as Andariel would obviously have very different goals in mind–survival, conquest, and perhaps serving Diablo, with whom she had once had something of an obsession.
But that hinges on what Lillith wants:
- Lillith’s very rebirth required the death of humans, and if she plays a morally grey role, I have little doubt that she would wade through a sea of bodies to see her ends fulfilled.
- If it is true that the “tomb” in the reveal cinematic was more of a prison, Lillith may be a less kind mother to her children than the cultists hope.
- During Lillith’s emergence, we saw visions of a bound being in some sort of hellish prison. If this is Inarius, which might make sense, she doubtlessly wants to free and reconnect with her lost, cosmic love.
- (Other questions–last we heard of Inarius, he was imprisoned by Mephisto in Hell–Mephisto was trapped in the Black Soulstone in Diablo III, so what happened in that period with Inarius?)
All of this to say, Lillith’s role in Diablo IV seems like it would be bound in this idea of “relationships,” galvanized in her title of “Mother of All.”
This is where there’s an interesting crossover with Andariel. Andariel, as the Maiden of Anguish, is functionally bound to the idea of “relationships,” in a way, as well. Her mode of demonic power is about the constant tension of pleasure and pain and the twisting of relationships, expressed as anguish, and she despises loneliness.
Also of note is when Sean Copeland revealed at BlizzCon that while Lillith is often described as Sanctuary’s “mother,” there are “many mothers:”
You see, when Inarius and Lillith enacted their plans to steal the Worldstone and create Sanctuary, they had other rebel angels and demons with them to help enact the plan. She’s definitely the first mother, but not the only mother.
I don’t know how you might see it, but Andariel seems like she might be a candidate to fill this role during those complicated politics millennia ago.
Overall, there’s just a lot of interesting plots that could play into all of this:
- Will Andariel be loyal to Diablo as she once was, or loyal to the New Big Bad, Lillith?
- Was Andariel one of the rebel demons with Lillith that birthed the races of Sanctuary and stole the Worldstone?
- Could there be overlay of themes between Andariel and Lillith?
- Lillith is seen in art holding Diablo’s skull–does this envision her as the replacement in the hierarchy, as one to resurrect Diablo back into Sanctuary, as one who mourns or celebrates Diablo’s destruction?
I guess we won’t really see these answers for a long time, and this doesn’t produce any clear answers, but one thing’s for sure–the story feels like it’s going to be very different from Diablo III, and I anticipate some interesting twists.