October 30, 2012: Desmond and his colleagues enter the Grand Temple, using the Piece of Eden retrieved from Rome to open the long-sealed underground complex. As they arrive at the main chamber, the awaiting (though incorporeal) Juno exhorts Desmond to find a “key”, and triggers a reaction in him that reveals glimpses from the life of a new ancestor, Haytham Kenway. Placed into the Animus, Desmond learns that Haytham obtained a First Civilization device (by appearances, an amulet) in London, then embarked on a voyage to the New World. This object is required to unlock the closed inner chamber of the Grand Temple, and so Desmond delves further into the life of his British ancestor.
1753-1760: On arrival in Boston, Haytham assembles a cadre of loyal men to assist in his search for the Grand Temple. Though he successfully locates the correct entrance, he fails to open it, then departs after dismissing it as a dead-end. While resolving to search elsewhere for the First Civilization site, Haytham also begins to establish the foundations of a cohesive power base for his organization in the New World. In a twist, we then learn that despite his early training as an Assassin, and continued use of the iconic Hidden Blades, Haytham is actually a Templar. Haytham shares a brief and passionate relationship with a Native American. Unbeknownst to Haytham, their union bears a child. From Desmond’s perspective, his focus shifts to this child: Ratonhnhaké:ton.
1760-1784: In an encounter with Juno during a rite of passage that involves a First Civilization artifact, the teenage Ratonhnhaké:ton is directed to become an Assassin. He meets with Achilles: the sole survivor of a Templar campaign, directed by Haytham Kenway, that practically eliminated the Brotherhood presence in the embryonic United States. Though reluctant at first, the old Assassin agrees to train the boy. He also persuades him to take the name Connor.
Joining forces with new allies, Connor gradually eliminates the Templars loyal to his father and revives the Brotherhood during the events of the American Revolution. Connor’s activities and a chance alignment of interests leads to a brief alliance with Haytham, but their irreconcilable differences ultimately lead to a fight to the death. After assassinating the final Templar from his father’s original group, a disillusioned Connor claims the First Civilization amulet. Juno instructs him to hide it in a place where no one could hope to find it.
December 21, 2012: Desmond immediately retrieves the amulet hidden by his forebear. After the Grand Temple’s inner chamber has been unlocked, Juno informs Desmond that she possesses the means to save the world from the imminent cataclysm – though this process will cause his death… and her rebirth.
While Minerva and other First Civilization scientists and leaders sought to avert the previous Catastrophe, we learn that Juno regarded the chaos and confusion as an opportunity to seize power and conquer the world, not to save it. When her betrayal was revealed, she and her co-conspirators were condemned to death, their bodies interned in the final sealing of the Grand Temple – but Juno survived. After transferring her consciousness to the Grand Temple with a “transcendence” technology developed as a potential method of surviving the Catastrophe, Juno plotted for thousands of years, subtly directing events in human history to reach the point where Desmond stands before her, mere seconds away from the cataclysm.
Accepting Juno’s offer, Desmond learns, almost certainly leads to a future where the First Civilization entity enslaves mankind. The alternative, however, is to allow the Catastrophe to kill billions. With the weight of the immediate consequences at the forefront of his mind, Desmond chooses to comply with Juno’s wishes. As the other Assassins retreat from the Grand Temple, Desmond lays his hand on the First Civilization pedestal that acts as a biometric key. He dies almost instantly, his arm consumed by fire – and, simultaneously, the escalating apocalyptic effects of the heightened solar activity are seen to dramatically subside.
Key Concepts & Developments
Assassin’s Creed III reveals much more about the identity and history of Juno, all of which serves to cement her role as the primary antagonist of the series to date. We learn that she has existed for approximately 80,000 years as a digital being, her body long decayed but her consciousness maintained inside the First Civilization computers at the heart of the Grand Temple. Her subtle influence on events in human history, exerted whenever or wherever appropriate First Civilization technology is circulated, has shaped the events of the Assassin’s Creed story.
Juno enacted a plan of incomprehensible complexity to deliver Desmond to her at a calculated moment. It is implied that she delayed his arrival at the Grand Temple until just before the Catastrophe was due to strike – and not earlier, as Minerva and Tinia had originally intended. As established in previous episodes, the Assassin was unique in that he existed at a nexus of several important bloodlines that caused him to possess a high concentration of First Civilization DNA. Juno had the means to avert the imminent Catastrophe at any time (the technology and machinery had been completed over aeons with automated processes), but used it as leverage to force Desmond to lay his hand on the biometric pedestal – enabling her to transfer her consciousness into global communications networks.
What else can be said of Juno? Minerva’s eleventh-hour intervention at the conclusion of Assassin’s Creed III speaks volumes: she exhorts Desmond to opt for global apocalypse in preference to Juno’s release. It’s clear that Juno regards contemporary humans as being fit only to resume their existence as the slaves they were originally designed to be. We also learn that she still mourns the death of her husband, Aita, who died when one of the many experiments conducted to either avert or simply survive the Catastrophe went awry.
In addition to the passing of Desmond, Assassin’s Creed III also features the death of series stalwart Warren Vidic: he is shot and killed by an Abstergo security guard influenced by Desmond’s Piece of Eden.
After the closing credits of Assassin’s Creed III, there is an abrupt shift in point of view. We hear an Abstergo technician working to interpret, disassemble and upload Desmond’s genetic data to “the Cloud”. This cryptic postscript is where our story recap ends – and Assassin’s Creed IV begins…